Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, Thebes
The rock tombs of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, the hill to the north of the Ramesseum, together with those of El-Khokha to the east, form the largest and most important assemblage of private tombs in the Theban cemeteries, built by great dignitaries, priests, high officials and others of lesser account during the New Kingdom. In the southern part of the area are the tombs in the Hill of Qurnet Murai and the Valley of Deir el-Medina; to the north those in the long slopes of Dra Abu elNaga. The total number of tombs of some consequence, as recorded by the Department of Antiquities, is at present 414, but this figure can be expected to increase.The tombs normally consist of a forecourt, a main chamber, frequently with columns or pillars supporting the roof, and a corridor ending in a niche for statues of the dead man and his favorite relatives; there may also be a small chamber on either side of the corridor. The funeral offerings to the dead were made in the forecourt. Since the local limestone is of poor quality and unsuitable for relief sculpture, most of the decoration consists of paintings, the walls having been prepared by the application of a coating of Nile mud covered with whitewash. Many of these paintings, which throw a flood of light on life in the New Kingdom, are perhaps the finest of their kind in Egyptian art.The end walls of the hall usually imitate the form of huge gravestones, one of them normally inscribed with prayers for the dead man, the other recording his biography; the longitudinal walls show him engaged in his everyday activities; while in the corridor are depicted the funeral ceremonies.The tombs of Abd el-Qurna fall into four separate groups:1. Those in the eastern and northern slopes of the hill, to the west of the road from the Ramesseum to Deir el-Bahri, which are enclosed within a low stone wall. This Upper Precinct, as it is called, has two entrances, one on the south side, near Tomb 100, and one on the north, near Tomb 68.2. Those in the plain between the Ramesseum and the Upper Precinct.3. The tombs in the so-called Lower Precinct, between the northeast side of the hills of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna and El-Khokha, to the east of the road from the Ramesseum to Deir el-Bahri. The entrance is opposite the northern entrance to the Upper Precinct.4. The tombs of El-Khokha, to the northeast of the Lower Precinct.