Tomb of the Two Brothers Niankh‑Khnum and Khnumhotep

Tomb of the Two Brothers Niankh‑Khnum and Khnumhotep

The so-called Tomb of the Two Brothers is among the largest and most magnificently decorated in Saqqara. It belongs to Niankh‑Khnum and Khnumhotep, both of whom held the titles “overseer of the manicurists of the Great House” and “prophet of Re at the Sun‑temple of Niuserre” a Fifth‑Dynasty king (c.2445–2421 BC). The tomb is a mastaba (Arabic for “bench”), a type of funerary structure that was generally rectangular in shape and built over the tomb proper, which was underground. The chapel of the tomb, where the cult of the tomb owners would be practiced, was generally located within the mastaba itself. Here, in addition to the chapel rooms within the mastaba, a part of it was cut out of the rock.

         The walls of the tomb are decorated with lively scenes of fishing with nets and spears, agriculture, butchery, gardening, carpentry, and jewelry‑making. Another scene depicts a banquet during which both tomb owners are entertained by singers and dancers while musicians play their instruments. In an interesting tribute to the Two Brothers’ own profession, another scene shows barbers, manicurists and pedicurists at work.

          One particular scene, which is generally reserved for a man and his wife, depicts Niankh‑Khnum and Khnumhotep in an intimate scene, standing close to one another. This, combined with the fact that they were both buried in the same tomb, has led to much speculation. Due to several factors, including the fact that each of them is represented with his wife, it is believed that Niankh‑Khnum and Khnumhotep were identical twins

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