vizier during the reigns of Thutmose III (c. 1504–1452 BCE) and Amenhotpe II (c. 1454–1419 BCE). Rekhmire was a scion of a distinguished family of administrators, having been preceded as vizier by his grandfather Aametju and his uncle Amunuser. His father, Neferweben, may have served briefly in the same office, but the evidence for this is extremely meager. Rekhmire's chief monument is the funerary chapel that he built in Western Thebes (tomb 100), the decoration of which sheds important light on his life and on the civil administration of Egypt.

First mentioned as vizier in an account papyrus dated to the thirty-fourth year of the reign of Thutmose III, Rekhmire recorded in his funerary chapel a version of the text known as the “Duties of the Vizier,” which describes the primary official functions of pharaoh's chief deputy: personnel management, internal security, and the dispensation of justice. Scholarly debate since the 1980s has focused on the original date of composition of this remarkable text. It is a matter of dispute whether certain grammatical features reflect the Middle Kingdom or the early eighteenth dynasty, and therefore whether the text reflects a governmental organization original to the twelfth or thirteenth dynasties rather than the New Kingdom, furthermore, it is not certain whether, during the reign of Thutmose III, there was a single vizier or two such officers representing Upper and Lower Egypt, as was the case later in the dynasty (Kruchten 1991).

Rekhmire's funerary chapel is renowned for its detailed portrayals of foreigners from the lands north and south of Egypt, shown bringing to the royal court precious gifts and rare animals such as elephants, bears, and giraffes. A highlight of these tribute processions is one of the earliest portrayals of Minoans, distinguished by their curled tresses, who are depicted wearing striped and tasseled kilts and carrying objects of Aegean manufacture. Other scenes include a comprehensive sequence of mortuary rituals from the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, conducted before the mummy of the deceased prior to burial. Still another section of the chapel is devoted to detailing the various crafts that Rekhmire must have supervised in the course of his duties; there are lively portrayals of craftsmen at work in their ateliers—sculptors, carpenters, bricklayers, brewers, bakers, stonemasons, lapidaries, leather-workers, and metal-workers. The transition to the reign of Amenhotpe II is marked by a depiction of Rekhmire's triumphant return home after a visit to the king, during which he was confirmed in the office of vizier.

The funerary chapel of Rekhmire contains no burial chamber, suggesting that he was interred in a separate location in the Theban necropolis. No statues of Rekhmire are known, and other attestations are scarce. His name occurs on an ostracon with the appended title “Overseer of Works at Djeser-akhet,” at the temple Thutmose III built at Deir el-Bahri. The quartzite funerary stela from his chapel is presently in the Louvre (C 74) in Paris.

Bibliography

  • Davies, Norman de Garis. Paintings from the Tomb of Rekh-mi-Reʿ at Thebes. Publications of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Egyptian Expedition, 10. New York, 1935. Details in color of several of the more magnificent scenes from Theban Tomb 100.
  • Davies, Norman de Garis. The Tomb of Rekh-mi-Reʿ at Thebes. Publications of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Egyptian Expedition, 11. New York, 1943. Complete drawings and a description of the decoration of Theban Tomb 100.
  • Kruchten, Jean-Marie. Biblioteca Orientalis 48 (1991), pp. 821–831.
  • Newberry, Percy. The Life of Rekhmara. London, 1900. An early account, now somewhat outdated, of Rekhmire's life, based on the information contained in his Theban tomb.
  • van den Boorn, Guido. The Duties of the Vizier. London, 1988. A detailed analysis of the text describing the responsibilities of the vizier, based largely on the version in Rekhmire's tomb, compared with parallels in the tombs of User (Theban Tomb 131), Amenemope (TT 29), and Paser (TT 109).

Peter Dorman