The tomb of Sarenput II dates from the Middle Kingdom, more precisely from the reign of Amenemhat II whose cartouche Nebu-Kau-Ra is shown on the walls. This sovereign reigned for a period which is still subject of debate but usually situated between about 1925 and 1895 BCE.
Under his reign, close contacts were formed with the Near Eastern world and Crete. We know little of his internal political activities.
You can see a statue of Sarenput reconstructed by the British Museum.

The tomb of Sarenput II can be considered an architectural jewel, though soberly and sparsely decorated.
•  The forecourt is cut directly into the cliff, which has been literally hollowed out. We notice various strata indicating the heterogeneity of the rock. (fig. 37 and fig. 38). In this forecourt, there were no pillars as in that of Sarenput I. A high, narrow entrance gives access to the interior of the tomb.
The view from the entrance ( fig 35) shows an arrangement of remarkable symmetry and overall harmony, with a perspective which seems to focus on the important element: the niche at the farther end.

•  Six pillars carved from the solid rock support the ceiling of the first hall They are not decorated and nor are the walls of this room. We note, nevertheless, that the strata, which are clearly visible in the light of the forecourt, are here reinforced by coloured lines due to the semi-darkness.
Between the second and third pillars is an offering table ( fig 27), which carries the names and titles of the owner. The family, cult priests or even ordinary visitors could place their offerings here or, if a libation of water was enough for them, this would run away via the small gutter at the front.

•  A flight of nine perfectly cut steps then leads to a narrow vaulted corridor. This is coated with a white plaster. Three symmetrical niches are cut into each side. In each of these is an Osiriform statue cut into the rock and depicting the deceased. The statues are either anepigraphic ( fig 30 and fig 22) with black skin (the colour of the fertile Nile silt) or may carry the names and titles of Sarenput. In this case, the rear wall of the niche is painted in yellow ochre and the statue itself relates to the world of the living with red skin, a coloured wig and, on the breast, a wide Usekh collar. The column of hieroglyphs on a yellow background gives the titles and one of the functions of the deceased ( fig. 31). The walls between the niches carry representations of the deceased ( fig 32 and fig 33).

•  From there we enter the second pillared hall , much smaller than the first. It contains four square-sectioned pillars, decorated on one of their faces with an effigy of the deceased surmounted by a column of black hieroglyphs on a yellow background, reminding us of the titles and sacerdotal functions of Sarenput. Laterally, we find two small anfractuosities. When I was there, the one on the left contained, on the floor, reed baskets full of bones, of which some were certainly human (I recognised a femur with certainty).

•  The small niche at the rear constitutes the end and the raison d’etre of the tomb. It has retained all the freshness of its original colours and we see how carefully the hieroglyphs were drawn.

On the rear wall ( fig 08) we see the Governor shown with heroic size, seated on a low-backed seat and extending his hand towards the well-garnished offering table which is before him. Clothed in a simple loincloth, he wears the short beard of the living and his breast is decorated with the wide Usekh collar. In front of the table and shown much smaller, as is the custom, the son of the deceased, Ankhu, presents an open lotus flower, symbol of rebirth. All the titles and functions of Sarenput are shown on this wall. To write his second name, Nub-Kau-Ra Nakht, the Nomarch has used the cartouche of the reigning Pharaoh. Probably a way of showing the power which he considered himself to hold in his Nome.

On the left wall ( fig 09) Sarenput advances, heading towards the exterior and holding two symbols of his power, the reed and the Sekhem sceptre. He is followed by his son Ankhu, one arm folded on his chest in a sign of deference. Facing them, a wife or dignitary clothed in an archaic sheath dress with two straps. She is holding two open lotus flowers. A column of hieroglyphs on a yellow background gives her name ( but the name is lost) and her function: priestess in the temple of Khnum.
We can see on this wall the remains of the grid lines which permitted the artist to respect the size, proportions and position of the characters.

On the right wall ( fig 42) Sarenput is again shown heading towards the exterior of the tomb. Behind him, a woman is seated looking towards the back of the tomb, in front of an offering table. This is his mother, Hetepet, also priestess in the temple of Khnum. We see that Sarenput has reserved a choice spot for her in his tomb, much more important than that of his wife.

The hieroglyphic transcriptions are provisional.
See the corresponding pages of Urkunden (with thanks to Raymond Montfort).
Urk 1 Urk 2 Urk 3 Urk 4

"The hereditary prince, chancellor of Lower Egypt, the one friend, director of the prophets of Khnum, Sarenput, justified"
"The hereditary prince, chancellor of Lower Egypt, the one friend, director of the prophets of Satet, Sarenput"
"The hereditary prince, chancellor of Lower Egypt, the one friend, director of the prophets of Khnum, Sarenput"
“Blessed in the service of Satet, mistress of the Elephantine and of Nekhbet, Nabure-Nakht (second name of Sarenput)”.
Left: “Blessed in the service of Khnum, master of the cataract at the head of the Elephantine"
"The offering which (the king?.. missing) makes to Anubis the prince of the necropolis and to Sab, the offering which he makes to Osiris, master of the West for the benefit of the Ka of the hereditary prince, the chancellor of Lower Egypt, the prince who is in the heart of the king and vice-versa, chief of the army in the mountainous and the meridional regions, the prince, director of the prophets of Satet mistress of the Elephantine, director of the army, Sarenput, justified.
His son who he loves, the prince Ankhu, justified."
There is difficulty on this face to know in which direction the text above Sarenput should be read. (two axes cross, which give repetitions and lacunae)
“ The offering prt.xrw of loaves, beer, meat, poultry, clothes, cloth, (in short) all good and pure things for the benefit of the Ka of the hereditary prince, the great priest of Ptah (?), Sarenput the pensioned chief of (?, the sign of the Nome is missing)”
Above his wife: “his mother, his beloved, priestess in the temple of Satet, Hetepet, justified”…….then?

Web page web and text by Thierry Benderitter
Photographs by Thierry Benderitter
English translation by Jim Ashton
© Osirisnet 2009