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Schematic diagram of TT99

Theban tombs of the New Kingdom are thought to have three fundamental levels by function:

  1. Upper level: niche or superstructure, the realm of the sun god
  2. Middle level: the offering chapels, the realm of the living
  3. Lower level: the burial chambers, the realm of the dead and of Osiris

These three levels are shown in this diagram. The least obvious, in the 18th dynasty at least, is the Upper level. In the 19th dynasty pyramids, or pyramid-like structures, are often found in this location in the larger tombs, and this practice certainly goes back to around the time of the Amarna period. The earliest candidate for a pyramid on top of a tomb comes from TT131, of the first half of the reign of Thutmose III. However, it seems that most tombs were not so endowed, but a few had something like a small statue shrine above the tomb, while considerably more (like TT99) certainly have a niche immediately over the entrance, and probably no further superstructure. So this niche, which could have held either a stela or a small stelaphorous statue, may have served as the Upper level at this date.


Superstructures in general:

K.J. Seyfried, 'Entwicklung in der Grabarchitektur des neuen Reiches als eine weitere Quelle für theologische Konzeptionen der Ramessidenzeit', in Assmann J, Burkard G, and Davies V (eds), Problems and Priorities in Egyptian Archaeology (Studies in Egyptology, London 1987), 219-53.

F. Kampp, Die thebanische Nekropole, 2 vols (Theben 13, 1996), 95-109

The superstructure in TT131:

E. Dziobek, 'Eine Grabpyramide des frühen NR in Theben', Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Abteilung Kairo 45 (1989), 109-32.


© Nigel Strudwick 1997-2014