Remember ‘Belzoni the Great’, the circus strongman who brought the head of Ramesses II back to England? He brought back hundreds of other artefacts, too, including these paintings from the tomb of Nebamun.
Ancient Egyptian craftspeople painted beautiful scenes all over the walls and ceilings of their most important tombs, then sealed them shut. The paintings were intended not for human eyes but for the Egyptian gods and for the spirit of the dead person. Belzoni did not care too much about that. He and his men used saws and chisels to rip whole paintings out of the walls of Nebamun’s tomb chapel.
These colourful pictures of Nebamun’s life show him living a happy life, healthy, wealthy and wise. Today’s scene depicts a fabulous banquet with well-dressed guests, piles of food, skilful musicians and saucy dancers. The hieroglyphs show the lyrics of the song being sung by the musicians:
Geb (the earth god) has caused his beauty to grow in everybody, Ptah has done these things with his hands in order to create peace, The channels are flooded with his water anew and the land is flooded with his love!
Nebamun and his wife were on the far left of this scene, but that part of the painting is now lost. That’s what happens when you tear chunks out of a three-thousand-year-old plaster wall.