This jar is a model made of solid stone that was intended as a piece of burial equipment. The inscription names the Royal Nurse Senetnay who lived into the reign of her nursling, Amenhotep II. As wet-nurse of a king, she was granted burial in the royal cemetery now called the Valley of the Kings. The tomb originally intended for Senetnay is unknown, but some of her funerary equipment, including this jar and several others in the collection, was discovered in an unused royal tomb, KV 42, in 1900. Burial equipment inscribed for other non-royal individuals was also found in KV 42 and it is likely that the contents of a number of robbed tombs had been reburied here for safe-keeping in ancient times.
For more information on the contents of KV 42, see the Curatorial Interpretation below.
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Model vases inscribed for the royal nurse Senetnay
Objects from tomb 42 in the Valley of the Kings
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Title:Dummy Jar Inscribed for Sennefer and Senetnay
Reign:reign of Amenhotep II
Date:ca. 1427–1400 B.C.
Geography:From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Tomb of Queen Hatshepsut-Merytre, KV 42, re-burial of Senetnay, wife of Sennefer, Macarios/Andraos excavations, 1900
Dimensions:H. 14 cm (5 1/2 in.)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1932
Objects in the Metropolitan Museum Associated with Tomb 42 in the Valley of the Kings
Late in the year of 1900, two residents of Luxor, Chinouda Macarios and Boutros Andraos, were granted a concession to excavate a tomb in the Valley of the Kings. This tomb was eventually given the number 42 and today is often referred to as KV 42. Work in the tomb was overseen and reported on by Howard Carter, the recently appointed Chief Inspector of Antiquities for Upper Egypt. The tomb had been robbed in ancient times, but it contained burial equipment inscribed with the names of three non-royal individuals. The majority of these, including four canopic jars and numerous model vessels made of solid stone, were inscribed for the Royal Nurse Senetnay, wife of the Mayor of Thebes Sennefer whose tomb in the cemetery of officials on Sheikh Abd el-Qurna hill (TT 96) was already famous for its lavishly decorated burial chamber. Because the name of Sennefer was inscribed along with that of Senetnay on many of the model vessels, Carter decided that both Sennefer and his wife had been buried in KV 42 and identified it as another tomb of Sennefer in his report (see the reference below).
In spite of the presence of Sennefer’s name on some of the model vessels found in KV 42, it is most likely that the vessels all belonged to the burial of Senetnay. In the tomb of the Vizier Amenemopet (TT 29), she is shown with her husband in a banquet scene where she is given the title "one who nurtured the body of the god." This title indicates that she was not merely wet-nurse to one of the royal children, but that she lived into the reign of her nursling, Amenhotep II. Two generations earlier, Amenhotep’s great-aunt, the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, had granted her wet-nurse the special privilege of burial in the royal cemetery, and it appears that Amenhotep did the same for Senetnay. Sennefer, by having his name inscribed on some of his wife’s model vessels, would have shared in this privilege. However, it seems likely that he outlived Senetnay and was buried in his own tomb along with a second wife, whose name only appears in the burial chamber of TT 96.
After work was finished in KV 42, the excavators were given a share of the finds as part of their agreement with the Egyptian Antiquities Service. According to Howard Carter, a gold rosette found in the first passage near the tomb’s entrance (and noted in his report), was purchased from one of them by Theodore M. Davis. This was bequeathed to the Museum in his will. Other finds from the tomb were also sold and are now in the collections of museums in Europe and North America, including five model vessels which were purchased by the MET in 1932 from Sayed Molattam, a Luxor dealer. Four of these are on view in Egyptian gallery 117; the other went to the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago as part of an exchange in 1950.
While he was working with Lord Carnarvon in 1921, Howard Carter discovered foundation deposits around the entrance to KV 42. Inscriptions on model vessels from the deposits identified the tomb’s owner as Queen Hatshepsut-Merytre, the principal wife of Thutmose III whose tomb is entered from a crevice just above the cul-de-sac where KV 42 is located. Although Hatshepsut-Merytre appears to have been the intended occupant of KV 42, the decoration of the burial chamber was never completed and the stone sarcophagus found there was unused. It seems likely that the queen was buried elsewhere, perhaps in the tomb of her son, Amenhotep II. Three model vessels from these deposits were purchased by the Museum in 1932 from the same dealer who had Senetnay’s model vessels (see above). The foundation deposit vessels are also on view in Egyptian gallery 117.
So, why did burial equipment inscribed for Senetnay and two other non-royal individuals end up in an unused queen’s tomb? From ancient texts, we know of tomb robberies that took place near the end of Dynasty 20 (around 1100 B.C.), nearly four centuries after the Valley of the Kings was established as the royal cemetery of the New Kingdom. From dockets written on the wrappings of royal mummies and from graffiti found both inside and outside some of the Valley of the Kings tombs, we know that these mummies were moved for safe-keeping, often more than once, until most were finally cached in two tombs: TT 320, which lies just south of the royal temples at Deir el-Bahri on the Nile side of the desert cliffs; and KV 35, the tomb of Amenhotep II in the Valley of the Kings.
In view of the movement of mummies and burial equipment that took place in the Valley of the Kings at the end of its history as a royal cemetery, it is not surprising that some would have ended up in KV 42. There are several non-royal tombs nearby, including a small corridor tomb (KV 37) that lies across the cul-de-sac from KV 42. It is at least possible that this is the original tomb of Senetnay. But, wherever in the Valley of the Kings her original tomb was located, it appears that, after it was robbed, Senetnay’s mummy and what equipment could be salvaged were reburied in Hatshepsut-Merytre’s unused tomb along with the remains from at least two other non-royal tombs.
When KV 42 was opened in 1900, the condition of its contents suggested to Howard Carter that the tomb had been entered and robbed after the (re)burials had taken place. It is possible that any mummies present in the tomb, if they survived this robbery, were transferred to another cache, and they may be among the unidentified mummies found in KV 35 or TT 320.
Catharine H. Roehrig 2018
Carter, Howard, "Report upon the Tomb of Sen-nefer Found at Biban El-Molouk Near that of Thotmes III No. 34," Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte, vol. 2 (1901), pp. 196-200.
James, T. G. H. Howard Carter: The Path to Tutankhamun. Kegan Paul International: London and New York (1992).
Reeves, C. N. Valley of the Kings: The decline of a royal necropolis. Kegan Paul International: London and New York (1990).
Roehrig, Catharine H, "The Building Activities of Thutmose III in the Valley of the Kings," chapter 6 in Thutmose III: A New Biography, Eds. Eric H. Cline & David O’Connor, pp. 238-259. University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor (2006).
Roehrig, Catharine H., "Some Thoughts on Queen’s Tombs in the Valley of the Kings," in Studies in Honour of Kent R. Weeks, edited by Z. Hawass and S. Ikram, pp. 181-195. Supplement aux Annales du Service des Antiquités de L’Égypte, Cahier no. 41, Cairo (2010).
Purchased by the Museum from Sayed Molattam, Luxor, 1932.
Hayes, William C. 1959. Scepter of Egypt II: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Hyksos Period and the New Kingdom (1675-1080 B.C.). Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 146.
Graefe, Erhart 1981. Untersuchungen zur Verwaltung un Geschichte der Institution der Gottesgemahlin des Amun vom Beginn des Neuen Reiches bis zur Spatzeit, 2. Ägyptologische Abhandlungen, Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, p. 145.
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