Tomb 219: Servant in the Place of Truth

Walk through the tomb of Nebenmaat, an artisan who built tombs in the Valley of the Kings

Name of NebenmatAmerican Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)

Theban tomb (TT) 219 sits within the ancient Egyptian village of Deir el Medina. It is the burial place of a man named Nebenmaat, and his wife Mertesger who lived sometime during the reign of Ramesses II during the New Kingdom (1279–1213 BCE).

View of Deir el MedinaAmerican Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)

Deir el Medina was not like a normal ancient Egyptian village, it was a planned settlement built to house the artists and craftsmen that built and decorated the magnificent tombs in the Valley of the Kings. It was known as Set-Maat, "The Place of Truth".

In the tomb, Nebenmaat is called “Servant in the Place of Truth on the West of Thebes”, meaning that he worked in the Valley of the Kings.

Tomb of Nefertari (2009-04-09) by Kenneth GarrettAmerican Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)

These artists did not only decorate magnificent royal tombs... 

Sennedjem and Iineferti in the Fields of Iaru Sennedjem and Iineferti in the Fields of Iaru (A.D. 1922; original ca. 1295–1213 B.C.) by Charles K. WilkinsonThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

...but also created elaborate tombs for themselves and their families.

Plan of tombs TT218, TT219, and TT220American Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)

TT 219 and the surrounding tombs, TT218 and TT220, are special because they belong to one family. The father and mother, Amennakht and Imyway were in TT218, Nebenmaat in TT219 was his first son, and his second son, Khaemteri, was buried in TT220. 

The three tombs share an entrance and outer chamber, lined with images of gods and goddesses and text from the funerary text, The Book of the Dead.

As you move further down, you see the entrance to each of the burial chambers. Nebenmaat is in the middle.    

Entering the burial chamber, to the left is the winged goddess Isis, the goddess of healing and magic.

Below is Nebenmaat with his wife playing flute and offering to Osiris, Amenhotep I, Hathor, and Ahmose-Nefertari.  

Stela Dedicated to the Deified King Amenhotep I and Queen Ahmose Nefertari (-1292/-1190)American Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)

Amenhotep and Ahmose-Nefertari were royals in the beginning of the New Kingdom and deified after their deaths as the patron gods of Deir el Medina, a city they helped found. 

On the wall to the left is Anubis in his jackal form, god of mummification and the dead. The tomb-owner's son is dressed as a priest who censes and libates his parents. 

On the opposite end, we see Anubis again with a tool performing the Opening of the Mouth ritual on a mummy.

Above him is the winged goddess Nephthys, a counterpart to her sister, Isis at the other end of the room. Nephthys is associated with the experience of death... 

...while her sister on the opposite wall represents life. Together, they symbolize the rebirth and resurrection of the dead. 

The two longer walls represent offerings and funerary rituals. 

Here, Wepwautmosi and his wife are making offerings to his parents, the tomb owners, Nebenmaat and Mertesger. 


If you look closely, you can see a pet cat under Mertesger’s chair. Hopefully her beloved cat was able to join her in the afterlife. 

On the other side, at the top right, the deceased is led by Anubis to Osiris and the Western goddess. 

In the next scene, Nebenmaat’s son Wepwautmosi and his wife offer a bouquet to the gods Ra and Sekhmet, while under the structure to the left, Nebenmaat offers a bouquet to the goddesses Satis and Neith. 

Satis wears the Hedjet, or white crown, representing Upper Egypt and Neith wears a headdress of horns and a sun disk.

Below, men and cattle pull a sarcophagus on a sledge in a funeral procession (including a chair with a bouquet and offerings) and a priest, wearing a leopard skin, stands before mummies at a tomb. 

On the ceiling, the deceased are adoring various gods. 

TT219 is notable for its monochromatic decoration, using only one main color instead of many. The background is white and the figures are yellow, with black and red accents and outlines; quite different from the colorful Egyptian tombs you may have seen. 


The French Institute for Oriental Studies (IFAO) and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities restored TT219, adding lighting and wood floors to accommodate tourists.

After being recently reopened, visitors can once again explore this unique group of tombs built and used by the great Egyptian artists and craftsmen of the New Kingdom. 

Credits: Story

Story by Tessa Litecky

3D scanning of TT219 by Andreas Kostopoulos (ARCE) and Ayman Damarany (MoTA)

Special thanks to IFAO and Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism for granting us permission to complete a 3D scanning of TT219

This story was created in association with a museum exhibition and academic conference titled Exalted Spirits: The Veneration of the Dead in Egypt through the Ages, jointly organized by The American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), The American University in Cairo (AUC), and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA) in Egypt. 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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