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Tombs Of The Nobles

Aswan, Egypt

This series of rock tombs chiseled out of the West Bank's cliffs were where Elephantine Island's governors, priests, and other grandees were buried during the Old and Middle Kingdoms. They're accessed by a series of steep staircases just to the left of Gharb Aswan's boat landing.

The first tombs you enter are Tombs 25 & 26 where 6th-dynasty governors Mekhu and Sabni were buried. The artistry in both is somewhat simple and roughly worked. Up the path to the right is Tomb 31, belonging to Prince Sarenput II, a contemporary of King Amenemhet II of the 12th dynasty. This is one of the largest and best preserved tombs in the necropolis. Beyond the tomb chamber is a small corridor with three niches on either side. Look to the left of the first niche to see a figure of the dead man and his son with excellently preserved colors.

Tomb 34 (Harhuf's tomb) contains inscriptions recording successful trading expeditions in Nubia. A flight of steps from here leads up to the Tomb of Setka (First Intermediate Period), which has badly-damaged wall paintings that still have astonishingly vivid colors and are among the few surviving examples of the decorative art of this period.

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