Two people portrayed on the walls of the ancient Egyptian general’s tomb.

Immense Tomb Provides a Fascinating Peek at the Life of High Steward of Ramesses II


Saqqara has given Egyptologists a wealth of knowledge on life and death in ancient Egypt. Recently, it has provided information on Queen Ankhnespepy II , King Tut’s Wet Nurse , and a royal messenger . And now archaeologists are gaining another perspective – what life was like for an ancient Egyptian general who served in the military for Seti I and Ramesses II.

According to Ahram Online , the immense tomb of General Iwrkhy (Iwrhya) was discovered during the 2017-2018 excavation season. Work will continue because not only is the site a fascinating one but also because no human remains have been found yet. However, what the experts have found so far is remarkable enough to warrant the extra look.

Excavating the tomb. (Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

Excavating the tomb. ( Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities )

Live Science reports that the tomb is so large that it includes storehouses, chapels, a forecourt, and a “statue room”. That final room is the one which garners the most attention for us today. Thanks to the murals painted on the statue room’s walls, we can take a peek at what daily life was like for Iwrkhy, join him in the celebration of his victories, and find out about foreign relations during his lifetime.

Scenes of daily life. (Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

Scenes of daily life. ( Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities )

For example, the artists decorating the ancient Egyptian general’s tomb painted scenes of boats unloading Canaanite wine jars, wine cellars, livestock, military campaigns, and infantrymen and charioteers crossing a waterway ( probably at a border in eastern Egypt) with crocodiles.

Charioteers and infantrymen are depicted in this scene. (Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

Charioteers and infantrymen are depicted in this scene. ( Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities )

Ahram Online reports how the location of the image was deduced, “The scene has only one parallel, depicted on the outer north wall of the hypostyle court of Karnak temple in Thebes. The scene shows Seti I coming back from a victorious campaign against the Shasu Bedouins, entering Egypt by the same waterway with crocodiles.”

A mix of artistic styles shows that the wall paintings were not created at a single time. This is not surprising as researchers believe the tomb was used over decades. Inscriptions suggest the tomb was built for Iwrkhy, but other names are also found there. Iwrkhy’s son Yuppa and grandson Hatiay are also mentioned. However, archaeologists are still looking for more material to confirm if this is a family tomb.

This image is still being uncovered. (Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

This image is still being uncovered. (Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities )

The hieroglyphic inscriptions describe Iwrkhy as the General and High Steward of the estates of Ramesses II in the Domain of Amun. He started his military career during the time of Pharaoh Seti I and continued working into the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II . Thus, Iwrkhy was a general for a time between 1294 and 1213 BC. The inscriptions also suggest that Iwrkhy may have been born outside Egypt’s borders.

The tomb of the ancient Egyptian general was found in the New Kingdom necropolis, to the south of the causeway of a pyramid built by a pharaoh named Unas. Ola El-Aguizy, professor of Egyptology at Cairo University, was the head of the mission that uncovered the tomb.

Top Image: Two people portrayed on the walls of the ancient Egyptian general’s tomb. Source: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities

By Alicia McDermott

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Alicia McDermott holds degrees in Anthropology, Psychology, and International Development Studies and has worked in various fields such as education, anthropology, and tourism. She is the Chief Editor of Ancient Origins Magazine. Traveling throughout Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador, Alicia... Read More

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