Star Maps and the Secrets of Senenmut: Astronomical Ceilings and the Hopi Vision of Earth
The builders of the pyramid complex in Egypt had a very good astronomer. We call him Senenmut (the Mother’s Brother, or the Uncle).
Today, our astronomers are so good that they build computer programs that plot Earth’s location in space calculating the planet’s movement while looking into the future and going back into the past. We can tell exactly what the sky and constellations looked like at any given point in time. I think Senenmut could do the same thing.
Statue of Senenmut ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )
As Above So Below
Egyptologist believe the 18th dynasty government official Senenmut died in disgrace. The tomb he built (TT No. 353, going down 60 meters with three finished levels and a fourth unfinished level) was never used for his burial and instead he was buried in TT No. 71, which has been completely destroyed. His astronomical ceiling was carved on the fourth unfinished level of TT No. 353.
Illustrated map of TT-353, built for Senenmut but not where he was etombed. (Courtesy author)
Whenever I think of three finished and the fourth unfinished levels I think of my Hopi friends who believe we are in the fourth unfinished world and have had three previous worlds or finished civilizations before this one. Whoever built this chamber had already made plans to finish the fourth room and start the fifth. Many of the underground chambers in Egypt are built with this same design: three or four levels finished, and the beginning where the next level of construction will take place in the future.
Senenmut’s Atronomical Chart
Senenmut’s astronomical ceiling.
Egyptologist believe that Senenmut’s astronomical ceiling “contains a very precise representation of the northern constellations and the twelve months of the year, symbolized by circles with radii. By study of the positions of the stars depicted, it has been possible to date this ceiling precisely to 1463 BC, corresponding to year 17 of the reign of Tuthmosts III.” (Page 113, Alberto Siliotti, Guide to the Valley of the Kings). He does not go on to explain how they came up with this figure.
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The ceiling is described as a “Celestial Diagram consisted of a northern and a southern panel which depicted circumpolar constellations in the form of discs; each divided into 24 sections suggesting a 24-hour time period, lunar cycles, and sacred deities of Egypt. Of the constellations present on the diagram, the only certainly identifiable was Meskhetyu with the Big Dipper because of the difficulty that arises when an attempt is made to match modern day constellations with the depictions made thousands of years ago by the ancient Egyptians.”
- Some of the main figures and stars seen in the diagram are Sirius, Orion, Ursa Major, Draco (may be depicted as hippopotamus with crocodile on its back)
- The four circles on the top right refer to the four months of Akhet (inundation) between July and October
- The two circles at the top left and the two below them refer to the season of Peret (planting season) between November and February
- The four circles on the right refer to the season of Shomu (harvesting season) between March and June.
I feel pretty safe in saying that no one really knows exactly what the mural stands for, but if Senenmut was an astronomer, I am sure he had knowledge of, or created, the astronomic ceiling in the temple of Dendera, built at the same time.
Temple of Dendera
The astronomical ceiling in the Temple of Dendera shows the view of the constellations, and their movement on two different paths and where these two paths cross or overlap. The whole mural is supported by 12 figures (eight Orion and four Spider-women with two hands each, for a total of 24 points of contact around the circle) and as described by Schwaller, page 173 of Tompkins, Secrets of the Great Pyramid , “The mythological figures representing the constellations are entwined in two circles—one around the north pole and one around the pole of the ecliptic. Where these two circles intersect marks the point of the equinox, or due east. The zodiac thus becomes a calendar going back to remote antiquity.”
The Zodiac of Dendera ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )
So, we know for a fact that the Astronomer Senenmut (or whoever created the ceiling) could plot Earth’s location in space in the past, and I feel safe to assume, he could also plot earth’s location going into the future.
Zodiac Ceiling of the Temple of Dendera, Egypt. (Courtesy author)
Orion, Taurus and Draco are shown in both ceilings. The twelve circles in Senenmut’s ceiling are divided into 24 divisions just like the 24 hands that divide the ceiling at Dendera. Perhaps the two ceilings represent the same thing; our view of space as we travel through the twelve constellations, showing east at the time of the equinox, and the Earth’s precession as it moves through the constellations?
The ceiling of Dendera might show one cycle and the ceiling of Senenmut’s might show twelve of these same cycles—or one for each cycle of the twelve constellations, 25,920 years in length.
The Symbols of Senenmut’s Mural
In the top portion of Senenmut’s mural a small boy (the Nephew?) is under three stars indicating he is in the fourth world or time. He is leading a female figure (Spider-woman?) into the fourth world or time and they have two ‘Orions’ behind them to complete the balance. This set of figures is represented in other murals with a different number of Orions behind them each time. Here they have three left behind them.
Sketeched detail of figures in the top portion of Senenmut’s ceiling.
When I look at the bottom portion of the mural, I see a balance. In the middle of the mural is the support beam, the figure of Orion and his spear are on the left side. Orion is spearing a bull (Taurus?) and the other end of his spear is pointing to the next vacant position for a circle. There are four circles on the left side and eight on the right. Could the four on the left side represent the three previous worlds and this the fourth time? Could it be that when Orion’s spear hits the bull one circle from the right side will be moved over to the left side of the mural and the start of a new cycle? When there are six circles on one side and six on the other, the mural will be complete and in balance. There are many murals in Egypt that refer to this same particular balance.
Detail of the bottom portions of Senemut’s Astronomical Chart ( General Public Licence )
A mural showing a balance of six on one side and six on the other.
Six figures on each side of the serpent circle, showing balance.
At the bottom of Senenmut’s mural, on the left side of the balance, there is a small boy (the Nephew?) pointing up to draw your attention to Orion spearing the Bull. On the right side, there is a hippopotamus with a crocodile on his back, I call him the destroyer but he represents the constellation of Draco, which can be seen all year long in the northern latitudes and is thought to pinpoint the passageway on the north side of the pyramid.
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At one point in time the constellation of Draco was represented as a dragon with 6 coils similar to the Serpent Mound located in Ohio.
This figure is also called Taweret (new birth) and they say the hieroglyph of the switch means protection, so this figure might mean — the protection of a new birth?
This same group of figures is also represent in other murals with a different number of figures (constellations?) in front of the small boy and a different number of figures on each side of the mural with one figure always behind or above the bull trying to upset his balance.
In this mural, Orion is below the bull tryign to suppor him, but he is on unstable footing as he is standing on the Destroyer’s switch. There is an alligator, lion, hawk and a figure lying face down in front of the small boy. (Courtesy author)
In this mural there is only the lion and the alligator in front of the small boy, and a different number of figures on each side. (The Monuments of Egypt)
I do not believe that Senenmut (the Uncle?) died in disgrace. He wasn’t buried in chamber TT-353 because this underground chamber was never designed to be a tomb for anyone in the first place. It was designed to hold a message for us about the Earth’s delicate balance and its location in space within the constellations. I believe this is also the reason why the constellations were created and carved into the ceiling of Dendera.
Thomas O. Mills is author of Stonehenge, If This Was East . Mills uses his knowledge of the Hopi Ceremonial Cycles to connect ancient sites around the world.
Top Image: False door of Senenmut, steward of Queen Hatshepsut ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )