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Amenhotep, Senneferi's son-in-law

Amenhotep statue

During the first season of excavation in TT99 in 1993, a remarkable discovery was made near the bottom of Shaft E, the first to be cleared (click on the photo to see a photo in situ).. A headless statue was found cast away in that shaft, and the text on it showed that it belonged to a 'deputy of the overseer of seal-bearers, Amenhotep'. The statue is made of sandstone and painted, with most of the paint still preserved. As if that was not enough, a large part of the head, joining perfectly, was recovered from Shaft A later that season, along with a small fragment from the chair. But some parts of the head were still missing. We remained on the lookout for them in subsequent excavations, and were rewarded with two further fragments in the 1994 season from shaft A room 1. These fragments can be fitted together easily, and stay in place (for photography at least) without the need for any further means of attaching them together. The statue has been cleaned by Julie Dawson, revealing a layer of varnish over the red-brown skin colour and the lotus flower in his hand. statue text

Why was the statue found in such a state? I wonder whether robbers tried to steal it but found it was impossible to move in secret, as the piece is quite heavy. They may then have tried to break up the statue to sell the fragments, but that misfired; they then perhaps just threw it away into the shafts which were being refilled with debris after ransacking the tomb.

Amenhotep wears a shoulder-length black wig, has a short beard, is dressed in a long white robe, and holds a lotus flower to his breast. On the lap and legs of the statue is a column of hieroglyphs reading:

'An offering which the king gives to Osiris, foremost among the Westerners, lord of eternity, the ruler of the everlasting, so that he may give all perfect and pure things to the ka-spirit of the deputy of the overseer of seal-bearers, Amenhotep'

The following larger files give 4 views each of the statue:

Sheet 1 | Sheet 2

So who was Amenhotep?

Amenhotep is without doubt the owner of lost tomb C.3 in Sheikh abd el-Qurna (Porter and Moss, Topographical Bibliography I2, 457); texts in tomb C.3 make it reasonably certain that he was the son-in-law of Senneferi. On that basis, we can presumably date him to 20-30 years later than Senneferi, towards the end of the reign of Thutmose III and/or at the beginning of that of Amenhotep II. UPDATE MARCH 2009: the tomb of Amenhotep has been found by a mission from Belgium!

Another monument of Amenhotep is a granite false door reused as flooring for a structure added to the north side of the temple of Khonsu at Karnak, perhaps in the 30th dynasty (C. Traunecker, 'La stèle fausse-porte du vice-chancelier Aménophis', Karnak 6 (1973-1977), 197-208). Traunecker's article indicates that the employment of a private false door in a temple would be unknown, and the corollary is that it came from a tomb, in effect C.3.

What's important about it?

  • It's one of the most impressive objects to have been found in a tomb on the West Bank at Luxor for a number of years.
  • We know a little more about Amenhotep than we did, and it might encourage us to find his lost tomb
  • It shows that other members of the family in addition to the owner were commemorated in TT99. [NOTE: the tomb was actually found early in 2009!]

Where is it now?

The statue of Amenhotep is now in the Cairo Museum, as part of the 'Hidden Treasures' exhibition which opened in December 2002 to celebrate the Museum's centenary. The latest news we have is that the exhibition is to be permanent. it is accessed from an entrance at the west side of the Museum.

We have been delighted to find a photograph of the statue in the exhibition put on the net by Jon Bodsworth. Follow this URL:

The statue has been given a Journal d'Entrée number in the Cairo Museum, and so is now officially part of the collection. It is JE 99148. It may be found in Z. Hawass, Hidden Treasures of Ancient Egypt (Washington DC, National Geographic, 2004), 160–1.

© Nigel Strudwick 1997-2014