Tomb of Sennedjem at Deir el-Medineh: 131st anniversary of its discovery

Sennedjem and his wife Iyneferti (photo Marie Grillot)

There’s never enough (for me at least) to look at this magic land because there is still a lot to discover and we are still remaining in unknown!

By my adorable friend Marie Grillot via Translated from French.

To commemorate the 131st anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Sennedjem (TT 1) at Deir El-Medineh, a conference was organized by the Ministry of Antiquities on Sunday, February 5, 2017, at the Mummification Museum in Luxor. The communications were made by Dr. Moustafa Waziri, director general of Antiquities of Louqsor, Dr. Moustafa el-Saghir, of the Department of Antiquities, Dr. Laurent Bavay, director of the French Institute of Oriental Archeology as well as Drs. Anne-Claire Salmas and Cédric Larchet, from the same Institute, and finally, John Shearman from the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE).
The interventions are unfortunately not available at the moment.

The scientific conference of February 5, 2017. On the left, some of the speakers: Laurent Bavay, Mostafa al-Saghir, Mostafa al-Wazery (photos Ayman Amer)

The village of Deir el-Medineh – then known as Set Maât (the “Place of Truth”) – was founded at the beginning of the 18th dynasty under the reign of Thutmosis Iᵉʳ, and then expanded and enlarged several times, especially under the reigns of Thutmosis III and early ramessids.

Deir el-Medineh today – photo © Marie Grillot

There lived, sheltered by high walls, the community of artisans who worked on the digging and decoration of the eternal dwellings of the Valley of the Kings and of the Valley of the Queens. He remained active until the reign of Ramesses XI.

Ptolemaic temple of Deir el-Medineh in 1900

“Rediscovered” in the 19th century, he saw “scroll” many “researchers” then Egyptologists: Bernardino Drovetti, Henry Salt, Karl Richard Lepsius, Auguste Mariette, Gaston Maspero … Ernesto Schiaparelli will undertake excavations there in 1905, then the German Georg Christian Julius Möller. The site concession was then definitively awarded to Ifao in 1917; for thirty years, from 1922 to 1951, Bernard Bruyère methodically explored the site and made wonderful discoveries.

The Door to the tomb of Sennedjem
Egyptian Museum in Cairo

The tomb of Sennedjem was discovered in January 1886 by ‘gournawis’. Indeed, “in 1886, Salam Abu Duhi, a villager from Gournah was granted a concession in an area of Deir el-Medineh close to his home. After only a few days of excavations, Salam and three of his friends made a spectacular discovery : at the bottom of a still unexplored burial well, they found a wooden door whose ancient seals were intact. Salam immediately informed Maspero, who happened to be in Luxor for his annual inspection visit. ” (Hidden treasures of Egypt, Zahi Hawass).

Gaston Maspero’s correspondence with his wife Louise (Gaston Maspero – Lettres d’Égypte) gives us the extraordinary adventure “live” … So the great Egyptologist wrote to him on February 2, 1886: “They come to get me to go to the mountain: a tomb that we have been working on for eight days has finally been opened. It is virgin! It is a tomb of the XXth dynasty: the wooden door is still in place, and we have already counted eleven mummies. is a big find. I probably won’t have time to write before the post boat leaves because I don’t think we can be back before ten o’clock. ”…

Sennedjem tomb vault – photo © Marie Grillot

He continues his story on February 3: “The cellar is about 5 m long by 3 wide. It is vaulted, with a very low vault and painted in the most vivid colors; unfortunately, the paintings and texts are only extracts from the Book of the Dead. It was filled to the top with coffins and objects: eight adult mummies, two children’s mummies, a family of those cemetery priests I told you about in the letters I wrote from Turin in 1880 (?) The mummies are superb, of a beautiful red varnish with very neat representations, but they are only the least interesting part of the find.

sarcophagus of Khonsu, son of Sennedjem

You know that we carried the mummies to the tomb on sledges, carried by men or dragged by oxen. Our tomb contains two of these complete sledges: first the floor, with the rings intended to pass the sticks, when we wanted to carry, then the movable panels of the catafalque in which we locked the coffin, then the ledge cover … and it is how we will exhibit everything at the Boulaq Museum. Besides that, the complete furniture: eight large canopic jars, forty small boxes with funeral statuettes, a hundred charming limestone figurines, twenty painted earthenware vases, a new different bed for the shape of the first two … In addition, a beautiful armchair with a canvas background imitating the tapestry; two stools with canvas bottom imitating red leather, a folding chair, bouquets of flowers, a cubit, an ostracon containing a very curious, although very short, historical novel. Insinger and Toda photographed the magnesium chamber and will photograph some of the objects. “

Masks of the mummies of Sennedjem and his wife
Egyptian Museum in Cairo

Jan Herman Insinger is a banker from the Netherlands who came to Luxor in order to benefit from a climate which can soothe his tuberculosis. Before having a castle built a little flashy on the edge of the Nile, he lives on board his dahabieh “Meermin” (the siren). He became close to Maspero and, during his inspections, offered him his services as a photographer. As for Eduard Toda I Güell, Consul General of Spain in Egypt from 1884 to 1886, real friendship and a relationship of trust linked him to Maspero, which led him to entrust him with important responsibilities within the archaeological mission. This is how he is at his side during the event which we relate and which is described by Jules Daressy as “one of the most interesting events in the history of excavations in Egypt”. Better still, the diplomat-archaeologist is entrusted, by the director of Antiquities called to another excavation site, with the “immediate responsibility” for clearing the tomb.

Box of oushebtis and oushebtis from the tomb of Sennedjem
Met museum

It should be noted that, in the letter previously quoted, Gaston Maspero specifies: “It goes without saying that we bought from the fellahs the half that was due to them: it cost us 46 guineas. Once we have chosen all that is good for the museum, the sale of mummies and superfluous objects will bring us at least 60 guineas, maybe eighty who will go to the excavations of Luxor and the Sphinx. It will have been a good deal in all ways, good from a scientific point of view, since it gave us monuments of which we had no specimen, good from a financial point of view, since not only will the objects end up costing us nothing, but that we will have gained enough money for new excavations. “

Eduard Toda, with objects from the tomb of Sennedjem,
on the boat “Boulaq”, en route to Cairo (1886)
Toda Fund Library Víctor Balaguer Museum (Vilanova)

In the “Bulletin of the French Society of Egyptology” – 1988, Josep Padro reports: “In three days and with seven workers, (Toda) completely excavated the tomb and carried out the transfer of its contents on-board the ‘Boulaq’, the vessel of the Antiquities service. Once the transfer was completed, (he) drew up an inventory of the funeral furniture on the boat, with the objects collected and the mummies before his eyes. Toda also took 15 photos himself in the tomb, with the technical assistance of Insinger, which are engraved after the plates which illustrate his memoir; and he copied and translated the hieroglyphic texts, with the help of Bouriant. “

According to Bernard Bruyère: “Tomb No. 1 is not only one of the most beautiful and best-preserved in Thebes; but it is also a perfect, complete and typical example of a large family tomb comprising the four components regular, the courtyard and chapels accessible to the living, the well and the vault reserved for the dead. “

Sennedjem in adoration in front of Horus with the head of a falcon,
followed by two of the four fis of Horus, Amsit and Hapy

The eternity home of Sennedjem is one of those open to the public in Deir el-Medineh: by the scenes and colours that cover its walls, his visit leaves an unforgettable memory!

Sources :

Gaston Maspero, “Lettres d’Égypte, Correspondance avec Louise Maspero”, Elisabeth David, Seuil, 2003

Deir el-Medina” (Ifao)

Trésors cachés de l’Égypte, Zahi Hawass
Eduard Toda, pionnier de l’égyptologie espagnole” (égyptophile)

Eduard Toda i Güell” (Amigos de la Egiptologia)
Précisions sur deux momies de l’ancienne collection Toda“, par Josep Padro

Sennedjem TT1” (

Padro Josep, “Bulletin de la Société Française d’Égyptologie” – 1988, n°113, pp. 32-45


Gaston Maspero, “Letters from Egypt, Correspondence with Louise Maspero”, Elisabeth David, Seuil, 2003

“Deir el-Medina” (Ifao)

Hidden treasures of Egypt, Zahi Hawass

“Eduard Toda, pioneer of Spanish Egyptology” (Egyptophile)

“Eduard Toda i Güell” (Amigos de la Egiptologia)

“Details on two mummies from the old Toda collection”, by Josep Padro

“Sennedjem TT1” (

Padro Josep, “Bulletin of the French Society of Egyptology” – 1988, n ° 113, pp. 32-45

7 thoughts on “Tomb of Sennedjem at Deir el-Medineh: 131st anniversary of its discovery

  1. A fascinating post, Magician! I want to come back to this. My crazy 1920s fantasy, “Hullaba Lulu” ended in Egypt (much to my surprise). If I sit down with this post for awhile I might know what Lulu’s next adventure is. Although, there are already so many ideas waiting for me… Regardless, this is a great post. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you my dearest Chuckaboo 😊 your kind words are great inspiration for me 🙏❤ I love to read your story, it sounds amazing. Take a rest and good luck with the chairs and tables 🤗🤣😘❤❤


  2. Ha! The rest might have to wait until my friend (who lives in the next town) has time to come and help me put them together. If I can just get some cleaning done this weekend, it will be an accomplishment… and writing…
    Cheers, my chuckaboo!

    Liked by 1 person

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