Autobiography of Khnumhotep II on the east wall, lines 1-17, from the tomb of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hassan
The (auto)biography of Khnumhotep II is incised on sunk relief below the coloured dado on the lower part of all four walls of the chapel. The (auto)biography begins on the east wall, north of the shrine and runs anti-clockwise, ending on the east wall, south of the shrine. On the south wall between lines 160 and 161 is a small false door carved in bas-relief . The inscription reads:
(1-3) jrj-pꜤt ḥꜢtj-Ꜥ rḫ nswt mrrw nṯr.f jmj-r smjwt jꜢbt(jw)t Nḥrj sꜢ H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) mꜢꜤ-ḫrw jr n sꜢt ḥꜢtj-Ꜥ nbt-pr BꜢḳt mꜢꜤ(t)-ḫrw ‘The hereditary prince, the count, the acquaintance of the king, the beloved of his god, the overseer of the eastern deserts, Nehri’s son, Khnumhotep, the justified, born to the daughter of the count, the lady of the house, Baqet, the justified’.
(4-13) jr.n.f m mnw.f sp.f tpj m smnḫ njwt.f srwḏ.f rn.f n nḥḥ smnḫ.f sw n ḏt m js.f n ẖrt-nṯr srwḏ.f rn n ḳnbt.f smnḫ(.w) ḫft jꜢ(w)t.sn mnḫw jmjw-nw prw.f ṯn.n.f ḫnt mrt.f jꜢt nbt ḫrpt.n.f ḥmwt nbt mj ḫpr.s rꜢ.f ḏd.f ‘He has made (it) as his monument. His first act was embellishing his city that he might cause his name to flourish eternally, that he might distinguish it forever in his tomb of the necropolis. He strengthened the name of his council, (they) being advanced according to their offices, and the trusty ones among his household, whom he has distinguished ahead of his servants; every office which he has directed and every corps of craftsmen according to its nature, its mouth says’:-
(13-20) jw rdj.n wj ḥm n Ḥr Ḥ[k]n-m[-mꜢꜤt nbtj] Ḥ[kn]-m[-mꜢꜤt Ḥr-nbw MꜢꜤ-ḫrw nswt- bjtj Nbw-kꜢw-RꜤ] sꜢ-RꜤ [Jmn-m-ḥꜢt dj Ꜥnḫ ḏd wꜢs] mj [RꜤ] ḏt r [jrj-pꜤt ḥꜢtj-Ꜥ jmj-r] smjwt jꜢbt(jw)t smꜢ Ḥr PꜢḫt r jwꜤt [jt mwt.j] m Mn[Ꜥt-Ḫwfw] ‘The majesty of Horus Rejoicing in truth, the two ladies Rejoicing in truth, the golden Horus True of voice, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Nebukaure, the son of Re, Amenemhat (II), given life, stability and dominion like Re for ever, appointed me to (be) hereditary prince, count, overseer of the eastern deserts, stolist of Horus and Pakhet, to the inheritance of the father of my mother in Menaat-Khufu’.
(20-31) [smn].n.f [n.j wḏ rsj] smnḫ.n.f mḥtj mj pt psš.n.f jtr ꜤꜢ ḥr jꜢt.f mj jrjjt n jt mwt.j m tpt-r prt m r n ḥm n Ḥr [Wḥm-mswt nbtj Wḥm-mswt Ḥr-nbw Wḥm-mswt nswt-bjtj Sḥtp- jb-RꜤ sꜢ-RꜤ] Jmn-m-ḥꜢt dj Ꜥnḫ ḏd wꜢs mj RꜤ ḏt rdjt.f sw r jrj-pꜤt ḥꜢtj-Ꜥ jmj-r smjwt jꜢbt(jw)t m MnꜤt-Ḫwfw ‘He (Amenemhat II) set up the southern (boundary)-stele for me and established the northern (stele) like heaven. He divided the great river along its middle, according to what had been done for the father of my mother, by the utterance which issued from the mouth of the majesty of Horus Repeating births, the two ladies Repeating births, the golden Horus Repeating births, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Sehotepibre, the son of Re Amenemhat (I), given life, stability and dominion like Re for ever, (when) he (Amenemhat I) appointed him (H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) II’s grandfather) to (be) hereditary prince, count, overseer of the eastern deserts in Menaat-Khufu’.
(32-46) smn.n.f wḏ rsj smnḫ mḥtj mj pt psš.n.f jtr ꜤꜢ ḥr jꜢt.f gs.f jꜢbtj n Ḏwt-Ḥr r-mn-m smjt jꜢbtjt m jjt ḥm.f dr.f jsft ḫꜤw m Jtm ḏs.f smnḫ.f gmt.n.f wꜢs.t(j) jṯt njwt m snwt.s dj.f rḫ njwt tꜢš.s r njwt smnḫ(w) wḏw.sn mj pt rḫ(w) mw.sn r ntt m sšw sjp(w) r ntt m jswt n-ꜤꜢt-n mrr.f mꜢꜤt ‘He (Amenemhat I) set up the southern (boundary)-stele and the northern (stele) was established like heaven. He divided the great river along its middle; its eastern side belonging to the (district of) Mountain of Horus, as far as the eastern desert. At the coming of his majesty, he removed wrong-doing, (he) having appeared as Atum himself. He restored what he found ruined (and) what a city had taken away from its neighbour. He caused a city to know its boundary with (another) city, their steles were established like heaven and their waters were known according to what was in writing, being assigned according to what was in ancient time, in as much as he (Amenemhat I) loved justice’.
(46-53) ꜤḥꜤ.n rdj.n.f sw r jrj-pꜤt ḥꜢtj-Ꜥ jmꜢ-Ꜥ ḥrj-tp ꜤꜢ n MꜢ-ḥḏ smn.n.f wḏw rsjw m tꜢš.f r Wnt mḥtj.f r Jnpwt psš.n.f jtr ꜤꜢ ḥr jꜢt.f mw.f Ꜣḥwt.f jsr.f šꜤ.f r-mn-m smjwt jmntjwt ‘Then he (Amenemhat I) appointed him (H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) II’s grandfather) to (be) hereditary prince, count, gracious of arm, great overlord of the Oryx nome. He (Amenemhat I) set up the southern steles as his (H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) II’s grandfather) boundary with the Hare nome and his northern with the Jackal nome. He (Amenemhat I) divided the great river along its middle, its water, its fields, its tamarisks and its sand as far as the western deserts’.
(54-62) rdj.n.f sꜢ.f smsw.f Nḫt mꜢꜤ-ḫrw [nb jmꜢḫ r ḥḳꜢ] jwꜤt[.f m] MnꜤt[-Ḫwfw m ḥst ꜤꜢ]t nt-ḫr nswt m wḏt prt (m) r n ḥm n Ḥr Ꜥnḫ-mswt nbtj Ꜥnḫ-mswt [Ḥr-nbw Ꜥnḫ-mswt nswt-bjtj] Ḫpr-kꜢ-RꜤ [sꜢ-RꜤ S-n-Wsrt dj Ꜥnḫ] ḏd wꜢs mj [RꜤ ḏt] ‘He (Amenemhat I) appointed his (H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) II’s grandfather) eldest son, Nakht, the justified, the possessor of veneration, to rule his inheritance in Menaat-Khufu, as a great favour from the king, by a decree which issued from the mouth of the majesty of Horus Life of births, the two ladies Life of births, the golden Horus Life of births, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Kheperkare, the son of Re Senwosret (I), given life, stability and dominion like Re for ever’.
(62-71) [sꜤḥ.j] tpj n mswt.j wḏꜢ mwt.j r jrjt-pꜤt ḥꜢtjt-Ꜥ m sꜢt ḥḳꜢ n MꜢ-ḥḏ r ḥwt Sḥtp-jb-RꜤ dj Ꜥnḫ ḏd wꜢs mj RꜤ ḏt r ḥmt n jrj-pꜤt Ꜣḥtj-Ꜥ ḥḳꜢ njwwt mꜢwt mꜢṯ.n nswt jmtj n bjtj r sꜤḥ.f n jmj-r njwt Nḥr[j mꜢꜤ-ḫrw nb jmꜢḫ] ‘My principal nobility was due to my birth. My mother proceeded to (be) hereditary princess, countess, as the daughter of the ruler of the Oryx nome, to the domain of Sehotepibre, given life, stability and dominion like Re for ever, to (become) the wife of the hereditary prince, the count, the ruler of the new towns, whom the king proclaimed (as) foster child of the king of Lower Egypt, according to his rank of overseer of the city, Nehri, the justified, the possessor of veneration’.
(71-79) jn wj [nswt bjtj Nbw-kꜢw-RꜤ dj Ꜥnḫ] ḏd wꜢs mj RꜤ ḏt [m sꜢ ḥꜢtj-Ꜥ r j]wꜤt ḥḳꜢt jt mwt.j n-ꜤꜢt-n mrr.f mꜢꜤt Jtm pw ḏs.f Nbw-kꜢw-RꜤ dj Ꜥnḫ ḏd wꜢs Ꜣw-jb.f mj RꜤ ḏt dj.n.f wj r ḥꜢtj-[Ꜥ] m rnpt-sp 19 m MnꜤt-Ḫwfw ‘The king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebukaure, given life, stability and dominion like Re for ever, brought me, as the son of a count, into the inheritance, which the father of my mother had ruled, inasmuch as he loved justice. He is Atum himself, Nebukaure, given life, stability, dominion and his heart’s joy, like Re for ever. He appointed me to (be) count in year 19 in Menaat-Khufu’.
(79-86) ꜤḥꜤ.n smnḫ.n.j sj ꜤḥꜤ.s ḫprw m ḫt nbt srwḏ.n.j rn n jt.j smnḫ.n.j ḥwwt-kꜢw pr(w) jrjw šms.n.j twwt.j r ḥwt-nṯr smꜢꜤ.n.j n.sn pꜢt.sn t ḥnḳt ḳbḥw jrp snṯr wꜤbt sjp(.w) n ḥm-kꜢ.j ‘Then I advanced it, its wealth being brought about from all sorts of things. I caused the name of my father to flourish. I restored the tomb chapels and the houses thereof. I accompanied my statues to the temple. I presented to them their offerings: bread, beer, libation, wine, incense and meat, assigned to my ka-priest’.
(86-99) smnḫ.n.j sw m Ꜣḥwt mrt wḏ.n.j prt-ḫrw t ḥnḳt pꜢt kꜢw Ꜣpdw m ḥb nb n ẖrt-nṯr m tpj-rnpt wpt-rnpt rnpt ꜤꜢt rnpt nḏst Ꜥrḳ rnpt ḥb wr m rkḥ ꜤꜢ m rkḥ nḏs m 5 ḥrjw rnpt m šḏt- šꜤ m Ꜣbd 12 smdt 12 ḥb nb n tp tꜢ nfr tp ḏw jr grt ḥm-kꜢ rmṯ nbt ẖnn.tj.sn st n wnn.f n wnn sꜢ.f ḥr nst.f ‘I endowed him with fields and serfs. I commanded invocation offerings of bread, beer, cake, oxen and fowl, in every feast of the necropolis, at the beginning of the year, the opening of the year, the great-year feast, the little-year feast, the end of the year feast, the great feast, at the great burning feast, at the little burning feast, at the 5 epagomenal (=added) days of the year, at the scattering of the sand feast (?), at the 12 month feasts and the 12 half-month feasts, every feast upon the happy land and upon the necropolis. Now as for the ka-priest or any person who shall interfere with them he shall not remain and his son shall not remain upon his seat’.
(99-113) wr ḥst.j m stp-sꜢ r smr wꜤtj nb ṯn.n.f wj ḫntw sꜤḥw.f dj.kwj ẖr-ḥꜢt wnw ẖr-ḥꜢt.j jꜤb.n ḳnbt nt Ꜥḥ r djt ḥstj ḫftw dhn.j ḫftw ḥswt ḫprt m-bꜢḥ tpt-r nt nswt ḏs.f n ḫpr mjtt n bꜢkw pꜢ.n nb.sn ḥst st ‘Greater was my praise in the palace than that of any sole companion. He (the king) distinguished me over his nobles, I being placed ahead of those who were ahead of me. The council of the palace assembled to give praise in accord with my appointment, in accord with the honours that came to pass in the presence of, and (by) the pronouncement of the king himself. Never had the like happened to servants whom their lord had honoured’.
(113-120) rḫ.n.f st-ns.j nḫ(n) ḳmꜢ.j jw.j m jmꜢḫjj n-ḫr nswt ḥst.j ḫr šnwt.f jmꜢt.j m-bꜢḥ smrw.f jrj-pꜤt ḥꜢtj-Ꜥ Nḥrj sꜢ H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) nb jmꜢḫ ‘He knew my eloquence (while) my appearance was youthful. I was one honoured before the king, my praise was before his entourage, and my graciousness was in front of his companions; the hereditary prince, the count, Nehri’s son, Khnumhotep, the possessor of veneration’.
(121-131) kt ḥswt jrjjt n.j dj.tw sꜢ.j smsw Nḫt jr n H̱tjj r ḥḳꜢ Jnpwt r jwꜤt jt mwt.f sḫpr(.w) m smr wꜤtj dj.w r ḥꜢt nt tꜢ ŠmꜤw djw n.f ṯnw sꜤḥ jn ḥm n Ḥr S[šmw tꜢwj nbtj] SḫꜤ mꜢꜤt [Ḥr- nbw Nṯrw-ḥtp(.w) nswt-bjtj ḪꜤ-ḫpr-RꜤ sꜢ-RꜤ S-n-Wsrt dj Ꜥnḫ ḏd wꜢs] mj RꜤ ḏt ‘Another favour which was done to me: my eldest son, Nakht, born to Khety, was appointed to (be) ruler of the Jackal nome, to the inheritance of the father of his mother, he being made a sole companion and placed at the foremost of Upper Egypt; every dignity was bestowed on him by the majesty of Horus [Leader of the two lands, the two ladies] Who make justice appear, [the golden Horus Gods are satisfied, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Khakheperre, the son of Re Senwosret (II), given life, stability and dominion] like Re for ever’.
(131-143) jr[.f mnw.f m]Jnpwt m smnḫ gmt.n.f wš(.tj) jṯt.n njwt m snwt.s rdj(.w) rḫ.f tꜢš.f r ḫdt sjp(.w) r ntt m jswt dj(w) wḏ r tꜢš.f rsj smnḫ(w) mḥtj mj pt smn(.w) ḥr sḫwt nt ḫrww dmḏ(.w) r wḏ 15 smn(.w) ḥr Ꜣḥwt.f mḥtjwt tꜢš.f r WꜢbwt ‘He (the king) made his monument in the Jackal nome by restoring what he found destroyed and what a city had taken away from its neighbour, it being caused that he (Nḫt) knew his boundary according to the land-register, being assigned according to what was in ancient time. A stele was placed at his southern boundary, and the northern was established like heaven, being fixed on the fields of the lowland, totalling 15 stelae, established on his northern fields, his boundary with the Twin-sceptres nome’.
(143-150) psš.n.f jtr ꜤꜢ ḥr jꜢt.f gs.f jmntj n Jnpwt r-mn-m ḫꜢswt jmntjwt ḫft spr jrj-pꜤt ḥꜢtj-Ꜥ H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) sꜢ Nḫt mꜢꜤ-ḫrw nb jmꜢḫ r ḏd n rḫ mw.j ḥswt wr(w)t nt-ḫr nswt ‘He (the king) divided the great river along its middle, its western side to the Jackal nome as far as the western deserts, when the hereditary prince, the count, Khnumhotep’s son, Nakht, the justified, the possessor of veneration, petitioned saying: My waters do not know the great favours of the king’.
(150-160) kjj wr/smsw m nḏ m smr wꜤtj ꜤꜢ jmj-n smrw ꜤšꜢ jnw pr nswt smr wꜤ nn wn ḥr ḫw.f sḏmw n.f sḏmw r wꜤ ḥtm rw jnn Ꜣḫt n nb.s jrj ꜤꜢ ḫꜢswt Nḥrj sꜢ H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) sꜢ H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) jr n nbt-pr H̱tjj ‘Another prince/eldest was appointed as sole companion, greatest among the companions, abundant of gifts from the palace, a sole companion with none beside him, one to whom the judges listen, the only mouth which provides speeches, one who brings what is good to its owner, the keeper of the gateway to the foreign lands, Khnumhotep, son of Khnumhotep, son of Nehri, born to the lady of the house, Khety’.
(161-169) sꜤnḫ.n.j rn n jtw.j gm.n.j wš(.w) ḥr sbꜢw rḫ(.w) m tjt mtj m šdt nn djt kjj m Ꜥb kjj jsṯ sꜢ pw mnḫ srwḏ rn n tpjw-Ꜥ Nḥrj sꜢ H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) mꜢꜤ-ḫrw nb jmꜢḫ ‘I kept alive/restored the name(s) of my fathers, which I had found destroyed upon the doorways, they (now) being recognisable in signs precise in reading, without putting one in the place of another. Lo, a devoted son is he who makes to flourish the name(s) of the ancestors, Nehri’s son, Khnumhotep, the justified, the possessor of veneration’.
(170-184) sꜤḥ.j tpj m smnḫ n.j ḥrt sn s r jrrt jt.f jr.n n.f jt.j ḥwt-kꜢ m Mr-nfrt m jnr nfr n Ꜥnw r srwḏ rn.f n nḥḥ smnḫ.f sw n ḏt rn.f Ꜥnḫ(.w) m r n pꜤt ḏdw m r n Ꜥnḫw ḥr js.f n ẖrt-nṯr m pr.f mnḫ n nḥḥ st.f nt ḏt ḫft ḥswt nt-ḫr nswt mrwt.f m stp-sꜢ ‘My first noble deed was in establishing for myself a tomb, as a man should emulate what his father did. My father made for himself a tomb-chapel in Mer-nofret, in good rock of the bright type, in order to make his name flourish for ever, that he might distinguish it eternally, his name living on in the mouth(s) of the people and enduring in the mouth(s) of the living and on his tomb of the necropolis, in his splendid house of eternity, his place of everlasting, according to the favours from the king and the love of him in the palace’.
(184-192) ḥḳꜢ.n.f njwt.f m sḏtj n fḫt.f m ṯꜢm jr.n.f wpwt nswt šwtj.f jbꜢ.sn m ḫnw n ḳꜢbt.f m rḫ nswt st-ns.f nḫn ḳmꜢ.f Sbk-Ꜥnḫ sꜢ Nḥrj mꜢꜤ-ḫrw nb jmꜢḫ ṯn.n.f ḫnt sꜤḥw.f r ḥḳꜢ njwt.f ‘He ruled his city as a child who has not lost the foreskin (=circumcised). He performed the king’s commissions (while) his two plumes danced as a child at his breast, as one the king knew his eloquence while his appearance was youthful, Sobekankh’s son, Nehri, the justified, the possessor of veneration, whom he (the king) distinguished ahead of his nobles, to rule his city’.
(192-200) ḫprt ḥꜢtj-Ꜥ H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) jr.n.j mnw šps m-ẖnw n njwt.j ḳd.n.j wḫꜢ gm.n.j m ꜢꜢ sꜤḥ.n.j sw m wḫꜢw n-mꜢt sš(.w) m rn.j ḏs.j sꜤnḫ.n.j rn n jt.j ḥr.sn sš.n.j jrt.j ḥr mnw nb ‘What the count Khnumhotep achieved: I made a noble monument within my city. I built a columned hall which I found ruined. I erected it with columns anew, inscribed with my own name. I kept alive the name of my father upon them. I have inscribed what I did upon every monument’.
(200-208) jr.n.j ꜤꜢ n mḥ 6 m Ꜥš n NgꜢw r sbꜢ tpj n js ꜤꜢwj-r n mḥ 5 šsp 2 r kꜢr n Ꜥt špst ntt m-ẖnw n js pn dpḥt ḥtpw prt-ḫrw t ḥnḳt kꜢw Ꜣpdw pꜢwt ḥr mnw nb jr.n.j sꜢp.n.j š ḳd(w) ḫwt ḫft.f dd ṯꜢw n wḫꜢ pn ‘I made a door of 6 cubits of cedar-wood of Negau, for the first/main doorway of the tomb, and two door-leaves of 5 cubits and 2 palms for the shrine of the noble chamber which is within this tomb. The required offerings and invocation offerings of bread, beer, oxen, fowl and cakes are upon every monument which I made. I laid out a pond and trees were established in front of it, which gives breath to this columned hall’.
(208-221) wr mnw.j m-ẖnw n njwt tn r jtw sḏtj njwt tn mnḫ mnw smjt.s r tpjw-Ꜥ r prw/jsw jrrw ẖr-ḥꜢt.j jnk sꜤḥ mnw sbꜢ.n.j ḥmwt nbt ntj tm.tj m-ẖnw njwt tn n-mrwt mnḫ rn.j ḥr mnw nb jr.n.j grg(t) ḥrt mw nn mnst jm.s hꜢ n.j jmw kjj jt ẖr jrj-pꜤt ḥꜢtj-Ꜥ Nḥrj sꜢ H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) jr n BꜢḳt mꜢꜤ-ḫrw nb jmꜢḫ ‘Greater were my monuments within this city than (those of) the forefathers of the foster-child of this city. More splendid were the monuments of its necropolis than (those of) the ancestors, than the tombs which were made before me. I was one noble of monuments. I taught all crafts which were lacking within this city, so that my name might be well-established upon every monument. I made a foundation (?) overseeing the water, without a lack in it, that the boat of another father (?) should be sent down for me. Under the hereditary prince, the count, Nehri’s son, Khnumhotep, born to Baqet, the justified, the possessor of veneration’.
(222) ḫrp js jmj-r ḫtmt BꜢḳt ‘The director of the tomb, the overseer of the treasury, Baqet’.
- Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, Reign of Amenemhat II (c. 1918-1884 BCE).
- Egypt, Beni Hassan, Khnumhotep II (Tomb 3), Chapel, East wall, Lower section, Wall.
- Polychrome Painting on Limestone.
- Parent Context
- Chapel, Autobiography
- Data Credits
- Compiled by Madeline Jenkins and the Beni Hassan Research Group with resources from the Macquarie University Ancient Cultures Research Centre, and the Australian Centre for Egyptology.
- Project Funding
- Supported by the Australian Research Council Discovery Project scheme: DP160102223 "Measuring meaning in Egyptian art: A new approach to an intractable problem" held by N. Kanawati (MQ), L. Evans (MQ), A. Woods (MQ) and J. Kamrin (Met), the Macquarie University Department of Ancient History, and the Macquarie University Faculty of Arts.
- Original Citation
- N. Kanawati & L. Evans, Beni Hassan: Volume I: The Tomb of Khnumhotep II (Australian Centre for Egyptology: Reports 36, Aris and Phillips, Oxford, 2014, ISBN: 978-0-85668-846-1), pls. 07a (photograph),
- Recorded and published with permission from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. Photographs by Effy Alexakis as part of research on site. Copyright Macquarie University 2018. All rights reserved.
- Cite this
- Madeline Jenkins "Autobiography of Khnumhotep II on the east wall, lines 1-17, from the tomb of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hassan ." In The Beni Hassan Visual Dictionary: Khnumhotep II, edited by Alexandra Woods, Brian Ballsun-Stanton, and Nicolle Leary. Sydney: Macquarie University, 2018. https://benihassan.com/dictionary/Khnumhotep+II+Tomb+3/Autobiography+of+Khnumhotep+II+on+the+east+wall+lines+1-17/