Last January 9 I wrote about the discovery of the tomb of Sobekhotep I, a pharaoh from an obscure period of ancient Egyptian history, the XIII dynasty. Now it turns out there was another royal tomb next to it, and the occupant of this one is even more mysterious. His name was Seneb-Kay, and we had not heard of him before; that name does not appear on any list of pharaohs. He probably belongs in the XVI or early XVII dynasties, where we do not know the names of all the kings. This would give him a date around 1650 B.C. in conventional chronologies, or 1250 B.C. on the “New Chronology” that I prefer.
Together the two tombs show the poverty of the age when the XIII-XVII dynasties ruled. They could no longer afford to bury kings in pyramids or even mastabas; a simple underground chamber had to do. Oh, how the country had fallen from the grand burials of the Old Kingdom!
I also made a mistake in my message from January 9. The author of the blog I’m linking to said these pharaohs are from an “Abydos Dynasty,” but they were buried at Sohag, not Abydos. On a map, Sohag is a few miles downstream from Abydos; in ancient times it was called Akhmim or Panopolis. For us it is not a great distance – like traveling from one county to the next – but this was far enough to put Akhmim in a separate nome or province from Abydos.
That leads to another question; why were those kings buried at Akhmim? It was never the capital of Egypt, or the site of a major holiday requiring the pharaoh’s attendance (like Abydos). Its only claim to fame was that it was the home city of Min, the fertility god. Min is the naughtiest character in Egyptian mythology; he was portrayed as a man with an erection. So the only appropriate place for Min’s image in today’s world is on the label for a package of Viagra!
Were Sobekhotep I and Seneb-Kay fans of Min? Or related to the god’s high priest? Later on in the New Kingdom, another priest of Min, Yuya, would become the great-grandfather of King Tutankhamen. Finally, the article states that the skeleton found in Seneb-Kay’s tomb belonged to a six-foot-tall man. That was unusually tall for those days, when the average height was 5’ 3” or 5’ 4”. When I saw the royal mummies in the Cairo Museum, none of them could have been six feet tall in life; all of them were clearly shorter than me. Oh my, I am starting to think this Seneb-Kay was a real hunk when he was alive!