May's tomb no 338 at Deir el-Medina

The owner of the tomb number 338 was called May. He was a painter employed at the Theban Necropolis and living at Deir el-Medina during the 18th dynasty, around 1300 BC. His title was the "outline draughtsman of Amun" (Rice,105-106). His tomb is situated in the Western Necropolis at Deir el-Medina near the tomb of the architect Kha (TT8) and is numbered TT 338.
Chapel of May
The wall paintings from May's tomb were detached from the walls and removed to Turin.
From Deir el-Medina / Chapel of May (TT 338)
Dimension: 185 x 145 x 225 cm
Clay and painted stucco
The original paintings are on display in the
Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, in the Room 06
Inventory NB: S. 7910 RCGE 45711
Photos by Lenka Peacock 2020
© Fondazione Museo delle Antichità Egizio di Torino
Stela of May
From Deir el-Medina / Chapel of May (TT 338)
End of the 18th, beginning of the 19th dynasty
This round-topped stela is divided into 3 registers. In the top register May and his wife stand in adoration in front of Osiris and Hathor, both seated on their thrones. In the
lower registers the couple sit on chairs in front of an offering table. Their daughter stands next to them.
A procession consisting of their family members approach them with their offerings: 3 men in the middle register and 4 men and 2 women in the bottom register.
Dimensions: 66,7 x 42 x 7,3 cm
The stela is on display in the Egyptian Museum
in Turin, Italy, in the Room III
Inventory no. Cat. 1579 RCGE 46595
Stela of draughtsman May
From Deir el-Medina
End of the 18th, beginning of the 19th
Height: 30 cm
Width: 21 cm
The stela would have come from a niche in May's chapel, where it would have been placed on a stone pedestal
(according to Bernard Bruyère). When Deir el-Medina was excavated during the last century, these chapels were partly
or completely gone as they were built above the ground and made of mud bricks.
The stela is on display at Kingston Lacy, Dorset, England, in the Billiards Room Bankes stela no. 1.
Photo by Lenka Peacock 2011
© The National Trust, UK

This is a round topped stela of a two fold division. In the lunette - the spatial region in the upper portion of the stela - the solar barque is carrying a solar disk above the sky, represented by the hieroglyphic sign pt (sky).  A child with a thumb in his mouth sits on the right side of the barque. The lower register of the stela consists of an image of a man standing at the bottom of the right side of the stela. He is facing to his right. His arms are lifted in adoration pose. Above and in front of the figure there are 10 columns of hieroglyphic inscription. The columns are written from top to bottom and read from left to right.  

The text consists of a hymn to the setting sun:
"Praise to Re when he sets in life in the western horizon of heaven. You have appeared in the western half as Atum who is in the evening, having come in your might, having no adversaries and having taken possession of the sky as Re. You appear and shine upon the back of your mother, having appeared (as) king of Divine Ennead. I have done right in your presence, and kiss the ground (for?) your crew, worshipping (whilst) you travel the heaven, your heart glad. The Island of Flame has become peaceful, your enemies are fallen and are no more. The evil dragon's abode is doomed. Your corpse is Atum in the Boat of the Morning, the rightful one of the Two Lands. Beautiful is the Boat of the Evening when is has accomplished its end. (Said) by the draughtsman May, true of voice." (Čern‎ý,1958)

This type of stela is called a lucarne stela. Altogether there have been identified 13 lucarne stelae originating from Deir el-Medina. This stela is an early example of its type as the owner is depicted standing rather than kneeling in adoration. Only one other stela - Turin 50043 - shares this feature, all other 11 stelae depict the owner kneeling. Lucarne stelae share the following characteristics:
- a solar barque shown in the lunette, usually placed above the pt sign
- a sun disk or another sun god representation is depicted in the solar barque
- sun god is accompanied by other symbols relating to him (adoring baboons, wedjat eyes)
- the owner either stands or kneels in adoration of the barque
- although the owner's relatives can be depicted, it is seldom a case
- the hymn, written in columns, praises the rising and/or setting sun
Lucarne stelae were manufactured from late 18th dynasty until the 20th dynasty. They measure between 30 to 55 cm (Goyon,2007,1953-1954).


To view and browse the digitised version of The Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings, (also known as Porter & Moss or TopBib) for this tomb, go to
Material for the Bibliography is gathered from an ever-expanding range of multi-lingual sources,
encompassing both specialist and semi-popular Egyptological and Near Eastern publications, periodicals, museum guides, exhibition and auction catalogues, together with the growing wealth of web resources. The Bibliography also analyses a range of unpublished manuscripts, including those housed in the Griffith Institute Archive. Published in May 2014 by the Griffith Institute, University of Oxford, the volumes are constantly revised and augmented.

1. Rice, Michael: Who is who in Ancient Egypt
London : Routledge, 2002.
2. Čern‎ý, J. Egyptian Stelae in the Bankes Collection.
Oxford, 1958.
3. Goyon, Jean Claude and Cardin, Christine: Proceedings of the 9th International Congress of Egyptologists, Vol. 1
Peeters Publishers, 2007. 2031 p.