last update: 18.10.2009
  Senenmut and Hatshepsut  

Doubtless Senenmut has made a great career. In the end, as a son of unimportant parents he got in the center of the power. The beginning of his career lies in the darkness, possibly he started as a soldier, but it led him via positions like that of a "Steward of the God's Wife" and "Steward of the King's Daughter", the position of the tutor (i.e. "nurse") of the "King's Daughter" Neferu-Ra, and among other positions at least in the office of the "Stewardship of the Property of Amun".

Naturally, this career has developed in the shade of the sovereign(s). On account of the plenty of privileges for and the accumulation of offices by Senenmut it has been tried over and over again to pull the supposed protection by Hatshepsut down to the level of a sexual relationship. Naturally, a sexual relation between Hatschepsut and Senenmut cannot be excluded but vice versa the listed "indications" appear rather arbitrarily interpreted - or even chauvinistic.

For example, the cubic block statues (see below) representing Senenmut together with Neferu-Ra, like the one from Berlin (see also: Cryptograms on Tutor-statues of Senenmut), are often interpreted as a hint to a fatherhood of Senenmut, because in this representation he wraps his arms around the princess like a father who is protecting his child.

Block statue of Senenmut and Neferu-Ra, Egyptian Museum, Berlin no. 2296

In fact, over and over again it is ignored hat the tutors (= nurses) were especially appreciated at the past as demonstrated by the "privileges" given to Sat-Ra, the nurse of Hatshepsut. She was given a tomb in the Valley of Kings and a seated statue which  shows her holding young Hatshepsut on on her lap. This statue presumably had been put up in the Chapel of Hathor at Djeser djeseru.

Over and over again in this discussion appear the erotic graffiti from the grotto above the temple of Hatshepsut, Djeser djeseru. The grotto is located in the northern wall of the valley. It is the most eastern chamber in a row of tomb chapels from the 11. Dynasty (Wente, in 1984; see in addition also Porter&Moss, Vol. I-2, p. 658, graffiti in Deir el-Bahari where the grotto is called tomb 504). The chamber is incomplete and served in the new empire obviously as a "lounge" for officials and priests of the neighboring temples

According to Wente (1984) numerous representations are found in the grotto, even the ceiling has been used as a painting surface. The erotic graffiti are found beside the stele-shaped graffito of Neferhotep on the eastern wall. This offered - as the only wall in the grotto - a smooth surface simply to be painted. All the other graffiti have been painted on rough surfaces and partly could be painted only in extremely uncomfortable position. For example, the ceiling shows an (according to Wente, in 1984, unpublished) graffito of a certain Nebwa, priests in the funerary temple of the Thutmosis I. Thus, Wente concluded that the graffiti on the east wall should date early among the other paintings or  in the grotto. 

The photo above shows the graffito of Neferhotep and below that a couple in a sexual intercourse.

This photo shows the couple performing a coitus "a tergo". Noticeable are the large wig of the lady and her missing breasts. The scene is about 25 cms high.

Right of the graffito of Neferhotep two males are depicted. Above the first male another stele-like inscription was planned but not finished. The 2nd smaller man far right is shown presenting an oversized erected phallus.

Viewing the east-wall it appears noticeable that the couple performing the coitus has no epigraphs. In contrast, however, several inscriptions (according to Wente 4 are found in front and one above the head of the larger man on the right). The inscriptions in front of the large figure read:

1 - The third prophet of Amun Pahu, born of the lady of the house ....

2 - The third prophet of Amun in Djeser djeseru Aapehty, begotten of the  scribe, god's father of Amun, who has access to the mysteries ..... in Karnak, Merymaat

3 - The second prophet of Amun in Djeser djeseru - he is one who has made his reputation - the scribe .... Amenemhat, born of the lady of the house, Sat-....

4 - There came ...

These four inscriptions are related to priests who above all served in the temple Djeser djeseru.  Romer (1982) believes that he is be able to identify Senenmut in the figure. Wente contradicts Romer, because in the inscription above the figure neither the name nor the title of the Senenmut are mentioned. Wente thinks that the preserved traces of the text possibly might be read as the title "stone mason".

Taking all the information together the following "picture" arises:
1. - the couple performing the coitus has no epigraph
2. - the texts surroundings the erotic scenes mention officials or priests, their names, and occasionally the temple to which they belonged
3. - none of the adjacent texts give any connection to (or mention of the names of) Hatshepsut or Senenmut
4. - between the texts and the representations no other connections can be produced definitely except that they are painted next to each other
5. - hence, all personal identification are based on interpretations of the representations or supposition, e.g.
5.1 - because the erotic scenes stand beside the texts (which do not contain any textual connection to the erotic scenes), it is concluded that the scenes and the texts were "painted" at the same time
5.2 - the female of the couple wears a hairstyle, that looks like the wig of a queen - hence, it "must" be Hatshepsut
5.3 - the tall man in the middle wears an unusual cap (or hat) as it was worn occasionally by supervisors - thus, it "must" be Senenmut
5.4 - likewise, the little naked man behind the lady "must" be Senenmut, because the drawing of his head resembles the drawing of the head with cap of the tall man

Romer "recognized" in the couple a representation of Hatshepsut and Senenmut, concerning Hatshepsut Wente agreed with him, however, he did not see a connection to Senenmut.

Also interesting are the further "conclusions" of Romer and Wente after they finally had made up their mind regarding the identification of the persons "involved":
6.1 - from the Egyptian iconography one expects in the representation of a queen not only a royal wig but also the royal uraeus, its absence in the scene must explained:
- thus, it was concluded that the "artist" was intentionally disrespectful by drawing the queen without the royal insignia
6.2 - because the absence of the uraeus had to be explained, there is also a need to explain the absence of the breasts:
- here it was concluded that the "artist" commented on the ambiguity of the fact that a woman sat on Pharaoh's throne instead of a "mighty bull"
Hence, both, Romer and Wente, got the picture of a political allusion on the ambiguity of the fact that a woman has usurped the throne of the "mighty bull " - but no representation of a real relation between Hatshepsut and Senenmut.


Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)