The tomb of Menna (Theban Tomb 69, or TT69), is one of the most beautiful of the “Tombs of the Nobles” on the West Bank at Luxor, but is not a part of the regular “tourist trail”, meaning that you’ll almost certainly be able to visit it in peace and quiet.
In order to visit the tomb, you’ll need to buy a ticket from the West Bank ticket office, which is at the end of the road running past the Colossi of Memnon. The ticket costs (at the time of my most recent visit) LE60 (£2.90 or $3.60), and allows you to visit three tombs: Menna (TT69), Nakht (TT52), and Amenemopet (TT41):
You’ll also need a photography ticket, also sold at the West Bank ticket office, costing LE300 (£14.50, $18), which allows you to take pictures in all three tombs:
Given that this is a rarely-visited tomb, you have a good chance of being able to bribe the tomb guardian to allow you to take pictures without a ticket (I’d suggest starting by offering LE50, and go up to LE100 if necessary). It’s a bit of a trek from the tomb back to the ticket office, though, so I’d suggest buying a photography ticket anyway, and using it elsewhere if it’s not needed here. Photography tickets are generic, and can be used at any site for which they’re required.
The tomb is located in the Sheikh Abd el-Qurna necropolis, which is the necropolis area near the Ramesseum. Park in the car park almost opposite the Ramesseum, and it’s about a 5-minute walk from there to the tomb. If you’re with a guide, they should know where it is; if you visit independently by taxi, it is signposted from the car park.
Menna was an official probably living during the reign of Amenhotep III in the 18th Dynasty. He held titles relating both to the administration of the large agricultural estate of the Temple of Karnak (“Overseer of the Fields of Amun”, “Overseer of the Ploughlands of Amun”), and relating to an administrative role within the king’s court (“Overseer of the Fields of the Lord of the Two Lands”, “Scribe of the Lord of the Two Lands”).
Menna’s wife, Henuttawy, was likely a woman from a more influential family than Menna himself. She held the title of “Chantress of Amun”, indicating a connection with the Temple of Amun at Karnak. Her father may have been Amenhotep-sa-se (TT75) who held the title of “second prophet of Amun” placing him second only to the high priest within the hierarchy of Karnak temple.
Menna and Henuttawy had five children: two sons, Se and Kha, and three daughters, Amenemweskhet, Nehemet, and Kasy. Amenemweskhet held the title of “Lady-in-Waiting”, which tied her closely to the royal household. Nehemet is depicted wearing a crown typically worn by ladies-in-waiting and may have also carried this title.; she is labelled with the words ” mAa-xrw” which means “true of voice” or “justified”, indicating that she was dead by the time the tomb was decorated. Menna’s son, Se, was a “scribe of counting grain of Amun”, and Kha was a minor priest known as a “wab-priest”.
Two more women, Way and Nefery are depicted in Menna’s tomb. They both carry the titles of “Chantress of Amun” and “Lady of the House”. They are also labelled with the word “sAt” which can mean “daughter” but can also mean “daughter-in-law”. Their title of “Lady of the House” indicates that they were married, so they may well have been the wives of Se and Kha.
Menna’s tomb has a layout typical of a New Kingdom tomb:
The tomb originally had an open courtyard at the front (now gone). The offering chapel (in which visitors to the tomb could leave offerings to the deceased) had the usual shape of an inverted “T”, with a staircase leading down to a sealed burial chamber within which the coffins of Menna (and his family) were placed.
On entering the tomb through the doorway (1 in the plan above), the end wall of the left arm of the tomb shows Menna and Henuttawy (with their two sons behind them) in front of the god Osiris, the ruler of the underworld:
The left wall of this arm of the tomb shows agricultural scenes, along with Menna’s coffin on a boat, and two statues of the tomb owner standing in a shrine, with offerings being made to it:
These scenes relate to the idealised view of how Menna would like to spend eternity, in a pastoral idyll similar to that of Egypt itself, supervising a productive estate on which produce is grown to provide him with all the necessities (and luxuries) of life.
The end wall of the right arm of the tomb chapel shows Menna and Henuttawy worshipping several different gods, includung Ra-Horakhty and Anubis:
The side wall of this arm of the tomb shows Menna and Henuttawy seated on chairs, while an array of offerings is brought into the tomb:
The “arm” of the T of the tomb is officially closed to visitors, but a small bribe to the guard will probably let you gain access to take pictures. This is well worth doing – it’s the most beautifully decorated part of the tomb. The niche in the end wall would originally have contained a statue of Menna, and this would have been the focal point for offerings:
On the right wall we see the funerary boats carrying Menna’s coffin, and a fascinating array of scenes showing his mummification and the ceremonies carried out during the actual funeral:
Next to this are scenes of Menna hunting birds and spearing fish in the papyrus swamps (the favourite pastime of noblemen):
And finally, Menna and Henuttawy seated in front of a heaped offering table, with a calendar of the anticipated offerings:
The left wall again has a depiction of offerings being brought, with weeping mourners:
At the end of the scene, though, we see that these offerings are being presented to two gods: the goddess of the West (the abode of the dead), and Anubis, the god of the necropolis:
The final scene on this wall is a judgment scene, where Menna is judged by the gods to see whether or not he is worth to enter the kingdom of Osiris. His heart is weighed against a symbol of Maat (truth) on a balance, with the result being recorded by Thoth.
There are many more fascinating scenes in this tomb. It’s one of the most photogenic tombs on the West Bank, and it amply repays the effort of visiting.
Note: All photographs in this article are copyright Chris Marriott. The plan of the tomb of Menna comes from Wikipedia Commons, and is used under licence. See: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TT69.jpg