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The Tomb of Family Members of Menkheperre, High Priest of Amun (MMA 60)

Egypt's New Kingdom ended in about 1070 B.C. with the death of Ramesses XI, last king of Dynasty 20. This was followed by several centuries of divided rule known as the Third Intermediate Period. At the beginning of this time, in Dynasty 21, power was shared by a family of pharaohs who were centered at Tanis in the eastern Delta, and by the High Priests of the god Amun at Thebes, who also used the title "king."
During the long tenure of the fourth High Priest of Amun, Menkheperre (ca. 1045–992 B.C.), a tomb was carved into the rocky slope just north of the enclosure wall of Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el-Bahri. This tomb was used over a number of generations by Menkheperre's family, but eventually it was entered by ancient robbers. Over the millennia, tons of debris washed into the tomb and when it was discovered in the late winter of 1924, it took many days of digging through compacted sand and crumbling rock before the Museum's excavators found the original burial chamber, which contained six coffins. One was inscribed for Henettawy, daughter of "king" Painedjem I (first of the High Priests of Dynasty 21); one belonged to a princess Henettawy, probably a daughter of the High Priest Menkheperre; a third recorded the name Djedmutesankh, probably Menkheperre's wife or daughter. These three women were also buried with boxes of shabtis—funerary figurines intended as substitute labor for the deceased in the afterlife—and with papyrus scrolls, or Books of the Dead, inscribed with spells to help the spirit negotiate the perilous journey to the afterworld.

A number of other individuals had also been buried in the tomb, but their connections with the High Priests are not known.

The Tomb of Henettawy (MMA 59)

Earlier in the 1923–24 excavation season, the burial place of yet another Henettawy (a popular name in Dynasty 21) had been found in the area north of Hatshepsut's temple. This tomb originally was prepared in the time of Hatshepsut for a man named Minmose, but his burial had been ransacked by thieves sometime before the tomb was reused for Henettawy.


Like the female relatives of the High Priests found in MMA tomb 60, this Henettawy participated in religious ceremonies as a Singer of Amun. As far as we know, however, she was not related to the High Priests. In Dynasty 21, coffins were sometimes the only piece of funerary equipment that assisted a person's spirit into the afterlife, and they were decorated more elaborately than in earlier periods. Although nothing else was found in her tomb, Henettawy's pair of nested coffins and mummy cover are superb examples of the coffin-maker's art and a visual testament to Henettawy's high status.

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  1. Third Intermediate Period. At the beginning of this time, in Dynasty 21, Tours of Egypt

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