Night sky of Senenmut

Night sky of Senenmut

Oxen and Scorpio /Serket were in use in Egyptian astronomy 3100 - 1160 BC in major temples. The papyrus of Senenmut is from the time of Hatsepsut but probably based on older original. It is essential for understanding astronomy in the entire Old World

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The Egyptians followed the moon Toth during the summer and the evening sun Atum in the winter. The Europeans adapted much from Egypt and I had to sort out in short what it is about. For instance we se many suites of seven in Scandinavian rock-carvings. Their split year was not in 2 x 6 months or by solstices or equinoxes. The season for Toth was seven moons and the other moons was those of Hathor the cow that was pregnant during the inundation.

In the tomb of Senenmut is a painting very much alike this and in the tomb of Seti I is the same theme on a black background. Senenmut was Hatshepsut's chancellor and one of those making his own history to be remembered. Not everyone gets an eternal life. To be a king makes it easier, but also we remember ingenious people and still they are alive in intellectual sense.

From the grave of vizier Chentikas in Saqqara from 6th dynasty 2300 to 2150 we know that the system with three seasons and twelve moons were in use then. That is a man-made fact and a convention, because the seasons have been for at least since the history we are discussing now.

Observe the entire Nile from Sudan to the Mediterranean is about 1545 kilometre/960 miles. That makes it difficult to generalise to an overlook, when some facts are tied to climates. There are also the changes in climates since Bronze Age.

From the papyrus we learn that they divided the year in twelve times thirty days and set in five to six days as a holiday. We understand the synchronisation of the sun year and the moon loops in the symbolism as a whole.

The origins of the constellations in the Senenmut calendar are perhaps from about 2700 BC. It is depending on which star is the exact used in the constellation of either Ox or Scorpio.

The black headgears in the rows are originally dark red and are surely moons. The fifth from right have a star symbol in the name and a dog-head. Compared to the Sumerian Dog it maybe was to be synchronised with a star.


Egyptian moon calendar from ca 1500 BC

This drawing is mainly a moon calendar. The asterisms Scorpio and Ox are fixstars of equinoxes and then they originate from ca 3100 BC. We see also twelve wheels as a calendar contending months. The thirteen moons are below and the changing of years is in the middle. The ongoing year is a hippotamus with a crocodile on its back and the new little crocodile in hand. We see Horus the time or sun using a stele pointing at the Taurus and the opposite Scorpio with a moon symbol.

Some glyphs are special signs or icons in use with calendar or when writing about time. In the upper row fourth from right the symbol reads KA KA and in beginning of the third is a square with an eagle. In the second row the first wheel from right has a Hathor-cow icon with a year glyph. In the suite behind Taweret is Isis the leading one as she has been in Egypt for thousands of years before this drawing.

About watering the Earth from the hymn to Sun by Echnaton


You created the Nile under ground

You carried it on as you wished

keeping people on Earth alive


You is the ruler of the homes and houses

you their Lord when they are weak

When you travel, the sun of day

you frighten people in distant lands.

In heaven you created a Nile too

that it may fall on us

creating stormy rivers in the mountains

huge like mighty lakes

aimed watering fields around cities

Oh, how wonderfully you plan

Aton, Lord of Eternity

The Nile was meant for foreigners too

meant for cattle in all lands.


Of this we see that they had pragmatic thoughts about the circulating water. We use other words and symbols to tell that the waters rise from land and sea and come down again with the rain. In the Nile valley the hot summer of lions was a standing prayer for rain.

Farmer's year

This is a normal picture from graves or from papyruses telling about a farmer's year.

Once again " Thank you Egyptians, You still are alive, without You telling us, we would not know anything about your normal year and day."

Egypt was not true to itself if we always seek a logic Ariadne thread. We do not know their intentions when we see their compositions with no order. Much of the mystery lies in the chaotic picture. So we can only explain bit by bit. The upper row is a typical short mix of vegetative and animal resurrection and the sitting figures are "on the other side".

The Goddesses of birth-giving bless them. All three shows a wholeness with a hare, a snake, a cow meaning animal life overall. Animal birth in the womb and crops in earth are animated. A little boat carries the "coming one or little one". Sometimes is a small child in the boat. A falcon is the store to come and the pillar has a lotus flower as symbol of fertility supposed to be spring off from the corpse.

The wife is often assisting at harvest and the man threshes with cows. A heron stands on the Ur-hill symbol of inundation here and the man is guarding the store shown by the ruler's staff.

Normally they used cows in front of the plough and in other pictures the wife is sowing.

Next is a very clear structure showing what happens in the soil. Half the cargo stands in the soil and become fertiliser with time. The other one has oars towards the very small port, meaning "grow or not grow" towards the sun. There was a saying "Osiris and Re unite" ... which in plain text is "The corn and the sun unites" and give a plant. They show the upper life in another picture.

We can understand all that without knowing anything about the glyphs with explaining text. Another part at right is difficult to understand without the text. Naturally we understand that the lotus flower suggests growth. The falcon with perhaps the sun as headgear is time but in a mummy dress as a wish for resurrection or a new good afterlife. The cows were important to this family and we see they needed much of the food.

In this connection we can look at the ritual year again for resurrection se that and the pictures

Farmer's ritual year

One source tells that achet the inundation began in August and ended in October. The other periods followed with peret "coming forth" November to February a cool period. The dry period schemu with harvest is till from Mars to August.

In explaining the ritual astronomy talking about a virtual year with three seasons with four months each would be best. Still, I try to compare with our time and set New Year and beginning of achet 21st July. Some text is telling Re raises the vault the first day in the second period of peret. That must be 21st December and we can count back. Then it is from the rituals in Thebe.

New Year or Ramadan is when inundation begins about 21st July. They had a uag-feast but of a different kind maybe, because the third of the epigone days was the birthday of Seth. In the official tales he was the evil, however at many place they worshipped him as the superior.

Epigone was the five days of holiday they set in to even the year before New Year. The Greek word means "born afterwards" when 5 days was added to 12 x 30 = 360 to even a year. The Sumerians had also holidays and we call them "seven sleepers days".

They called the first period achet and in the picture it is the upper row at right and read from left. The battle between Horus and Seth began about 26th September and lasted more than a month. At the Bend of Nile in Karnak, Luxor and Thebe they celebrated the harem feast Opet for a month. They thought that as the pregnancy time and they had plenty of food after the harvest.

Below are the four wheels of peret "coming forth" and time for sowing. The first day in the second period of peret 21st December then Re, the Sun raises the vault of heaven. In plain English that means that the sun turns from the winter solstice ... I found the beginning of the yearly ritual at the Law Haugsbyn in exactly the same words.

Testing the fertility of corn

On the 12th day began the Osiris rites for the growing season. They made a mummy of corn and sand in a basin and wrapped with rush. The djed-pillar was set to slanting position. It was watered daily until 21st and was then set in the sun and perhaps on a journey until 25th of the month and they buried it in a cist. The last period was a feast until 30th when they raised the djed-pillar to vertical. At that time the pharaoh celebrated the journey to the valley. That means valley temples or tombs maybe as a search for afterlife for the death. We do not know how popular this was among people and if they also went to Underworld ceremonies.

The 12th in third peret they tell Toth the moon take over after Atum the evening sun. That means approximately Candlemas. That means that the moon takes over after the evening sun. They connected the moon to fertility and growth. They also said that Ra the Sun and Osiris made the plants, as the child of Osiris became the new plant.

The sequence is right but about the days I am not surer than my sources.

The four at left are schemu. It is time for harvest and the hot time of lions. Around Thebe the period began and ended with a feast.

From the papyrus we learn that they divided the year in twelve times thirty days and set in five to six days as a holiday. We understand the synchronisation of the sun year and the moon loops in the symbolism as a whole.

Night sky of Ramesses IV


The shortened half night sky from the tomb of Ramesses IV

The picture shows parts of the ceiling in the tomb of Ramesses IV ca 1163 - 1156. They have cut out a section in the middle with 23 figures in the lower row and three of the ships in the moon-ship row. The wall painting shows the entire Egyptian calendar in one half of the ceiling. The other half is a more detailed version that contends speculations about the night life. The same is case in another room in the tomb of Seti I similar to the calendar of Senemut with a moon calendar like that in the beginning of this chapter.

Both ceilings show the phase shift between the Age of Scorpio and Ox and the Age of Ramesess with Khnum in the lead, which is our Aries. We see it in the upper row to the left. In trhe row there is first a pillar with a bird which is Crab/Cancer, The two sitting images are our Bear-watcher and Libra, Then follow Khnum our Aries and the bird with Amun-feathers is our Eagle

The Arabians have still a 354-day year but it is running, while in ancient times they synchronised sun and moon years by counting the eleven days 354+ 11 = 365. However the Ramadan was like at half year and the winter season started then and that was the same in both big river cultures.

From the vase painting we may see that they had a half year of 9 x 22 = 198 days or nearly seven moons. Whole the year was 9 x 40 = 360 days. It a little confusing since we cannot speak about half year counting. The season of Toth the Moon was seven moons and after that followed the other season around five moons with Atum the Evening Sun as leader. However the calendar vary from temple to temple. Her I give only what we can easy explain.

Here shortly about the painting it will be discussed later in detail. In this picture a short section is cut out in the mighty picture from a ceiling. In the lower road are 22 stars and in the next row starting from the three Crows there is 16 more with Toth as the last. A star showed many of the Egyptian and Sumerian gods in the beginning of their name or as here on their head. But here they are not all gods, but specified stars to fit the decades.

However we see for an example ninth from left in the lower row is Osiris. Thus, he is a heavenly god. Five more stars ahead we see a text above the staress and it shows a Sail surely that of Argos. The upper row begins with three Crows we nowadays name Crow on the star chart. Originally this has surely been a one or three pickaxe before they invented the arder.

Under Leo is Crater, symbol of watering and Virgo with her ax is a symbol of growing. There are pairs of Hunting Dogs and they are like the three Crows on the line when new age s began.

Toth was among many other things manager of time. Here he is the last of the star year. In the lower row is also eight figures with the same serech (cartouche) above and eight presume

In the left corner crosswise are boats and remedies to determine Ramadan when the late summer moon is at its lowest. In the upper row from left are the four symbols of quarters and stars of solstices and equinoxes. First is the Eagle with Amon feathers a likely figure is found in Bohuslaen. Next is Khnum our Aries and third is a pillar maybe with a Horus hawk.

We know a similar icon from Greece. Last is pair that is our Libra and Arcturus. In the row is forty figures and probably used in the moon year. In the second row are four boats of quarters and the first have the half moon or hook used to show Ramadan sometimes. In the middle of the row are some symbols belonging to moon counting and a figure Fox on a scythe as the pole. On the Egyptian sky the pole stands low and the new moon is lying.

The crook in stern is surely the new moon or generally signs on moon boats.

In front of him is a falcon-head or symbol for time. On the upper bigger boat is Shu in the stem. Looks like good old Thot in the stern and this time as the moon and behind him a falcon-head too. On the boat there are symbols for other followers and a bundle of tools too. This is surely the achet-period and in some calendar they call the first period Thot. In the lower part picture they "catch" half the full moon at its lowest and within limits.

The roof painting in the tomb is very long and in bad condition. In few decades we have only the pictures left. Here we look at one half in suitable sections. The other half is seemingly about their speculations in the underworld of the night skies so to speak.

There are tools on all three boats and surely they were used to decide time.

On this model seeing the tools is easier. In Egypt the only way to look at the moon is in south and then follows the extreme in southwest as a limit.

The moon follows the ecliptic within five degrees and it is nearly vertical in east and west following it is not easy. The texts say that Thot take over from the evening-sun Atum. We do not know if there is any following of the sun for this shift in time.

However we know from establishment for instance in England that in some places they followed the lowest moon in the end of summer. They simply place a stone in water to south or southwest. Then the full moon seemed to roll on the stone when in its extreme orbit.

The astronomers synchronised this with a certain star "the Dog".

On this part it is in front of seven nearly identical boats. On the Senenmut calendar it is surely the sext idol from right with dog-head and a star above his name. The logic in Egypt is not easy to cope with. In this case it can be the Canis Major, the Sirius dog. However, then it was opposite to the Sumerian dog Rahu.

On the same row as the seven boats is a section with 19 moon-year symbols, which can indicate that they calculated with the long cycle of the moon.

Maybe we from here get an explanation to how they followed the star round in spite of that their year began in December. It was a quarter of a year before the beginning of year painted to begin with Gemini. They may have used another observation time to decide the ritual year.

The lower row is the beginning of that ending in the opposite dog.

We see a moon symbol in the stern and remember that Thot took over. It means they observed the moon in south and then probably full moon as counter. That is then surely from the beginning of February for seven moons ahead until the low August moon.

In the upper row we see the fix-stars of the four seasons. From left it is perhaps an owl with Amun-feathers and then above Capricorn. The next is Khnum the Egyptian Aries followed by a Bird on a Pillar for Cancer. The odd pair may be Sachmet and Neith, which are the same as Archer and Libra. These four constellations in pair opposite crosswise became order in 1159 BC in Egypt.

That suggests that they left the bull as symbol and in fact for Khnum. The ram was symbol for Amun and the leading temples since the sun king Akhenaten. Anyhow the spring equinox received the constellation about that time since we do not know which stars they included in their Khnum. In some temples they surely follow this star the entire year as we se the concept Four Khnums in many places. Later the Apis bull became the symbol and it has perhaps its origin in Thebe 3000 years earlier.

During the last millennium the zodiac we know became fashion as influence from the Babylonians. The cities were the majority and rural life they did not know about. In cities the spiritual problem is mostly a mirror for the stress when living many people near each other. Then followed the arrangement of gods in family clans.

The other side was that they saw that the ritual year of peasants seemed to lead their years as if some gods were ruling and steering the faith. Some new phenomenon were the planets and they seemed independent of the fixed year of the animal round. They became stars for the rulers and then also the ruling phenomenon. The priests created the astrology well fitted as a virtual leader for city dwellers.

If we want to see a structure it is like a mix of the Sumer-Babylonian believe in faith and the Egyptians believe in steering authorities. I believe we can connect it with a Sumerian renaissance. History repeats itself but never in the same dress. Time and evolution have added things to culture. It is not possible to 1:1 copy an older cultures because the original spirit is gone for ever.

Man always takes what he likes best and sees what He wants to see. I stress HE since He became the leader during Bronze Age. We know very little about the woman behind ... as we see from Hatsepsut they could steer with success too. This was a natural process with growth of population over a very long period. I think we can see the same evolution during my life from the rural society to the city and automation.