General information of Ry’s tomb
In 2013, the Dutch Archaeological Mission to Saqqara unearthed the tomb of Ry, located east of the tomb of Pay and Raia. Until the identification of its owner in 2018, the tomb was known as Tomb X. Ry was an army official during he reign of Horemheb, whose private tomb lies to the north of Ry’s tomb. He was part of the court’s inner circle and had been a recipient of the Gold of Honour, a sign of gratitude and favour of the king. As Chief of Bowmen, Ry held one of the highest military offices, only subordinate to the General of the army. During the first part of Ry’s career, the General was in fact Horemheb, who later ascended the throne as Pharaoh, and whose civil tomb is located to the north-west of the former’s tomb. Ry was not only in command of infantry, he was also Overseer of Horses, indicating his command over the chariotry.
Superstructure of Ry’s tomb
Ry’s tomb superstructure has a straightforward plan consisting of a entrance gateway, an open court and a single east-west oriented cult chapel, which would have been originally topped by a mudbrick pyramid. The entire complex is ca. 17 meters long and ca. 11 meters wide. The court is built against the northern wall of a as-of-yet unexcavated tomb to the south of Ry. A north-south oriented entrance was built in front of the gateway leading to the open court. On either side of the cult chapel are bases for stelae and low mudbrick platforms which functioned as repositories for used offering pottery. The tomb’s relief decoration seems to have been restricted to the cult chapel. A small pillared Ramesside chapel was built in front of Ry’s tomb, but does not form a part of the original structure.
Substructure of Ry’s tomb
A tomb shaft in the open court leads to the subterranean part of the tomb at 8 meters below the original floor surface. From an antechamber a short flight of stairs leads further down into the burial chamber. The entire substructure was found empty of any inscriptional evidence concerning the identity of the tomb owner. The substructure had been entered by tomb robbers through a series of break throughs from the substructure of the tomb of Meryneith/Meryre, which was itself a reuse of an older 2nd Dynasty funerary complex.
Most interesting finds from Ry’s tomb
When the tomb was excavated by the Dutch mission in 2013, it had already been largely emptied out by tomb robbers and early explorers. Some pottery dating to the 18th Dynasty was found in the two repositories on either side of the chapel entrance. The tomb’s decoration had also been largely taken, and has ended up in museums across the world (see below).
Ry’s Family relations
Ry was married to Maia, a Songstress of Amun-Re.
Objects from Ry’s tomb in museum collections
The relief- and architectural fragments in various museum collections around the world made it possible to not only identify the owner of former Tomb X as Ry, but also to digitally reconstruct (part of) the decorative programme of the cult chapel.
- Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung ÄM 7275: relief
- Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung ÄM 7277: relief
- Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung ÄM 7278: relief
- Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung ÄM 7290: Stela
- Brooklyn Museum 37.46E: Stela
- Cairo, Egyptian Museum JE 14975: pyramidion
- Jerusalem, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum No. unknown: relief
Relief fragments with uncertain identification
- Brooklyn, Brooklyn museum 37.1505E: relief
- Saqqara R94-78: relief
The mudbrick walls of the tomb of Ry were provisionally reinforced in 2015. In 2017, the tomb’s mudbrick walls were again strengthened, and the –at that moment unidentified– tomb was backfilled to protect it from the elements.
Raven, M.J., ‘A brief report on the 2017 Season (I): The South Sector’, Saqqara Newsletter 15 (2017), 10-26.
Staring, N., ‘Keys to unlocking the identity of “Tomb X”: Introducing Horemheb’s army official, Ry’, Saqqara Newsletter 16 (2018), 31- 46.
Planned as a chapter in Raven, M.J., Five Tombs (working title).