The Tombs of the Nobles in Aswan ‎

Tombs of the Nobles- Aswan

The Tombs of the Nobles in Aswan ‎

The City of Aswan during the Ancient Times ‎

The city of Aswan during the ancient times was never the city we know of today as ‎people at that period used to center around the Elephantine Island, where the rulers ‎and kings of Nubia resided. ‎

This was why the tombs of the kings and the royal family of Nubia were located near ‎the island of Elephantine in what is called today the Tombs of the Nobles of Aswan.‎

The Elephantine Island was the center of the worship of the divine trinity, gods, ‎Khnum, Sant, and Elephantine and they were called the guards of the headwaters of ‎the Nile. The Elephantine Island was the cult center of many other gods and ‎goddesses like Isis and Hathour afterwards. ‎

About the Tomb of the Noble

The Tombs of the Nobles, situated near the West Bank of Aswan in front of the ‎Northern section of the Northern edge of the Elephantine Island, are of significant ‎importance as they give us the chance to know about the history of this section of ‎Egypt during the Old and the Middle Kingdoms ' periods. ‎

The British archeologist, the Lord Greenville discovered the Tombs of the Nobles in ‎the period between 1885 and 1886 to be the first scientist to explore this important ‎historical site. ‎

The Tombs of the Nobles located in Aswan is usually called the tombs of Qubat El ‎Hawa and this historical site, although it is among the less visited monuments in ‎Upper Egypt, has some wonderful ancient art and a noteworthy chronological ‎importance of the Middle and the Old Kingdoms. ‎

The wall paintings inside the Tombs of the Nobles are wonderfully alive and they ‎display the daily life activities of the ancient Egyptians in a magnificent masterpiece ‎of art. ‎

The most important and beautiful tombs in the Tombs of the Nobles in Aswan are ‎the tombs of Harkhuf, Sarenput II, and the tomb of Sabni and Mekho. Many tours ‎can be organized in Aswan to include exploring the Tombs of the Nobles, situated in ‎the West Bank of the Nile. ‎

A small old passageway leads to a staircase that takes the guests to the upper open ‎courtyard where the tombs were dug. There are a large number of tombs dating to ‎the Middle and Old Kingdoms periods. However, some of them only are worth a ‎visit. ‎

The Tombs of Mekho

Climbing the stairs to the tombs of Mekho and Sabni, it is noticeable that the steps ‎were carved in a diagonal style to facilitate the lifting of the dead body over the top ‎using wooden and stone skates. ‎

Mekho was a prince that belonged to the 6th dynasty of the Old Kingdom. He was ‎the son of King Pepi II and he lost his way in one of the royal exploratory journeys ‎and maybe this was why we find that the tomb is not fully completed. ‎

‎ Inside the tomb, there is a portrait on the right hand wall of the tomb displays the ‎prince Mekho wearing a skirt and accompanying his wife while the servant is ‎brining him the offerings to present to the gods. ‎

It was common in the tombs of ancient Egypt to find many portraits of the daily ‎activities of the deceased in the first chamber of the tomb. However, in the tomb of ‎Mekho, there is the portrait of some people giving the prince a report about the ‎activities that he used to supervise. ‎

There is a false door at the right hand side afterwards where some offerings scenes ‎are painted together with other scenes of Mekho in his daily life activities. ‎

The burial chamber of the tomb of Mekho was constructed upon 18 columns which ‎were divided into three rows that include many scenes and inscriptions. ‎

There is also a false door in the burial chamber and the walls contain scenes of the ‎god Anubis and Osiris praying for Mekho with some agriculture scenes in the ‎background. ‎

The Tomb of Sabni

The Tomb of Sabni, the son of Mekho, is actually an extension of the tomb of ‎Mekho, his father, and it is relatively a large tomb, in comparison to the other tombs ‎of the Tombs of the Nobles. ‎

The Tomb of Sabni has a wonderful entrance which is now surrounded by a wall and ‎the entrance inside the tomb is done through the tomb of his father, Mekho. The ‎entrance of the Tomb of Sabni is actually divided into two sections that lead to the ‎hall containing 14 square shaped columns with the common fishing and haunting ‎scenes all over the place

. ‎

The most important feature of the Tomb of Sabni is the scenes telling the story of ‎his adventurous journey that the prince ordered to have it displayed on the walls of ‎his tomb however unfortunately the first part of the story was totally ruined with ‎time passing by. ‎
The story of the journey of Sabni is displayed on a number of columns to the left and ‎the right hand side of the tomb. These scenes on the columns tell the story of how ‎Sabni was able to rescue the dead body of his father in one of the campaigns they ‎went through as mummifying the dead body was an important ritual in ancient ‎Egypt. ‎
The story of Sabni and how he was able to hold the dead body of his father and travel ‎for a long distance until he reached the tomb of his father in Aswan is among the ‎most important historical records that tell us about the mentality of the Egyptians at ‎that period of time and how they perceived life, death, and immortality. ‎

The Tomb of Sarenput II


The Tomb of Sarenput II is probably the finest in the tombs of the Nobles in Aswan. ‎Sarenput II was the son of a Nubian king during the reign of the kings Senosurt II and ‎Amenmehat II in the Middle Kingdom. ‎

Moreover, Sarenput was a royal prince, a high priest of the temples of the gods of ‎Khnum and Sant, and the army leader of Egypt during the ruling period of ‎Amenmehat II who belonged to the 12th dynasty. ‎


When the guests enter inside the tomb of Sarenput II, they find themselves in a ‎courtyard that is based upon six columns and to the right hand side; there is an ‎attractive offerings table, ornamented with granite with the name of the owner of the ‎tomb carved on it. The false door has some hieroglyphic inscriptions that tell about ‎the owner of the tomb. ‎

Going further inside the tomb, after leaving the courtyard, there is a passageway and ‎its walls display wonderful scenes of Sarenput II and his son. ‎

After passing the passageway, the guests reach another hall with four columns with a ‎longitudinal line of hieroglyphic inscriptions that include the titles of the owner of ‎the tomb, Sarenput II. ‎

There are some irregular features that contradict what was followed in the tombs of ‎the Middle Kingdom in the Tomb of Sarenput II. These include displaying a scene of ‎the event of burying the owner of the tomb and displaying the owner of the tomb ‎putting his right hand to receive the offerings from the table. ‎

The Tomb of Harkhuf

Harkhuf lived in the period of the sixth dynasty, between 2345 and 2181 BC and he ‎is among the first people to be buried in the Tombs of the Nobles in Aswan. Harkhuf ‎was the ruler of the region of the Elephantine Island in this period. ‎

tomb wall

During the Old Kingdom, the period of the builders of the pyramids, there were ‎strong relations between ancient Egypt and Nubia and this was why Harkhuf went in ‎four campaigns to the lands of Nubia. ‎


During the first journey of Harkhuf to Nubia, he was young and he went with his ‎father and this campaign lasted for seven months to import goods to ancient Egypt. ‎

In the second journey, Harkhuf was older and he led the campaign to Nubia to bring ‎some products and secure the commercial routs to Nubia. It was common in the ‎period of the Old Kingdom that the sarcophaguses of the kings had to be ornamented ‎with precious stones, ivory, and ebony and these products were brought from the ‎Elephantine Island. ‎

Harkhuf went to Nubia for the third time to try to resolve a conflict between two ‎Nubian tribes with no further details mentioned in the inscriptions carved in his ‎tomb. ‎

In his forth and last campaign, Harkhuf traveled to the lands of Nubia and the battles ‎were bursting between the two most powerful tribes in Nubia. This was during the ‎ruling period of the King Teti and he was only six years at the time. Moreover, there ‎were actually some references in the Tomb to some reports that Harkhuf has sent to ‎the king Teti telling him about his campaign in Nubia. ‎



The Tomb of Harkhuf has a courtyard at the entrance, the same as the Tomb of ‎Sarenput II. Afterwards, there is the façade of tomb displays some scenes of the life ‎of Harkhuf. ‎

After admiring the façade, the guests find themselves inside a rectangle shaped hall ‎that leads to a passageway and then the burial room that hosts some columns with ‎inscriptions containing the titles of Harkhuf. ‎



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