Tuna el-Gebel

The tombs in Tuna el-Gebel, arranged like temples, are a perfect example of the diffusion of Egyptian and Greek styles. Those who expect to see the graves of the dignitaries will be surprised by the catacombs of ibises and baboons.

The tombs were built in the 8th century BC. - 4th century AD and were the necropolis of the ancient town of Khnum or Hermopolis. Among them, the tomb of Petosiris, priest of the god Thoth, is the most famous. The shape of the stone building resembles a Ptolemaic temple (4th - 1st century AD) more than a tomb. As in the case of temples, the entrance to the tomb chapel leads through a pronaos (vestibule) with four columns, each with richly decorated capitals in the shape of a developed lotus flower. There are barriers between the columns - another element characteristic of Ptolemaic temples. In the reliefs on both sides of the vestibule, you can see Petosiris making offerings to Thoth. God is represented here in the form of his sacred animals - baboon and ibis.

The interior of the Petosiris mortuary temple is a mix of the Egyptian and Greek styles. Although the theme of the decorations (lives of farmers and craftsmen) is well known from the more ancient tombs, the characters were shown in a completely different, non-Egyptian way. First of all, a perspective is used and the characters overlap and partially obscure each other. It was unimaginable in traditional Egyptian art, where every detail played an important role. Properly selected lighting brings out all the details from the reliefs and perfectly preserved polychrome.

The reliefs on the walls of the funerary chapel, on the other hand, represent pharaonic art. Here you can see, among others, images of Petosiris and his wife, who observe the bringing of funeral gifts. As you will see, Greek influences did not reach the most important parts of the tomb and did not extend to the zone of the afterlife. In the center of the chapel, between the four pillars, there is a shaft leading to the burial chamber. Two sarcophagi were found, in the shape of a human body, inserted into each other (alienated at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo). The inner coffin, made of black painted wood, is especially valuable. The profound hieroglyphs were filled with a glass, colored paste, and the whole thing is an outstanding example of works of this genre.

One of the tombs in Tuna el-Gebal is associated with a sad but romantic story. In Hermopolis Magna there lived a girl named Isadora, who was famous for her beauty and kindness. She fell in love with a young man from Antinoöpolis on the other side of the river. During the voyage to her beloved, Isadora's boat capsized and the girl drowned. Her desperate father decided to honor his daughter with a beautiful tomb.

To the north of the necropolis there is a square surrounded by a stone wall. Ibises, sacred Tota birds, were bred here. Just behind the square, the catacombs of ibis and baboons stretch out over the vast expanse. Most of them date from the 4th century BC. Inside, numerous sarcophagi with embalmed animal bodies were found, and the mummies were also placed in jugs.

On the south side of the necropolis there are large water wheels and a well that is over 30 meters deep. They provided the area with water in the Roman period (1st century BC - 4th century AD).