Who Was Userhat?
Userhat lived during the 19th dynasty and had an unusual post of grave responsibilities. He was also known as Neferhabef meaning "First Prophet of the Royal Ka of Tuthmosis I." He served in the cult temple of Tuthmosis I. Userhat served during the reigns of both Ramesses I and Seti I. The father and mother of Userhat were Khensem and Tausert and he is said to have had three wives and one son and a daughter.
Located among the Tomb of the Nobles on the west bank of Luxor in Egypt, the tomb of Userhat is referred to as TT51. It lies in the Sheikh Abd el-Qurna region of the valley. Another tomb designated as TT56 was occupied by a person named Userhat but he was different than this Userhat.
Userhat's tomb was discovered in 1903 by Sir Robert Mond and it is one of the most beautiful tombs in the region. However, repeated robberies and vandalism led to the cutting of large pieces from the walls, and even the eyes of most of the figures were chiseled out to deprive them of an afterlife. Some relief work has helped in restoring the beautiful artwork.
Tomb TT51 of Userhat is believed to have the traditional T-shaped design. The courtyard is followed by a short corridor that leads to the vestibule. The public has access to only this part of the tomb. However, the structure continues with another corridor ending in a hall that has four pillars and a ritual shaft. The room then moves into a third corridor that is short and then goes to the burial chamber.
Decorations In Userhat's Tomb
Inside the tomb, only the stelae in the courtyard and the vestibule are decorated. The stelae have scenes of the funeral ceremony before the mummification of the owner, while the lower part has text illustrating his offerings to the gods.
The walls of the vestibule have several scenes like the weighing of the heart of the dead to judge its salvation as well as scenes of Osiris and Hathor. Userhat is shown worshipping falcon-headed Ra-Harakhty and the funeral ceremony of Userhat is also shown there. Another wall has scenes of men bearing gifts, the dead leaving a temple, and the priests. Also, the cartouche of Tuthmosis I serving Ka is depicted.
Userhat is shown in scenes with two of his wives and a son making offerings to the various deities. Another scene depicts priests dressed in leopard skins and mourning women
Unusual Feature Of Userhat's Tomb
Another scene illustrates Userhat with his wife and his mother Tausert. In this scene, they are shown sitting under a fig tree with three small birds perching on the branches. Also, there are three spirits in the form of birds having human heads, and the goddess of the tree is shown serving them bread, water, figs, and apples. This painted scene in the tomb of Userhat is among the earliest known ones depicting the art of shading. This makes it an unusual feature of the tomb for its time.
The tomb decorations also contain scenes of pilgrimage to Abydos, seen in most private tombs of the area. Scenes of worship, family members, and relatives are found all over the walls of the tomb.