Maya (Egyptian)

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Statue of Maya and Merit from Leiden
Frontal view of Maya & Merit's statue

Maya was an important figure during the reign of Pharaohs Tutankhamun, Ay and Horemheb of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt.

The Overseer of the Treasury, he was also an important official and was noted for restoring the burials of several earlier Pharaohs in the Royal Necropolis in the years following the deaths of Tutankhamun and Ay. The statues of Maya and his wife Merit have been put on display in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, Netherlands since 1823. He donated a shabti figure to the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Maya collected taxes and performed other services for these pharaohs, including supervising the preparation of their tombs. Maya's own tomb at Saqqara was initially partly excavated in 1843 by the archaeologist Karl Richard Lepsius,and its impressive reliefs were recorded in sketches and some of them brought to Berlin. Over time, however, the tomb was covered by sand, and its location was lost. In 1975, a joint expedition of archaeologists from the Egypt Exploration Society in London and the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, Netherlands began a quest to rediscover the tomb, and on February 6, 1986 they finally succeeded.[1] On this date, Professor Geoffrey T. Martin together with Dr. Jacobus Van Dijk representing the Leiden museum discovered the burial chamber of Maya's subterranean tomb at Saqqara some 18 metres (60 feet) below the surface.[1]

As Martin states:

"We were in total darkness for about 15 minutes...Suddenly we glimpsed wonderful reliefs and were extremely startled to find ourselves in the antechamber leading to a burial chamber. My colleague looked across at an inscribed wall and said, 'My God, it's Maya'."[1]

The first full season's work on Maya's burial in early 1987 indicated that his tomb is "a slightly smaller and abbreviated version of Horemheb's Saqqara tomb. An open courtyard has a collanade on its west side and doors leading to three vaulted ceilings. An inner courtyard has been found to contain reliefs of very fine quality and a statue of Maya and his wife."[1] The underground burial chambers were paved with limestone and decorated with reliefs showing Maya and his wife in front of gods.


  1. ^ a b c d Christine Hobson, Exploring the World of the Pharaohs: A Complete Guide to Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson, 1987. p.115


  • Rice, Michael (1999). Who's Who in Ancient Egypt. Routledge. p. 106. 
  • Geoffrey T. Martin: The Hidden Tombs of Memphis, London 1991, p. 147-88 ISBN 0-500-39026-6
  • The Experience of Ancient Egypt by Ann Rosalie David, 2000 Routledge, pp. 107 ff.

Coordinates: 29°51′59″N 31°13′01″E / 29.86639°N 31.21694°E / 29.86639; 31.21694