National Geographic News
Photo of colored inscriptions on a newly discovered tomb in Luxor, Egypt.

Khonso Im-Heb, bare-headed, and his wife are shown in ritual scenes with two gods associated with the underworld and death: Osiris (top left) and Anubis (top right).

Photograph by Supreme Council of Antiquities, AP

Elizabeth Snodgrass

National Geographic

Published January 3, 2014

The stunning tomb of an ancient Egyptian brewer has been found on the west bank of the Nile. Paintings on the walls depict scenes of worship and daily life from 3,000 years ago, reports a Japanese archaeology team.  (See "Tombs of Ancient Egypt.")

The tomb belonged to Khonso Im-Heb, who was head of granaries and beer-brewing for the worship of the Egyptian mother goddess, Mut.

In December 2007, the Japanese researchers, led by Jiro Kondo of Waseda University in Tokyo, began excavating in El Khokha, near the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

The area had recently been cleared of modern houses during the removal of Qurna village, just to the north, and was already known as a locale for tombs of ancient nobles.

Graphic of lightning strikes forming mountains.
Photograph by Supreme Council of Antiquities, AP
This detail of a ritual scene shows Khonso Im-Heb and his wife (both center) receiving an offering from his son (right).

While clearing the forecourt to a tomb numbered TT47, which had belonged to an 18th-dynasty royal official, the team discovered the entrance to Khonso Im-Heb's T-shaped tomb.

The walls of the brewer's tomb are decorated with rare, beautifully preserved scenes of daily life, such as interactions between the brewer and his wife and children, and depictions of their ritual practices.

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, has ordered the site to be secured during the remaining excavations and would like to restore the location for eventual tourism.

23 comments
1 1
1 1

Does it just show their daily lives and worship or more?


Wayne T.
Wayne T.

Did they find the Mummy, sealed in the tomb for eternity.

Teresa G
Teresa G

Great find! What a place to visit in the future...

Ryan Ludwick
Ryan Ludwick

...and cue Sam Calgione and Dr. Pat to translate the hieroglyphics into a new DFH Ancient Ales project...

Dave Hickman
Dave Hickman

Beer, a bong and some good aged cheese. Life is good.

Barbara Parisian
Barbara Parisian

Thank God not this wasn't lost in the name of "progress."

marilyn kavanaugh
marilyn kavanaugh

This is wonderful.  I hope they keep looking and find all they can before it is all destroyed.

craig hill
craig hill

Amazing these treasures are still being discovered. Keep searching! The best may be yet to come.

Efren Martinez
Efren Martinez

This guy made beer... I really like him!  

- I really need to start brewing my own.

Rico Cottrell
Rico Cottrell

There is a theory that humans transitioned from hunter gatherer nomadic tribes to farming communities because we discovered how to make beer.

Mark Miller
Mark Miller

@Rico Cottrell Probably true. Studies have shown that the tribes that learned how to smoke pot just sat around and watched it grow.

Dov Todd
Dov Todd

@Mark Miller @Rico Cottrell So, why, or how, was beer better for the development of civilization than pot? 


Both approaches involve plants. Beer comes from grain, which is grown, just like pot. Also, both affect the cognitive process and have their own version of a high (e.g., drunk, stoned).


So, there must be something else that I am missing here that helped the transition to farming communities. 


Maybe grain was available for beer but not pot in the part of the world where farming communities first appeared? Maybe humans had not yet arrived in the part of the world where pot grows? 

craig hill
craig hill

@Dov Todd @Mark Miller @Rico Cottrell Hallucinogens were available, the ancient Hebrews made huge statuary of mushrooms in what is now desert.  When they made them it was still humid, and mushrooms proliferated. The Sphinx was also originally made with a lion's head, which the rains shrunk and disfigured, leaving those who saw the head sticking out of the eventual sands resculpted it into a man's head. Originally archaeologists thought incorrectly the pharoah who built the Great Pyramid nearby was the resculpted sphinx's head, and that both had been made in the same generation, but later discoveries of illustrations of his head have disproven that theory, for those at least not foolishly wed to the original theories. 


How beer may have led to agriculture per se may have occurred when the brewers and others saw the bounty they could collect to make beer and thought, Why don't we do this with food too? Which came first, ag or beer? (i vote ag.)

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