Tomb Families: Private Tomb Distribution in the New Kingdom Theban Necropolis

Review by Campbell Price

This book is the result of the very recent PhD research of Liverpool University student Katherine Slinger – so recent, in fact, that Dr Slinger graduated after the book was published, which must be some sort of record. Unlike too many promptly published doctoral theses, the contents here are genuinely of value. Tomb Families is a comprehensive study of the placement of West Bank non-royal Theban tombs with respect to their date, and the titles held by their owners. Packed full of information that has not previously been available in a similar format, the volume puts forward intriguing connections that may have previously been overlooked, and is useful for independent research.

The book begins with an introduction describing the methodology of using ‘Quantum Geographical Information Software’ (which allows features to be plotted exactly on maps) and reviewing previous literature. Chapter 2 is an exploration of the general topography of the Theban necropolis, with emphasis on the importance of processional routes, and the locations of major temples – which are integral to analysis of the development of tomb locations.

Chapter 3 investigates the existence of the earliest tombs – pre-dating the New Kingdom by up to a millennium, and generally rather less well-known. Chapter 4 sketches out the evolution of the necropolis throughout the New Kingdom and sets the scene for the geographical analysis that follows. In each section, locations and dates of use (and, importantly, reuse) are explored, together with the relationships between tombs and their owners, based on common titles or family connections. The study also encompasses Deir el-Medina, which is often treated separately from the wider Theban necropolis.

Slinger’s volume ends with a consideration of the placement of the tombs of the highest elites, viziers and high priests of Amun, before drawing overall conclusions and providing a highly useful tabulation of tomb numbers, locations, and owners’ titles. For anyone interested in the Theban necropolis, this is a significant addition to the literature in English – gathering data that has often been available only piecemeal and in several languages. Densely illustrated with annotated aerial photographs and plans, it provides a genuinely insightful investigation into the clustering of elite tombs.

You can read more about tomb families in Katherine Slinger’s article on p.40.

Tomb Families: Private Tomb Distribution in the New Kingdom Theban Necropolis
by Katherine Slinger
Archaeopress, 2022
ISBN 978-1-8032-7036-4
Paperback £70; pdf £16