Senenmut’s (Solomon’s) Great Knowledge of Astronomy

Entrance to Senenmut’s Tomb

Taken from: http://hiddenarchaeology.com/senenmuts-tomb/

 

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Senenmut’s tomb

Astronomical Ceiling from Chamber A, TT353

The astronomical ceiling from Senenmut’s tomb

 

This image from the second tomb built by Senenmut leaves no doubt that ancient Egyptians had great knowledge of astronomy. The ceiling is divided into two sections representing the northern and the southern skies. The southern – upper part shown in the picture above – is decorated with a list of decanal stars, as well as constellations of the southern sky belonging to it like Orion and Sothis (Sopdet). Furthermore, the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Venus are shown and associated deities who are traveling in small boats over the sky. Thus, the southern ceiling marks the hours of the night.

The northern – lower part – shows constellations of the northern sky with the large bear in the center. The other constellations could not be identified. On the right and left of it there are 8 or 4 circles shown and below them several deities each carrying a sun disk towards the center of the picture. The inscriptions associated with the circles mark the original monthly celebrations in the lunar calendar, whereas the deities mark the original days of the lunar month (after Meyer, 1982).

The astronomical ceiling is divided along its east-west axis by a text band composed of five registers. The central line which is wider than the other four registers bears together the titles of Hatshepsut and some titles as well as the name of Senenmut. The text reads from the right to the left :

“Live, Horus powerful of k#s, Two- Ladies flourishing of years, Horus-of-Gold divine of appearnances, king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maat-ka-Ra, beloved of Amun-Ra, living; the sealbearer of the king of Lower Egypt (sD#wtj-bitj), the steward of Amun Senenmut, engendered of Ramose, justified, born of Hatnefret.

 

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Does the Name ‘Senenmut’ Reflect the Hebrew ‘Solomon’?

 

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

 

 

Because, according to my historical reconstruction, Senenmut of

18th Dynasty Egypt was King Solomon.

 

 http://www.academia.edu/3660164/Solomon_and_Sheba

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Senenmut in hieroglyphs

 

 

 

The name ‘Senenmut’ has variations (www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/senenmut.html):

“Senenmut (literally “mother’s brother” sometimes transliterated as Senemut or Senmut) was one of the most powerful and famous (or infamous) officials of ancient Egypt. At the height of his power he was the Chief Steward of Amun, Tutor to the Princess Neferure and confidant (and possibly lover ) of the pharaoh Hatshepsut. However, both his early career and the circumstances surrounding his death and burial are obscure”.

 [End of quote]

In “The House of David” article (www.specialtyinterests.net/david_abishag.html) I wrote concerning the name and possibly also an Egyptianised King Solomon:

“…. Peter James and David Rohl, British revisionists, have each proposed that an ivory found at Megiddo, one of Solomon’s forts in Israel, “showing a monarch holding court” [see picture above], may actually be a depiction of Solomon himself and his queen in Egyptian guise.

Megiddo it should be noted was one of Solomon’s great forts in northern Israel, where Solomon had, writes James [2010], built a “monumental palace compound” (1.Kings 9:15). And it was at the site of Megiddo that the “material culture of Palestine at the end of the Late Bronze Age [Solomon’s era by the revision] is best seen”. The ivory plaque, says James:

… is of particular interest. [The monarch] is seated on a throne decorated with sphinxes. If it was intended to represent a specific rather than an idealized ruler, would it be too much to imagine that in this ivory we actually have a depiction of the Egyptianized King Solomon?

Now Rohl (who has apparently fallen out so badly with James that they no longer refer to each other’s writings) gives his descriptive account of this amazing item [2020], arriving at the same sort of conclusion as had James:

To the right the king arrives in his chariot, driving before him Shasu captives; in the center is an intimate cameo of the same ruler, seated upon his throne with his queen and lyre player standing before him; to the left, behind the king, two courtiers attend to the royal couple’s needs. Now let us pick out what might be interpreted as Egyptian elements in the scene. First, above the chariot horses is a winged sun-disk; second, the queen offers a lotus flower to her husband; and third the king is seated upon a throne, the sides of which are guarded by winged sphinxes (i.e. human-headed lions). Surrounding the monarch we see three doves – a well known motif of peace, Solomon married an Egyptian princess; he had ‘a great ivory throne’ made for him which was protected by ‘lions’ on either side [1.Kings 10:18-20]; his traditional name means ‘peaceful’.

Solomon’s Hebrew name, Shelomoh [שְׁלֹמֹה]- said to derive from shalom (‘peace’) – may indeed be said to mean ‘peaceful’. Dr. Metzler though, in his inimitable fashion, argues that Solomon is partly an Egyptian name, derived from she-El Amon (sounds like a bit of a hybrid).

So far, I have not successfully managed to find any sort of connection between the names Solomon and Senenmut (whom I have nonetheless identified as the one person). The name Senenmut, Egyptian sn-n-mwt …. means:

 “Brother of the mother.”

“Brother of the mother” is not a particularly helpful concept, and I can in no way adapt it to the name Solomon. (Although it may pertain to some other name of Solomon’s for he had apparently several names, e.g. he was also known as Jedidiah (2 Samuel 12:25). However, we saw in “Solomon and Sheba” that Senenmut liked to manipulate the Egyptian hieroglyphs, for example creating cryptograms in regard to Hatshepsut’s throne name, Makera (meaning “True is the Heart of Ra”). Perhaps he, as the crafty and intellectual Solomon, had adapted Egyptian names to Hebrew ones in Metzler-ian style. If so, the name Senenmut may be more cryptic than has so far been appreciated. …”.

 [End of quote]

However, I would like to reconsider some of this.

I want now to propose that the Egyptian name, Senenmut, especially in its form of Senemut, is very much like the Hebrew name Shelomoth (1 Chronicles 24:22), also derived from ‘peace’ (www.truthunity.net/texts/mbd/shelomoth), and therefore basically the same name as Shelomoh (‘Solomon’).

Shelomoth is also considered to be the same name as Shelomith (‘peaceful’); a name given to a grandchild of King Solomon (2 Chronicles 11:20).

The basic difference between the names Senemut and Shelomo[t]h, as far as transliteration goes, is that the first name has an ‘n’ where the second name has an ‘l’ (there is also the ‘S’ and ‘Sh’ difference, which is less significant, see e.g. Judges 12:6, since it can be a dialectical thing). But the letter ‘l’ does not occur in the Egyptian alphabet, for (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_language): “In Egyptian … Afroasiatic */l/ merged with Egyptian 〈n〉 …”. Charles W. Johnson has written on this, in his fascinating (http://earthmatrix.com/linguistic/nahuatl.htm):

 Linguistic Correspondence:
Nahuatl and Ancient Egyptian

“One very obvious characteristic of the nahuatl language is the extensive use of the letter “l” in most of the words, either as ending to the words or juxtaposed to consonants and vowels within the words. One of the very apparent characteristics of the ancient Egyptian language is the almost total absence of the use of the letter “l” within most of its word-concepts. The letter “l” appears as an ending of words only a handful of times in E.A. Wallis Budge’s work, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary. It would appear that this very dissimilar characteristic between these two languages would discourage anyone from considering a comparative analysis of possible linguistic correspondence between these two very apparently distinct idioms. …”.

 [End of quote]

Vizier Rekhmire Powerful Like Senenmut (= Solomon)

Taken from: http://www.luxoregypt.org/English/historical_sites/TOMBS_OF_NOBLES/TombsFrom

….

At the top of his career, Rekhmire was Vizier of Upper Egypt, Mayor of  Thebes, and possessor of over one hundred other important titles. His  great-grandfather, grandfather, and uncle were also viziers, a position second  only to pharaoh in prestige and authority. Even though his father never rose  above the rank of Priest of Amen, this august lineage helped to ensure his own  rapid rise in the bureaucracy. Rekhmire boasted that “there was nothing of which  he was ignorant in heaven, on earth, or in any quarter of the underworld.” An  immodest bit of hyperbole to be sure, but he was one of the best-informed, most  powerful men in all Egypt.

Rekhmire held office during the last years of the reign of Thutmes III and the  early years of Amenhetep II. These were heady times in Egypt. After Hatshepsut  had departed the throne, Thutmes III undertook a series of military campaigns  that greatly increased Egypt’s power abroad and brought the country a degree of  wealth unknown in previous dynasties. The pharaoh launched huge building  programs and richly supported the arts and crafts. Egypt continued to thrive  under his successor, Amenhetep II, and the great projects  continued.

Nearly all these activities were supervised by Rekhmire. He  oversaw projects throughout Egypt, managed the vast royal estates, supervised  temples, judged court cases, checked irrigation schemes, attended official  ceremonies, chaired administrative meetings, managed the civil administration,  maintained state security, approved rates of taxation, and collected the taxes.  Rekhmire was fully aware of his talents as Egypt’s senior administrator, and he  proudly and at length quoted his pharaoh’s description of the vizier’s duties in  inscriptions on his own tomb walls:

‘Then his majesty said to him: “Look  you to this office of vizier. Be vigilant over [everything that] is done in it.  Behold, it is the support of the entire land. Behold, as to the vizierate,  behold, it is not sweet at all, behold, it is bitter as gall…Behold, it does  not mean giving attention (only) to himself and to his officials and councilors,  not (yet) making [dependents] out of everybody….Therefore, see to it for  yourself that all [things] are done according to that which conforms to law and  that all things are done in conformance to the precedent thereof in [setting  every man in] his just desserts. Behold, as for the official who is in public  view, the (very) winds and waters report all that he does; so, behold, his deeds  cannot be unknown….”

Rekhmire describes, with no false modesty, how  well he handled this difficult job: “I judged impartially between the pauper and  the wealthy. I rescued the weakling from the bully. I warded off the rage of the  bad-tempered and I repressed the acts of the covetous. I cooled down the temper  of the infuriated. I wiped away tears by satisfying  need. I appointed the son  and heir to the position of his father. I gave bread to the hungry, water to the  thirsty, meat, beer, and clothing to him who had none. I succored the old man by  giving him my staff and caused old women to say, ‘What a gracious  act!’”

He sounds like the ideal bureaucrat. But later in his career,  Rekhmire fell out of favor at court and may even have been stripped of his  titles. No offspring are known to have succeeded him to government office,  although he had at least five sons and several daughters. There is no evidence  that he was ever buried in TT 100, but there are indications that part of the  tomb decoration was deliberately mutilated and his name destroyed.

TT 100  was known to most nineteenth century explorers. Some of its scenes were  published by Frederic Caillaud in 1831, but the tomb was not cleared until 1889  and not completely published until 1943.

In plan, TT 100 looks like many  other cruciform-shaped tombs at Thebes, but in section it is unique. Beyond a  standard transverse corridor, an inner room extends nearly 25 meters (82 feet)  into the hillside of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qurna. At the entrance, the ceiling is 3  meters (10 feet) high. But the ceiling of the inner room slopes steeply upward,  reaching a height of over 8 meters (26 feet) at its western end. The result of  this strange design was to give Rekhmire’s tomb over 300 square meters (3200  square feet) of wall surface, all of which was decorated with painted scenes of  the highest quality. In the transverse hall, the scenes deal with personal and  business matters and contain lengthy texts describing the duties of the vizier,  the administration of temple holdings, and Rekhmire’s activities during the  reign of Amenhetep II. The inner room has scenes of arts and crafts, daily life,  funeral banquets, and burial rituals. The famed nineteenth century British  Egyptologist Sir John Gardner Wilkinson said in 1835 that the paintings of this  tomb shed more light on ancient Egyptian culture than any other source  known.

At the ENTRANCE to the tomb, prayers to Ra-Harakhty, Amen-Ra,  Thoth, Osiris, and other gods are accompanied by Rekhmire’s boastful claims of  having close relations with each.

On the right half of the front (east)  wall of the TRANSVERSE HALL, Rekhmire has included texts describing in some  detail his duties as vizier. The British Egyptologist Percy Newberry believed  that the accompanying scene was meant to show the actual audience hall in which  Rekhmire held court, and if you look closely you will see thin columns with palm  leaf capitals, walls that define a large chamber, and a raised dais on which  Rekhmire sits. Distributed around that chamber are numerous officials and  petitioners. The text accompanying the scene goes into considerable detail about  Rekhmire’s duties, even noting that in the audience hall he has to “sit on a  backed chair, a reed mat being on the ground, the chain of office on him, a skin  under his back, another under his feet, and a [canopy] of matting over him.”

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Rekhmire held office during the last years of the reign of Thutmes III and  the early years of Amenhetep II. These were heady times in Egypt. After  Hatshepsut had departed the throne, Thutmes III undertook a series of military  campaigns that greatly increased Egypt’s power abroad and brought the country a  degree of wealth unknown in previous dynasties. The pharaoh launched huge  building programs and richly supported the arts and crafts. Egypt continued to  thrive under his successor, Amenhetep II, and the great projects  continued.

Nearly all these activities were supervised by Rekhmire. He  oversaw projects throughout Egypt, managed the vast royal estates, supervised  temples, judged court cases, checked irrigation schemes, attended official  ceremonies, chaired administrative meetings, managed the civil administration,  maintained state security, approved rates of taxation, and collected the taxes.  Rekhmire was fully aware of his talents as Egypt’s senior administrator, and he  proudly and at length quoted his pharaoh’s description of the vizier’s duties in  inscriptions on his own tomb walls:

‘Then his majesty said to him: “Look  you to this office of vizier. Be vigilant over [everything that] is done in it.  Behold, it is the support of the entire land. Behold, as to the vizierate,  behold, it is not sweet at all, behold, it is bitter as gall…Behold, it does  not mean giving attention (only) to himself and to his officials and councilors,  not (yet) making [dependents] out of everybody….Therefore, see to it for  yourself that all [things] are done according to that which conforms to law and  that all things are done in conformance to the precedent thereof in [setting  every man in] his just desserts. Behold, as for the official who is in public  view, the (very) winds and waters report all that he does; so, behold, his deeds  cannot be unknown….”

Rekhmire describes, with no false modesty, how  well he handled this difficult job: “I judged impartially between the pauper and  the wealthy. I rescued the weakling from the bully. I warded off the rage of the  bad-tempered and I repressed the acts of the covetous. I cooled down the temper  of the infuriated. I wiped away tears by satisfying  need. I appointed the son  and heir to the position of his father. I gave bread to the hungry, water to the  thirsty, meat, beer, and clothing to him who had none. I succored the old man by  giving him my staff and caused old women to say, ‘What a gracious  act!’”

He sounds like the ideal bureaucrat. But later in his career,  Rekhmire fell out of favor at court and may even have been stripped of his  titles. No offspring are known to have succeeded him to government office,  although he had at least five sons and several daughters. There is no evidence  that he was ever buried in TT 100, but there are indications that part of the  tomb decoration was deliberately mutilated and his name destroyed.

TT 100  was known to most nineteenth century explorers. Some of its scenes were  published by Frederic Caillaud in 1831, but the tomb was not cleared until 1889  and not completely published until 1943.

In plan, TT 100 looks like many  other cruciform-shaped tombs at Thebes, but in section it is unique. Beyond a  standard transverse corridor, an inner room extends nearly 25 meters (82 feet)  into the hillside of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qurna. At the entrance, the ceiling is 3  meters (10 feet) high. But the ceiling of the inner room slopes steeply upward,  reaching a height of over 8 meters (26 feet) at its western end. The result of  this strange design was to give Rekhmire’s tomb over 300 square meters (3200  square feet) of wall surface, all of which was decorated with painted scenes of  the highest quality. In the transverse hall, the scenes deal with personal and  business matters and contain lengthy texts describing the duties of the vizier,  the administration of temple holdings, and Rekhmire’s activities during the  reign of Amenhetep II. The inner room has scenes of arts and crafts, daily life,  funeral banquets, and burial rituals. The famed nineteenth century British  Egyptologist Sir John Gardner Wilkinson said in 1835 that the paintings of this  tomb shed more light on ancient Egyptian culture than any other source  known.

At the ENTRANCE to the tomb, prayers to Ra-Harakhty, Amen-Ra,  Thoth, Osiris, and other gods are accompanied by Rekhmire’s boastful claims of  having close relations with each.

On the right half of the front (east)  wall of the TRANSVERSE HALL, Rekhmire has included texts describing in some  detail his duties as vizier. The British Egyptologist Percy Newberry believed  that the accompanying scene was meant to show the actual audience hall in which  Rekhmire held court, and if you look closely you will see thin columns with palm  leaf capitals, walls that define a large chamber, and a raised dais on which  Rekhmire sits. Distributed around that chamber are numerous officials and  petitioners. The text accompanying the scene goes into considerable detail about  Rekhmire’s duties, even noting that in the audience hall he has to “sit on a  backed chair, a reed mat being on the ground, the chain of office on him, a skin  under his back, another under his feet, and a [canopy] of matting over  him.”

The Duties of the Vizier is one of the most important documents to  come down from the New Kingdom, but some Egyptologists wonder what prompted  Rekhmire to write it. The British Egyptologist T. G. H. James says, “The very  act of composition suggests that all was not well; to find it necessary to set  down precepts for action which would have seemed self-evident in happy times,  incorporates a kind of condemnation of the moment of composition.” He suggests  that Rekhmire was being “hypocritical” by including the Duties in his tomb;  after all, his fall from grace may well have been the result of official  malfeasance.

To the right of the text, tax collectors are at work in  Upper Egypt, receiving deliveries of gold rings, cattle, monkeys, grain, honey,  pigeons, cloth, and beads. Surprisingly, there are no sheep or pigs, common  animals in ancient Egypt. Tax dodgers are led forth by guards armed with heavy  sticks. Between them and  a figure of Rekhmire, four mats lie on the floor of  the hall, covered with what Egyptologists believe to be rolls of leather. There  are ten rolls on each mat, and some scholars identify them as the forty sheshemu  or law books that Rekhmire would have consulted when adjudicating legal cases.  Others identify the objects as batons, symbols of authority awarded by the  vizier to local administrators.

Similar taxation scenes appear on the  left (north) half of this front (east) wall, recording deliveries from districts  in Middle Egypt. In the center of the wall, Rekhmire inspects rations and  furniture to be delivered to the temple of Amen at Karnak. Wooden statues of  Thutmes III are shown in the top register, and statues of stone in the register  below. The statues include one that stands with ducks hanging from his arm,  holding an offering slab, and another with his feet resting on a kneeling  Nubian. This latter scene is unique. More than thirty different kinds of temple  furnishings are shown at right, including shields, spears, quivers, necklaces,  axes, and pots.

On the left (south) side of the chamber’s rear (west)  wall, Rekhmire receives huge quantities of tribute on behalf of the king from  various foreign countries, proof that, as the accompanying text states, “Every  land is subject to His Majesty.”

In the upper register, ostrich feathers and  eggs, myrrh trees, ivory tusks, gold, leopards, cheetahs, monkeys, and baboons  are brought from the land of Punt, a country on the Red Sea coast in what is now  Eritrea.

In the register below, tribute comes from Keftiu, the island of  Crete, and includes silver, gold, bronze, and lapis lazuli. Note the dress of  the Cretan bearers, who wear phallus sheaths and high-topped laced  shoes.

Next come Nubians, bearing ebony, gold, leopard skins, ostrich  feathers and eggs, various semi-precious stones, and live animals including  hunting dogs, a leopard, a baboon, and an elegant giraffe with a small green  monkey climbing on its neck. A small herd of cattle is drawn with strangely  deformed horns.

The Retenu from Syria come next, and in the bottom  register, Nubian and Syrian captives. At the far left of the Syrian procession,  men bring a brown bear and an elephant as part of the tribute. In the bottom  register, note the women dressed in elaborate bell-shaped layers of cloth, some  with baskets on their backs held in place by a head straps, bearing their young  children.

On the right (north) half of the rear (west) wall, men press  grapes, gather birds and fish, clean them and preserve them in jars. These are  standard scenes, more fully described in the tombs of Menna and Nakht.

To their left is an elaborate hunting scene (see also TT 56: Userhet).  Usually the Egyptians indicated chaos, discord, fear, and death by omitting the  ground line in scenes and randomly placing the figures. Here, multiple ground  lines meander across the surface and figures move in different directions. The  result is the same: the scene depicts chaos. Panic-stricken ostriches, gazelle,  and antelope try without success to flee the spears and arrows  of Rekhmire. At  middle left, a hyena tries to pull an arrow from its chest with its teeth. Blood  spurts from a wounded gazelle. Small mammals try to hide themselves beneath  desert shrubs. A rabbit, ears flapping, races toward a small bush. But there is  no escape.

The hunting ground is encircled by a fence of braided ropes.  The animals are trapped, and Rekhmire, as the saying goes, is shooting fish in a  barrel. (Such corralled hunts were practiced as recently as the 1930s by Egypt’s  last king, Farouk.)

In the upper register at right, the dead game lies in a  great pile, their numbers tallied by a scribe. The hunt is not sport but  provisioning for the afterlife.

The second room is called THE PASSAGE and  its scenes deal with two broad subjects. On the right (north) wall, Rekhmire  treats his activities as vizier and mayor and depicts various stages of his  funerary ritual. On the left (south) wall, he illustrates the many workshops  that he supervised for the Temple of Amen at Karnak. We will begin with the left  wall, rightly considered one of the most important in all Egypt for the study of  minor arts and crafts. Because the ceiling rises so dramatically, some registers  are nearly impossible to see without ladders or binoculars. But they are of such  interest that we will refer to them.

Near the beginning of the left wall,  a seated figure of Rekhmire faces the entrance. The scenes he views deal with  provisioning the storerooms of the Temple of Amen. In the top register, bags of  tiger nuts are dumped in great piles, measured, then ground in a mortar made  from the trunk of a tree. Tiger nuts (Cyperus esculentus), wah in ancient  Egyptian, habb al-’aziz in modern Arabic, are still eaten in Egypt. They have a  sweet flavor tasting like a cross between coconut and almond and are popular on  festive days in Luxor, eaten after being soaked in water. After mixing with  water, the resulting dough is placed in a three-legged kneading trough to which  pastry chefs add fat, then fried in a large pan.

Farther left, men blow  smoke into a cylindrical clay beehive and remove the combs of honey. A lone bee  hovers forlornly before them. The honey is packed into jars and sealed, and some  of it will probably be eaten with the tiger nut cakes. This is one of a few  scenes of beekeeping known from dynastic times, although honey was the principal  sweetener in ancient Egypt (they had no sugar), and it played a major role in  Egyptian cooking and medicine.

In the register below, between the  entrances to vaulted temple storerooms, piles of ostrich feathers, skin shields,  elephant tusks, baskets of grapes, sacks of nuts—the goods we saw in the first  chamber being received by Rekhmire as taxes from Upper Egyptian districts and as  tribute from foreign countries—await inventory. There are some light touches in  these otherwise formal scenes: at right, a man strains to carry a huge jug of  wine; nearby, monkeys scamper about the piles of dom, trying to steal the  sweet-tasting fruit.

The flat-topped building at left is called the  Double Treasury of Gold and Silver, and piles of precious metals stand ready to  be placed inside.

To the right of these activities, other groups of men  are engaged in various crafts. Bead makers, leather workers, carpenters, masons,  and sculptors work intently to complete projects for the temple. These are some  of the most accurate depictions of craftsmen from the New Kingdom and provide  unrivalled information on how they made these superb works.

In the  uppermost register, a bead maker uses a single bow to power three drills at  once, a feat that would have required considerable skill. Behind him, other men  string beads into necklaces and collars. Note how their long, curved fingers  suggest the delicacy of the work. Farther left, a man with a crank drill hollows  out stone vessels.

In the register below, leather workers prepare two  different styles of sandals, saddles, ropes, and leather rolls for writing  documents. One man stands next to an animal hide stretching or softening leather  on the three-legged post. At left, several men stretch a skin, then cut it to  the required shape. One man uses his teeth to pull a leather thong through a  hole he has punched in the sole of a sandal. Farther left, a skilled worker has  cut a piece of leather into a continuous spiral, to make leather strips, perhaps  to be used in the rigging of ships.

Below (at right), a craftsman  finishes gilding a statue of the king while another inspects the shrine that  will house it. The statue is of blackest ebony, and its color indicates its  intended association with Osiris. Two men at left sit beside a glue pot heating  it on a small fire. One of them applies adhesive to a piece of veneer. Behind  them, a cabinetmaker smoothes the surface of a box with an adze. Note the  carpenter’s square and the dovetail jig lying next to him. Below, a man saws  through a plank that has been lashed vertically to a post; a wedge has been  jammed into the cut to prevent the saw from binding. Such techniques are still  used today. Here, as elsewhere in this scene, the bare wood is carefully painted  to show its grain. A man uses a bow drill to make holes along the edge of a bed  through which rope will be passed to weave a mattress. The drill bit, made of  bronze, is held in place by a small cup in the man’s hand. Next, four men put  the finishing touches on a shrine elaborately crafted of fine woods. Nearby,  workmen carve chair legs with feet shaped like lion’s paws. Other craftsmen cut,  drill, saw, and sand pieces of wood. Good quality wood was a scarce and valuable  commodity in Egypt—nearly all of it was imported and came only in small  sizes—and it took considerable skill to create large objects from many small  pieces of ebony, cedar, and other woods.

In the next lower register,  metalworkers fashion elegant vases and ewers from gold (the yellow rings in this  scene), silver (the white rings), and bronze. At right, five rings of gold lie  in the balance pan, the precise equivalent of the weight shaped like a bull’s  head lying in the other pan. Two other weights, one with the shape of a  hippopotamus, lie beneath the scale. The top of the balance has the head of the  goddess Ma’at on it to ensure honesty and accuracy. The man at right distributes  gold and silver to the workmen and keeps track of its precise weight. That  weight will later be compared to the weight of the finished products, to help  prevent theft. The long-haired man at left, preceded by three workmen, may be  the master craftsman who has come to oversee the gold.

At left, a man  kneels before an anvil on which he has placed a gold ring. The ring lies beneath  a piece of material, probably to keep it from being scratched as the man beats  with a hammerstone. Slowly, he will turn the gold ring into a sheet of precious  metal thin enough to be shaped into vessels, or beaten further into paper-thin  gold leaf. In the two half-registers at the left, men fashion large vessels. Two  men at top work with hammers and strange-looking anvils to shape a vessel.  Nearby, a fire is used to soften the metal for soldering or chasing. At left, a  man with a hollow reed and a pair of tongs holds a piece of gold in an open  flame that crackles and spits as he blows air onto it. Below, four men engrave  and polish huge gold jars.

Three men carry ingots of Asiatic copper to  the workshop. Four hearths are operating there, each fueled with charcoal. At  right, a man dumps another basketful of charcoal on the floor, ready to be  shoveled into the hearths. The heat of the fires is made more intense by means  of foot-operated bellows made of wood and leather.

The men raise the springless bellows by lifting a foot and pulling the cord,  then depress it by pushing down with their foot. The reason that four hearths  are working simultaneously is because of the size of the object they are making.  It is a massive bronze doorway that is to be installed in Luxor Temple. The  molten metal must be poured rapidly to prevent a great drop in temperature, and  this requires that a supply be available without interruption to be poured  quickly into the mold. The mold has seventeen funnel-shaped vents in its top,  and two workmen deftly maneuver a large crucible with flexible sticks, pouring  molten metal into each vent in turn. It seems almost impossible to believe that  so large and heavy an object could be cast as a single piece, and it is true  that no such door has ever been found. But there are textual references to doors  of this size, and the two completed door leaves standing at the upper left of  the scene belie any alternative explanation.

In the next register below,  men make bricks for a construction project at the Temple of Amen at Karnak. This  is an especially interesting scene: the brick-making methods shown here can be  found unchanged in almost any Egyptian village today, and the use of the bricks  for building the ramp shown here tells us how the ancient engineers were able to  construct huge temples. At left, men fill jars with water from a small  tree-lined lake. One man stands to his waist in the water, another dips from the  shoreline. The water will be added to mud and wheat chaff by workmen who use an  adze and their feet to obtain the proper mixture. Other men fill baskets with  the wet mud and carry it to masons who shape the bricks in molds, then place  them in the sun to dry. After two days, the finished bricks are then carried to  the building site. The text says the building is a sanctuary at Karnak, but we  do not know which one.

This scene is one of the best pieces of evidence  we have proving that ancient Egyptians used ramps in building constructions. And  it shows how huge structures—a hypostyle hall in this case—might have been  built. After the floor was laid, the first course of stone for walls or pillars  was put in place and the space between the stone blocks filled with mud brick  and rubble. A low ramp was built and stones for the second course were then  dragged into place atop the first. More brick was added and the ramp was raised.  A third course of stone was added, and the ramp raised again. When the building  was completed and its roof was in place, the entire structure was packed with  mud brick. As the brick was removed, artists stood on the brick, using it as a  descending platform, and smoothed and decorated walls and columns from the top  down.

The men working in the brickyard are unusual. They are referred to  in the accompanying text as “captives,” and they appear to be Syrians and  Nubians. The Syrians have stubble on their chins and their chests are covered  with blond hair, features foreign to Egyptians, who regularly shaved their  entire body. A few of the Syrians here are even shown with blue eyes.

At  right, ships bring more stone to the building site and men dress it, using  strings and pegs to ensure that the blocks are perfectly square. Below,  sculptors carve two colossal royal statues from red granite. Men work on  scaffolding surrounding the huge statues, and a scribe outlines an inscription  on the back of the right hand statue, which will later be carved. A limestone  sphinx and an offering table are smoothed and polished, and one workman  awkwardly bends down to correct a small imperfection on the table’s  base.

The remainder of this wall is given over to scenes of Rekhmire’s  burial ceremonies. The bottom three registers deal with the procession to the  tomb and food offerings, watched over by the Mistress of the West. The next  three are watched by Anubis and continue the procession. The top three, overseen  by Osiris, deal with offerings and purification rituals.

The scenes on the  right (north) wall are to be “read” from right to left, bottom to top.

At  far right, ships sail toward Thebes, and in the lower register, they moor there.  Rekhmire has returned from an audience with his pharaoh, Amenhetep II, and is  welcomed home by members of his family.

To the left are Rekhmire’s  funerary banquets, one for the women of his family, another for the men. The  women’s banquet is the more interesting, and the artist has shown the guests  dressed in tight-fitting robes, elaborately bejeweled and coifed. These are  static scenes, formal, unmoving and lacking emotion, with two exceptions. One is  the scene of servant girls. Note how their hair coyly falls and hides the girls’ faces. The other exception is the girl in the center of the scene who stands  with her back to us in a three-quarter view that is unique in Egyptian art. The  figure is almost erotic in contrast to the other, formal figures here and is  very well done, even though the artist erred in drawing her feet, which cross  each other in an anatomically impossible manner. Musicians play stringed  instruments, both in the women’s hall and in the men’s. Butchers prepare meat  for the meal and, unusually, care has been taken to show that the cuts of beef  are well-marbled.

Farther to the left, a statue of Rekhmire stands in a  shrine on a boat towed by priests across a pond in his garden. It is not clear  whether the garden is one in this life (in which case the building on the left  might be his home) or in the next life (in which case it might be his tomb). The  scene is charming in its execution, the trees drawn as if they lie on the ground  so that the artist could show them—date and dom palms and sycomore figs—in their  most recognizable form. Such bird’s-eye views are common in Egyptian art. The  garden is formally arranged, divided into several nesting rectangles that may  indicate terracing. A water carrier stands in the upper right corner, preparing  to irrigate the trees. At left, a priest offers up incense beside the pond. This  is a funerary scene, perhaps part of the Beautiful Festival of the  Valley.

The right (north) wall of the passage nearest the door deals with  the Opening of the Mouth ritual

From” The Illustrated Guide to Luxor” by  kent R.Weeks ,published by the American University in Cairo Press. Copyright © 2005 White Star S.p.a