area of Western Thebes that extends along the gebel front in a northeasterly direction from the point at which the gebel cuts into the Deir el-Bahri bay to the wadi leading to the Valley of the Kings. The site's cemetery includes both royal and nonroyal burials from the Second Intermediate Period into the Saite period. Exploration in Dra Abul Naga in the early to mid-nineteenth century yielded a considerable amount of the funeral furniture of several seventeenth dynasty kings, some of which is reported to have come from intact tombs. Known items belong to Antef V (tomb reportedly discovered by villagers in 1827; coffin now in the British Museum), Antef VI (coffin and canopic chest discovered in a cache in Dra Abul Naga sometime between 1845 and 1849; both now in the Louvre), and Sobekemsaf I (canopic chest now in Leiden). Other seventeenth dynasty kings who were probably buried in Dra Abul Naga include Sekenenre Taʿo, whose coffin and mummy were discovered in the Deir el-Bahri cache in 1881, and Kamose, whose intact coffin was discovered buried in debris in Dra Abul Naga by Auguste Mariette's workmen in 1857. Presumably Ahmose, first king of the eighteenth dynasty, was also originally buried in Dra Abul Naga, but his coffin and mummy were, along with those of Sekenenre Taʿo, discovered in the Deir el-Bahri cache. It seems possible that Ahmose's successor Amenhotpe I was likewise buried in Dra Abul Naga, but with the reign of Thutmose I, Dra Abul Naga was abandoned as a royal cemetery in favor of the Valley of the Kings on the other side of the mountainous ridge.

Dra Abul Naga continued in use as a noble and private cemetery throughout the New Kingdom. Although none of the decorated tombs in the area is currently accessible, a number of them are of considerable importance, including the tomb of Nebamun, scribe and royal physician under Amenhotpe II (?), and the tomb of Kenamun, mayor of Thebes, whose tomb is best known for the illustration of the arrival of Syrian ships in port and their encounter with Egyptian merchants and traders. Also important are the Ramessid tombs of Bakenchons and Nebwenenef, both first prophets of Amun under Ramesses II, and Tjaynufer, a third prophet of Amun who probably lived under Ramesses III.

Aside from the rock-cut tombs of the area, excavations in the 1990s carried out by the German Archaeological Institute revealed a previously unknown cemetery in the plain at the north end of Dra Abul Naga. These tombs are of a type previously unknown in Thebes: free-standing structures typically consisting of a mud-brick enclosure wall, an entry structure, a mud-brick wall enclosing a small courtyard (in most cases a simple doorway, but in a few examples consisting of a massive pylon), and an enclosed chapel appended to the rear of the enclosure wall. The actual tomb was dug in the courtyard, marked off by the enclosure wall. Grave structures of this type appear to have been in use from the end of the seventeenth dynasty until the reign of Thutmose III of the eighteenth dynasty. Interspersed among these relatively elaborate structures are other graves that appear never to have had superstructures. The apparent conclusion is that this was a cemetery in which both elite and lower-class Egyptians were buried; possibly the lower-class graves were placed near the elite tombs so that their chapels could be used by family members of the lower-class deceased.


  • Polz, Daniel. “The Location of the Tomb of Amenhotep I: A Reconsideration.” In Valley of the Sun Kings: New Explorations in the Tombs of the Pharaohs, edited by R. H. Wilkinson, pp. 8–21. Tucson, 1995.
  • Winlock, H. E. “The Tombs of the Kings of the Seventeenth Dynasty at Thebes.” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 10 (1924), 217–277

Steve Vinson