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Hannu, Hennu or Henenu was an Egyptian noble, serving as m-r-pr "majordomo" to Mentuhotep III in the 21st to 20th century BC. He reportedly re-opened the trade routes to Punt and Libya for the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. He was buried in a tomb in Deir el-Bahri, in Theban Necropolis, which has been catalogued as TT313.[1]

He is known from two inscriptions, in Wadi Hammamat no. 114 (ca. 2000 BC) as hnw and in his Deir el-Bahari tomb as hnnw. It is unclear whether the two inscriptions refer to the same person. William C. Hayes postulated their identity while Herbert Eustis Winlock was hesitant to identify them. James P. Allen considers hnw a successor of hnnw as the pharaoh's m-r-pr.


In the eighth year of the reign of Mentuhotep III Hannu set out from Coptos at the head of a three thousand man strong army, crossed the mountainous Eastern Desert by way of Wadi Hammamat and on to the coast of the Red Sea.

Hannu is said to have sailed down the Red Sea to explore the southeastern areas of the Arabian peninsula. He sent the ship off to the Land of Punt; though some think that he commanded it himself, the record is ambiguous.[2] After the ship's return Hannu delivered the traded goods (referred to as "gifts" or perhaps "tribute") including myrrh, precious metal and wood to the king.


Hannu wrote of his expedition in stone. Under Sankhare (Mentuhotep III), whose name occurs as the 58th on the Table of Abydus, lived a functionary named Hannu, who records on a rock-inscription, in this same valley of Hammamat, some particulars of his reign, from which it appears that the kings of this dynasty had dealings with Arabia; and the trade thus introduced directly by the valley route from Coptos to the Red Sea, seems to have revived the fallen fortunes of the old monarchy.[3]

The first voyage to the land of Punt took place under Sankh-ka-ra. According to the words of the rock inscription, everything needful was wisely prepared for the expedition, for which Pharaoh chose as leader and guide the noble Hannu, who gives us the following account of his voyage:[4]

I was sent to conduct ships to the land of Punt, to fetch for Pharaoh sweet-smelling spices, which the princes of the red land collect out of fear and dread, such as he inspires in all nations. And I started from the city of Coptos.—And his Holiness gave the command that the armed men, who were to accompany me, should be from the south-country of the Thebai'd.'[4]

After a destroyed passage of the inscription, of considerable length, of which, however, enough has been preserved to show us that the narration went on to state that the armed force was sent with the expedition to protect and defend it against the enemy, and that officers of the king, as well as stonecutters and other workpeople, accompanied it, Hannu continues:[4]

'And I set out thence with an army of 3,000 men, and passed through " the red hamlet," and through a cultivated country. I had skins and 'poles prepared to carry the vessels of water, twenty in number. And of people one carried a load daily [lacuna], . . . and another placed the load on him. And I had a reservoir of twelve perches dug in a wood, and two reservoirs at a place called Atahet, one of a perch and twenty cubits, and the other of a perch and thirty cubits. And I made another at Ateb, of ten cubits by ten on each side, to contain water of a cubit in depth. Then I arrived at the port Seba (?), and I had ships of burthen built to bring back products of all kinds. And I offered a great sacrifice of oxen, cows, and goats. And when I returned from Seba (?), I had executed the king's command, for I brought him back all kinds of products which I had met with in the ports of the Holy Land. And I came back by the road of Uak and Rohan, and brought with me precious stones for the statues of the temples. But such a thing never happened since there were kings; nor was the like of it ever done by any blood relations who were sent to these places since the time (of the reign) of the Sun-god Ra. And I acted thus for the king on account of the great favour which he entertained for me.'[4]

M. Chabas, who first laid open to our understanding |his important inscription and its contents, accompanied his translation by excellent remarks on the direction of the desert road from Coptos to the Red Sea. He shows convincingly that already in those remote times the ancient Egyptians had opened a road to establish a communication with the land of Punt, and to import its products—rare and valuable wares—into the Nile valley.[4]

Principal stations[edit]

In his account of the journey Hannu speaks of five principal stations at which the wanderer halted, and man and beast (then probably the ass, the only beast of burthen proved to have been used in those times) strengthened themselves for their further progress by enjoying the fresh drinking water. This is also the same road that, in the time of the Ptolemies and Romans, led from Coptos in an easterly direction to the harbour of Leucos Limen (now Qossier) on the Red Sea; the great highway and commercial thoroughfare of merchants of all countries, who traded in the wonderful products of Arabia and India; the bridge of the nations, which of old united Asia and Europe.[4]


  1. ^ Rasha Soliman, Old and Middle Kingdom Theban Tombs, GHP, 2009, p.112
  2. ^ e.g. Thurstan Shaw, The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns, Routledge 1993, p.590
  3. ^ John Murray, John Gardner Wilkinson (1880). Hand-book for travellers in (lower and upper) Egypt (afterw.) Handbook for Egypt and the Sudan. Being a new ed. of 'Modern Egypt and Thebes'. Page 40.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Brugsch, H. K., & Smith, P. (1881).

See also[edit]