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The royal architect became the right-hand man of the famous queen of Egypt.

The profiles of the history of the ancient Egypt show a gallery of fascinating personages that show their faces amongst the mists of the past. One of them is, undoubtedly, Sen-en-Mut.
In Egypt not a famous king existed without a personage in the shadow that controlled the reins of power. Someone that perfectly knew the secret corners of the temples. One that spoke when all the mouths kept silence. An upper spirit that controlled the country, not only the high courtiers but the humble excavators of channels, the ones that observed the sky and the ones that kept the flocks of the God. In short, a wise man that perfectly knew the secrets of the divinities and the fears of the men. Sen-en-Mut was one of these few people chosen. He controlled Egypt together with Hatshepsut (1479-1457 BC) during the twenty-two years that the reign of this famous sovereign lasted.


Hatshepsut gave Sen-en-Mut an upper position that he openly proclaimed, as a fragment of an inscription in a statue of Amun in Karnak states: "I am the greatest of the greats in the entire country, one that listens what should be listened, the only one amongst the only ones, the superintendent of Amun, Sen-en-Mut. [..] I am the one that enters [in the royal palace] being beloved and [when] leaves [it] is praised, delighting the heart of the king daily, the Friend, Governor of Palace, Sen-en-Mut".

Born in the bosom of a humble family, he promoted to the maximum positions of the power of the most powerful nation of the earth. Born in Iuny (Hermonthis), centre of worship to Montu, Warrior God, he lived there his first years of life. Probably he was a soldier in the armies of famous warrior kings such as Amenhotep I and Tuthmosis I, and with them, he knew the glorious moments of the Egyptian expansion in the Near East and in Nubia.

But he quickly abandoned his military activities to scale the most important positions of confidence in the court, until the pharaoh Tuthmosis I named him tutor of its daughter, the princess Hatshepsut.

The succession in the throne to the death of Tuthmosis I caused one of the first dynastic crises of the New Empire. Hatshepsut, firstborn daughter of the Great Royal Wife Ahmes Tasherit and of Tuthmosis I, was married with the son of a secondary wife, the unhealthy Tuthmosis II, unique descending male of his father.

This marriage did not last long: four years after ascending the throne, Tuthmosis II died, having engendered two daughters with Hatshepsut and a male with a secondary wife, the future one Tuthmosis III, that had little more than five years when his father died. In this way, Hatshepsut saw herself owner of Egypt. After all she was the firstborn child of the king and of the Great Royal Wife, descendant in direct line of Ahmes Nefertari.

Therefore, Hatshepsut and Sen-en-Mut undertook the long road of a fruitful reign. He was, undoubtedly, his mentor, his advisor and ruler in the shadow: an authentic king without crown. She was the pharaoh. Together they set up one of the most magnificent programs of government that the dynasty XVIII knew.


The priority of they Sen-en-Mut was to manage that his sovereign become a king in full powers, in a pharaoh with all the traditional characteristics and conditions. Then they undertook together an ambitious constructive program that included the restructuring of Thebes, the great southern capital of Egypt. The temple of Amun of Karnak was also renewed under the supervision of Sen-en-Mut.

All was the consequence of a process of deification of the queen. First she was declared carnal daughter of the God Amun, and later she was assimilated to powerful divinities. The queen was turned into a new goddess Hathor in her magnificent temple of Deir el-Bahari; in the powerful Satis in the Elephantine Island, and in the terrible lion-goddess Pakhet, in the Speos Artemidos, the temple excavated in the rock of Nubia by order of the sovereign.
But, above all, Sen-en-Mut took care that the memory of his queen lasted for all the eternity. For this, he sought and designed the place of her perpetual worship, the magnificent Dyeser Dyeseru or "Wonder of the Wonders", as he called it: the temple of millions of years of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahari, conceived to join with the queen with her ancestors and with the powerful God Amun of Thebes.


The team of the archaeological mission of the Institute of Studies of the Ancient Egypt has returned to Spain after developing the second campaign (year 2004) of the Sen-en-Mut Project, next to the temple of Deir el-Bahari, the western Luxor. The excavation and conservation works carried out this year in the monument TT 353, that belonged to the Superintendent of Amun Sen-en-Mut, builder of the temple of Deir el-Bahari for the queen Hatshepsut, have given some extraordinary results. The team of the mission has carried out interesting discoveries inside the hypogeum and outside the monument. Fragments of paraments with hieroglyphics, abundant ceramic remains of the New Empire have been found and also other elements that will serve to better understand an area as important as Deir el-Bahari is, as well as the meaning of the subterranean monument that is being investigated. One of the chambers keeps inside the oldest astronomical ceiling of the world and the inscriptions of its walls are of a highest interest, as we are talking about Egyptian religious unique and unpublished texts. Its decipherment, performed by the Spanish team, will reveal important data on the beliefs and religious practices in the Ancient Egypt.

Nevertheless, this place would be a lot more, as on the other side of the rocky massif where the sancta sanctorum of the temple would be excavated there was a wadi (the dry river bed of a river) that today we know as Valley of the Kings. Well, Sen-en-Mut would build for Hatshepsut her tomb in this sacred valley, being the first time that it was used as royal necropolis. Thus, the place where her body would rest inside the sarcophagus, in her tomb, would be connected in a magic way with the most sacred and deepest part of her funeral temple.
In the meantime, Sen-en-Mut had been named private tutor of princess Neferu-Re, daughter of Hatshepsut. They are many statues that show the Superintendent of Amun Sen-en-Mut in a very paternal attitude with the young woman princess (officially daughter of Hatshepsut and of the deceased Tuthmosis II), for which the hypothesis that she was daughter of both seems to be plausible.
As favourite of the queen, Sen-en-Mut reached as many as positions as we can imagine: he held up to ninety-two administrative and religious titles. But, above all, he left more than enough marks of his personality of wise man. He dominated the art of the architecture and sciences such as the geometry and the astronomy, of whose deep knowledge monument TT353 gives details, a subterranean room of the temple of the queen in Deir el-Bahari that up to now had wrongly been known as his second tomb, and that keeps inside one of its chambers the oldest celestial ceiling of the world, where the constellations and planets known in that epoch are represented. Its religious texts, written by the own Sen-en-Mut, are amongst the most interesting ones of the ancient Egypt.
The Superintendent of Amun did not have wife neither known children. The history shows him to us as a man dedicated to serve wholeheartedly his beloved queen and that aspired to share with her the survival in the eternity, through the numerous representations that he left of himself in Deir el-Bahari and in his own private monument (TT71), built to receive personal worship and excavated in the Theban Mountain. Today the hope to reveal all his secrets encourages us.

Francisco Martín Valentín and Teresa Bedman
Directors of Sen-en-Mut Project
Magazine “Historia National Geographic”
March 2005