Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Tomb of the Newly Discovered Pharaoh Senebkay

     The highlight of the annual meeting (to me anyway) were the papers devoted to the newly discovered Sixteenth Dynasty Pharaoh Senebkay.  The discovery of his tomb at Abydos has lent weight to a recently proposed theory that Dynasty 16 ruled the Abydos area. Others have argued that Dynasty 16 was Theban and that its Pharaohs were buried at Abydos. Alexander Ilin-Tomich  pointed out that Sewosret III (Dynasty XII) built a cenotaph at Abydos and that Ahmose (II) [1] of Dynasty Eighteen may very well have been buried at Abydos[2]. Since neither of these kings ruled from Abydos, there is no reason to believe that Senebkay’s tomb being at Abydos means that he ruled from that city.

     Dr. Josef Wegner, who found the tomb of Senebkay, seems to believe that the Sixteenth Dynasty ruled a limited area centered around Abydos, and was not a Theban Dynasty. In any event, Senebkay’s tomb contained a canopic chest, a fragmentary sarcophagus, a funerary mask and the body of the King. The tomb had painted decoration, the first time a royal tomb was decorated with paintings since the Pre-Dynastic royal tomb found at Hierakonpolis. Senebkay’s canopic chest was made by cutting down the wooden coffin of an earlier King named Sobekhotep, while other Sixteenth Dynasty royal tombs found at South Abydos also contained objects taken from the burials of earlier Pharaohs.

     As an aside, there is some dispute about Senebkay’s name among scholars. Is his name Senebkay or is it “Seneb (son of) Kay”? Dr. Wegner pointed out that Senebkay is a name not previously known in Egypt, but that the names Seneb and Kay are both common Egyptian names. Dr. Wegner also noted that, according to the Turin Canon, the first two kings of Dynasty Sixteen are named Woseribre, with their second names being lost due to a lacuna in the papyrus. Should these two names be reconstructed as “Woseribre Kay” and “Woseribre son of Kay”?

     My next post will cover a paper presented on the examination of the Pharaoh's body.

[1] This king is still generally designated as Ahmose I, but the recent discovery that the Pharaoh previously known as Senakhtenre Ta'o was properly named Senakhtenre Ahmose means that this king is now properly designated Ahmose II.

[2] Alexander Ilin-Tomich, “The Theban Kingdom of Dynasty 16: Its Rise, Administration and Politics”, Journal of Egyptian History, Vol. 7 Number 2, 2014, p. 146.

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