Senenmut a man of the street, (as they say), son of a certain Ramose and Hatnefer (also called sympathetically Titutiu), did not come from the entourage of the Egyptian nobility.
Originally from Upper Egypt, near the first cataract of the Nile, he came to Ermonthis following his family where he settled.
Still young he participated in the first military campaigns where he proved to be very valiant, in recognition he was awarded the “Menefert” bracelet (the one who makes beautiful). By now fully included in the Pharaonic court, Senemnut and Hapuseneb, on the death of Thutmose II, unconditionally supported the accession of Hatshepsut, first as regent and then as a fully sovereign.
Hatshepsut expressed his gratitude towards the two and did not abhor in granting them prestigious positions.
Entering then in the graces of the queen, as well as of her mother, the Great Royal Bride Ahmose, who gave him an area in Gebel Silsila rich in sandstone quarries, Senenmut moved to Thebes where he began a fabulous career at court.
He held numerous roles, among these was the royal architect, head of state and personal advisor of Queen Hatshepsut, (according to rumors it was also something more for her but on the gossip of ancient Egypt I would not dwell), as well as a guardian of the eldest daughter Neferura.
Its name, Senenmut, according to some assumed perhaps later, means “brother of the mother”, practically uncle of the small Neferura.
However, this is not confirmed. There are not counted the titles that he could boast, among them: “Responsible of the double House of Gold, of the Garden, of the fields and of the flocks of Amon, Priest of the Sacred Boat of Amon (the Userhat), intendant of the royal daughter Neferura. And, as if this were not enough, he also wrote about some ostraka found in his sepulcher to Sheikh Abdel Qurna:
<< I am a noble, loved by my Lord and entered into the graces of the Lord of the two countries, (Thutmose II), he made me the great administrator of his house and judge of the whole country. I was above the largest, director of construction managers.
I acted in this country, under his command, until the moment when death did not come before him. Now I live under the authority of the Lady of the two countries, Hatshepsut Maatkare, who lives eternally. >>.
As we have already had occasion to say, in addition to doing the historians, we often incense ourselves. There are numerous statues that portray him (over twenty), found in excellent condition, some of which are sculpted with the technique of the cube statue, one of which, found at the Aegyptistiches Museum in Berlin, presents it while embracing the small Neferura his pupil.
On the back of a small statue, where Senenmut carries Neferura in his arms, a passage from the Book of the Dead is quoted: << I am the one who came out of the waves of the river as a gift of the API (the flood) so also the Nile is in my power >>.
(Certainly not a sign of modesty). But he didn’t even have to sin of nepotism, his two sisters and his three brothers seem to have benefited from the power accumulated by Senenmut. As a royal architect, he designed and built the imposing queen’s temple at Deir el-Bahari.
To this end, he was inspired by the nearby temple of Mentuhotep II without building the pyramid above but destroying the chapel of Amenhotep I to make room for the first terrace. Senenmut built his tomb not far from the temple of Hatshepsut. Known today with the initials TT353 it is a small sepulcher in which its extraordinary knowledge in the field of astronomy is represented which still today amazes anyone who enters it.
I said because the tomb is closed to the public and is locked up. Some say that scholars are not in favor of commenting on this tomb because what is represented there would seem to contradict their interpretations of the genesis of Egypt.
When it was first discovered the ceiling of the tomb had a layer of plaster covering the designs therein. These are not paintings but carved, perhaps by Senenmut himself, who, according to some scholars, covering them with plaster wanted to preserve them for posterity to which he intended to convey his undeniable knowledge in the field of astronomy and beyond.
On the lower part of the vault is the Egyptian calendar, twelve circles, (12 months of 30 days each), divided into three groups, (the three Egyptian seasons). Each circle is further subdivided into twenty-four segments, (according to some each segment would represent the 24 hours of a day).
At the top is a portion of the sky that many interpret as follows: << There are four boats: the smaller ones, on the left, depict the planets Jupiter and Saturn; the largest is the goddess Isis, who astronomically symbolizes the star Sirius, and the god Osiris, to whom was attributed the homonymous constellation, the one that for us today is called “constellation of Orion”. In particular, the architect wanted to highlight a precise element of this constellation: the Belt, precisely >>. (2013 Web Article Written by Videomisteri Staff).
The Belt of Orion, a small set of stars faithfully reproduced, two aligned stars and one offset, like the three pyramids of Giza (!). The central star is enclosed by three lines that close in the shape of a drop, a symbol that represents water in the Mesopotamian culture. Some scholars would like to see this as an indication that we would say that water exists at that point in the universe.
At this point, one wonders: how could Senenmut have such knowledge? And possessing them, why should he consider them so important? In an inscription, the architect states: “Having traveled all the writings of the essays, I know nothing of what happened from day one”.
What did he mean? We know that Senenmut was initiated at the “House of Life” in Karnak, where few people were allowed to enter to learn the ancestral and religious cultures jealously guarded and kept secret by the priests of Amon. Today no one is able to make assumptions about what was kept in the “House of Life” nor in what mysteries the initiates were aware of.
At this point, I prefer not to go further in this speech because my skills and knowledge do not allow me to approve or contradict any of the theories that have been put forward and I do not think this is the most suitable place to display personal comments. In the next article, we will see the second tomb of Senenmut, the TT71 in the necropolis of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna.
Sources and bibliography:
Sergio Donadoni, “The great discoveries of archeology”, Geographical Institute De Agostini, 1993
Mario Tosi, “Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Gods of Ancient Egypt”, vol. II, Ananke, 2012
Web, Videomisteri.altervista.org – (Videomisteri Staff article, January 2013
Web – Samuele Corrente Naso – www.indaginiemisteri.it ›2018/11/19› Orion-civilization-Egyptian)