Review of Gian Luca Franchino's "Alla Ricerca della Tomba di Amenhotep I"

Submitted to the Egyptologists' Electronic Forum (EEF).

Gian Luca Franchino
Alla Ricerca della Tomba di Amenhotep I
Ananke, Turin, April 2007
ISBN 978-88-7325-179-8
Format: 17 by 24 cm, 158 pages, drawings and b/w photos
15 Euros.

I was very pleasantly surprised, a few weeks ago, to hear that a book in Italian had been written about the fascinating subject of the tomb of Amenhotep I. I bought it immediately and without reserves. And as an aside: I'm also happy to see that an Italian editor, Ananke, has started to publish several books about ancient Egypt, both in translation and original ones.

Before entering the delicate phase of the review itself, it must be openly stated and recognized that preparing a book about this subject is a very difficult and complicated task. There are so many interlinked and interwoven areas of Egyptology which relate to the tomb of Amenhotep I that creating a self-consistent description of the available data in one synthetizing volume, of which the parts would be equally balanced in volume and importance, is tremendously arduous. In this respect this present initiative is to be praised for the courage that Franchino shows in trying to treat the matter. And this recognition will serve also as an excuse for the author in those instances in which, in my opinion, some flaws are present. In this review both positive and negative aspects of the book will be signalled -- with the full realisation, no doubt acknowledged by the review's readers, that it is much more easy to write a book review than the book itself. Any criticisms of mine are merely dictated by the comparison of the present book with what I (with the ideas I have) would envision as the 'perfect' book on the tomb of Amenhotep I.

The book is subdivided in four parts:

In the first part (pages 13-53) Franchino presents a summary of the history of the XVII dynasty. This is of course important because it gives the historical setting needed to understand -- at least at a minimal level -- who the rulers mentioned in the Abbott papyrus (a document crucial for the present topic) were. As the focus of the book is not the SIP or the XVII dynasty as such, the treatment is not too deep, but the notions given can be considered sufficient and satisfactory, and these same general considerations apply to the whole first part of the book. Pages 35 to 40 are dedicated to the reign of Amenhotep I. Pages 41 to 53 provide some pieces of information about the cults dedicated to Amenhotep I and Ahmose Nefertari in the New Kingdom. Most of these pieces of information are taken from the famous BIFAO paper by Cerny and from the ZAeS paper by Alexandra von Lieven. Personally I found it nice to see that also some EEF discussions about this subject have been quoted. The known forms of the deified Amenhotep I are given (pA dmi, pA nb pA dmi, m rn.f nfr n pA ibib, pA ibib n Hwt-Hr, pA Xni Hr mtrw, pA n.i tA bnrt, n pA wbA, n pA kAmw, n pA-xnty, etc.). Some attention is drawn to temples that possibly are either built by or dedicated to Amenhotep I and Ahmes Nefertari in Western Thebes: the one once located at the Second Terrace of Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el Bahari, those at Dra Abu el Naga, and the hypothetical sanctuary at DeM. I would have liked to find in the book more notions and more archaeology on what is known about these monuments, for even though their archaeology is not fundamental to the question of the tomb of Amenhotep I, it would have been a nice excursus which would have added extra value to the book.

The second part of the book deals with the relevant tombs. The first three chapters contain a general and too quick survey of three possible candidates for the original tomb of Amenhotep I: KV 39 (8 pages), AN-B (6 pages) and K93.11 (6 pages). The fourth chapter of this second part (20 pages) is reserved for DB 320 and the question of the Kay (qAy) of Inhapi.

I must say that I would have liked longer descriptions of the tombs and their contents, especially in regard to AN-B: only about one page, much later in the book, devotes some words to the inscribed fragments recovered by Carter. One comment about AN-B itself: despite so many recent re-excavation efforts in West Thebes it seems, as Franchino correctly points out, that this tomb has not received any archaeological attention since Carter's work (1914); if nowadays it is felt useful to re-excavate tombs that were more or less carefully excavated decades ago, then it is hard to understand why a tomb like AN-B was never re-excavated -- and there are semi-permanent expeditions working maybe 500 m away from it!

The part about DB 320 in the book is, in my opinion, likewise too short. I would have liked to see photos and the hieratic facsimiles of all the relevant graffiti and dockets, with hieroglyphic transpositions, transliterations and commentaries, and not only their translations, with only a few short pieces of glyphs. As far as the Kay is concerned, the philological treatment and discussion of the word itself is not as extended as I would have liked. Basically only the WB, Faulkner's Dictionary and Gardiner's Grammar seem to have been consulted in this regard (these same lexicographical sources are used throughout the whole book). Most probably nothing useful about this problematic word could have come from the numerous dictionaries that have appeared in the last few years, but I would have preferred to have this checked out so that it doesn't simply remain a hunch of mine. Also I would have liked to see more info about Inhapi/Tenthapi herself. The excellent treatments by Awadalla (BIFAO 89) and Stasser (Melanges Vandersleyen) do not seem to have been used.
As an aside about Inhapi I: I would like to pose to EEF members the question of the authenticity of the text on the woman statuette in Marseille (366), which according to Capart is modern. I have no pictures of this statue (it seems to be on pl. 29 of Desroches Noublecourt's Femme au temps des Pharaons) and I do not have Capart's article in CdE 26, so I do not have a personal idea about it. Anyone?

Another unsatisfactory feature about the Kay of Inhapi is the too casual treatment of the hypothesis of Reeves which suggests that this place is to be identified with the famous Bab el Maaleq (WN-A), the "suspended tomb" in the Valley of the Eagle (Wadi en Nisr), or that the Bab el Maaleq might have some links to the tomb of Amenhotep I itself (see L. Gabolde and others in BIFAO 94 and bibliography herein quoted). The presence of the following three graffiti near the Bab el Maaleq tomb is in my opinion very tantalizing:
* hieroglyphic graffito 1037: "Amun-lord-of-the-thrones-of-the-two-lands, Amenhotep, a.w.s, who lives my name (?) for ever and every day, made by the scribe of the Place of Truth Butehamun";
* demotic graffito 3224: "The beautiful name of Pawahmu, son of Padiherpara, lives here eternally just in front of Amenhotep";
* hieroglyphic graffito 3541: "Amenhotep Lord of the Two Lands".
The combination of two facts might well be telling: it seems highly unlikely that these graffiti would refer to Amenhotep son of Hapu (as shown in BIFAO 94), plus the demotic graffito is incised exactly in front of the entrance to the Bab el Maaleq. Even though the recent archaeological investigation of the tomb was not able to confirm or deny any link with the Kay or with Amenhotep I's tomb, I think that the mere seven lines with which WN-A is described by Franchino are not enough. Also the exclusion of WN-A from the discussion, solely based on geographical considerations, is in my opinion not justified.

The most impressive thing that is evidenced throughout the whole book by Franchino, and especially in the second and fourth parts, is his knowledge of the Western Theban areas in terms of distances, paths, trails and tracks, modern and ancient, a knowledge that in my opinion can be gained only directly in the field and during long stayings. Moreover it is clear that he recently visited, as far as possible, all the places mentioned in the book, and experienced by eye all what could have been seen. This is a very good sign, especially in our times when "armchair" archaeology is so widespread. Many of the photos of the tomb entrances and other monumental features have probably been taken directly by Franchino. In that light it is a pity that a detailed list of photographic credits for the various plates is missing and that all the pictures are b/w (which is most probably the choice of the publisher and not of Franchino; I would have prefered raising the price of the book to about 20-25 in exchange for the use of colour photos).

The third part is dedicated to the Abbott Papyrus. The general layout is well founded, but also here I would have preferred a more extended treatment: hieratic, transcription into glyphs, transliterations, translations and commentaries. Luckily the master edition by Peet has been recently reprinted, however it is not easy to find and, as Franchino notes, even though very well done, it is becoming old. I'm not a philologist and I'm not in a position to really be able to judge, but as the knowledge of Late Egyptian has increased much since 1930, it seems to me that perhaps an entirely new edition of the whole corpus of the tomb robbery papyri would be worthwhile. Anyhow, the excellent approach to Abbott used by Franchino in this part is to try to tie the various kingly tombs listed to what is reasonably known today in the field of archaeology. The pieces of info known at the time of Winlock's seminal work (JEA 10) are nowadays extended by the work of Polz which is quoted in the most up-to-date way. The next pages (127-131) are reserved for the famous 'four unknowns in one equation' (as Polz dubbed them) of the description of Amenhotep I's tomb in P. Abbott. The major translations proposed up to now are given by Franchino: Maspero (1889), Breasted (1905-6), Weigall (1911), Carter (1914), Peet (1930), Thomas (1966) and Rose (2000); only the translation by Peden (Egyptian Historical Inscriptions of the 20th Dynasty. 1994) is missing. Here I report for those interested my own English retranslation of Franchino's Italian rendering: "The Eternal Horizon of the king Djeserkara, a.w.s., son of Ra Amenhotep, a.w.s., which measures 120 cubits down with respect to its stela called "The High Path", at the North of the House of Amenhotep, a.w.s., of the Garden".

The fourth part is dedicated to conclusions. The possible itinerary described in Abbott is resumed, and the archaeological evidence from KV 39, AN-B and K93.11 is given. When dealing with the enlargement of the funerary chamber of AN-B, Franchino doesn't mention the attempt by Reeves (in The Theban Necropolis: Past, Present and Future) to provide further support to, and to substantiate, Romer's idea (properly quoted by Franchino) that the enlargement itself was intended to transform an originally queenly tomb into a kingly tomb. In the same way the question of the "cairns", introduced by Reeves in his older works, is never touched upon. While admitting that using these cairns to find an archaeological match to the aHay of P. Abbott is very questionable, nonetheless they are worthy of being mentioned in a book about the tomb of Amenhotep I.
Though admitting that the problem of the tomb of Amenhotep I still remains unsolved, Franchino favours AN-B as the best candidate. His major argument is that it is the tomb in which the highest number of inscriptions, probably contemporary with the end of 17th dyn. and the beginning of the 18th dyn., has been found with the name of Amenhotep I. He doesn't enter explicitly into the subject of how much of this material was originally found by Carter in AN-B and how much was instead bought on the official and/or unofficial markets.

In conclusion, even though some minor deficiencies are present, this book by Franchino (potential readership: both amateurs and experts) is a very well assembled description of the problem of the tomb of Amenhotep I and it touches upon almost all components that are necessary to tackle this problem.

Federico Rocchi

EEF's web domain: