The Theban hypogeum bearing the number 60 (TT60) is one of the only funerary complexes known for a woman of the Middle Kingdom, and the oldest Theban tomb decorated of this period which has survived in a proper state.
It acted as the final resting place of the woman, Senet, but provides a great place for a very high commissioner by the name of Antefoqer (or Antefoker, Antefiker, Intefiqer, Intefiker), a vizier known from various documents as one who served king Amenemhat I, then his son Sesostris I, at the beginning of the 12th Dynasty (about 1958-1913 B.C.).
But the relationship link between the two characters cannot be defined very clearly: Senet was the name of the mother of Antefoqer, but this frequent name could also have been carried by one his wives.
Thus, when speaking of TT60 as "the tomb of Antefoqer", it could be a mistake. However, even though the monument is not his, it helps us to better understand this very powerful and historically important character, of whom it s possible to think that he is the origin of the distinguished honour given to Senet, and that he wanted to make known it.
The 12th Dynasty began with the seizure of power by a vizier, Amenemhat; following the last king of the 11th Dynasty, Montuhotep.
Amenemhat I pursued, whilst spreading it to the whole country, the process of resumption and restoration of central authority after the years disturbed by the First Intermediate Period. At the end of his reign, Antefoqer was a vizier. Amenemhat I confided in him the mission to conquer Lower Nubia - the country of Wawat - in year 29. The reign ended tragically, because the now aged king died, murdered by people of his immediate entourage, on the 7th day of the 3rd month of the season Akhet, the year 30. The old king made a political mistake by sending (at the same time, far from the Residence) his two most faithful supporters. These were his son and his vizier, thus providing the plotters the opportunity to act. Hurriedly, his son Sesostris, who was fighting in the deserts of the west, arrived to regain the royal residence of the time, in Licht (at the entry of the oasis of the Fayum) to foil the plot that would have deprived him of the throne. These episodes were originally found in the two famous literary works of ancient Egypt: and .
The reign of Sesostris I, which lasted for 45 years, is one of the longest in Egyptian history. An energetic and authoritative, or even a cruel king, Sesostris continued working for the reunification of the country. He also took to heart to pursue the reconquest of the whole of Lower Nubia, started by his father, and to perpetuate the Egyptian presence there by the edification of fortresses, the most imposing remains are those of Bouhen, which disappeared under the waters of Lake Nasser created by the Aswan Dam.
The reorganization of the administration runs in parallel with the restoration of order in the country.
The top ranking officials are now dignitaries of the court. In comparison to the Old Kingdom, the number of titles have been reduced, those of once important functions, such as hairdresser or manicurist of the king, disappear completely. In the Middle Kingdom, it is the titles of rank which dominate over those of function, creating a stable body of very high personnages which one could thus rise to ministerial positions. They are only assigned and restricted to people who are in the monarch's immediate proximity.
The four main titles revealing these high positions are always given in order, and always at the beginning of documents, while the titles of function are before the character's name:
noble, one of the elite;
local prince, count, or mayor;
chancellor (seal-bearer) of the king;
With a few rare exceptions, these titles are specific to royal administration, and are absent for the provincial officials.
The vizier can also carry different specific honorary titles: official (sab), director of the city, director of the Six Great Courts, the one of the Curtain.
During the whole Middle Kingdom, the vizier, the treasurer and the steward in chief (administrator of goods to the court) are the three pillars of central administration. The vizier is, at the time, the most senior character of the country after the king. Besides the administration, he also has the role of Minister of Justice, to which is submitted in last process the most serious business. He can also see himself assigning some missions, as was the case of Antefoqer: war expeditions or to the mines, commercial expeditions, special works, etc.
Were there one or two viziers in charge at the same time? The question remains under debate, just like the one of a co-regency (Grajetzki) or not (Obsomer) between Amenemhat and Sesostris. This is how Antefoqer could have exercised his responsibility at the same time as a Montuhotep.
A very unusual point exists: the tomb was intended for a lady named Senet, but no other other (decorated) Theban tomb belonging to a woman at this time is known. Women are present as mother, wife, sister, but they never have precedence in the decoration, and even less their own monument.
In principle it is therefore Senet who should be discussed. But, whether she is the mother or the wife, or whether both are present, nothing is known about her (or they), no more than about the only only one specicaly identified as his wife, Satsasobek
The name of the vizier
'intf-iqr' (although throughout these pages referred to Antefoqer), which means "Antef is excellent", suggests that he was born during the 11th Dynasty, because several sovereigns of that time carry the name of Antef. In tomb TT60, he presents himself as the king's godchild and was probably raised in the Theban court, along side the future Amenemhat I.
Antefoqer exercises the responsibility of vizier in the final years of the reign of Amenemhat I and during the first part of those of Sesostris I, probably between the year 10 of the first and the year 23 or 24 of the second. Depending on whether one accepts or not the idea of a co-regency. The vizier would have thus held his office for about thirty or about forty years. This considerable length of time is significant for the prestige and the character's influence, and could have finished in the highest position. After all, Amenemhat I had begun his career as vizier.
Antefoqer is one of the characters of the Middle Kingdom of whom more traces are found, which doesn't mean that they are very numerous. This is how he can be found to be preparing an expedition to the country of Punt, which is known for its presence of mines of the eastern desert, and which seems to have played a considerable role in the reconquest of Lower Nubia, not without showing evidence of cruelty. All accounts of this activity are grouped together in the .
A doubt exists about the presence of another masculine character in TT60 (notably along side Senet, in the niche) which would have been erased completely, possibility making the assignment of the monument even more difficult.
The tomb is located at Luxor, on the west bank of the Nile, on the slope of the hill Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, in the area referred to as the "upper enclosure". Situated close to the summit (at the time of its construction, space wasn't yet limited). Later, it became surrounded with tombs of the New Kingdom, of which some (or even all) are of the usurpations of monuments dating to the Middle Kingdom (see as well as and ).
[Note: as the photo left shows, tomb TT60 is situated slightly to the right above of tomb TT83, of Aametju, called Ahmosis. It has therefore been decided to present some images of this tomb: see . But continue your reading of tomb TT60 first…]
TT60 had been known since the end of the 19th century, but neglected. It was necessary to wait until 1907 for its entry to be blocked by a metal door. Between 1907 and 1909, Weigall and Gardiner begin to prepare their publication. In 1914, Davies resumed the work of Weigall, until the main edition in 1920 (but which shows its age) which serves as the basic of reference to this presentation.
The plan of the tomb is representative of its time (see ). Its long corridor - intended to imitate the pavements leading to the temples of the pyramids - is dug into the hillside ending in a chapel, equivalent of the temple.
For Lise Manniche, this shape makes the link between the Theban tombs of the Old and the New Kingdom. Friederike Kampp proposes a clear vision of this evolution, with the transverse widening of the chapel, the decent of the funerary shaft (which unfolds), and the appearence of a transverse hall, giving the characteristic shape used to the 18th Dynasty.
The hypogeum is nearly oriented according to the cardinal points (east to west), with however a small offset, thus being southeast to northwest.
The themes of the decor also gained widespread acceptance: thus, it was current during the 18th Dynasty, to find the funeral procession and the journey to Abydos on the left wall, and the scenes of fishing and hunting on the right wall. The life in the fields is also mentioned, notably the different stages of agriculture. The celebrity of the tomb is manifested by the numerous graffiti, dating from the 18th Dynasty, this will be returned to later.
The courtyard is carved into the cliff face, which would have represented a great amount of work, because the wall had a height of 45ft (13.7m) and a considerable backward slope (or batter). Right and left of the entry, the facade has been smoothed using a chisel, some parts having been rendered with plaster and filling of some crumbling cavities. There were no additions of stones or bricks; those seen at the entrance today were errected during the time of Davies (see ). Several qualities of limestone coexist: the part worked for the facade is in an area of shale.
Virtually nothing remains of the original layout. The measurements of the courtyard are not specified, but an idea of this can be gained thanks to the photos. It is now cluttered with a great deal of rubble. By turning away from the facade, a splendid view on the plain below can be seen ().
The entrance was closed by a wooden door of which traces were recovered. The remains of two doorposts in finely engraved limestone were set slightly back, down in the corridor (see ). On the northern one, can be recognised two characters: the first is a man, which could be Antefoqer, the second who stood behind him, which has been erased, may have been his wife. On the south doorpost is a seated Senet whose representation is surmounted with the text:
"[An offering made by the king and Osiris…], Lord of Abydos, and an offering made by Anubis, who is on his hill, [giving…] thousands of offerings and delicacies, thousands of all good and pure things for the Ka of the priestess of Hathor, lady of Denderah, Senet, the blessed one, born of Dui" (see ). This title of "priestess of Hathor", important at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom, will become more and more obsolescent during the 12th Dynasty.
Once past the doorway, is a long passageway of about 12m and 1.20m in width, which, as in a temple, the ceiling decends progressively in height about 2.35m at the entry towards the rear. Through a short passage of 1m, an almost square (3 x 2.75m) chapel (or shrine) is entered, slightly down below.
In its west wall, a niche of 1.50m in depth opens up, divided in two parts of equal length and of 0.85 then 0.60m in width respectively, which are ended by a great stela in limestone, of which practically nothing remains (see ).
In the niche was a statue of a seated Senet (now moved into the chamber), isolated by a thin wall of raw bricks which transformed the space into a serdab; the decor shows that this installation was planned from the outset.
The statue in painted limestone was rediscovered in a very bad state, completely fragmented. The specialists nevertheless succeeded in restoring it into a quite convincing form and to be able to read the offering formulas used by Senet.
The opening of the funeral shaft. which extends vertically down to nearly 2m, was probably intended for the passage of a large sarcophagus. The opening is located between the chapel and the niche in which rested the statue. Davies proposed an ingenious explanation: if someone had tried to empty the shaft, the heavy statue have gradually fallen over forwards from behind the thin brick curtain, and would have collapsed the slender brick-built partition and would have fallen, face towards the ground, to block the entry. Thus it was hoped that this would terrify the pillagers to the point of making them give up their fatal project.
At the base of the shaft, opens up a sloping corridor which progresses to a small sepulchar chamber, offset towards the north. Only a few remnants of funerary material have been exhumed, with indications in favour of several different burials.
The walls are covered of a thick filler of plaster mixed to the chopped straw, giving them a yellow-buff appearance.
The quality of the decoration is on the whole average: the nature of the support allows only representations of a certain size, among which the style and the proportions are often awkward, and the movements motionless. These representations are of quality lower than those which are found in the tombs of the nomarchs of Beni Hassan, in middle Egypt, which also date from the Middle Kingdom
The ceiling has only been roughly cut. It is painted in pink to imitate granite and the colour follows its numerous irregularities. The contrast is striking with the walls which are both very straight and smooth.
A fire had been lit in the chapel for some unknown reason, after the Amarnian period (because the name of Amon had been restored), and probably after the graffiti, written towards the middle of the 18th Dynasty. It had been executed by means of a light combustible and highly inflammable material (like very dry funerary furniture and straw) which released an intense heat (which made the statue of Senet explode), but didn't blacken the walls (except at a low level). Straw in the wall coating evidently underwent combustion, giving back the extremely fragile walls; the colours changed in the chapel and the terminal part of the gallery: the yellows became clear reds, all greens turned darker, the blue variants all giving the same aspect, and the blacks nearly disappeared completely.