Ancient Egypt Wiki

Gilded mummy mask of Yuya, now in the Cairo Museum.©

Dynasty 18th Dynasty
Pharaoh(s) Thutmose IV
Amenhotep III
Titles God's Father
High Priest of Min
Overseer of the Horses
Overseer of the Cattle
Commander of the Troops
Spouse(s) Tjuyu
Issue Tiye, Anen, Ay (?),
Taemwadjes (?)
Burial KV46

Yuya (ancient Egyptian: ywỉꜣ) was an ancient Egyptian nobleman of the Eighteenth Dynasty during the New Kingdom.


See also: 18th Dynasty Family Tree.

Yuya was married to Tjuyu, an Egyptian noblewoman associated with the royal family, who held high offices in the governmental and religious hierarchies. Their daughter, Tiye, became the Queen of Amenhotep III.[1] The King's Great Wife was the highest Egyptian religious position, serving alongside of the pharaoh in official ceremonies and rituals. Yuya and Tjuyu are known to have had a son named Anen, who carried the titles "Chancellor of Lower Egypt", "Second Prophet of Amun", "Sem Priest of Ra", and "Divine Father".[2]

They may also have been the parents of Ay,[3] an Egyptian courtier active during the reign of Akhenaten, who eventually became pharaoh as Kheperkheperure Ay. There is no conclusive evidence, however, regarding the kinship of Yuya and Ay, although certainly both men came from the town of Panopolis.[4]


Yuya came from the Upper Egyptian town of Panopolis, where he probably owned an estate and was a wealthy member of the town's local nobility. Yuya served as a key adviser for Amenhotep III,[3] and held posts such as "King's Lieutenant" and "Master of the Horses"; his title "God's Father" possibly referred specifically to his being Amenhotep III's father-in-law. In his native town of Panopolis, Yuya was a Prophet of Min, the chief god of the area, and served as this deity's "Superintendent of the Cattle".[4]

His origins remain unclear. Taking into account his unusual name and features, some Egyptologists believe that Yuya was of foreign origin (usually Syrian),[5][6] although this is far from certain.[7] The only piece of evidence in favour of this was the multiple spellings of his name.[8] No trace of a foreign origin was found in the furniture from the tomb either, all being typically Egyptian.[9] The Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt gives credence to the foreign origin hypothesis: "It is conceivable that he had some Mitannian ancestry, since it is known that knowledge of horses and chariotry was introduced into Egypt from the northern lands and Yuya was the king's 'Master of the Horse'." It also discusses the possibility that Yuya was the brother of queen Mutemwia, who was the mother of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and may have had Mitannian royal origins.[4] However, this hypothesis can not be substantiated, since nothing is known of Mutemwia's background.


Yuya and his wife Tjuyu were buried in KV46, a rock-cut tomb in the Valley of the Kings. It was discovered in 1905 by James Quibell, who was working on behalf of Theodore M. Davis.[10] Although the tomb had been robbed in antiquity, the funerary furniture was largely intact[4] and there was no doubt as to the identity of the pair, who were found within their nests of coffins.[10]


Yuya's inner coffin.©

The tomb of Yuya and Tjuyu and its content was the most complete found in the Valley prior to the discovery of the KV62 tomb of Tutankhamun.[11] After which, it is the most spectacular ever found in the Valley of the Kings despite Yuya not being a pharaoh.

Yuya was interred within a rectangular wooden sarcophagus placed against the north wall; its lid was shaped like the vaulted per-nu shrine of Lower Egypt. Though appearing to sit on sledge runners, it had no base so the three nested gilded (and silvered) anthropoid coffins sat flat on the floor.[12] The long south side of the sarcophagus had been broken in by ancient robbers, who had also moved the short eastern side and left the lid askew, balancing precariously. The lids of each of the nested coffins had been removed with two placed atop each other supported by a chair, and one tipped on its side next to the sarcophagus; the troughs were left in place. His gilt cartonnage mask was still in place, although it was broken.[9]


The mummy of Yuya was found partially wrapped with only his torso being divested of wrappings by ancient robbers. Despite this disturbance, the thieves had missed the gold plate (113 by 42 millimetres (4.4 in × 1.7 in)) covering the embalming incision.[9] When the body of Yuya was removed from his innermost coffin, a partially strung necklace composed of large gold and lapis lazuli beads was found behind his neck, where it had presumably fallen after being snapped by looters. The intact wrappings covering his head were removed before the body was shipped to Cairo.[9]


The mummy of Yuya.©

Yuya's mummy has the inventory number CG 51190.[13] It was first examined by the Australian anatomist Grafton Elliot Smith. He found the body of Yuya is that of an old man, 1.651 metres (5.42 ft) tall, with white wavy hair discoloured by the embalming process; his eyebrows and eyelashes were dark brown. His ears are unpierced. The arms are bent with his hands placed under his chin. The left hand is fisted, while the fingers of the right are extended. A gold finger stall was found on the little finger of the right hand. There were linen embalming packs placed in front of the eyes, and the body cavity was stuffed with resin-treated linen packs. Smith guessed his age at death to be 60 based on outward appearance alone.[9] Maspero judged that, based on the position of the sarcophagi, Yuya was the first to die and be interred in the tomb.[14]

Modern CT scanning has estimated his age at death to be 50–60 years, based on the level of joint degeneration and tooth wear. The scanning also revealed two separate levels of resin inside the skull. Packing had been inserted into his mouth, as well as under the skin of his neck to produce a life-like appearance.[15] His cause of death could not be identified. However, the large eyes and small nose and mouth seen on his funerary mask suggests it was made during the last decade of the reign of Amenhotep III, meaning he may have outlived Tjuyu.[16]

Both the mummies of Yuya and Tjuyu were largely intact and were in an amazing state of preservation. Their faces in particular were relatively undistorted by the process of mummification, and provide an extraordinary insight into the actual appearance of the deceased while alive.


  1. Rice 1999, p. 207.
  2. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 157.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rice 1999, p. 222.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 David & David 1992, p. 167.
  5. Fletcher 2015.
  6. Ikram et al. 1997.
  7. O'Connor & Cline 1998, p. 5.
  8. Maspero's analysis of Yuya's complex name is given on page xiii-xiv of The Tomb of Iouiya and Touiyou by Theodore M. Davis, Archibald Constable and Co. Ltd, 1907.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Quibell & Smith 1908.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Aldred 1989, p. 96.
  11. Reeves & Wilkinson 2010, p. 174–178.
  12. Ikram & Dodson 1996, p. 259.
  13. Habicht et al. 2016.
  14. Davis et al. 1907.
  15. Hawass & Saleem 2016, p. 68–71.
  16. Forbes 1996, p. 40–45.


  • Aldred, C., 1989: Akhenaten, King of Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • David, A.E./David, R., 1992: A Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. London: Seaby.
  • Davis, T.M./Maspero, G./Newberry, P.E., 1907: The Tomb of Iouiya and Touiyou. London: Archibald Constable and Co.
  • Dodson, A./Hilton, D., 2004: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Fletcher, J., 2015: The Story of Egypt. Hodder & Stoughton.
  • Habicht, M./Rühli, F./Bouwman, A., 2016: Identification of Ancient Egyptian Royal Mummies from the 18th Dynasty reconsidered. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
  • Forbes, D., 1996: KMT Photo-Exclusive: Yuya's Mummy-Mask Debuts in Cairo After 91 Years. KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt. Vol. 7 (2).
  • Ikram, S./Dodson, A./al-Miṣrī, M., 1997: Royal mummies in the Egyptian museum. American University in Cairo Press.
  • Ikram, S./Dodson, A., 1998: The Mummy in Ancient Egypt: Equipping the Dead for Eternity. (Hardcover ed.). Thames & Hudson, London.
  • O'Connor, D./Cline, E., 1998: Amenhotep: Perspectives on his Reign. University of Michigan.
  • Quibell, J.E./Smith, G.E., 1908: Tomb of Yuaa and Thuiu. Le Caire Impremerie De L'Institut Francais D'Archeologie Orientale.
  • Reeves, N./Wilkinson, R.H., 2010: The Complete Valley of the Kings: Tombs and Treasures of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs (Paperback reprint ed.). Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Rice, M., 1999: Who's Who in Ancient Egypt. Routledge, London.