Research sponsored by the Fonda>on Philippe Wiener – Maurice Anspach, Brussels.
Architecture of Granaries in the Tomb of Khnumhotep II, Beni Hasan Kimberley Wa, email@example.com The Role of Storage in Ancient Egyp>an Economy
As ancient Egypt worked on the basis of collec>on and redistribu>on, storage had a central role in its economy. Since life depended on cereals, its storage whether for rapid consump>on or long-‐term to prevent famines, was vital for all. The ac>on of ﬁlling the granaries can be seen in elite tombs from the Old Kingdom to the end of the Middle Kingdom: this “topos” has a highly symbolic value as it stood for the granaries of the aQerlife but also mirrored the landscape of the living.
The study of storage structures
Close examina>on of storage structures provides access to ancient economy, independently from the literary sources. An es>ma>on of the granaries’ capacity can give an insight into the estate where the granary belonged. For example, the huge capacity of the Fortresses of the Second Cataract in Nubia and the period they were built point towards an aim that is more than just protec>ng the borders: they also provided grain supply for the deployed troops in Nubia.
Located on the eastern face cliﬀ of Beni Hasan, which lies south of the modern town of Minya in Middle Egypt, the site certainly was the necropolis of the main city of the 16th Upper Egypt nome, the Oryx nome. The tomb belonged to the high oﬃcial of the Oryx nome Khnumhotep II, who is the “Administrator of the Eastern Desert” during the ﬁrst half of the 12th Dynasty, and presents fascina>ng wall pain>ngs, the well known scene of the tribute of foreigners, and this peculiar scene, illustra>ng two aspects of the storage in Egypt on the north part of the West Wall.
Drawing kindly provided by Naguib Kanawa>
Structure iden>ﬁed as a Treasury, pr-‐ḥḏ. Unique ﬁgura>on.
Possible iden>ﬁca>on as an enclosure wall, sugges>ng that both structures are linked.
Porch within the Granary structure where the opera>ons are recorded and supervised.
Structure iden>ﬁed as a Granary, šnwt. Access to the chambers through the roof and through shu,er windows.
For each of these depicted features, it is possible to draw parallel with other storage structures from the same period, whether archaeological, or in model form. The Block V in the Fortress of Uronar> is iden>ﬁed as a treasury. Its access could have been easily guarded as there was only one entrance, through the courtyard. Addi>onally, the long rectangular rooms recall the later ones, visible in the Ramesseum. Kemp, B.J. 1986. "Large Middle Kingdom Granary Buildings (and the archaeology of administra>on)”. ZÄS 113: 123
This detail of the tomb of Meryre in Amarna is later, but it provides a good parallel for the facade of the structure displayed in the tomb of Khnumhotep II. The capital of the column is diﬀerent but it could be due to the diﬀerent periods of the structures.
Davies, N. de G. 1903. The Rock Tombs of El-‐Amarna. I The Tomb of Meryra. London: Egypt Explora>on Fund: pl. XXXI.
The Fortress of Uronar> is the best example to illustrate the close links between the granary (Block IV) and the treasury (Block V). They were surrounded by an enclosure wall, thicker than the rest of the structure. Block VI can be seen as an administra>ve part.
Kemp, B.J. 1986. "Large Middle Kingdom Granary Buildings (and the archaeology of administra>on)”. ZÄS 113: 123
The model of Sepi III, Deir el-‐ Bersheh, shows a roofed porch in the enclosure of the granary. Below, in its shade, two men are seated: one scribe and the supervisor or owner of the estate. Daressy, G. 1900. "Fouilles de Deir el Bircheh (novembre-‐ décembre 1897)”. ASAE 1: 38
Problema>c parallel: The outer coﬃn of Sepi III from Deir el-‐Bersheh. This foot panel presents an interes>ng detail: a porch standing in front of the granary structure. However, the granary is depicted in a diﬀerent manner: the chambers are domed, recalling the round storage structures used during the Second Intermediate Period in Tell Edfu and Tell Hebua. As this depic>on and the model are clearly from the same period and the same loca>on, it rises the ques>on of whether the quadrangular model displays reality or a shortcut to depict round silos. Schulz, R., Seidel, M. and Altenmüller, H. (eds.). 1998. Egypt: the World of the Pharaohs. Köln: Könemann: 129.
The model of Meket-‐Rê clearly illustrates how the roof was used to ﬁll in the chambers with grain. The access to the roof is provided through a ﬂight of stairs. Given the access, it is possible to assume that the roof was ﬂat, thesis illustrated by Kemp.
h,p://www.googleartproject.com/fr/collec>on/the -‐metropolitan-‐museum-‐of-‐art/artwork/model-‐granary -‐from-‐the-‐tomb-‐of-‐meketre-‐unknown/676397/
This is a possible reconstruc>on for the roof of a granary from the Second Cataract Forts. It draws clear parallels with the one depicted on Khnumhotep II’s wall. Access was provided on the ground through the diﬀerent rooms, but their ﬁlling was operated through openings in the roof.
Kemp, B.J. 1986. "Large Middle Kingdom Granary Buildings (and the archaeology of administra>on)”. ZÄS 113: 127
Based on this, we can iden>fy the main features of granaries in depic>ons: they were installed around a courtyard, possibly preceded by a columned hall; access to the roof could be gained through a staircase, possibly indoor; to retrieve the grain, two shu,ers’ windows were ﬁgured; they were surrounded by an enclosure wall, through which a door led; they might have been in close vicinity of the storerooms dedicated to goods, even part of the same estate. The scene of Khnumhotep II has the merit of displaying all these features with clarity.