Tomb 1159 at
Deir el-Medina
The page was last modified on April 30th 2016
1. Deir el-Medina in the third millenniuim AD : a tribute to Jac. J. Janssen /
edited by R. J. Demarée and A. Egberts
Leiden : Nederlands Instituut voor Het Nabije Oosten, 2000.
2. Navrátilová, Hana : Sennefer IN : Théby : město bohů a faraónů = Thebes
: city of gods and pharaohs / Jana Mynářová & Pavel Onderka (eds.)
Praha : Národní Museum, 2007. p. 128-131.
3. Bruyère, Bernard: Rapport sur les Fouilles de Deir el Medineh (1928)
Le Caire : Imprimerie de l'Institut Francais d'Archeologie Orientale, 1929.
4. Aubert, Jacques F.: Statuettes egyptiennes
Paris : Libraire dAmerique et d'Orient Adrien maisonneuve, 1974.
5. Matiegková, L., Matiegka, J.: Hrob Sen Nefera a tělesné znaky
staroegyptského lidu za doby XVIII dynastie (Le tombe de Sen Nefer et les
caractères physiques des anciens Egyptiens au temps de la XVIIIe dynastie
Offprint : Anthropologie IX, cis. 1. pp. 320-335.
Praha : Grafické závody V. & A. Janata v Novém Bydžově, 1931.
A9e+1159.+Horm%C3%A8s.+Sennefer&os=5 (last accessed on Oct 2 2012)
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The tomb 1159 is located within Deir el-Medina's western cemetery where around twelve tombs have
been identified with certainty as dating to the 18th dynasty:
TT8 of Kha, TT291 of Nu and Nakhtmin,
TT 325 of Simen?, TT 338 of May, TT 340 of Amenemhat (also TT354), DM 1089 of Simen, possibly
also associated with TT 325, DM 1099 of Khunefer, DM 1138 of Nakhy and Amenwahsu, DM 1159A of
Sennefer, DM 1166 (name lost) and DM 1352 of Setau (Demarée,2000,97). The area lies in the
southwest part of the cemetery. The site of tomb 1159 is marked with a red cross in the photo below.
Bruyère's sketch of the interior of the tomb as found in the week of the 2nd-7th February 1928 can be
viewed in his notebook published on-line by IFAO:
Bruyère's sketch of the piece of linen can be viewed in his notebook published on-line by IFAO:
The coffin closer to the entrance was smaller and rested on the floor. It was made of sycamore wood and
was more expensive than the larger coffin. Another, tiny coffin, was placed near the heads of the two
coffins. It belonged to a child and was made of lime washed wooden planks. A wooden box with a triangular
lid, made of sycamore was placed in the corner and contained:- 2 wooden shabtis wrapped in linen, 2
cosmetic jars, 1 pair of sandals and several pearls. A wooden stool with a leather seat was placed on top
of it. Persea tree branches were placed around the large coffins.
The north-east corner of the burial chamber contained 2 pottery jars and 3 plates containing persea
fruits, dum dum palm nuts and grain. There was a black wooden handle belonging to a fan. It was inlaid
with ebony and ivory. 2 walking sticks were wrapped in linen (Matiegková,1931,321-322).
The large coffin contained the body of Sennefer. It was wrapped in linen and had a cartonnage mask
placed over his face. Wreaths of vine, willow and lotus blossoms were placed over his chest. A heart
scarab made of black stone with gilding was attached to the wrapped body with 3 strings of blue and
gilded pearls. A wooden gilded pectoral might have been attached to the strings but got loose and was
found at the side of the coffin.
The text on this page was written by Lenka Peacock
Photography © Lenka and Andy Peacock and kairoinfo4u
Please click here to view a text only page. Scroll down if you wish to view photographs of
human remains - the human skulls belonging to Sennefer and Neferit.
The tomb 1159 is a pit that was hollowed into the rock. There are two levels within the tomb. The
upper level - in a 3 m deep shaft - contained the burial of Hormes. His tomb was discovered and cleared
by the Italian expedition who were undertaking the first scientific excavation of Deir el-Medina under
the leadership of the Italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli between 1905 and 1909. In the tomb of
Hormes they found a large piece of painted linen shroud that used to cover a coffin or a piece of
furniture, a fragment of the pedestal of a stela, a funerary cone, an offering table and several pieces of
pottery jars (Matiegková,1931,320).
The plan of the tomb according to
Bruyère's drawing
The tomb belonged to a workman named Sennefer, who lived at Deir el-Medina towards the end of the
18th dynasty. It was suggested by Jacques Aubert (Aubert,1974,62) that Sennefer was most probably a
contemporary of Tutankhamun because the shabtis found in his tomb were made in the same style as those
of this Pharaoh. Sennefer's title was the "servant in the Place of Truth" as appears on his coffin. He
belonged to the workmen of the necropolis, who worked on the construction of the royal tombs.
In 1928 the French Institute of Oriental
Archaeology in Cairo under the direction of Bernard
Bruyère discovered two pits on the western side of
the tomb of Hormes, while excavating in the area.
The first pit did not lead anywhere but 5 steps were
uncovered in the second pit (Matiegková,1931,320).
The steps lead 1.7 m down into a square space with
a bricked up vaulted entrance which meant an
undisturbed tomb could be lying beyond. On February
7th 1928 the tomb was officially opened. This lower
burial chamber was 1.25 m high, almost square,
measuring 2.35 along the eastern wall, 3 m along the
western wall, 2.70 m along the northern wall and
2.65 m along the southern wall. Maximum hight of
the ceiling was 1.9 m. The walls were roughly cut
and left undecorated.
The Czech Egyptologist Jaroslav Černý
participated in the discovery. Some
objects from the tomb are now housed
in the Náprstek Museum,while the
human remains are part of the collection
of the Hrdlička Museum of
Anthropology, Charles University. Both
museums are in Prague, Czech Republic.
Both adult bodies were left to decay with
little or no mummification. Only the skeletons
survived. It was noted by Aidan Dodson
(Demarée,2000,98) that none of the bodies
recovered from Deir el-Medina belonging to
the latter part of the 18th dynasty seem to
have been subject to any preservation
treatment other than simple wrapping. In
Dodson's view the limited degree of
post-mortem treatment explains the lack of
canopic equipment in any of those tombs. The
bodies were sent to Prague to the Institute of
Anthropology of Charles University wrapped in
linen with labels attached to them
Further down on Sennefer's wrapped body a wooden head dress, a wooden cubit and 4 wooden rulers were
found. By his feet were laid several bronze objects and small perfume jars.
Neferit's body was resting in the smaller sycamore coffin. It was also wrapped in layers of linen, but
there was no cartonnage mask put over her face and there were no objects found inside the coffin or on
top of her wrapped body (once the body was unwrapped, a necklace of turquoise, coral, lapis lazuli and
gold, an arm and wrist bracelets and 2 rings, were found adorning her body).
The child was placed in the smallest coffin measuring 88 cms. The body was laid in an stretched out
position with the arms laid alongside. It was wrapped in linen and no traces of mummification were
detected. Some remains of brown skin were preserved and the broken skull contained brown powder. The
body measured 76 cms. On the basis of the size and the advancement of the teeth, the anthropologists
estimated the child's age at death at 8-12 months (Matiegková,1931,327).
Neferit's skull from the collection of the the Hrdlička Museum of
Anthropology, Charles University, Prague
Sennefer's skull from the collection of the Hrdlička
Museum of Anthropology, Charles University, Prague
I would like to express my thanks to Hans Ollermann from
Holland, who improved the images of Neferit's skull.
It was noted that the causes of death of both Sennefer or Neferit were impossible to establish and
neither was the sequence in which they died. There was no written evidence that Neferit was Sennefer's
wife, but together with the baby discovered in the coffin next to theirs, all three seem to create a
family unit.
The south-east corner of the burial chamber contained a pile of 17 dried funerary bouquets attached to
poles wrought in leaves. These were most probably carried by the mourners in the funerary procession
during the burial in the similar way we can witness in the scenes depicted on ancient Egyptian tomb walls.
At the back of the tomb 2 anthropoid coffins were found. Both were painted black with yellow inscriptions
and decorations. The further coffin rested on a wooden brier and was covered in a large finely woven linen
shroud. A smaller piece of linen was laid on the top.
Photography © kairoinfo4u
The canvas represents profile of a seated
male facing to the right. A heaped offering
table stands in front of him. He wears a
white mid-length pleated kilt, his neck is
adorned with an usekh necklace. On his head
he wears a short black curly wig topped with
an ointment cone. The seat on which he sits
is black, has animal legs and a high curved
back. He holds a piece of cloth in his right
hand while his left hand is extended towards
the offerings, consisting of 3 pieces of
bread, 3 pieces of vegetable and a piece of
meat. In the field in front of him, there are
two hieroglyphic columns written in black ink.
They read from top to bottom, the column on
the right first: "Osiris, Servant in the Place
of Truth, Sennefer".
New Kingdom, TT1159 - the tomb of
Sennefer, Deir el-Medina
Egyptian Museum Cairo, JE 54885
Bruyère's sketch of Sennefer's burial as found in the week of the 2nd-7th February 1928 can be viewed
in his notebook published on-line by IFAO:
Bruyère's sketch of the pectoral found inside Sennefer's coffin in the week of the 2nd-7th February
1928 can be viewed in his notebook published on-line by IFAO: