Painted fragment of a toe boat from the collapsed "Abydos pilgrimage" scene in TT 179

Jun 9, 2020

So far, the entire South Khokha Project concession area has provided about 400 diagnostic fragments of TT 179, the Eighteenth Dynasty painted tomb of Nebamun, which allow for the reconstruction of some individual scenes. The piece, shown on the above photograph, is one of the centerpieces of the so-called 'Abydos pilgrimage' scene, a typical illustration depicted in private tombs of the era.⠀ ⠀

Based on the surviving fragments and existing parallels from New Kingdom tombs the owner's journey to the holy city of Osiris occupied a two-register field at the southern end of the western wall in TT 179. It was every Egyptian’s greatest wish to make a pilgrimage to Abydos and a dearest dream to be buried close by. Tomb scenes throughout Egypt frequently record journeys to and from Abydos, as important pilgrimages made by individuals who were proud to have been able to make the vital trip once in a lifetime, if not in person, at least as a transfigured deceased.⠀ ⠀

The fragment in question displays a towboat pulling the ritual boat on the journey towards Abydos. To overcome the current, it is moved by a legion of oarsmen. As far as the towboat is concerned, the two representations are differentiated, since while the boat sailing downstream is rowed by five oarsmen, the same oarsmen are shown on a separate fragment relaxing upstream, with the boat under full sail. ⠀ ⠀

With the ambitious rendering of the towboat’s crew and the carefully painted details of the woodgrain on the boat's hull, the scene from TT 179 is among the most vibrant representations of the journey to Abydos in New Kingdom Theban tombs.⠀

To be continued...

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