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Chankillo,Peru.Photograph:CliveRuggles

ShortDescription(ICOMOSIAUCaseStudyformat):
TheTombofSenenmutatWesternThebes,Egypt
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Thematicessay:AncientEgy

Geographicalposition
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ShortDescription(ICOMOSIAU
TheTombofSenenmutat

AtthesiteknownasDeirelBahari,municipalityofLuxor(WestBank),provinceofQena,Egypt.ItissiteTT353withintheThebannecropolis.

Egypt

Location
Info
Latitude254410N,longitude323645E.Elevation105mabovemeansealevel.

Generaldescription
Info
The tomb itself was never finished and consists of a long descending corridor leading to a pair of successive chambers. Of these, the first,
ChamberA,isextensivelydecoratedwithpaintingsandhighreliefs.

Briefinventory
Info
The four walls are decorated with religious texts, including archaic versions of the pyramid texts where, for
example, the imperishable stars are mentioned among other ancient Egyptian star groupings. However, the
most important component of the chamber is the astronomical ceiling containing the oldest version of an
Egyptiancelestialdiagrameverdiscovered.Thediagramisdividedintotwosections,anorthernandasouthern
one. The former includes the earliest known mention of the 12 months of the Egyptian civil calendar and
representationsofthenorthernconstellations,includingMeskhetyu.Thesouthernsectionincludesaputativelist
ofdecansandalistoftheEgyptianversionsoftheplanetsvisiblewiththenakedeye,apartfromMars,whichis
surprisinglyabsent.Ithasbeenarguedthatthediagramcouldbeamonumentalversionofapapyrusscheme
preparedfortheconstructionofaclepsydra.

Fig.1:Funerarytextsmentioningtheimperishablestars.PhotographJuanBelmonte

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Fig.2:ThecelestialdiagramintheastronomicalceilingofthetombofSenenmutincludesalistofthedecanalstars.PhotographJuanBelmonte

Fig.3:ThecelestialdiagramintheastronomicalceilingofthetombofSenenmutalsoincludestheearliestrepresentationoftheplanets,
withthenotableexceptionofMars.PhotographJuanBelmonte

History
Info
Senenmut,QueenHatshepsuts(c.1470BC)architectandchancellor,wasapowerfulmaninhistime.Hewaspermittedtobuildthistombvery
closetotheMillionYeartempleofhismistress,thequeenpharaoh,arareprivilegeforapersonofnonroyalblood.Afterthedeathofthequeen
he was forgotten, and TT353 was never completed. This circumstance may have contributed to the excellent state of preservation of the
paintingsandinscriptions.

Culturalandsymbolicdimension
Info
The main importance of the site is the presence of the earliest known celestial diagram. This apparently reflects a mixture of two different
astronomicaltraditions,whichcanbetracedinlaterastronomicalceilings.

Comparativeanalysis
Info
SimilardocumentscanbefoundintheastronomicalceilingsofthetombofSetiIattheValleyoftheKingsandtheRamesseum,amongothers.

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Authenticityandintegrity
Info
Thesitehasrecentlybeenpreparedforvisitorsbutthedecorationshavenotbeenaltered.

Management
Presentuse
Info
The tomb is currently closed to the public. It is only accessible to a handful of specialists with special permits from the Supreme Council of
AntiquitiesoftheArabRepublicofEgypt(SCA).

Protection
Info
ThesitebelongstotheSCAandisprotectedbystrictEgyptianlawsandregulationsrelatingtoarchaeologicalsitesandremains.Additionally,itis
inaspeciallyprotectedarea,sinceThebesisalreadyontheWHL.Thetombisfenced.

Stateofconservation
Info
The astronomical ceiling and other decorations are in an almost perfect state of preservation. While there are a few traces of damage due to
humidity, the problem is not nearly as severe as in the (almost contemporary) tombs of the Valley of the Kings. During the last few years a
SpanishMissionhasbeingundertakingcleaningworkwiththeaimofmakingthetombaccessibletoawider,interestedpublic.

Contextandenvironment
Info
ThetombislocatedatthebottomofthecliffsofDeirelBahari,inadry,dustyenvironmentclosetothemainentrancetothetempleofQueen
Hatshepsut.

Archaeological/historical/heritageresearch
Info
TherehavebeenseveralattemptstointerpretSenenmutsastronomicalceiling(andafewofthetextsinthechamber)withvaryingdegreesof
success.Nodefinitiveinterpretationofthediagramexistsatthepresenttime.

Mainthreatsorpotentialthreats
Info
Thesiteisquitedryand,wherethedecorationsarepaintedorchiselled,therockisagoodqualitylimestone,sonomajorthreatsareevident.
Visitorsbreathposesapotentialthreatinthefuture,asdoesnewandmorepowerfulillumination.

Management,interpretationandoutreach
Info
Itisproposedthat,aspartofitsfinalduties,theSpanishMissionshouldconstructareplicaofChamberA.Thiswillbebuiltclosetotheentrance

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ofthetombbutatahigherlevelaccessibletothevastmajorityofthevisitorsofDeirelBaharitemple.Thereplicamayincludeaninterpretation
centre.

Disclaimer|Credits|Technology

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