Right at the turn of the year, a Spanish archaeological mission made a huge discovery in the modern city of Luxor in Egypt, which also includes the site of the ancient city of Thebes. Sixty mummies were found buried in just two tombs! They are connected to the tomb of the vizier Amenhotep Huy, which itself consists of an impressive chapel with 30 columns.
Rich architectural style: The emergence of a necropolis around the vizier’s tomb
“The most important thing this year is the discovery of two tombs, almost six meters deep… In the vizier’s tomb, they began to build other tombs from different dynasties because the place was sacred.”
EFE also shared a short video on the popular microblogging site Youtubeand the corresponding article on Twitter. Over the past decade and a half, Vizier Amenhotep Huy’s project has uncovered an astounding 200 complete mummies!
Martin, who led a mission of 22 Spanish Egyptologists and 8 Egyptian experts, explained to EFE that the two tombs reflect “a very important richness of architectural style and proof that vizier’s grave at some point it became a necropolis.” He is director of the Madrid-based Institute of Ancient Egyptian Studies and is joined by institute co-director Teresa Bedman.
Two secondary graves are interestingly characterized by a lack epigraphy, unlike the vizier’s grave, perhaps indicative of the difference in burial styles that form the divide between low and high-ranking individuals. In the tomb of Amenhotep Huy, the 30-column chapel is inscribed with scriptures from beginning to end.
Wall painting in the tomb of Amenhotep-Huy in Luxor. (Instituto de Estudios del Antiguo Egipto de Madrid )
They were built after 18th Dynasty, and as Martin explains Art newspaper : “In the excavations of the two secondary tombs existing in the courtyard of the main tomb of the Vizier Amen-Hotep Huy (Asasif nº -28), undressed mummies – more or less complete – and parts of mummies were found, which testify after the examination of our anthropologists.”
Opposition to Atenism and association with the clergy of Amon
Amenhotep-Huye’s main contribution was to oppose the desire of son and heir Amenhotep III to abandon Egypt’s long-standing attempt at polytheism. Akhenaten was for the worship of only one deity, the Aten, the sun disk and originally an aspect of the sun god and creator Ra.
Akhenaten would succeed in his efforts, but only temporarily Tutankhamun’s reign (1332-1323 BC) that this monotheistic worship would be challenged. Between these reigns, the Aten became the focus of a new religious cult and system known as Atenism.
Because of his opposition to this new system, Amenhotep Huy became a martyr and a hero after his death. The creation of a necropolis associated with it was a sign of its importance – people wanted to be buried with and around it.
Archaeologists have restored the exterior of Amenhotep Huy’s tomb. ( Efe / Instituto de Estudios del Antiguo Egipto )
After being investigated by a team of anthropologists, it can actually be found that these individuals are from the upper echelons of society. Specifically, they belong to family groups associated directly or indirectly with the middle-ranking clergy of Amon of Karnak (associated with the giant, world-famous Karnak temple complex in Luxor).
It can also be seen on the items found in vizier’s tomb with a sarcophagus decorated with the god Amun and are on display in an exhibition at the Luxor Museum entitled ‘Treasures of the Minister Amenhotep Huy.’
The current archaeological mission is scheduled to resume at the end of September 2023, under more favorable weather conditions. In the meantime, the team also plans to restore the vizier’s chapel with the reconstruction of six columns.
Top image: Tomb of the vizier Amenhotep-Huy in Luxor, Egypt. Source: Teresa Bedman / Institute of Ancient Egyptian Studies
By Sahir Pandey