Irynefer's tomb no 290 at Deir el-Medina
The tomb lies at the far end of the Western cemetery and shares the forecourt with the earlier tomb of Nu and Nakht-Min
TT 291. It consists of the entrance, antechamber and the burial chamber. The tomb owner was Irynefer, a necropolis workman of the Ramesside Period. He lived in the village in the 19th dynasty during the early part of Ramesses II's reign. His title was the "Servant in the Place of Truth".
Photography © Elvira Kronlob 2011
The entrance to the tomb was identified by Bernard Bruyère during the season of 1922/1923.
Bruyère's drawing of the exact position of the tomb and its surroundings can be found in his manuscript MS 2004 0144 017, dated Januray 31st 1923, which was digitised by IFAO. It marks the outline of the tomb and numbers it as 290:
Bruyère's dig diary MS_2004_0144_018 from January 27th 1923 mentions excavations in the Northern area of the Western necropolis, where a large court with 2 tomb entrances was discovered. Each entrance had a shaft in front of it. Bruyère suggested that P1 (on his plan) could be entrance into Irynefer's (AriNefer) tomb. Fragments of several ancient Egyptian objects and a lamp from Christian times were found in this area.
Another, later, plan dated February 9th 1923 comes from Bruyère's manuscript MS 2004 0144 027 and shows the name of AriNefer with a question mark:
The photographs of the entrance to the tomb and its immediate surroundings in November 2011.
Unless otherwise stated, all the photographs on this page are © Elvira Kronlob 2011-2012
The steps leading down towards
the entrance into the antechamber
The tomb belongs to the most interesting corpus of the Ramesside tombs due to its beautifully decorated vaulted burial chamber. A short passage leads to the burial chamber. It is decorated with hieroglyphs and with a lying jackal Anubis, who looks towards the tomb entrance. The brick vault of the burial chamber was plastered and decorated with colourful scenes and inscriptions providing us with the names and titles of family members. The background to the scenes was painted yellow.
The scenes include illustrations from different spells of the Book of the Dead, images of funerary divinities, demons and manifestations of the deceased's ba and his shadow.
All the photographs of the interior of the burial chamber are © of Elvira Kronlob 2012 and were taken in autumn 2012. I am very grateful to her for taking the pictures and for giving me permission to publish them on our web site.
We will begin the tour of the tomb by looking to the right of the entrance towards the northern wall. In its centre Irynefer stands with his hands raised in adoration towards a frieze that decorates this wall and extends over the western wall. It is interspersed with protective symbols and hieroglyphs, where the baboon is followed by a uraeus, separated from the next one by a feather, symbol of Ma'at (Germond, 2001, 244).
The right side of the top register is mostly destroyed. Below the destroyed scene in the middle register Irynefer kneels before Osiris and two gatekeepers.
The top register of the northern wall shows a representation of the god Khepri sitting in front of the
offering table and a sep priest standing behind him.
On the entrance the visitor faces the western wall and the frieze described earlier. In the shrine within the frieze Ma'at and Shu sit on the left. Before Shu 42 judges of the dead stand (Osiris presides over them as the 43th judge of the dead). Here Irynefer swears that he had not committed any sin from a list of 42 sins (each judge responsible for 1 sin), and recites a text known as the "negative confession" from the Book of the Dead. "... I did not cause the suffering of the people, nor my relatives.... "
In the upper register above the frieze various deities are depicted
Next to the shrine there is a representation of Irynefer who worships Horus in the form of a falcon. Horus holds a flagellum, the sign of regeneration and rebirth, which gave the power to decide on entry into the afterlife.
The lower register of the far side of the western wall shows Anubis leading Irynefer to Osiris seated on his throne.
Above the scene with Osiris the vignette of the unusual
Spell 135 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead is shown.
Although the text of the spell is not present, the depiction of 5 deities, 7 stars and a disk against a dark background occurs in 5 other 19th dynasty tombs from Deir el-Medina.
According to David G. Smith, the spell could be a reference to the flash of the solar corona and to “Bailey’s Beads”, flashes of light occurring at the precise moment of a total eclipse (for the source see below bibl. 11, 12).
"Another spell to be said when the moon is new on the first day of the month. Open, O cloudiness! The bleared Eye of Re is covered, and Horus proceeds happily every day, even he the great of shape and weighty of striking-power, who dispels bleariness of eye with his fiery breath." (Faulkner, 2000,123)
The depiction on the southern wall, which lies towards the left side of the burial chamber, shows the mummification of the dead person, who rests on a bed with lion heads. Mummification is performed by
Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the dead.
The last wall to be described within the burial chamber is the eastern wall. In the lower register, we see Irynefer standing in the solar barque worshipping the
phoenix, symbol of the sun god of Heliopolis. The phoenix in the form of a grey heron wears the solar
disk, the image of Re and assures Irynefer of his future rebirth in the manner of the sun (Germond, 2001, 258).
In the register above, the couple prays to a young bull-calf standing in between 2 sycamores, the sacred trees of Heliopolis,the calf being a prefiguration of the solar
bull as it moves through the sky (Germond, 2001, 239).
Horus with the cow goddess Hesat, a manifestation of Hathor, on a reed mat on a pond, are depicted above the calf scene.
The following scene extends over both registers: parents of Irynefer, their age indicated by their white hair, pay homage to Ptah, the patron deity of craftsmen. Irynefer himself kneels in the scene in front of Ptah's throne and offers a figure of the goddess Ma'at (Hawass, 2009, 195-197).
The rear part of the eastern wall is divided into two
registers. The upper register is dominated by an
extraordinary scene: it shows the worshipped god
Ptah standing in front of the enshrined black shadow
of the deceased and two ba-birds. One flies, the
other sits in front of a black sun.
Just above the arch of the entrance to the chamber, depiction of green-skinned winged goddess Nut, her name indicated by the hieroglyphs shown above her head, is depicted. Nut is kneeling in front of Horus and
We turn to the last representation in the chamber, which is located at the top of the eastern wall near to the entrance.
The painting is very similar to a scene in TT3, the tomb of Pashedu: Irynefer is kneeling before a dom palm tree and drinking from a pool of fresh water (Dodson, 2008, 266-269). The illustration belongs to a spell for "drinking water in the necropolis" in the Book of the Dead. The design had to accommodate 3 different angles of view: the pool is seen from above, Irynefer is
kneeling on the bank on the far side not to obscure the water and the tree grows at the near side of the pool but does not obscure the kneeling figure (Málek,2003,242).
To view more photos of the inside of the tomb, follow the link to Claudia Ali and Ali Na'im's web site at
In the summer of 2010 Irynefer's tomb was briefly opened to visitors; by autumn 2010 it was closed again. In the middle of December 2011 the tomb opened while Sennedjem's TT1 closed. Jane Akshar described her visit to the tomb on her blog at
Objects from the tomb are scattered around the globe in several museums.
Photography Lenka Peacock
© Petrie Museum, UCL
Stela of Irynefer
From Deir el-Medina
Musee du Louvre. C311
Painted stela of the 'Artisan of the Royal Tombs', Irynefer and his family. The stela comes from the tomb chapel.
Top register: from left: Anubis sitting behind Osiris, both facing the divine Amenhotep I and his mother
The 2 lower registers show Irynefer and his wife censing before his parents and brothers. As a contrast to the wall painting in Irynefer's tomb, where both Irynefer and his wife are wearing white wigs, this stela shows Irynefer's father Siwadjyt as white-haired. The old age is indicated by these two examples, the instances of which are not very numerous. All seem to come from new Kingdom, especially from the tombs of Deir el-Medina (Janssen, 2007, 159-161).
Stela of Irynefer
From Deir el-Medina, tomb 290
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology,
University College London, UC14545
The lower part of this round-topped stela is missing. The upper part displays remains of a raised relief of the god Ptah shown from the front. At the bottom of the right side of the stela there is a remainder of a depiction of a an with his arms raised in adoration - his head facing to the left and his hands survived. The left bottom side shows remains of a heaped offering table. The rest of the stele is filled with 5 columns of hieroglyphic inscription, where the worshipper is identified as Irynefer, servant in the place of truth.
Height: 22 cm
Width: 20.5 cm
Photography Soloegipto 2009
© Musée du Louvre
Irynefer before a table of bread
From Deir el-Medina
Musee du Louvre. E12965
Found in the tomb of Irynefer.
Irynefer is sitting on a rock, brandishing two knives. The short text above the offerings indicates that the knives are sharpened. The text of five vertical lines
above gives the names and affiliation of Irynefer. The knives are thought to express Irynefer's powers over evil. Perhaps this ostakon was intended to invoke protection.
Photography Su Bayfield 2008
© Musée du Louvre
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. Dodson, Aidan - Ikram, Salima: The tomb in ancient Egypt : royal and private sepulchres from the early dynastic
period to the Romans
London : Thames & Hudson, 2008.
2. Janssen, Rosalind and Janssen, Jac. J.: Growing up and getting old in ancient Egypt
London : Golden House Publications, 2007.
3. Hawass, Zahi: The lost tombs of Thebes : Life in paradise.
London : Thames and Hudson, 2009.
4. Germond, Philippe and Livet, Jacques: An Egyptian bestiary : animals in life and religion in the land of the Pharaohs.
London : Thames and Hudson, 2001.
5. Bierbrier, Morris : The tomb-builders of the pharaohs
Cairo : The American University in Cairo Press, 1982.
6. Les artistes de Pharaon : Deir el-Médineh et la Vallée des Rois : Paris, musée du Louvre, 15 avril - 5 aout 2002
Paris : Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2002.
7. Faulkner, R. O.: The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead
London : British Museum Press, 2000.
8. Málek, Jaromír: Egypt : 4000 years of art
London : Phaidon Press, 2003.