| GENERAL LAYOUT AND DECORATION
Sennefer's tomb complex is comprised of a rectangular open courtyard with, at its western end, a facade, at the centre of which is the entry to the upper cult chambers (TT96A). In the south-west corner of the courtyard is a steep curving descent leading the underground chambers (TT96B), the burial chamber and its antechamber.
The upper chambers, like the courtyard, lie on an almost east-west axis, and thus conform to the ancient Egyptian ideological orientation of the deceased journey to the afterlife. However, the underground complex has a strange axis. Firstly the descent starts towards the west, but then curves so that the main axis of the antechamber and burial chamber are on a near southwest-northeast axis. The floor of these lower chambers is about 12 meters below the surface level of the courtyard. Although the burial chamber in the drawing below is shown as almost square in section, this is not really true. It is in fact irregular in shape, as will be seen later when described in detail. The main upper chamber and lower chamber contain four square section pillars.
Both the upper and lower chambers were decorated throughout. The upper chambers are currently undergoing restoration work; the quality of the artwork having been marred by the passage of time and human occupation. The burial chamber is unusual because in most tombs of this period and location they are undecorated, but this is not the case with this tomb complex. It is the decorations of the lower chambers which encourages the visitors to TT96.
The Entry Facade and Courtyard
The main facade to the upper cult part of the complex is, as already stated, preceded by an open courtyard. This was excavated at the facade end into the solid limestone rock of the hillside. However, the excavation was not enough to create the entire courtyard and so it was increased in size by extending the two side walls with limestone masonry. As can be seen from view cy01, even the facade was extended upwards, the original rock face being higher at the left-hand end than on the right.
The entrance facade of tombs of this period were frequently accentuated by a small pyramid made of air-dried mud brick. Previously only the king was allowed this symbol of the sun, but now, in the New Kingdom, it was used on a smaller scale by non-royal persons. One such pyramid may have been placed on the flattened area above the facade, over the area of the inner upper chambers, however, there is no current evidence of this.
The entrance to the upper cult chambers, situated at the centre of the facade, would have been decorated with a painted sandstone surround. Traces are still visible of recessed areas around the entrance doorway which would have taken the uprights and lintel (see view cy02). As will be discussed later, some blocks from the entry surround may have been, for some obscure reason, removed and reused by Sennefer in the passageway between the antechamber and burial chamber below. Small parts of the facade, at ground level, still contain some of the original light plaster which would have covered all of it.
Probably belonging to the Coptic use of the courtyard are a series of holes located just above the height of the entry door, on the left half of the facade. Their position increases in height above the ground away from the entry. They were probably used for roof support beams, of a wooden structure.
A small painted area of plaster survived near ground level, to the right of the entry to to cult chambers. On this were the two hieroglyphs, painted in blue, of the name of Sennefer.
This large open area, approximately 40m east-west (from the open end to the facade) and 20m across. As already mentioned, the north and south boundary walls had been extended with limestone blocks. The masonry of the southern wall exists to its original full length, including its eastern front edge. At the western end it rises to the height of the facade, whilst the general height is approx. 2.2m, with some plaster still surviving on its southern face. The northern wall was unfinished, its outer edge being mainly part of the hill-side. The inner edge was largely lost to later work, however, where it joins the facade a small section still survives, the lower part of which was originally plastered.
The courtyard contains the entry descent to the lower burial chamber and its antechamber. This, which will be discussed in full detail later, is located towards the facade, alongside the southern boundary wall.
Further additions and changes were made to the courtyard in later times, mainly on the northern side. These are as follows:
A: Shaft in the north-west corner.
When Robert Mond (in 1903) cleared the courtyard, he brought to light a well-shaft in the northwest corner, against the right facade of the chapel. His plan was published in his report in ASAE 5 (1904) [Mond, R. "Report on Work done in the Gebel esh-sheikh Abd-el-Kurneh at Thebes", pp.97-104]. The top of the shaft is raised slightly above the normal floor of the courtyard. At the bottom of this shaft is an intermediate side chamber then a main chamber. The latter is situated just behind the rear wall of the main pillared burial chamber of Sennefer's tomb. Damage to the centre of this rear wall was caused by a hole being cut between the two locations. This shaft and chambers are estimated to belong to the same period as Sennefer himself.
B: Steps to TT93.
Against the surviving plastered wall, to the right of the shaft discovered by Mond, Kenamun created the steps of the stairway leading up to his courtyard, TT93 (see necropolis plan). Note that the steps turn through 90° to reach the courtyard. He was also from the time of Amenhotep II, being the king's chief steward. It is uncertain as to whether the current steps are original.
C: Coptic alcove.
Also on the northern side of the courtyard, to right of the TT93 stairway, is a brick-built structure with a curved alcove (see view cy04). This probably dates from the Coptic period.
D: Central shaft.
Another courtyard shaft, which is no longer visible today, is virtually on the main east-west axis and approximately level with the descent to TT96B.
E: Later tomb entry.
At the western end of the southern wall, near the facade, is cut the entrance to a later uncompleted tomb.
F: Retaining wall.
The most recent change to the courtyard is the modern stone wall, built to retain the slippage from the hillside. The total effect of this was a reduction in the width.