|One of the largest and most beautiful tombs of the Middle Kingdom on the hill of Qubbet el-Hawa is that of Sarenput I, which marks the apogee of funereal architecture in Asswan.
The provincial Nomarchs, living far from the Residence in Memphis, enjoyed autonomy and revenues, which allowed them to consider themselves as minor sovereigns.
Sarenput lived in the Middle Kingdom (~2055 - 1650 BC) reign of Senuseret (Sesostris) I (~1956-1911 BC)
The “biographical” inscription, which Sarenput left in his tomb, well shows how this powerful character considered himself.
“ I have built my tomb to show my gratitude to the king Kheper-Ka-Ra (Senuseret I).
His majesty made me great in the land. I have overturned very ancient rules and, it resulted that I reached the sky in an instant.
I have employed artisans to work in my tomb and his Majesty congratulated me highly and often in the presence of courtesans and the Queen..
The tomb was equipped with palace furniture, decorated with all sorts of accessories, filled with decorative parts and provided with offerings. I should not want for any necessary thing, it was at the treasure house that all this was claimed for me. His Majesty saw to it that I could have a good life. I was full of joy at having succeeded in reaching the sky, my head touched the firmament, I grazed the stars. I appeared like a star. I danced like the planets, my town celebrated and my troops were jubilant.
For me, the Elephantine gods extended the reign of His Majesty as king they caused His Majesty to be reborn for me in order that he might repeat millions of Sed festivals for me, they granted him eternity as king that he might install himself on the throne of Horus, just as I had wished for him.”
Sarenput had no hesitation in according himself a stellar destiny and, thanks to the notable's wishes, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt could regenerate himself eternally in order to permit Sarenput. to profit from the same destiny. We see, nevertheless that, in spite of the bragging, the proud Nomarch doubtless considered himself a royal servant. This shows us that, in the time of Sesostris I (Senwosret), royal authority had been restored throughout the kingdom.
In 2016, a causeway leading to the tomb of Sarenput Iwas uncovered. It is made of blue sandstone, a building material only available in the area of Shat el-Saba Regal, near Kom Ombo, which was also used at the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II at Deir el-Bahari and the temple for Satet on the Island of Elephantine.
The causeway is considered the longest ever found on the western bank of the Nile in Aswan, stretching for 133 metres to connect the tomb to the Nile bank. It is decorated with engravings, the most important of which are found on the eastern part of the ramp's northern wall and depict a group of men pulling a bull and presenting it as an offering to Sarenput ( view EES1 and view EES2).
The decoration of the causeway was already underway in year 10 of the reign of Senwosret I (1910 BC). As the pottery shows, the causeway was in use for almost 600 years as a place of memory and funerary ritual activities.
Access to the tomb is via a monumental staircase, which is an integral part of the funerary complex. Unlike those of Sabni and Mekhu for example, it is not perpendicular to the face of the cliff but makes an angle of 85 degrees.
From the porch doorway, which gave access to the forecourt, there remain two side jambs of fine limestone (a rare stone in this region, probably imported from far away), each carrying a portrayal of Sarenput with his instruments of power, the Sekhem sceptre and baton of authority.
The forecourt is cut directly into the slope. It comprises a series of six decorated pillars surmounted by architraves and which supported a roof, which has today disappeared. The general effect reminds us of a temple vestibule.
The façade of the tomb comprises hieroglyphic inscriptions, above all around the door, which they frame. Laterally, more figurative representations are presnt.
Around the door are portrayals of Sarenput in the form of larger-than-life statues as on pylons in a temple.
The first room, with 4 pillars, is decorated with frescos and hieroglyphs painted in colour, though much deteriorated.
-Hans Wolfgang Müller: Die Felsengräber der Fürsten von Elephantine aus der Zeit des Mittleren Reiches, Glückstadt 1940
-Dietrich Wildung: L' âge d'or de l'Égypte, PUF, 1984
SOME OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS ARE FROM MARJOLAINE MOREAU, THE OTHERS HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY ME IN AUGUST 2003.