Maia (nurse)

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in hieroglyphs
Maia and Tutankhamun

Maia (sometimes written Matia), was the wet-nurse of the Ancient Egyptian king Tutankhamun.[1] She is known from her rock-cut tomb found at Saqqara.


Maia bears the titles wet nurse of the king, educator of the god's body and great one of the harem. Nothing is known about Maia's parents and nothing else is known about Maia other than the information in the tomb. In the tomb Tutankhamun is shown sitting on Maia's lap and the king is mentioned several times in the tomb's inscriptions.

Her parents are not mentioned in the tomb. Other individuals mentioned in the tomb inscriptions include the Overseer of the Magazine, Rahotep, the High Priest of Thoth [...]enkaef (the beginning of the name is not legible), a scribe named Tetinefer and a scribe of the offering table named Ahmose. [2]

Zivie has suggested that Maia should be identified with the King's Daughter Meritaten. [3] [4]

The tomb[edit]

Her tomb was discovered in 1996 by the French Egyptologist Alain Zivie. The tomb (I.20) lies in the vicinity of the Bubasteion.

The tomb consists of the cult chambers with three decorated rooms and the underground, mostly undecorated, burial chambers. The first room of the cult chapel of her tomb is dedicated to the life of Maia. This includes a scene showing Tutankamun sitting on the lap of Maia and there is a badly damaged scene showing Maia in front of the king. The second room is dedicated to the burial rites associated with Maia. Maia is shown in front of offering bearers. She is depicted as a mummy in relation to the opening of the mouth ritual and she is standing before the underworld god Osiris. The third room is the biggest and has four pillars. The pillars are decorated with the image of Maia. The back of the room shows a stela carved into the rock with Maia in front of Osiris. In this room there is also a staircase leading down to the burial chambers. Most other walls of this room are undecorated.

The tomb was in later times heavily reused. During those later periods the tomb received several burials of cats. Notable is the find of the mummy of a large male lion in the main section of the tomb. The lion mummy no longer had any bandages, but the remains showed signs of mummification similar to the one used for other cats at the site.[5]

In December 2015 the tomb was re-opened in the presence of Alain Zivie and representatives of the Ministry of Antiquities.[6][7]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ N. Reeves: Akhenaten, Egypt's False Prophet, London 2001, ISBN 0-500-05106-2, p. 180
  2. ^ Alain-Pierre Zivie: La Tombe de Maia, Mère Nourricière du Roi Toutankhamon et Grande du Harem. (Les Tombes du Bubasteion à Saqqara No. 1), pp 48-49, Caracara, Toulouse 2009.
  3. ^ Alain-Pierre Zivie: La Tombe de Maia, p. 109–113.
  4. ^ The Guardian: Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun's wet nurse might have been his sister. inspected 21. Dezember 2015
  5. ^ B. B., Lion Skeleton Found in Egyptian Tomb, Science News, Vol. 165, No. 5 (Jan. 31, 2004), pp. 76-77, stable URL from JSTOR [1]
  6. ^ Xinhua/Pan Chaoyue, The tomb of Maia to be open to public. [2]
  7. ^ Dailymail, Tomb of Tutankhamun's wet nurse is opened for the first time since it was discovered in 1996 [3] accessed 4/27/2017, article shows several photographs of both the interior and exterior of the tomb