The  Tomb of Senneferi, Theban Tomb 99

Dr. Strudwick opened by inviting attendees to perusehis WEB site at:
to learn more about his work in TT99.

Dr. Strudwick and his wife, Dr. Helen Strudwick, havebeen working in the tombs at Thebes for the past 15 years and at ThebanTomb 99 since 1992. TT 99 has been known for about 100 years but has neverbeen fully published.

Dr. Strudwick told his audience that the tomb has beenrocked by earthquakes, robbed of much of its decoration and most of itsartifacts, and exposed to changing environmental and climatic factors,all of which have damaged it.  He defined what he is cur-rently engagedin as “rescue epigraphy”, a race against time to record what remains.

TT99 is very near the well known tomb of Sennefer. Whenwork in TT99 began in 1992 it was expected that it would be a quick epigraphicjob.  As it happened, the archaeology is what has taken time, notthe epigraphy. The original tomb owner, Senneferi, was an Overseer of SealBearers during the reign of Thut-mosis III, about 1420-1430BC.  Severalmonuments bear his name as does a papyrus in the Louvre.  From thesesources as well as the tomb, we know that Sen-neferi was initially broughtto Thebes to oversee the granaries.  He may have come originally fromthe Delta as he bears titles that connect him with Heli-opolis. His fatherwas the manager of an estate vineyard.

Here Dr. Strudwick paused to discuss with the audiencethe standard architecture of Theban tombs. During the Rameside period -in the 19th Dynasty -  a pyramid-like structure was built above thetomb. Recent research has revealed the superstructure of 18th dynasty tombs,which did not incorporate a pyramid.  A dry stone and mud brick wallover the front and top of the tomb provided a U-shaped superstructure thatformed a courtyard in front of the tomb, with a niche above the door forstatuary or a stela. Funerary cones seem to have been imbedded into theupper course of the wall and formed a sort of frieze around the wall.  Dr. Strudwick commented that 11th Dynasty examples of similar tomb structuresexist, but no 18th Dynasty examples have been found; however, more than200 cones have been found at TT99 in the area of the courtyard, thus hehas postulated a similar design.

Inside, the tomb is badly damaged. It is a typical ThebanT-shaped tomb with a wide, shallow, chamber at the front that is perpendicularto a long corridor leading to a second, large, rectangular chamber at therear, in which several tomb shafts have been found. The decorations thatremain tell us that Senneferi was sent to Lebanon to get wood for the templeof Amun and had to go up into the forest to select the trees. He tellsus that he had “…to go up through the clouds”, where he propitiated thegoddess of the trees. Both text and decoration tell of his journey, andshow the work-ers and horses who participated in bringing the trees downfrom the mountains. The decoration also inclu-des some sort of fortress,Syrian in type, and four in an attitude of adoration who are clearly Syrian.Perhaps it is the tomb owner they are adoring!  Interestingly, a rathercrude version of the god Bes is depicted. No other depictions of Bes in18th Dynasty or other New Kingdom tombs are known to exist. To the god’sleft, a lady under a canopy is apparently making up a bed. Both the godand the lady are crudely done and not well defined. The textual inscriptionswhich remain in the tomb are, however, of high quality and excellent workmanship.

Dr. Strudwick discussed work done by Dr. Richard Mondin the courtyard of TT99, which is about 15 meters by 20 meters and wasfilled with debris to a depth of about 1.5 meters. Mond probably trenchedacross the courtyard. Dr. Strudwick believes Mond was attempting to excavatein the courtyard even as people were still living in the tomb and usingthe courtyard as a barnyard for animals. It is known that people livedin the tomb until about 1907. Dr. Strudwick’s team has found the remainsof their chicken coop, etc., in the courtyard!

During clearance of the courtyard, a tomb shaft was foundwhich has, so far, been excavated to a depth of approximately 11.5 meters.Dr. Strudwick believes that this shaft, designated “I”, will likely turnout to be the shaft in which Senneferi was buried when the excavation iscomplete. To date, Dr. Strudwick’s team has found nearly 2 million potterysherds weighing nearly 2 tons in the courtyard. Some Coptic pottery isamong the finds.

Inside the tomb there are 6 known burial shafts, 5 inthe large rectangular room at the back of the tomb and one in the transversechamber at the front of the tomb. Four of the shafts in the rear room areplaced in the four corners of the room - an unusual config-uration - andthe fifth is just forward of the middle of the back wall. Each is accompaniedby a storage chamber. It is unusual for a Theban tomb to have more than1 or 2 burial shafts, which has led Dr. Strudwick to the conclusion thatthe tomb was reused in later periods. In fact, most of the shafts datefrom the 3rd Intermediate Period. Though several 18th

Dynasty objects have been recovered, none of the shaftshave yet been conclusively dated to the 18th Dynasty. 18th Dynasty objectsidentified to date are: a seated statue of one, Amenhotep, Assistant Overseerof Seal Bearers, who it happens is the son-in-law of Senneferi; a woodenHathor head with a shrine atop which seems to have been part of a pieceof furniture; and ostreca containing a list of names, written in 18th Dynastyhieratic. It is, perhaps, a list of workmen. The tomb has also revealed18th Dynasty pottery that may have come from tomb offerings.

Lots of Third Intermediate Period and later mater-ialhave been found. From the burial shafts inside the tomb, Dr. Strudwick’steam has recovered over 100 kilograms of linen, 31,680 small finds, 382,625pottery sherds and 41,995 fragments of wood.

Dr. Strudwick contrasted some of the fragmentary findswith a similar whole object which now resides in a museum collection. Theobjects included fragments of the coffin of Horempe, a coffin fragmentof Wedj-ahor, and fragments from at least 4 or 5 car-tonnage anthropoidcoffins. A very unusual group of carton-nage cut-outs which Dr. Strudwickbelieves functioned like a mummy board, laid over the mummy, have beenrecovered as well. They are known to have belonged to the mummy of a ladywho was the daughter of a priest of Khnum-pa-aten.

Dr. Strudwick and his team have recovered num-erous verycrude ushabti, some formed free-hand from Nile mud. So far 70-80 differenttypes have been identified. A type not seen before are worker ushabti carryingbaskets on their heads. They are glazed blue, and quite unusual.

Fragments of leather “mummy braces” which often crossedthe chest  of the mummy have also been recovered. Pottery throughoutthe tomb is badly scrambled. Dr. Strudwick said that sherds for any specificvessel have been found in nearly every tomb shaft and some amphora bearearly Phoenician inscriptions. Fragments of beautifully woven textileshave been recovered which are from household linens that were reused aspart of the mummy wrappings.

A fragment of linen used in wrapping the mummy of Wedjahorbears the cartouche of Shabaka and is inscribed, “fourth priest of Amun,year 10 of Shabaka”. Wedjahor is known from a statue which resides in theCairo Museum (found in the Karnak cache). A mummy from the tomb and looselyassociated with the inscribed bandages may well be that of Wedjahor himself.

Other bandages and a coffin piece bear the name of Horempe.The bandages refer to year 12, but the king‘s name is lost. As it happensthere is also a statue of Horempe in Cairo which tells us that he was theson of Wedjahor. This being the case, Horempe probably died during thereign of Taharqa, in about 680BC.  Clearly the tomb was extensivelyreused by this priestly family. Dr. Strudwick believes that there willbe at least 6 or 7 burials found in TT99.

Though TT99 is badly damaged and has had little conservationand care prior to his starting work in 1992, it still is revealing manyinteresting things, with many more yet to come. Dr. Strudwick closed hislecture by stating that, “…all Theban tombs have something interestingto offer and lots of things yet to be found”.

  • Nancy Corbin
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