General information on Tatia’s tomb
Like Khay II, Tatia was a priest of the front of Ptah (i.e. carrying the front of the bark of his divine master during processions). On top of that, he had the office of chief of goldsmiths with access to the Goldhouse (the temple of workshops) of the temple of Ptah. Again, this shows that the work of a ‘pure’ priest left plenty of time for taking on other jobs. According to the workmanship and style of his little chapel, Tatia undoubtedly lived during the Ramesside period, and presumbably during Dynasty 19 (1307-1196 BC).
Superstructure of Tatia’s tomb
The tomb was constructed on a bed of rubble, on top of which were laid limestone slabs to form the floor and foundation. Orthostats were used to construct the walls. A single course of these is still extant, forming the complete perimeter of the chapel, with only some elements of a second course being preserved. The chapel has the shape of a simple rectangle with open front, though two square pillar bases indicate that originally the front showed three narrow
doorways. Remains of two doorjambs are decorated with standing figures of the tomb-owner. The interior walls bear offering scenes, a scene of the funeral on the right, and an attractive depiction of an orchestra on the left. This scene with singers, flutist and harper is accompanied by 16 columns of text giving the text of the song. Finally, the rear wall is largely occupied by an almost complete stela of about 1.2 m in height, showing the deceased offering to Osiris and Re-Horakhte and receiving a meal himself. The whole chapel measures 2.4 m in width and 1.6 m in length.
Substructure of Tatia’s tomb
The aperture of Tatia’s shaft is located in front of his chapel. It has a roughly made limestone edge to accommodate the slabs of the lid, which had already disappeared due to robbery. Next to the shaft opening, several shallow saucers had carefully been put in the sand. These had served in order to light a little lamp for the deceased. The first metre of the shaft is revetted in limestone, and it then continues as a rock-cut pit to a depth of 5.25 m. It has a north chamber (A) with separate mummy-niche (B) and an irregular south chamber (C). Several breakthroughs connect this complex with a number of adjacent tombs and
Most interesting finds from Tatia’s tomb
No objects belonging to the tomb-owner or his family were found in Tatia’s subterranean complex. However, this does not mean that no inscribed objects were found. Two crumpled-up sheets of papyrus, which may have been blown in when tomb-robbers left the shaft open after their depredations, bore the name of a certain Suner. Unfortunately, his title cannot yet be understood, though he was a ‘chief’ of some kind. One of the sheets bears a copy of Book of the Dead chapter 25, the other of spell 168 which is better known as part of the so-called Book of Caverns. This was a funerary book mainly used for the decoration of royal tombs of the Ramesside period, though a few rare private copies are known. One of these, in the Museum at St Petersburg, belongs to another person called Suner, who seems to have a different title from the one recorded on the present fragment.
Tatia’s family relations
Objects from Tatia’s tomb in museum collections
- V. Oeters, ‘The Tomb of Tatia, Wab-Priest of the Front of Ptah and Chief of the Goldsmiths’ in Verschoor V., Stuart A.J., Demarée C. (eds.), Imaging and Imagining the Memphite Necropolis: Liber amicorum René van Walsem (2017), 57-80.
- M.J. Raven, H.M. Hays et al., Preliminary Report on the Leiden Excavations at Saqqara, Season 2009: the tombs of Khay II and Tatia, JEOL 42 (2010), 5-24.
Restoration of Tatia’s tomb
In 2009, the reliefs from the tomb were temporarily protected by covering them with sheets of plastic and tarpaulin and refilling the chapel with clean sand. In 2010, a protective shelter was constructed around the tomb chapel. The main reason for doing this was to allow the stela of Tatia and a block from the doorjamb of the chapel to be reinstated in their original positions. The new shelter was constructed out of limestone rubble from the site, laid in lime mortar and plastered with a lime render internally and externally. Some of the missing blocks in the floor of the chapel were also replaced, and the entry façade closed with a tripartite steel mesh screen with a central door. The roof structure of the shelter was made of timber, with a
bitumen sheet isolation and 10 cm of white cement mortar above, laid to fall to the rear of the chapel.