Further Evidence that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were twins

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The Saqqara tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep has been the subject of considerable debate. Unique wall scenes in which the tomb-owners hold hands and embrace have led to much speculation about their relationship: some scholars suggest that the two were simply brothers and show filial affection, others have proposed that they were twins, ranging from identical to conjoined siblings, while a third hypothesis views their relationship as homosexual. Recent re-examination of the tomb’s decorative programme has revealed a significant number of paired images in which scenes or elements of a motif ‘mirror’ one another. Many of these motifs are either the first known examples in an elite tomb or images that are exclusive to this tomb. We propose that these unusual doubles allude to the tomb-owners’ relationship, adding further support to the proposal that Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were identical twins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-72
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Egyptian Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Egypt
  • Egyptian art
  • Iconography
  • twins
  • Egyptian religion


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