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PROPOSED IDENTIFICATION FOR "UNKNOWN MAN C" OF DB320

KMT 6:3, Fall 1995 KMT Communications

While recently in New York City researching the history of the early-Eighteenth Dynasty, the disagreement regarding the age of Thutmose I at his death made me want to read the opinion of G. Elliot Smith, so I consulted his work, The Royal Mummies. It was during my examination of this volume that suddenly the face of another male mummy from the royal cache discovered at Deir el Bahari in 1881 caught my attention (Plates XXV-XXVII), inasmuch as two deep wrinkles near his mouth lend him an almost smiling expression. Out of cur-iosity, I read what Smith recorded about an "Unknown Man C" (pp. 31-32).

Detail of MMA ostracon with presumed double portrait-sketch of Senenmut (the facial lines mechanically enhanced here for clearer viewing). Right, Profile view of "Unknown Man C" from the Deir el Bahari royal-mummies cache (DB320), showing similiar facial marks. The author proposes, on the basis of what she sees as scars in both the ostracon sketch and the mummy (thought to be of early-18th Dynasty date), that anonymous man "C" is a candidate for identification as none other than Senenmut himself.

This particular mummy was found in the coffin of the scribe Nibsoni (or Nebseni) and Gaston Maspero identified the individual as Nibsoni. Smith later (1912) disagreed with Maspero. He wrote: "Nibsoni lived in the times of the XXI Dynasty, whereas this is an XVIIIth Dyn. mummy, obviously belonging to the group that includes the first three Pharaohs who bore the name Thoutmosis. The mode of embalming, the treatment of the skin, the nature of the resin-impregnated bandages....and the treatment of the genital organs, all proclaim this mummy to be early XVIIIth Dyn. in date." Smith adds that since there is no king missing from the early- Eighteenth Dynasty series, "C" must have been a high official. He describes him as "...a tall, vigorous man, 1.739 m. in height. He has abundant, black hair, freely streaked with grey.... The teeth are so much worn that...there can be no doubt that he was well-advanced in years."

Later, back in Hungary, the sketches I'd made of "C" turned up in my notes taken in NYC. On the spur of the moment, I dug up a picture of the ostracon _ now in the Metropolitan Museum _ which bears two profiles of Senenmut, and placed it side by side with the sketches, scrutinizing them. It was then that I noted something peculiar. The artist who had started to draw Senenmut's profile on the limestone flake was obviously dissatisfied with his first attempt at portraiture, because he did it again. The differences in these two profiles suggest that the artist attempted to drawn Senenmut's actual face. In this case, however, the deep lines near the subject's mouth have special importance.

I checked to see if Herbert Winlock had had anything to say about Senenmut's "wrinkles." In his Excavacavations at Deir el-Bahri, 1911-1931, he wrote (p. 139): "As for the wrinkles, they surely were the features by which he was known. A crude little caricature, in a tomb above the temple...makes them Sen-Mut's most prominent feature." Winlock's remark made me think: In ancient Egypt there were numerous persons, at least among the elite class, who reached a ripe old age, so a wrinkled face would not have been a rarity. Again I scrutinized my sketches of "C" and realized that he has two deep lines only on the left side of his face. What if these are not wrinkles at all, but scars? Scars are peculiar enough to be a feature by which someone is recognized.

I think there is enough "circumstantial" evidence to warrant some actual research to prove _ or disprove _ that "Unknown Man C" is Senenmut. When Peter Dorman was writing his Monuments of Senenmut (1988), he was not able to locate the mummified remains of the great man's parents, which had been discovered during the excavations of the Metropolitan Museum Egyptian Expedition in the 1930s (p. 169, n. 25). But these recently were relocated at the Qasr el Einy Medical Facility in Cairo, and the mummy of "C" is presumably in the Cairo Museum, so it really would not be too difficult to run DNA and other comparative tests to determine if they are related _ or not.

Katalin Kreszthelyi Budapest




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