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The burial of Anhai, Chantress of Amun

Anhai is known only from her Book of the Dead, one of the few examples for women known from this period. It can be dated stylistically to the reign of Ramesses III or IV, around 1100 BC. Anhai is shown with her husband in several vignettes (illustrations). He is named as Nebsumenu, 'Stablemaster of the Residence [of the king]'.

Anhai's titles are interesting. As well as being a 'Chantress of Amun', probably at Karnak, she was 'Chief of Concubines of Osiris'. This office was the highest that a women could hold in the cult of Osiris at Abydos and was usually occupied by a female relative of the High Priest of Osiris. Anhai was also 'Chief of the Concubines of Nebtu and Khnum' at Esna. Evidence from other sources shows that this office was held by the wife of the mayor of Esna and, in this case, Nebsumenu was also mayor of Esna.

The location of the tomb of Anhai is not known. Budge suggested that it might be at Thebes, but Anhai's titles and their association with other Egyptian places indicate that this is not necessarily the case. It could easily have been at Abydos or Esna.

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British Museum collections, £12.99

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