Qubbet el-Hawa, on the West Bank opposite Aswan,is a landmark in the landscape of the First Cataract region. It is the highest elevation of the area. Perhaps, due to this, the highest officials of Elephantine, from the mid-Sixth Dynasty onwards, decided to use this hill as a cemetery. Another important reason was that Qubbet el-Hawa was situated on the West Bank, relatively close to Elephantine, the main urban centre of the First Upper Egyptian nome.
This hill, then, became the necropolis of the highest officials of Elephantine and their wives, buried according to a well-established pattern based on administrative position or social rank: nome governors’ complexes mainly situated in the northeast of the slope, while their officials constructed their tombs in the southeast, preferably in a lower position than their masters.
Today Qubbet el-Hawa is one of the best known necropoleis of ancient Egypt, mainly due to the discovery (at the end of the nineteenth century) of long biographies carved on the tomb façades of some of the highest officials who controlled the southernmost province of Egypt at the end of the Sixth Dynasty. Particularly interesting is the decree inscribed by Harkhuf on the façade of his funerary complex, in which he tells us he was commanded by the young Pepy II to bring to the royal residence a deneg, a term which has been translated as ‘pygmy’.
Qubbet el-Hawa has attracted scholars and amateur ar