biography of sennefer
and his relations and comtemporaries

Charles Woods

Sheikh abd el-Qurna. Tomb TT96 (open to the public)

Sennefer lived during the time of Amenhotep II of the 18th Dynasty known as the New Kingdom, c.1427-1400.

He was the son of Ahmose (called Humay or Hemi) and the Lady Weretmaetef entombed at Sheik abd el Qurna No: TT224. This was a very influential family who provided the state with a number of High Officials, Amenemopet and Sennefer being two of them.

The brother of Sennefer, (c. 1427-1400) Amenemopet (Amenhotep called Pairy or Pairi) was Vizier to King Amenhotep II and Mayor of Thebes, a position which seems to have been taken over by his brother, Sennefer. He had a tomb started in the Valley of the Kings – No: KV 48 – but for some reason this was unfinished. For whatever reason, Amenemopet ended up in the tombs of the Nobles at Sheik abd el-Qurna No: TT29 not far from his brother’s tomb, No: TT96. Amenemopet was described as being a tall and well built man and a physically imposing figure.

Sennefer married at least two named wives, the first being the Lady Setnay and the second the Lady Meryt. Lady Setnay was indeed the Royal Wetnurse - an extremely important position in the court hierarchy. Sennefer is depicted in his tomb with his second wife Meryt sailing to Abydos on a sacred pilgrimage to the temple of Osiris.

Sennefer became Mayor of Thebes under Amenhotep II and was honored by the King by being allowed to have a statue of himself and wife installed in the Temple of Karnak. The statue is particularly unusual as it bears the names the sculptors who made it, their names being Djed-Khonsu and Amenmes.

Of significance in the case of Sennefer is an unusual double heart-shaped collar, some of which bear the name of the king (Amenhotep II). One of them, however, bears the name of “Alexander” and was obviously added by an admiring Greek visitor some time after 332 bce.

Sharing the company with Sennefer and probably brought up with him in the Royal Kap (royal nursery school) were such illustrious figures as Qenamun (Ken-Amun) c.1427-1400 who became the Royal Steward to King Amenhotep II of the palace at Memphis. Qenamun appears to have been a foster brother to the King by his mother, Amenemopet, and who is shown holding the king in Qenamuns tomb No: 93 at Sheik abd el-Qurna. It appears that Qenamun and his brother, Kaimheribsen, were ancestors of Thuthmosis I. Kaimheribsen became Third Prophet of Amun and is entombed in No: TT 98 also at Sheik abd el-Qurna.

Amongst other illustrious individuals of the time ( c. 1427-1400) was Meri (Mery) the High Priest of Amun during the reign of Amenhotep II. He was married to the Lady Dey. His father, Nebpehtire, was the First Prophet of Min at Koptos. His mother, the Lady Hunayt, was Chief Nurse of the Lord of the Two Lands. Entombed in TT No: 95, Meri appears to have also usurped the tomb of Amonezeh ( TT 84) for himself and his mother. Alongside Meri was Amenemhat who also served at High Priest of Amun under Amenhotep II at Karnak Temple. He was the son of the Wab-Priest and Overseer of the Sandal makers of Amun, Djehutyhotep. Amenemhet left an inscription outlining his career at Gebel el-Silsila, and appears to be the owner of TT 97 at Sheik abd el-Qurna.

Last but not least there was Menkheperreseneb (Menkheper), the Chief of Granaries at TT 79 at Sheik abd el-Qurna. In addition there was Userhet, a child of the Royal Kap, who became Royal Scribe along with his wife the Lady Mutneferet in TT 56 also at Sheik abd el-Qurna. Finally, we cannot finish without mentioning Kha, foreman and Overseer of many royal projects from the Workers village (Deir el Medina), whose fabulous tomb was found in 1906 totally in tact. All but one or two items from this tomb are now in the Egyptian Museum in Turin. Kha was someone with whom Sennefer probably came into contact with during the construction of his own fabulous tomb.

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