TT353; Tomb of Senenmut

Astronomical detail from the tomb of Senenmut

Theban Tomb 353 was the second tomb of Senenmut, the steward and architect of Hatshepsut, and is often known as the “secret tomb”. His first tomb, TT71, is located at Sheikh Abd el-Gurna.

The Deir el Bahri tomb is in fairly good condition because it was hidden by the courtyard of Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple until its discovery in 1927. However, it was never used and was completely empty.

The tomb is composed of three chambers linked by a gradually descending stepped corridor. A false door faces the entrance. Chamber A has the designs sketched onto the walls and ceilings but the decoration has not been completed. Chambers B and C are both ready to decorate. The decorations in Chamber A consist of spells to help Senenmut’s spirit to pass successfully though the Underworld, and a number of depictions of Senenmut, his brother (Amenemhat), and his pharaoh, Hatshepsut.

Astronomical detail from the tomb of Senenmut

The ceiling of Chamber A is decorated with astronomical designs incorporating a calendar recording the lunar months, the constellations, and the planets. The ceiling is thought to be the first of its kind. Unfortunately, the positions of the stars are not sufficiently accurate for them to be used to date the tomb correctly, but they do give a fascinating insight into the Egyptian calendar and the manner in which religious symbolism merged with the events of daily life to inform the Egyptian concept and measurement of time.

  • Dorman, Peter F.(2013) The Monuments of Senenmut
  • Dorman, Peter F.(1991) The Tombs of Senenmut at Thebes
  • Strudwick, Nigel and Helen (1999) Thebes in Egypt

Copyright J Hill 2016