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Flourished Circa 2625-2170 b.c.e.

Chief valet and royal tutor


Family . In spite of his dwarfism, Seneb married a healthy woman from the royal family. They had two children, a son and a daughter. Seneb was an important official who directed the royal textile works and instructed royal children.

Disability . Seneb was a chondrodystrophic dwarf, a condition that was not uncommon in Egypt. In this disease, the face, pelvis, and extremities are ossified. The extremities are short, broad, and deformed. The trunk and cranium, however, are normal in size. Adult male dwarfs can reach a height of 47 to 51 inches. According to Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, Seneb may have been the son of Pernyankhu, who appears also to have achieved royal favor. Dasen has discovered 207 examples of such dwarfism in ancient Egyptian records.

Careers . Chondrodystrophy was not an obstacle to a successful career in Egypt. Seneb achieved high office, a family, and a prime tomb in Giza. Other dwarfs worked as jewelers, servants, and performers.


Véronique Dasen, Dwarfs in Ancient Egypt and Greece (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993; New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

Joyce Filer, Disease (London: British Museum Press, 1995).

Zahi Hawass, “The Peak and Splendour of the Old Kingdom from the Fourth Dynasty to the End of the Sixth Dynasty,” The Plateau, <>.

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