Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Old Mummification Museum Lecture - TT353

Lecture at the Mummification Museum 3/12/6 by Francisco J Martin Valentin on the Senenmut Project
Firstly there is a good website www.senenmut.com in Spanish and English where you can read more.The team consists of Teresa Bedman his wife and the name of the architects of his equipment(team) is: Juan Martín Rojo and Luis Abad . Dr. Ayman is the geologist of the equipment(team)

TT353, the tomb of Senenmut was discovered by Herbert Winlock in Jan 1927 and its most unique and special feature is the astronomical ceiling, the oldest in the world and in the opinion of Martin Valentin as special as the Sistine chapel. Some slides were shown showing the site in 1926/27 and Martin Valentin explained how some broken statues had led the way to the discovery.

Behind the bricked up entrance was a strange monument. The tomb is 41.93 metres down and 97.36 metres long through complex stone of quartz, calcite, gypsum and other stone. The tomb was published in 1991 by Peter Dormar the ceiling shows the Great Bear, Sirius and 4 of the 5 planets known to the Ancient Egyptians. According to the website and touched upon during the lecture a deep study of the astronomical ceiling allowed the setting of the position of Jupiter and Mars in that time, and through impressive and complex astronomical and mathematical calculations, the ending of the works of the ceiling could be dated in the year 1465 B.C., i.e., the 17th year of the reign of Hatshepsut.

The  chamber has Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts and chapters from the Book of the Dead. In fact it has the first example of Chapter 110 of the Book of the Dead. The first problem facing the team was how to protect the tomb from the damage of the environmental and human contact. They made a proposal to the SCA in 1999 and in April 2003 the project was started. The issues covered were documentation, protection from flood water, study of the site and the provision of a replica within the confines of the temple of Hatshepsut.

2004.Humidity was noted on the ceiling with subsequent problems with saline. The solution is not universally agreed upon. But now they have stopped the cause of the water it is appears that it has resolved itself. The old toilet block had a huge water tank supplying it and this was always parked in a certain place and leaked. These toilets were closed and the water stopped. Every time he sees the new toilet porta cabins he is thankful. Slides showing the extent of the problem in 2004 were shown and the problem looked massive at that time. As long as there is no water there again it should never arise again.

The team cleared the first part of tomb from the entrance to the first chamber, working in very cramped conditions. The tunnel entrance gives little room for them to hold their instruments. When cleared the steps showed themselves to be crisply cut and well defined.

2005The second part of the tomb was cleared; slides were shown picturing mud from the severe floods in 1994. The existing flood protection did not work and part of the teams work was to provide protection for the future. A stone wall was put round the tomb to protect against further damage.The room was 3 m by 3m. The team have installed a wooden staircase with lights in the risers which gives the tomb a very sympathetic lighting system and greatly adds to ambience. A safety rail was made on the landing and a roof put over the entrance of the tomb. In fact all the wooden installations looked to be of high quality. The floor of the tomb needs protecting as the stone is very soft. Inside the tomb various objects were found; a mud brick stamped showing it was from the temple of Ahmose Nefertari and some early 18th Dynasty pottery.

2006 This year will see the completion of the first part of the project and then they have to look to the future. Currently because of the small size of the tomb and its entrance ways only up to chamber A can be viewed so the team is proposing to have a museum area with a visitor’s centre and a reproduction of the tomb. The proposed structure would be under the eye line so hidden from a panoramic view of the temple. The engineer involved Dr Ahmed Mohammed produced a design that would not contaminate the vista of the temple. The idea would be to have a reproduction of the decorated chamber. There would be use of local materials such as strengthened mud brick to house it. The various methods of producing a reproduction were briefly touched upon but not gone into any detail. (Think about the repro of the tomb of Thothmosis III and this gives you an idea of what they are thinking along the lines of). Apparently they can go to a resolution of 100 microns. They see the need for a slip road, protection against flooding and provision of light. This is their dream.

Martin Valentin then went into a very complex presentation of why Senenmut built this monument. For example why did he choose chapter CXLVIII of the Book of the Dead. TT353 is a special design and did not follow the standard beginning to end route. Although the tomb is unfinished it has a special place in front of the false door for some kind of function. There are also some odd inscriptions; one said funeral offering by his brother Amenemhet priest of the bark of Amun. ( I didn’t get exactly what the significance of this was and would be grateful for any amplification) there was also a changed inscription which showed Hatshepsut and Senenmut in the same positions as Tawosert and Chancellor Bay were shown, kneeling in front of each other which indicates something but truly we do not know what.

They found what looks like the head of a canopic jar which was found with seals of Hatshepsut. There was some hastily done graffiti by the stone mason Tuy in chamber C. the vaulted ceiling is the first example others being KV19 and KV20 and shows the same architectural characteristic as that of KV17 and KV9 with the Nut ceiling

Was this Senenmut’s second tomb, the team came to no definite conclusion.TT71 his previous tomb was also unfinished but his parents Ramose the respectable and Hatnofer the Lady of the House were found underneath it, in the cliff. There was a destroyed sarcophagus found which has been restored and is on display in the Metropolitan museum. At 88 cm wide it was too big for the tomb which is irregular but in some places only 99cm wide and it would have been very difficult to it inside Winlock found deposit foundations which are not normal for Nobles tombs.

There appears to be a possible relationship between this monument and the Mentuhotep temple. If you take a line from the middle of the wadjet eye in the false door this connects on an axis to the Hathor chapel and although it is 255 metres apart the line is only a few centimetres out. Perhaps this is a secret part of Deir el Bahri being indicated inside. There is another possible connection with Mentuhotep that the statue found inside the temple by Carter shows the king wearing the Red Crown, was this his desire to be the wearer of the red crown, is the temple a cenotaph indicating this desire. There is a connection with the pyramid text 220-222 to be the owner of the Red Crown, did he want to be shown forever wanting to be the owner of the crown.

Did Senenmut, in secret, want to be the owner of the Red Crown? The central strip of hieroglyphics in the ceiling mentions him as seal bearer of the King of lower Egypt, why did he chose that of all his titles, His name is in the same place and the same size as that of Hatshepsut which indicated some kind of special relationship.

The conclusion of the team was that TT353 was not for a mummy

There are no parallels with other private tombs

It is ritually linked with the temple

There is a link with Mentuhotep

It is a place of funeral worship with a special motive

It is a chapel or cenotaph

There followed a rather robust Q and A session between Francesco Tiradritti and Francisco Martin Valentin Francesco stated that the Red Crown is also connected with the underworld not just Lower Egypt. The Narmer Palette supports this. He did not agree with the idea of secrets of Senenmut and perhaps Mentuhotep’s desire was to be Osirus rather than the White crown. He did not agree with the idea of a museum because there is not enough room for everyone to have a museum for their work. He also disagreed with the idea of a replica

Mr Mansour Boraik broke in the middle of this heated debate stating that this was a proposal only and lots had to be discussed.Actually on a personal note I like the idea of replicas. I think the vast majority of tourists who come to Egypt would be quite happy to see replicas like those caves in France and it would leave to tombs not having to cope with the hordes of visitors and the damage they do. I would like then for the real thing to be available only to accredited scholars and not just to people with money. But that is my view. Any comments?

Posted by Jane: - 10:01 pm - Edit| 2 Comments »
December 4th, 2006

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