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Ancient Egypt - Royal Steward, Senenmut


Hatshepsut's closest adviser was her Royal Steward, Senenmut. Born as a commoner, his sudden rise in power would be controversial. He would hold numerous titles, including: Chief Architect and Overseer of Works, Chief Steward of Amun, Overseer of the Granaries of Amun, of the Fields of Amun, of the Cattle of Amun, of the Gardens of Amun, of the Weavers of Amun, and others. His most important position was that he was the tutor of Hatshepsut's daughter, Neferure. It's sad to know that she would die from unknown causes as a teenager. Her death would, without question, devastate her mother.

Senenmut was unrivaled in power and only the Chief Priest of Amun could match him. It was rumored that he owed his privileged position to intimate relations with the Queen. Evidence for an intimate relationship is considered when one looks at his sarcophagus. In his first tomb, there was a pink Aswan granite sarcophagus that was smashed to pieces. No piece was left bigger than a fist. However, after archaeologists reconstructed this, they discovered it was Hatshepsut's royal sarcophagus. She had given him her own royal sarcophagus to be buried in. What is in no doubt, is that they were very close.

Although it is not known for certain where he was buried, Senenmut had two tombs built for himself. One was in the tombs of the nobles in Luxor (known as TT71), and the other near Hatshepsut's mortuary temple (known as TT353). They were both heavily vandalized during the reign of Thutmosis III, perhaps during the later king's campaign to eradicate all traces of Hatshepsut's memory. Neither tomb by itself was complete as would be expected of an Egyptian tomb for a person of high standing. TT71 is a typical Theban Tomb chapel, but does not have burial chambers. TT353 is fully underground without any overground chapel. They complement each other and are, only together, a full burial monument.

The earliest known star map in Egypt is found as the main part of a decoration in the Tomb of Senenmut. This astronomical ceiling in TT 353 is divided into two sections representing the northern and the southern skies. Senenmut was most likely an ancient astronomer as well.


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