Tomb 1159 at Deir el-Medina

The tomb 1159 is located within Deir el-Medina's western cemetery where around twelve tombs have been identified with certainty as dating to the 18th dynasty: TT8 of Kha, TT291 of Nu and Nakhtmin, TT 325 of Simen?, TT 338 of May, TT 340 of Amenemhat (also TT354), DM 1089 of Simen, possibly also associated with TT 325, DM 1099 of Khunefer, DM 1138 of Nakhy and Amenwahsu, DM 1159A of Sennefer, DM 1166 (name lost) and DM 1352 of Setau (Demarée,2000,97). The area lies in the southwest part of the cemetery. The site of tomb 1159 is marked with a red cross in the photo below.
The tomb 1159 is a pit that was hollowed into the rock. There are two levels within the tomb. The upper level - in a 3 m deep shaft - contained the burial of Hormes. His tomb was discovered and cleared by the Italian expedition who were undertaking the first scientific excavation of Deir el-Medina under the leadership of the Italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli between 1905 and 1909. In the tomb of Hormes they found a large piece of painted linen shroud that used to cover a coffin or a piece of
furniture, a fragment of the pedestal of a stela, a funerary cone, an offering table and several pieces of pottery jars (Matiegková,1931,320).
The plan of the tomb according to Bruyère's drawing
In 1928 the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo under the direction of Bernard Bruyère discovered two pits on the western side of the tomb of Hormes, while excavating in the area. The first pit did not lead anywhere but 5 steps were uncovered in the second pit (Matiegková,1931,320). The steps lead 1.7 m down into a square space with a bricked up vaulted entrance which meant an undisturbed tomb could be lying beyond. On February 7th 1928 the tomb was officially opened. This lower burial chamber was 1.25 m high, almost square, measuring 2.35 along the eastern wall, 3 m along the western wall, 2.70 m along the northern wall and 2.65 m along the southern wall. Maximum hight of the ceiling was 1.9 m. The walls were roughly cut and left undecorated.
Bruyère's sketch of the interior of the tomb as found in the week of the 2nd-7th February 1928 can be viewed in his notebook published on-line by IFAO:
The tomb belonged to a workman named Sennefer, who lived at Deir el-Medina towards the end of the 18th dynasty. It was suggested by Jacques Aubert (Aubert,1974,62) that Sennefer was most probably a contemporary of Tutankhamun because the shabtis found in his tomb were made in the same style as those of this Pharaoh. Sennefer's title was the "servant in the Place of Truth" as appears on his coffin. He belonged to the workmen of the necropolis, who worked on the construction of the royal tombs.
The south-east corner of the burial chamber contained a pile of 17 dried funerary bouquets attached to poles wrought in leaves. These were most probably carried by the mourners in the funerary procession during the burial in the similar way we can witness in the scenes depicted on ancient Egyptian tomb walls. At the back of the tomb 2 anthropoid coffins were found. Both were painted black with yellow inscriptions and decorations. The further coffin rested on a wooden brier and was covered in a large finely woven linen shroud. A smaller piece of linen was laid on the top.
The canvas represents profile of a seated male facing to the right.
A heaped offering table stands in front of him. He wears a white mid-length pleated kilt, his neck is adorned with an usekh  necklace. On his head he wears a short black curly wig topped with an ointment cone. The seat on which he sits is black, has animal legs and a high curved back. He holds a piece of cloth in his right hand while his left hand is extended towards the offerings, consisting of 3 pieces of bread, 3 pieces of vegetable and a piece of meat. In the field in front of him, there are two hieroglyphic columns written in black ink. They read from top to bottom, the column on the right first: "Osiris, Servant in the Place of Truth, Sennefer".
New Kingdom, TT1159 - the tomb of Sennefer, Deir el-Medina
Egyptian Museum Cairo, JE 54885
Photography © kairoinfo4u
Bruyère's sketch of the piece of linen can be viewed in his notebook published on-line by IFAO:
The coffin closer to the entrance was smaller and rested on the floor. It was made of sycamore wood and was more expensive than the larger coffin. Another, tiny coffin, was placed near the heads of the two coffins. It belonged to a child and was made of lime washed wooden planks. A wooden box with a triangular lid, made of sycamore was placed in the corner and contained:- 2 wooden shabtis wrapped in linen, 2 cosmetic jars, 1 pair of sandals and several pearls. A wooden stool with a leather seat was placed on top of it. Persea tree branches were placed around the large coffins.
The north-east corner of the burial chamber contained 2 pottery jars and 3 plates containing persea fruits, dum dum palm nuts and grain. There was a black wooden handle belonging to a fan. It was inlaid with ebony and ivory. 2 walking sticks were wrapped in linen (Matiegková,1931,321-322).
Scroll down if you wish to view photographs of human remains - the human skulls belonging to Sennefer and Neferit.
Bruyère's sketch of Sennefer's burial as found in the week of the 2nd-7th February 1928 can be viewed in his notebook published on-line by IFAO:
The large coffin contained the body of Sennefer. It was wrapped in linen and had a cartonnage mask placed over his face. Wreaths of vine, willow and lotus blossoms were placed over his chest. A heart scarab made of black stone with gilding was attached to the wrapped body with 3 strings of blue and gilded pearls. A wooden gilded pectoral might have been attached to the strings but got loose and was found at the side of the coffin.
Bruyère's sketch of the pectoral found inside Sennefer's coffin in the week of the 2nd-7th February 1928 can be viewed in his notebook published on-line by IFAO:
Further down on Sennefer's wrapped body a wooden head dress, a wooden cubit and 4 wooden rulers were found. By his feet were laid several bronze objects and small perfume jars. Neferit's body was resting in the smaller sycamore coffin. It was also wrapped in layers of linen, but there was no cartonnage mask put over her face and there were no objects found inside the coffin or on top of her wrapped body (once the body was unwrapped, a necklace of turquoise, coral, lapis lazuli and gold, an arm and wrist bracelets and 2 rings, were found adorning her body).
The child was placed in the smallest coffin measuring 88 cms. The body was laid in an stretched out position with the arms laid alongside. It was wrapped in linen and no traces of mummification were detected. Some remains of brown skin were preserved and the broken skull contained brown powder. The body measured 76 cms. On the basis of the size and the advancement of the teeth, the anthropologists estimated the child's age at death at 8-12 months (Matiegková,1931,327).
The Czech Egyptologist Jaroslav Černý participated in the discovery. Some objects from the tomb are now housed in the Náprstek Museum,while the human remains are part of the collection of the Hrdlička Museum of Anthropology, Charles University. Both
museums are in Prague, Czech Republic.
Sennefer's skull from the collection of the Hrdlička
Museum of Anthropology, Charles University, Prague
Neferit's skull from the collection of the the Hrdlička Museum of Anthropology, Charles University, Prague
I would like to express my thanks to Hans Ollermann from Holland, who improved the images of Neferit's skull.
It was noted that the causes of death of both Sennefer or Neferit were impossible to establish and neither was the sequence in which they died. There was no written evidence that Neferit was Sennefer's wife, but together with the baby discovered in the coffin next to theirs, all three seem to create a family unit.
The text on this page was written by Lenka Peacock
Photography © Lenka and Andy Peacock and kairoinfo4u
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