Tin Hinan Tomb

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Tin Hinan Tomb
Tombeau de Tin Hinan
Tombeau Tin Hinan.jpg
Tomb of Tin Hinan miniature at the Bardo National Museum in Algiers.
LocationAbalessa, Algeria
Typemonumental tomb
Beginning datec. 4th-5th century AD[1]
Completion date1,500 years ago[2]
Dedicated toQueen Tin Hinan

The Tin Hinan Tomb (French: Tombeau de Tin Hinan) is a monumental tomb located at Abalessa in the Sahara, in the Hoggar Mountains of southern Algeria.[2] The sepulchre was built for Tin Hinan, the Tuareg ancient Queen of the Hoggar (Ahaggar).



The tomb's entrance, located in the Bardo National Museum.

Tin Hinan is the name given by the Tuareg to a 3rd- or 4th-century woman of prestige whose skeleton was found in a pre-Islamic tomb in the Ahaggar Mountains. Tin Hinan is sometimes referred to as "Queen of the Hoggar",[3][4] and by the Tuareg as Tamenokalt[5] which also means "queen".[6] The name literally means "woman of the tents",[6] but is sometime translated as "Queen of the camp" (with the "camp" possibly referring to the group of tombs which surround hers)[7] or more metaphorically as "Mother of us all".[8]

The French explorer Henri Lhote argued that the Tin Hinan sepulcher is different from the surrounding tombs in southern Algeria, and is more typical of the architecture used by the Roman legionaries to create their fortifications in desert areas. He believed that the tomb was therefore likely built on top of an earlier Roman castrum, which was originally erected around 19 BC, when consul Lucius Cornelius Balbus conquered the Garamantian territories and sent a small expeditionary force to reach the Niger river.[9][10] However, this hypothesis is rejected by most scholars today.[10][11][12]


The tomb was opened by Byron Khun de Prorok with support from the French army in 1925, and other archaeologists made a more thorough investigation in 1933. It was found to contain the skeleton of a woman on a wooden litter, lying on her back with her head facing east. She was accompanied by heavy gold and silver jewellery, some of it adorned with pearls. On her right forearm she wore 7 silver bracelets, and on her left, 7 gold bracelets. Another silver bracelet and a gold ring were placed with the body. Remains of a complex piecework necklace of gold and pearls (real and artificial) were also present.[1] Furthermore, a number of funerary objects were also found. These included a "Venus" statue (similar in style to the Venus of Hohle Fels with exaggerated sexual organs), a glass goblet (lost during World War II), and gold foil which bore the imprint of a Roman coin of emperor Constantine I issued between 308 and 324 AD.[13] A fourth century date is consistent with radiocarbon dating of the wooden bed, as well as with the style of pottery and other tomb furniture. The monument itself is constructed in an architectural style that was widespread in the Berber Sahara during classical times.

In the 1960s, the anthropologist E. Leblanc examined the skeleton within the Tin Hinan tomb. He observed that the remains were tall and lithe, with a narrow pelvis, broad shoulders and slender legs. Overall, the skeleton closely resembled those found in the pharaonic monuments of ancient Egypt.[14] The body found in the tomb is now in the Bardo Museum in Algiers.[15]

In popular culture[edit]

The Tomb of Tin Hinan is mentioned in the video game Amnesia: The Dark Descent and is visited in the 2020 sequel, Amnesia: Rebirth. According to documents found scattered throughout the game, the tomb supposedly contained two mythical orbs, which are important to the game's story.


  1. ^ a b Sorel, Jacqueline (May 9, 2012). "Femmes de l'ombre : Tin-Hinan, reine des Touaregs". Radio France Internationale. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Briggs, L. Cabot (February 1957). "A Review of the Physical Anthropology of the Sahara and Its Prehistoric Implications". Man. 56: 20–23. doi:10.2307/2793877. JSTOR 2793877.
  3. ^ Huguenin-Gonon, N. (1973). Algeria. Nagel Publishers. p. 137. ISBN 978-2-8263-0604-7.
  4. ^ Wellard, James (1965). The Great Sahara. London: Hutchinson & Company. p. 47.
  5. ^ Glacier, Osire (2016). "Tin Hinana". Femmes politiques au Maroc d'hier à aujourd'hui: La résistance et le pouvoir au féminin (in French). Tarik Editions. ISBN 978-9954-419-82-3.
  6. ^ a b "The World & I". 2 (4). Washington Times Corporation. 1987. p. 490.
  7. ^ Camps, Gabriel. L'âge du Tombeau de Tin Hinan, ancêtre des Touareg du Hoggar, "Zephyrus" 25 (1974), pp. 497–516.
  8. ^ Frawsen, Ulbani Ait; Ukerdis, L'Hocine (2003). "The Origins of Amazigh Women's Power in North Africa: An Historical Overview". Al-Raida (100): 19.
  9. ^ Lhote, Henri. Alla scoperta del Tassili. B. Arthaud. pp. 180–183.
  10. ^ a b Sánchez, Jorge García (2016). "Regreso a la tumba de Tin Hinan: nuevas fuentes en torno a las excavaciones de Byron Khun de Prorok en Abalessa (Ahaggar, Argelia)". Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arqueología (CuPAUAM). 42: 204. [Lhote's] theory lacked foundation (La teoría carecía de fundamento).
  11. ^ McDougall, James; Scheele, Judith (2012-06-08). Saharan Frontiers: Space and Mobility in Northwest Africa. Indiana University Press. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-0-253-00131-3. Several hypotheses have been proposed concerning the origins of the [tomb] including that it was part of a Roman outpost fort (which it was not).
  12. ^ Baistrocchi, M. "eperti romani rinvenuti nella tomba di Tin Hinan and Abalessa". L'Africa Romana. 7 (1): 94, 98.
  13. ^ Mattingly, David J.; Gatto, Maria Carmela; Sterry, Martin; Ray, Nick (2019). "Burials, Migration and Identity: The view from the Sahara". In Gatto, M.C.; Mattingly, D.J.; Ray, N.; Sterry, M. (eds.). Burials, Migration and Identity in the Ancient Sahara and Beyond. Cambridge University Press. p. 17-18. ISBN 9781108474085. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  14. ^ Eydoux, Henri Paul (1966). The Buried Past: A Survey of Great Archaeological Discoveries. Praeger. p. 141. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  15. ^ Ilahiane, Hsain (2017). Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-4422-8182-0.


  • Beltrami, Vanni. Il monumento di Abalessa e la tradizione dei Tuareg Kel Hoggar, "Africa" (Ist. Italo Africano). Roma, 1995 (p. 75-93)
  • Gautier, Émile Félix. Le monument de Tin Hinan (Annales de l'Académie des sciences coloniales) t VII. Paris, 1934.
  • Pandolfi, Paul. Les Touaregs de l'Ahaggar: Parenté et résidence chez les Dag-Ghâli. Ed. Karthala. Paris, 1998 ISBN 2-86537-821-7.
  • Reygasse, Maurice. Monuments funéraires préislamiques de l'Afrique du Nord. Gouvernement Général de l'Algérie, Arts et Métiers Graphiques. Paris, 1950

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 22°53′08″N 4°52′05″E / 22.885533°N 4.868080°E / 22.885533; 4.868080