How Nebamun's tomb-chapel was built and used

Cut into the hills opposite the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, Nebamun’s tomb-chapel was visited by people coming to commemorate Nebamun and his wife.

How the tomb-chapel was built

Nebamun’s tomb-chapel was cut into the desert hills opposite the city of Thebes (modern Luxor and Karnak).

Workmen would have cut the tomb out of the rock using flint tools and copper-alloy chisels. The walls and ceilings of the tomb were then covered in a layer of mud plaster, followed by a layer of white plaster. This provided a smooth surface for painting.

The tomb-chapel was painted by a team of artists. They first sketched out the designs and figures before painting the final pattern. Sometimes the sketches can still be seen, showing how the artists changed their minds. The artists used black, white, red, yellow, blue and green paints.

The tomb-chapel probably contained three sections: an outer chamber, an inner chamber and an underground burial chamber, which was sealed once Nebamun and his wife had been buried. Outside the tomb-chapel a courtyard was cut into the hillside. The walls of the chapel facade were decorated with rows of pottery cones stamped with the names and titles of the owner.

How the tomb-chapel was used

Tomb-chapels were meeting places between the worlds of the living and the dead. People visited this tomb-chapel to commemorate Nebamun.

Nebamun and his wife would have been buried in a hidden chamber somewhere underneath this chapel. The burial chamber was then sealed but the chapel remained open.

In the innermost room there would have been a statue of Nebamun and his wife. Family members would come on festival days to say prayers and offer food, wine, water and flowers to this statue. Passers-by could also visit the tomb-chapel to say prayers for Nebamun and look at the paintings.

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