The Garden Guide


Born - Died : 1513 - 1460

Senenmut (or Senmut or Sen-En-Mut) held the titles of 'Overseer of the Gardens of Amun', 'Steward of Amun', 'Overseer of all Royal Works' and 'Tutor to the Royal Heiress Neferure'. His dates are uncertain but he advised Queen Hatshepsut on many topics and is generally credited with the design of her mortuary temple at Deir el Bahri (Djeser-Djeseru). He may also have been the father of her daughter. One of Senenmut's two tombs, found empty, is within its precincts. Senenmut does not proclaim himself a designer but his tomb has the earliest astronomical ceiling. He was born into a non-royal upper-class family, which lived some fifteen miles south of Thebes, and trained as a scribe and administrator. He was buried in a shrine at Gebel Silsila, north of Aswan, in which his statue is cut from the living rock. Over 25 other statues of the man described as 'greatest of the great' survive. They show him holding Neferure, or kneeling for an act of worship with outstretched arms. Without evidence, it has long been suggested that he was Hatshepsut's lover. The influence of Hatshepsut's temple garden is undocumented but as Gothein wrote 'Here stands out for the very first time in the history of art a most magnificent idea - that of building three terraces, one above the other, each of their bordering walls set against the mountain-side, and made beautiful with pillared corridors, the actual shrine in a cavity in the highest terrace which was blasted out of the rock'. [See Marie-Luise Gothein on Egyptian gardens] Senenmut's dates are unknown but Hatshepsut reigned from 1479–1458 BC and Senemut is reported to have been about 50 in the 16th year of her reign (1463) and no event in his life is recorded after this date: so Senemut's dates might have been 1513-1460.

Senemut did not underestimate his own abilities:

He says: "I was the greatest of the great in the whole land;
one who heard the hearing alone in the privy council, steward of [Amon],
Senemut , triumphant."
"I was the real favorite of the king, acting as one praised of his lord
every day, the overseer of the cattle of Amon, Senemut ."
"I was '4- of truth, not showing partiality; with whose injunctions
the Lord of the Two Lands was satisfied; attached to Nekhen, prophet
of Mat, Senemut ."
"I was one who entered in [love], Isand came forth in favor, making
glad the heart of the king every day, the companion, and master of .the
palace, Senemut ."
"I commanded I6in the storehouse of divine offerings of Amon
every tenth day; the overseer of the storehouse of Amon, Senemut ."
"I conducted - 1 7 - ~ of the gods every day, for the sake of the life,
prosperity, and health of the king; overseer of the r-'of Amon, Senemut ."
"I was a foreman of foremen, superior of the great, I8[overseer] of
all [works] of the house of silver, conductor of every handicraft, chief of
the prophets of Montu in Hermonthis, Senemut ."
"I was one I9t0 whom the affairs of the Two Lands were [reporlted;
that which South and North contributed was on my seal, the labor of
all countries 20was [under] my charge."
"I was one, whose steps were known in the palace; a real confidant
of the king, his beloved: overseer of the gardens of Amon, Senemut ."

Gardens designed by Senenmut,