Articles Title


By Teresa Bedman

It has always been said that behind an important man, there is an intelligent woman. But history is not always perfect and, as we will see now, in this case, behind an amazing woman, there where two intelligent men, who made big, took care of and protected her. Because of this they possibly lost the life. If we could ask them if they would do it again, surely their answer would be that it would be worth loosing all, one and again a hundred times for sharing an instant of her life.

This is the history of two men, of the defenders of a queen: Hapuseneb y Senenmut.

For all those who do not know the history of this period, I have believed appropriate, to give some fast brushstrokes to get ourselves inside it.

Ahmose liberated the country expelling the Hyksos and raised himself as victorious Horus and unifier of the double country after years of fight, being the XVIII dynasty founded and entering the New Empire. Of Ahmose and of the Great Royal Wife Ahmose Nefertary, will be born the future king Amenhotep I, who will continue the work of his father as for foreign policy. This will be a period of continuous military conquests. We would be able to say, that here begins a moment of expansion of the Egyptian civilization. Let us not forget that we are at the beginning of the XVIII dynasty, which will be the gold dynasty, that it is the moment of the splendour, when the highest levels in all the aspects of the history of Egypt are reached.

With Amenhotep I the borders of Egypt must be located in Nubia and in the Palestinian corridor. To his death, his son Tuthmosis I succeeded him, being this son not of a royal wife but of a secondary wife, of a concubine. I do emphasis this data because it is going to have a crucial importance, as we will see later, to develop the circumstances that carried Hatshepsut to legitimize her occupation of the throne of the two lands.

Tuthmosis I had a long reign. We would be able to say of him, that he is the first conquering king. In the texts it is said that he manages to take the borders of Egypt from the Euphrates to Nubia (3rd or 4th cataract, this is not very clear). But as we see in the map the territory is too extensive as to think that all was dominated by Egypt. We would better have to think that it existed some way of vassalage, like we will after see that occurs with Tuthmosis III.

The same problem as that of his father comes up to Tuthmosis I: of the royal wife he has two daughters, Hatshepsut and Amenfrure, and of a secondary wife, a son whose marriage with Princess Hatshepsut, gives him the necessary legitimacy to be the future Tuthmosis II [1]

The chronology of the reign of Tuthmosis II is polemic, as almost all of this period, due to the fact that authors do not reach an agreement in relation to its duration, although most of them tend to Kitchen’s theory that gives for the reign not more than 14 years of duration. Of the reign of Tuthmosis II, we would be able to say that is a calm period. There are not important monuments. As for military campaigns, we only know that he suffocated a disturbance in Nubia.

For the third time, with Tuthmosis II the same phenomenon we see in the whole dynasty takes place again: of the Great Royal Wife Hatshepsut, he has two daughters, Neferu-Re and Meritet-Hatshepsut, and of a secondary wife, of a concubine called Isis, a son called Tuthmosis, that will be the future Tuthmosis III.

The problem arises at the death of Tuthmosis II, as the future king is only five or six years old. Until this moment, we have seen how illegitimate children married royal princesses and inherited the throne. With Hatshepsut, this is going to change. And this takes place due to several reasons. The first one is that she is the Great Royal Wife and is not mother of the future king, with which the logical co-regency between mother and son does is not going to happen. On the other hand in Hatshepsut, underlies the element of the matriarchy. She considers, as her grandmother and her mother already did, that they are legitimate daughters of royal marriages. Therefore she and only her, has the right to occupy the throne of Egypt. And with this logic and with this so overwhelming reasoning, we see that in the year 2 [2] of her reign, she auto proclaims herself King of the Upper and Lower Egypt, being the small Tuthmosis pushed into the background.

This without doubt caused a revolution. To this moment or with rare exceptions the Royal Wives had been themselves relegated to a secondary role or at the most to be co-regents during the minority of the princes. The minority or age of majority is something relative. In the case of Tutankhamun, we know, that reached it at age of nine. We know very little about the rest.

But in order that Queen Hatshepsut could give this qualitative shot, she knew how to surround herself with influential, powerful and faithful collaborators, which helped her to make real her dream: that of being a king.

A simple exam of the events, would never allow the understanding of the reasons and the motives that arose in the mind and the hearts of the people that surrounded the young woman reign. And these are, precisely, the secrets that the history has the obligation to reveal. Well, without Hapuseneb and Senenmut it is sure that the queen would not have been able to reach the high plans of the state. Hapuseneb, high priest of Amun, vizier, chief of all the worships of all the temples, embodied in his person the maximum political and religious power of Egypt. Senenmut, superintendent of the queen, royal architect, chief of all the works, tutor of Neferu-Re. He was Hatshepsut’s mainstay. In short, two personages that created and propelled the political fraction in which Queen Hatshepsut was the visible head, opposite the opposition of the followers of the young Tuthmosis.

For this, one conceived the most beautiful religious myth known in the history of Egypt, making the gods descend amongst the men: the theogamy, miracle of hybridization between a God and a woman, in whose womb the divine seed was gestated. And thus Hapuseneb elevated above all the mortal his worshipped sovereign, turning her into the carnal daughter of the great Theban Amun.

The other, used his intelligence, his ingenuity and expressed it in smooth golden stone of ascending ramps. A dream of sun, gold, rich woods, exotic gardens..., of eternity like his love.
The first one of these two defenders is Hapuseneb. He came from a family of priests [3], his father called Hapu, practiced the reader priest functions of God Amun, in his temple of Karnak. His mother, called Aahhotep, was a lady of the court, since in front of her name appears, although only in one occasion, the title, unfortunately incomplete of “ royal (nursemaid) " [4]. The royal nursemaids were selected in the harems of the officials and in those of the senior officials. This election established between these and the king an authentic relationship: the relationship of the milk, so respected by the Egyptians as the link of the blood. In this way, the daughter of a royal nursemaid held the title of "sister of the king". Maspero [5] tells us that, "in many cases the simulation of approaching the boy to the breast of the woman for some moments was done to turn her into a nursemaid in reality".

But returning to our personage, we also know that he had a brother called Siamen, who was also linked to the temple of Amun [6], and a sister called Ahmose, although she could have been his wife. He had eight children (four sons and four daughters). Of the sons, two of them were priests linked to the funerary worship of Tuthmosis I. Two of the daughters were singers of Amun.

The career of Hapuseneb began under the reign of Tuthmosis I, but it will be under that of Hatshepsut when it reached its zenith. The iconography of our personage is very scarce. This one that we are looking at and that is located in the Louvre Museum (Paris) is of capital importance due to several reasons, not only for being the main source to establish the biography of our personage. We can see in it how the name of the queen Maat-Ka-Re was damaged and substituted by that of Tuthmosis II, being this data important to date the statue. But perhaps the most prominent data is the text itself where it is said that it was Hatshepsut herself who named him "Chief of all the jobs of the house of Amun" and "Chief in Karnak, in the land of Amun and in all the land of Amun" [7]. The main title of Hapuseneb was that of "Great Priest of Amun"; title that he kept to his death. In all the monuments, he is recognized this title except for the statue that is found in the Museum of Bologna where the title of First divine father of Amun is alternated with that of First prophet of Amun [8]. But his position was not limited, as it occurred with his ancestors, only to his religious functions and to the administration of the clergy of Karnak. For the first time, his position will extend to all the Egyptian priesthood. Hapuseneb will be "the Chief of the temples", and very especially that of Heliopolis, "Administrator of the temples" and "Chief of the prophets of the Upper and Lower Egypt". He was the "maximum pontiff", of the Egyptian religion. Therefore the clergy that he controlled and governed was converted, under his command, in one of the main supports of the throne of Hatshepsut.

The titles of Hapuseneb give us an approximate idea of the importance that had for the queen: "Noble", "Unique companion", "Great companion", "Beloved", "that who carries the royal seal", she had made him "her favourite in all the earth", and had "admitted him in the private counsel", but if these were not few and to enlarge his power she names him "Southern governor, prefect and Vizier" [9]. The title of "Vizier" is of transcendental importance. We know that, from Tuthmosis III, the titles of "Southern Vizier" and "Northern Vizier" appear very often. Also it is certain that there is nothing that proves that the double administration of Kemet had not fallen in a same person. We find parallels for example in the reign and Amenhotep III where one of his viziers is appointed only with the position of "Vizier". With Ramses II we also find the title of "Northern and Southern Vizier". Anyway it seems that under the reign of Hatshepsut, there was only one Vizier although Egypt, and as the tradition stated, was divided into Upper and Lower.

This reflection makes us think that our Hapuseneb first had got in charge of the government of the Upper Egypt and afterwards when reaching and "being concentrated on his person all the administrative power of the State and of the clergy" [10], was named also Vizier. But we must stand out that we will find this title only in one of his monuments, exactly in the statue of the Louvre. In this statue, he is appointed like "Chief of the royal works" and as "Guide of the works of the royal tomb (the first one) for the perfection of its plans". In Karnak, he is entrusted the construction of the "Userhat" boat, as well as diverse pylons, a "mery" wooden and ebony naos, as well as a temple in a beautiful white stone called “Maat-Ka-Re is divine in monuments". As neither in the aforementioned statue of the Louvre nor in another monument reference is made to the participation in some way of Hapuseneb in the construction of the large monuments that perpetuate the name of the queen, that coincide with the second half of her reign, and that we know are work of Senenmut, Thouty and the second prophet of Amun called Puyemre, some authors deduce that Hapuseneb, had already died.

My opinion on the matter is that Hapuseneb had not died, but that certain positions and obligations had began to be transferred to Senenmut, as we will see later. And as much Hapuseneb as Senenmut should die very next in the time towards the year 18 or 20 of the reign of Hatshepsut.

As it happens with many of the great personages of beginnings of the XVIII dynasty, Hapuseneb had a tomb build in the quarries of Gebel Silsileh. In said tomb, only a chamber is included in whose entrance the cartridge of the queen (Maat-Ka-Re) can be read. At the end (in the western side) we found a seated statue of Hapuseneb himself. The north and south walls of the tomb are decorated with bas-reliefs where the children of Hapuseneb can be seen making funerary offerings of food. But this tomb was never used. Legrain states [11] that it only was a cenotaph, "that created this provisional chapel just in case that at the moment of the death of our personage his Theban tomb could not receive his body".

The tomb of Hapuseneb is located in Gournah (67). This was spacious and sumptuous as it corresponded to a personage of his level. It was composed of an outward patio and a first narrow and long room with four pillars. But the remains of Hapuseneb should not have rest there for a long time, and the desire stated in the inscription of his statue of Bologna where he is proud of having fulfilled all the duties with the clergy of Amun, of being loyal to his sovereign, should not have been realized for long time. The text says: "I am a dead person that was in the earth... (The text was changed here) –it continues saying-, and I obtained my place in the eternity, in my eternal world. I did what men want, what pleases the Gods. I served Horus, lord of the palace (he refers to Hatshepsut), I followed the instructions I was given, I did not break the wish of the Lord of the Double Country, I firmly devoted myself to his teachings; I did never give example of indignity in the court or were object of any reproach from my courtiers. Never any offence of which I had declared myself guilty was found in the temples, no mystery exists that I have spread abroad. I came (here) with the favours of the "king" and I rest in the good Amenti. My soul is in the sky, my body in my tomb. I joined myself with God, having been (always) faithful. And here is what I say to the ones that are in the earth: that they lean over their hand (towards my) recalling (my name), that they carry out for me the ceremony of the funerary offering, like it should be done for an upstanding man. The food of the mouth is useful for the dead person; there is nothing in him that makes him tired. To the ones that act with me as I ask them, the same thing will happen to them (after the death) [12]. According to all the evidences, when at last Tuthmosis III came to the throne of the two lands, he favoured a damnatio memoriae against him, in the same way, as we will see later, that it happens with the second of the personages that we are analyzing. Surely, when Hapuseneb dies or is killed, the queen still lived. Weakening the pillars over which the power of Hatshepsut was held was a way of obliging her to give in.


The only mention of his name inevitably evokes us the name of the queen to whom he served. Many reams have been dumped on the supposed history of both personages. But, who was this man so that a queen with title of king gave him the absolute control of the country?
According to all the signs, they indicate that Senenmut and all his family came from On, the present Armat to some 20 Km. of Thebes. Of his family we know by the tomb that is found in Gurnah next to the 71 of Senenmut that his father was called Ramose and that only had the title of "respectable". His mother was called Hatnofer and together with her name only the title of "Lady of the house" was found.

We must stand out several curious data around Senenmut’s parents and their tomb in Gurnah. It seems that its construction was ordered by Senenmut towards the year 7 of Hatshepsut, coinciding with the moment of the queen’s coronation. The parents, three women and three unidentified men more are found buried in this tomb. Both the father’s mummy as well as that of the other members of the family (we suppose that they were his brothers), seemed to be already deceased when they are placed again in this tomb as between these and the mother clear mummification differences exist. The first ones appeared with broken arms and legs (either due to the transfer or to a badly embalming procedure) and with rests of clay not coming from the hills of Gurnah. On the other hand, the mother’s mummy presents a very careful mummification process, fit for a high personage. It appeared, with its funeral furnishings, among which cartridges with the name of the queen and of the princess Neferu-Re were found, canopic jars, etc. Another curious data is that said mummy corresponds to a woman of some approximately 75 years, very advanced in years for the epoch. The rest of the mummies, as it has been previously stated, were unidentified, the women could well have been his sisters Aahhotep and Nofret-Hor. At first it was thought that these could be his wives, but this theory is at present ruled out. [13]

How and when Senenmut does arrive to the power?

Once again the authors do not come to an agreement. Some, like Dorman, think that he begins his political ascent from the army, as he believes to see a reference in this respect in the biographical inscriptions which are found in a very badly state of conservation in the first tomb of Senenmut the 71, during the last years of the reign of Amenhotep I. The truth is that they are many years to think that already since Amenhotep I Senenmut is getting prepared for an ascent in the political life. There are authors as Winlock [14], that doubt that Senenmut could perform a military career in the epoch of Amenhotep I, as this was "an oddly peaceful generation". Winlock, does neither believe that Senenmut acquired importance through the priesthood, as only two of his titles, and they are more than ninety, are priestly: "Prophet of the Divine Boat of Amun" and "Superintendent of the prophets of Montu in On".

We could think the fact of being near the clergy of Amun, winning the friendship or confidence of Hapuseneb to occupy administrative positions, was what opened for him the doors of the power and his approach to the court, as his administrative positions of the temple of Amun certainly are very important: "Superintendent of the Granaries, Stores, Fields, Gardens, Cattle and slaves of Amun"; "Chief of the Residence of Amun"; "Superintendent of the works of Amun;" Superintendent of all the works of the king in the temple of Amun". We could say that administratively he was the supreme authority of Amun!.

But most of the authors rather point out that it was in the tuthmosid epoch when Senenmut attracted the attention of the royal family. Christine Meyer believes that he began to serve in the palace under the reign of Tuthmosis I, as it exists an inscription in an altar in Gebel el Silsila that refers to him as the administrator of the wife of the God and administrator of the daughter of the king. Both titles are nameless, but Meyer relates them to Queen Ahmose and Princess Hatshepsut. Dorman rejects it and understands that they are Queen Hatshepsut and Princess Neferu-Re

According to all the indications, as at this time queen Hatshepsut was only Great Royal Wife, Tuthmosis II named Senenmut: "Administrative of the goods of the queen Hatshepsut"; "Administrative of the goods of the princess Neferu-Re".

Once his career in palace is reached, he began to acquire additional responsibilities and more titles: Chief, Supervisor, Supervisor of Supervisors of all the works of the King; Superintendent of the Treasure; Superintendent of the Armoury; Superintendent of the Castle of the Red Crown; Governor of the Royal Palace; Superintendent of the Private Rooms, etc... Senenmut will collect along his career more than ninety titles.

Winlock has composed a story about Senenmut’s career that he has been compiling of different sources:

"I was the greatest of the greats of the land. I was the guardian of the secrets of the King in all his palaces; counsellor of the private counsel in the right hand of the Sovereign, sure in favours and the one to whom audience is given alone; a lover of the truth that did not show himself partial; someone to whom the judges listened and whose silence itself was eloquent. I was someone in whose words his Mister trusted, with whose counsel the Lady of the Two Lands was satisfied, and completely filled the heart of the Divine Consort. I was a noble who was listened, since I repeated the words of the King to the companions. I was someone whose steps were known in Palace, a true confidant of the Sovereign, in love and with his support that every day made happy the heart of the Sovereign. I was someone useful to the King, loyal to God and without defects before the people. I was someone that should control the floods of the Nile; someone to whom the matters of the two Lands were entrusted. I was in charge of that with what the South and the North contributed. Moreover, I had access to all the writings of the prophets (there was nothing since the beginning of the world that I did not know)”. [15]
Most of the historians of this period have considered the meteoric ascent to the power of Senenmut and the final "usurpation" of Hatshepsut of the titles of the pharaohs, as something inseparable. After the death of Tuthmosis II, the young queen was the indisputable lady of the Two Lands, like regent in name of his stepchild Tuthmosis III first and after, when he reached the adulthood, she decided to continue as co-regent with the same rights. With respect to this Winlock states: "Senenmut should act in connivance, or perhaps could had been the true instigator, as it turns out to be difficult to understand how any proceed would have been successful without the aid of the "Great Administrative" ... "To my understanding Winlock forgets that the queen was also supported by the "Great Priest of Amun", Hapuseneb. But continuing with Senenmut, the only question resides in if it was the fact of becoming infatuated with her what took him to follow her in a proceed that Hatshepsut herself thought up, or if it was his ambition what made her break with the tradition of her past. [16]

Several authors, since the subject is very suggestive, have believed to see a personal relation between the plebeian and the queen. Something more than a mere fancy. In fact, he is often qualified as his lover, although this hypothesis results rather an illusion. Such personal relation between Senenmut and Hatshepsut, is only based in evidence so little consistent as they are a painting located in Deir el Bahari, more exactly in an uncompleted tomb belonging to the Medium Empire excavated in the rock and situated in the crag that is found over the temple of the queen. The workers that built the temple used it as place of rest and they entertained themselves scribbling drawings and hieratic texts in the walls. Among these drawings it stands out the sketch of some kind of Superintendent that, in spite of not having any inscription, has been identified as Senenmut, the "Superintendent of every constructive activity of the Djeser-Djeseru". Next to him is found a female image that carries the royal crown in the head and with whom Queen Hatshepsut has been tried to be identified. [17]

We already have analyzed how Senenmut could have arrived to the power. Now we continue with the question of when.

We do not have an exact date for certain but, more and more, it is pointed out that the ascent of Senenmut, runs in parallel with the power seizure of the queen. The date of year 7 is very often mentioned, but we know due to several monuments that in this date Senenmut already acted with full powers, namely: it is the date of the start of his tomb 71 of Gurnah and very possibly, as we will see later, also of the second one. For this same date we have the beginning of the construction of the Djeser-Djeseru. These data are themselves enough eloquent to be able to affirm, without making a mistake, that the career of our personage is previous to year 7 of the queen, and that we would be more correct if we think about year 2 that is considered, as I have previously said, as that of the coronation.

We have spoken of Senenmut as the tutor of princess Neferu-Re, of Senenmut as possible military, as supervisor ,etc., but we have not yet mentioned the title by which he has passed to the history, that of architect. Simply, we have not mentioned it, because of all the ones he had this, as such, was the only one that did not hold. Then, -we ask ourselves- where does the mistake come from?. The mistake is not such. He, as Great Administrator of Amun, will be the unique responsible of all the constructive program, that will be carried out during the reign of Hatshepsut, although it is very possible that he shared this title for a short while with Hapuseneb as the statue of Bologna seems to indicate, but he never was the architect of the queen as he has been erroneously called.

As we have previously mentioned, in year 7 begins the construction of the most symbolic work of all the reign and possibly the most majestic one of all the Egyptian period, the Djeser-Djeseru "the wonder of the wonders", the Temple of Deir el Bahari.

The funeral temple of Mentuhotep II, the first Theban king of Egypt, was found in the area and supposed not only a challenge but an inspiration for Senenmut. "Its plan was the logical model, and the space that was next to it, the suitable place. His ambitions, at the beginning, did not arrive to the extent of trying something as magnificent as the temple of Mentuhotep. But once finished, Senenmut had built a temple whose structure, without including the patio, covered more than three times the area predicted in the original plan and had altered almost all the aspect, except the general plan of the terraces with columns’ porticos" [18]. The old plan was conserved: temple of the valley, ascending road, funeral temple and sanctuary, excavated in the same mountain. But it was born of a completely different architectural form. Here everything results freer, more delicate, more open than in any another Egyptian architectural assembly, of before and of later.

In the course of the past year, I already explained architecturally this temple, and I am going to stop in it only some minutes in deference to the new companions of this year: Although chapels dedicated to several deities existed, Hatshepsut dedicated the entire temple to her divine father Amun Re. The road of the valley connected directly, at the other side of the river, with the temple of Amun in Karnak (later we will see what is being built simultaneously). The possible intention that the two defenders of the queen, Hapuseneb and Senenmut, had to give this orientation to the temple was not another that to defend the own interests of their sovereign, therefore it was not a coincidence, and with this orientation they tried, once more, to legitimize her divine ancestry, when in the "Beautiful Festival of the Valley", the statue of Amun, her father, left his sanctuary in Karnak and visited the temple of his daughter Hatshepsut, being installed in his own chapel located in the third terrace.

Three terraces (plan I) extended from the limit of the fertile land to the mountain. Parts of said terraces were excavated in the rock. Ramps, wide and smoothly inclined, divide the temple along a central axis from east to west and from north to south. But possibly the idea that underlies in all the assembly is its ascending sense.

I am going to briefly comment the temple, but I am going to do it opposite to how it has always been done, I am going to comment it from inside to outwards, that is to say as it was built:

We know that the Santa-Santorum is of the year 7 of the queen (its facade was subsequently restored by the Ptolemies) and is composed by three chambers:

First: this was the main room, the repository of the boat. It contains four niches, two to each side. It is decorated with paintings where the queen, Tuthmosis III and princess Neferu-Re are seen (this is the only place where we can find them together and also it is a very clear indication that there was no pursuit on the part of Tuthmosis III against the queen, but this is a point that we will later approach), making an offering to the deified kings: Tuthmosis I, Tuthmosis II and to Queen Ahmosis. In the other wall offerings are made to Amun-Re, and also we will find Hatshepsut, as the king of the Upper and Lower Egypt.
Second: this chapel is very small, the decoration is much deteriorated and only two niches appear in each side.

Third: this last chapel was carried out by Ptolemy VIII Evergete II and is dedicated to two great personages deified: Imhotep and Amenhotep, son of Hapu.

Leaving the Santa-Santorum, you enter a hypostyle room that is much deteriorated. Against what it is the wall of the sanctuary, a series of niches comes out from this hypostyle room, where statues of the queen or of Gods would have been placed and where in some of them the name of Senenmut has been found hidden. There are authors that point out that the fall (that we will see later) that our personage will have is owed to a certain extent to the usurpation of the royal power.

Both to the right and to the left of this hypostyle room, other chapels dedicated are found, on the right to Re-Hor-Ajty. This included a small hall surrounded by a series of niches where more statues of the queen should have also been placed. From this chapel, others come out dedicated by the queen to the worship of her ancestors: Tuthmosis I, the Queen Senseneb, grandmother of Hatshepsut. If we return to the main chapel, a solar altar of 5 x 4 x 1.60 m height raises in its centre.

Crossing again the hypostyle room, in the left side, again chapels are opened: that of Hatshepsut herself (left), where we find the finest painted reliefs of all the sanctuary, with sacrifice of animals, long processions with tributes, etc... In this area the queen dedicates two chapels to her two fathers: to the earthly one Tuthmosis I and to the divine one: to the God Amun of Thebes.

A descending ramp will take us to the second terrace. But if we turn round, we can see the front part of this third terrace that consisted of twenty-six colossal standing statues of the queen in osiriac shape, carved in rows together with the walls and columns to which they were adhered. According to the preliminary reports of the Polish Mission, these would represent the oldest style of sculpture of the whole precinct, that is to say we would still be in the year 7.

The descending ramp that will take us to the second terrace finishes (or begins) with a representation of the cobra goddess and the God Horus that holds between his claws the sign of eternity. People had access, as it now occurs, to this second terrace. I do emphasis on this point because as we will see later, this second terrace is loaded of subliminal messages.

To the right of this second terrace, in the rocky wall, a formal element was introduced: an uncompleted peristyle of 15 protodoric columns. Returning to the central axis, to right and left opens a room with columns. The room of the right is decorated with fine painted reliefs. In this same room, in another attempt to position the right of the queen to carry the double crown, and due to the fact that, as I have previously mentioned, people had access to this terrace, they invented for her the divine birth, nothing less than making her became related to the God Amun himself. And in order that no doubt existed it is placed here, in full view of all remained the conception of Amun and queen Ahmosis, the birth and the education of Hatshepsut. This terrace finishes with a chapel dedicated to the God Anubis that consists of a small hypostyle room and three small chapels. Crossing again the ramp that gives access to the third terrace, we find the other room with columns that contains the best-known painted reliefs of the whole temple: the expedition to the country of Punt. We know that this expedition is carried out during the year 8 of Hatshepsut. In the year 9 all this magnificent relief (some 50 m.) is placed with the detailed description of this expedition. Here we are also told how through an oracle the God Amun himself indicates the queen that she should undertake an expedition to the country of Punt, to bring woods, semi-precious stones, trees to smarten up the temple, etc... This oracle is being received by the queen in the presence of three people: Nehesi, that was the admiral of the Egyptian fleet that governs the expedition, Senenmut, and a third that it has not been possible to identify because the inscription is much deteriorated but it is very possible that he is Hapuseneb.

To the left of this room, we find the chapel, which is integrated in the whole, dedicated to the goddess Hathor. This chapel had access directly from the valley through a ramp that left from the first terrace. This chapel consists of two hypostyle rooms, of 20 and 12 columns. The first one contains two columns with double hathoric capitals, oriented to the East and the West. The rest of the chapel is decorated with paintings and reliefs of the goddess Hathor breastfeeding the queen with male appearance, while in others she presents tribute of wine and other food. The figure of the queen, as occurs in other parts of the temple, has been mutilated. In the most hidden part of the chapel we find the only representation that is conserved intact of the queen and Tuthmosis, knelt, making a tribute of milk and wine. Inside the precinct itself an excavated chamber is opened in the rock from which other smaller ones leave that finish in a niche with barrel vault.

The descent ramp that takes us to the first terrace was guarded by sphinxes of the queen. In the left part, a ramp that connected directly with the chapel of the goddess Hathor (located in the second terrace) started. This first terrace was walled and entered through a door. There existed some lakes surrounded by gardens where trees and other plants that had been brought of the Punt had been planted. The Polish-Egyptian Mission that is working in the reconstruction of the temple has found rests of clay "boomerang" and have argued that very possibly this fertile place inside the first terrace was dedicated to the hunt of ducks and other water birds.

The road was guarded, in the same way that in the second ramp, by sphinxes of the queen arranged in parallel. This last part of the temple is of the year 16 of the queen. We know it thanks to an ostraca, which has been published by Hayes, where it is said that a group of workers is carrying out a series of works in the area, although works are not specified. To undertake the execution of the first terrace, Senenmut, was obliged to dismantle an adobe temple of Amenhotep I that existed in the area. The works to which the ostraca refers to, well could be the ones to clear the area.

Therefore, with all what we have just seen, it is more logical to think that the year 2 is the most appropriate one to be given as that of the ascent to the power of Hatshepsut, since, as we are seeing, in the year 7 she already has enough support and power as to be able to build her Temple of Millions of years.

But to analyze the following years, those that go from year 7 to year 16, we cannot forget a data that, as I believe, is the one that will change the course of the events. There are clear signs to believe that the future reign of Egypt, princess Neferu-Re, dies around the year 11, since the last monument where she appears, and that is together with her tutor Senenmut, is dated in this year. Without doubt, for the queen, the death of the princess should be a hard blow twice: first the pain of mother and in second place the aspirations to perpetuate a line of women that carried the Double Crown were finished.

From this moment, the queen begins to see clear that to her death the weight of the Double Country, will fall in the young Tuthmosis. There are some authors that state that prince Tuthmosis was kidnapped during all the reign of Hatshepsut in the Temple of Amun, under the supervision of Hapuseneb. This does not have any base, since as we have seen in Deir el Bahari, in very sacred areas of the temple the two appear together; we are talking about the third terrace that is dated around the year 7.

The year 16 of Hatshepsut, seems to have been an important date as because of this, Senenmut is going to start a great constructive program that will change for always the face of Thebes. Due to the importance of the monuments that are built to celebrate such event, diverse authors think that it was the year of the Jubilee of the queen.

In Karnak, in the narrow hypostyle room whose construction was ordered for the father of Hatshepsut, Senenmut raised for his queen, the highest obelisks of all Egypt (approximately of 30 m), and that were the result of seven months of work. The stone came from the quarries of Aswan. They were of rose granite. The pyramidion was covered with electron (silver and gold) and they were carried out "to reach the sky, to be seen from throughout both banks of the Nile and to illuminate Egypt as the sun". Very possibly Senenmut decided to put the obelisks in this place to enhance the entrance of the new chapel that had been raised behind and that was destined to lodge the boat of Amun. This chapel in red quartzite was found behind the V Pylon, in what at present is the chapel of Filipo Arrideo; it was subsequently dismantled and used as foundation deposit of several pylons (at present it is located in the outdoors museum of Karnak). To the right and to the left of this chapel, Senenmut introduces a new element that will be copied from this moment, that is the construction of auxiliary chapels, the southern and north chapels, destined to incenses, tributes, dresses, etc...

With the construction of the VIII Pylon, Senenmut inaugurates the north-south axis. As in so many other buildings, externally he continued the tradition established, but inside he allowed himself some changes. The pylon’s shape is the traditional one: trapezoidal, of inclined walls narrower in the upper area, with round borders in its angles and with garganted cornice that had been established since Zoser. The scenic composition is unusual: Hatshepsut pays tribute to her ancestors: Tuthmosis I, Tuthmosis II, Amenhotep I and to herself. In this way, also, in the religious centre of Egypt, Senenmut reiterates to monumental scale for his queen, the legitimacy to carry the double crown. Six colossal statues of the queen kept the precinct (one of these statues was subsequently usurped by Tuthmosis III).

Of this pylon started a sacred road towards goddess Mut’s temple as, a sanctuary of Medium Empire existed in this moment, although the main builder of the precinct were Amenhotep III. The whole processional road was flanked with sphinxes of the queen. In this area it was also built a repository of the boat dedicated to Amum-Min-Kamutef, with a small ambulatory. Also Senenmut undertakes the work to create a sacred lake for the goddess Mut. The entrance to this area was thorough a road that forked in right angle and met with the road that came from the temple called the Southern Harem. Although archaeologically the road of sphinxes is of epoch of Amenhotep III, and subsequent, a road of the Medium Empire epoch should already exist. Borchardt, tried to relate all these works of beautification of the area, also with the jubilee of the queen.

Senenmut did not limit himself only to beautify these two temples of Karnak and Luxor. Along the country we can mention other temples as those of Edfu, El Kab, On, Medinet Habu, the Sinai, where he made a long inscription be engraved in the facade of the small provincial temple that the Greeks called Speos Artemidos, etc..., where marvellous works for his queen were carried out.

If the life of Senenmut is a mystery, the loss of power, his death and memory are still more mysterious. There are authors that believe that the death of the princess Neferu-Re made our personage lose power and force in the court and before the queen. But we must take into account that a change in the titles of Senenmut with respect to the princess Neferu-Re is observed around the year 7, therefore, the theory that the death of Neferu-Re influences negatively in him, is not more than a mere speculation, if we keep in mind that Senenmut personally deals with all the works that are being carried out for the jubilee of queen. There are authors as Winlock and Helk that, on the other hand, affirm that Senenmut’s loss of power is due to the fact that the queen discovers that has committed a lese-majesty crime. According to them, the queen would have discovered that her Administrator had usurped royal prerogatives such as having placed his name in the niches of the third terrace, that he had built for himself a sarcophagus identical to hers or the construction of his tomb that got into the subsoil of the first terrace. We can neither admit this theory since in a statue of Senenmut that is conserved in the Cairo Museum (G 42144) there is an inscription where the explicit permission of the queen so that her "favourite" could place his image not only in Deir el Bahari, but in "all the temples of the Gods of the High and Low Egypt" is stated.

Therefore, at present we do not know neither how nor when Senenmut loses his power.

Another great mystery is the moment of his death. There are theories for all tastes. But of what there is no doubt is that it has to take place very nearby in the time to the one of his friend Hapuseneb and of course after the year 16 of the queen. Therefore we would be speaking of around the year 20 of Hatshepsut. Although it is also certain that we do not have higher date for Senenmut than the year 16.

In the same way that we have seen with Hapuseneb, Senenmut builds for himself a magnificent cenotaph in Gebel el Silsila. And as it was traditional his tomb in the area of Gurnah next to the one that he has built for his parents and that is the nº 71. This one, that traditionally has been called first tomb, was already known in the epoch of the Napoleonic expedition. After, in 1927, Winlock discovered another tomb whose owner was our personage, in the surrounding area of Deir el Bahari, the 353. Then, the question would be, had Senenmut two tombs?. This has been the eternal discussion of this century, but at present, we can say that no, Senenmut only had a tomb, but built in two parts.

The XVIII Dynasty is notable, by an attempt to return to the traditions of the past, in it, the royalty was buried in pyramids and the funeral temples were found semidetached to them. In the XVIII Dynasty the monarchs make themselves be buried in the Valley of the Kings and they situate the funerary temple in the valley. This is a royal prerogative, but that is going to be adopted by Senenmut. Thus we have that the tomb 71 of Gurnah, where the false door stele was found, would be the worship chapel, being the 353 of Deir el Bahari the tomb itself.

Senenmut begins to build tomb 71 in the year 7. A false door stele and the most curious thing of all, his sarcophagus, were found in it. We do not know the reason why this sarcophagus is found here and not in the tomb 353 but, of course, Senenmut’s intention upon building tomb 71 was only for his worship. Another of the great questions was to come to the conclusion that the tomb 353 and the 71, were built in parallel in the time. At first it was thought that the second tomb, the 353, was begun to be build in the year 16 or close to it. But by the level of the stratum where Winlock found the ostraca to which I have before referred to in relation with the works that were being carried out in the area of Deir el Bahari and that is dated in the year 16 where we were told that works were being carried in the area and that we think that perhaps these works could refer to the dismantling of the temple of Amenhotep I, as it was needed to finish the first terrace and the avenue that connected the temple of the valley with the Djeser-Djeseru was being built and cleaned. This means that if the debris of the cleaning of the avenue are being placed here is because the tomb of Senenmut was already finished in, at least, its phase of excavation. But now the question would be then why this tomb was not finished, since only the first one of its three chambers has decoration and another of the questions is the decoration of this first chamber itself as the motives that are chosen by Senenmut, his astronomical ceiling, are completely revolutionary since in no other tomb are we going to find this type of system of symbols and we will have to wait to find it again until Seti I and the Ramesids. We do not know if this tries to indicate us that Senenmut was a perfect expert "of what is written in the sky", but what if it is sure is that one must know a lot of astronomy to be able to interpret that ceiling.

Another of the peculiarities that this tomb presents to us is the location of another false door stele in this tomb. We cannot explain ourselves the object of this second stele because as we know well the steles were placed in front of the doors of the tombs to receive the daily worship or in festivities. But inside a tomb never, as nobody could have access. In the third chamber of this tomb the well to place his canopic jars has been located. Both the second and the third chambers have no decoration nor were their walls covered awaiting decoration.

The authors that defend or have defended the royal prerogatives taking by Senenmut, are based on that not only the second chamber but also the third one of this tomb 353 are introduced by the subsoil in the area of the temple pertaining to the first terrace, and thus, in this way Senenmut tried to be benefited of the rites and of the ceremonies that were carried out in the temple of the queen. But in no place can we find about the supposed magical benefits that are found in the floors of the temples, and therefore the supposed "benefit" of Senenmut. Maybe the explanation were simpler than all this and we would have to give it to the location of a better limestone when working as some investigators have so well pointed out.

Other of the great mysteries is to be able to answer ourselves if our personage used this tomb. As I already have previously stated, the sarcophagus was located in the tomb 71. This was found fragmented in thousands of pieces that have been masterfully recomposed by the Metropolitan Museum of New York. The analysis of the sarcophagus is also masterly. This was an exact copy to that of the queen, such is so, that even the pronouns are female. The meticulous analysis that was carried out to the sarcophagus has revealed very curious data, such as that it was never used, since it has not been possible to find any resin or other material of those used for the embalming. This last data makes us suppose that the body of Senenmut was lost or they lost it.

As last data we cannot pass over the pursuit of the memory that will be carried out against the defenders of this queen and against herself.

I have already mentioned the pursuit of the memory that is carried out against Hapuseneb erasing his name in the inscriptions of Gebel el Silsila, but without doubt the most numerous or most important are those of Senenmut and the queen herself.

There are theories concerning this matter for all the tastes, that have been superimposed as new inscriptions or new statues have been appearing. At present it seems that there is no doubt of who is the author of the pursuit of the memory of Hapuseneb, since all the signs point out to Tuthmosis III. As for the responsibility of the pursuit of Senenmut, also, and I believe it, we must accuse again to Tuthmosis III himself. Even more, he could have also been the author of the disappearance of both personages, as while the queen was protected by so strong mainstays, Tuthmosis III could not think about arriving quickly to the throne of Egypt. Therefore he needed to mine the power of the queen to achieve his aspirations. But with Senenmut we observe that somewhat unusual is produced, a double pursuit of memory. The first one, without doubt is produced in a period very close to the death of the queen and whose author is Tuthmosis III. He is who orders that his iconography is pursued both of his tomb as of other monuments: Deir el Bahari, statues, etc... It is easy to find out the reason: rage, jealousy. They have been the cause for not having been able to accede before to the throne of the two lands. Tuthmosis III does not dare to pursue the memory of Hatshepsut, since in any case, she was or had been the sovereign of the Two Lands, and therefore she was a God, something too sacred that even Tuthmosis III himself, in spite of his rage, respects. Therefore, he is infuriated against those that had made her powerful: Hapuseneb and Senenmut. But also, the fact is that with Senenmut we find out another pursuit that is completely different and due to different reasons. This second pursuit will have its origin in the amarnic period, and is because the clergy of Atun associates the teophoric name of Mut as the wife of Amun. And for that reason the name of Senenmut is destroyed but, only the name, not the iconography. Subsequently, we also have that in Ramesid epoch the damages caused against the memory of Senenmut or his name are returned, but we observe with certain incredulity, that another phenomenon is produced. Now the figure of the queen is pursued, her iconography and her name are damaged, and even her memory by not making reference to her even in the board of the annals of Abydos.

There is a last data and is the one that is drawn from the publications of Marciniak and is relating to the location of a statue of Senenmut in the funerary temple of Tuthmosis III. The curiosity does not only lie in the location of this statue in this temple as the explanation that we are given is that it is subsequently placed in Ramesid epoch, but also in the fact that the name of Senenmut appears associated to that of Tuthmosis III and the name of the queen does not appear.

Without doubt, the accidental or caused death of both personages was for the queen as painful and hard as the acceptance of the death of her beloved daughter Neferu-Re. The queen supported herself in them, because they were her force, tenacity, determination...

And due to fidelity or love, without doubt, it was worth while living and dying, so that she reached her dream, so that she could be: living Horus Powerful of Kas, Nebty Flourishing of Years, Gold Divine Horus of Radiant Apparitions, King of the High and Low Egypt Maat-Ka-Re, regent of Thebes.


  1. The princess Hatshepsut is the oldest; it is possible that princess Amenfrure had died.
  2. Nachr. Göttingen, 1955, p.212.
  3. There is another theory that says that is also possible that he had been the small son of Imhotep, vizier of Tuthmosis I.
  4. Parallels have been found that demonstrate this theory with the titles that the grandmother of the Great Priest Menkheperre carries and the mother of the Great Priest Mery.
  5. Maspero, Historia II, p. 487.
  6. Hapuseneb and his brother dedicated a statue to their father Hapu in the temple of Amun to "make his name live" and so that he participated of the tributes of all the festivals of the calendar.
  7. Urk IV 472,5-7; 477,7; 472, 15-16.
  8. Urk IV, 482,4; 483,6; 484,15.
  9. Urk IV 471, 16; 472, 1: hrj-tp,m sm'w - mr-nwt-t; tj. The phrase indicates that the two titles are independent the one of the other.
  10. Cambridge History,II, p.6.
  11. Anales IV, 1903, p.193.
  12. Urk,IV, 483, 17; 485,5.
  13. Meyer,C. 1982.
  14. Winlock,H:"Excavations at Deir el Bahari, 1911-1913". N,York, 1942, p.146.
  15. Winlock, p.150.
  16. Winlock, p.147.
  17. Romer,J:"People of the Nile.N.York,1982.p.157-159.
  18. Winlock 1942, pag.135.


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  • Published with authorization of the author.


By Teresa Bedman