KV55 – 100 years later Lyla Pinch Brock of Royal Ontario Museum
This January will see the 100 year anniversary of the discovery of KV55, it is located next to the new rest house and the tomb plan can be found on the Theban Mapping Project website. It is below KV5 and 6
The tomb was found under the auspices of Theodore Davies by Edward Aryton and the Inspector from the Antiquities service was Arthur Weigall. (More details here http://freespace.virgin.net/d.soper/reports/weigal.htm)
Prior to the finding of KV55 notes sent to Davies aboard his dahabiyya tell of a discovery of a tomb that was not a tomb containing a set of storage jars of which only 2 are left.
Aryton was alone at the time of discovery, he found a gilded shrine in a poor state of preservation which was filled in at the time of Maya (Tutankamun’s official), in the niche a set of canopic jars and a poor condition gilded coffin. The gilding and plaster on the shrine had ‘slid’ down the wood.
The photographs taken of the site were not taken till 4 days later and there is a lot of controversy as a result. Davies believed it was Queen Tiye and never gave up on that belief even though the bones were that of a male.
Harold Jones did many drawings of the shrine which shows Akhenaton with Tiye. He drew many other discoveries, while he was working in the gold tomb he died shortly afterwards and is buried in the foreigners graveyard in Luxor. He had come to Egypt as he had TB
Round the head of the mummy was a gold Mut necklace which was an odd thing to have in the reign of Akhenaton, it was wrapped around the skull. There were also 4 magic bricks and a gold necklace which was found by scrabbling around in the water under the mummy. The coffin lost some of its features during cleaning and restoration and recently Kemet has published some gold foil from the tomb.
Lyla Pinch Brock stated that everyone believes this is the mummy of Akhenaton and it is 26 years old with 2 molars unerupted.
A gold cobra was found which was possibly part of a crown but in her opinion was from the top of a shrine.
4 canopic jars were found 3 of which are in the Cairo museum and 1 is in the Met having been given to Theodore Davies who passed it to them firstly the body and kept the head as a paper weight for many years then passed it as well to the museum.
There are articles from the tomb in the Cairo, Met, Swansea and Chicago. Those in the Swansea were given by Harold Jones. Carter found a few fragments of jewellery also Mrs Emma Andrews kept a diary in which she drew a diagram of the tomb which is very valuable today.
Entering the tomb at this time she was surprised to find a lot of material still inside the tomb and as a consequence she applied for and got the concession to do a final clearance. There was rubble inside as although Davies had installed iron doors these had long gone. In the entrance you could still see signs of the blocking. Inside there was pottery and lots of packing debris from Harry Burtons use of the tomb as a photographic studio during the clearance of Tutankamun. There were plaster jar sealings and mud sealings, various kinds of jars, ostrachon and a wine jar. There was an object from the estates of Sitamun. The contents of one jar appeared to be wine residue and the pottery was similar to that in the royal tomb at Amarna. The ostrachon showed part of a tomb plan with a descending corridor. Additionally there was a door sealing and part of the sarcophagus of Merenptah. Lots of these royal sarcophagi get broken up into many pieces and these get scattered. Work was done by Earl Ertman, Ted Brock and herself. They found gold foil and gold beads, the later might be original or could have fallen of jewellery of Tutankamun when Burton was photographing.
There were masons marks on the West wall about a cubit apart possible indicating that a pillared hall had been planned. Also water marks showing the height of the debris and marks of the shrine which left gesso and gold. These answered the question about whether the shrine was gilded on both sides and it was. She showed a detailed drawing of the West Wall. There were possible gang marks graffiti. There was also evidence of an attempt to remove the shrine which left marks
The team received a conservation grant which enabled them to preserve the plaster which has the history of the tomb written all over it with things like the hand prints of the original workers. The tomb has moved since it was plastered resulting in a considerable gap between plaster and stone some times as much as 3-4 inches. The stairs were also repaired.
The team were allowed to investigate the canopic jars in the Cairo museum. These jars were cobbled together and the heads would have normally have been part of a box arrangement rather than jar tops. Similar to that of Tutankamun. They had marks on the rim indicating number and they contained material. Maybe in the future DNA could be extracted from this. The heads had been extensively recarved and the cartouches shaved off.
In 1998 the old rest house was removed and at that time a hole was seen that could be KVC, this was the tomb that was not a tomb and Aryton had discovered it and sent a note to Davies dahabiyya say he had found a tomb but 2 hours later sent another note saying it was not a tomb. It is now covered by the rest house.
Jars were found above with double nefer signs and she thinks they are 18th dynasty while others think 20th. They were imported and there are 3 other examples Seti I and Ram I, Tel Borg insignia and one at the temple of Merenptah. They are much later than KV55 so might have been for Rameses IX
The necklace found in tomb 93, Enkonmi, Cyprus in 1800’s if reconstructed accurately then it gives us more clues about the necklace found in KV55.
The bottom of the coffin found its way into the hands of a dealer and was restored and repatriated to Egypt in the 1980’s
Recently another photo of the tomb has been located from a different angle and taken at a different time possible by Linden Smith who mentions that he had a box camera. This photo shows material on the ledge of the niche where later photos showed a notebook and helps identify other objects more clearly. He left a lot of letters in which he obliquely refers to KV55 but there is more in his biography.
A TV program with Josh Bernstein and Narri Iskinder called Digging for the Truth told of the skull being large and heavy with a frail skeleton. It also talks about this being a cache tomb. In Year 5 Tutankamun brought burials from Amarna and these were put in the valley like KV63. In KV36 there is another cache with 3 bodies an old woman, a young man and a boy. It is possible that these were the bodies taken out of the coffins found in KV63 so as to obscure their identity.
Q and A
There was a question asked about Tutankamun and didn’t he leave Amarna in Year 2
Ray Johnson asked her thoughts on whether the shrine had actually been set up in the tomb which was previous thoughts but she thinks not. There was not stone sarcophagus as this was left at Amarna.
There was comment about the coffin being made for a 5’ 3” person but the body was 5’ 6” and as many theories as there are Egyptologists.
In response to a question she restated the skeleton was 26 years old and she is adamant it is Akhenaton. When quizzed could it have been Smenkare she stated that Smenkare was just another name for Nefertiti
This lecture was interesting but I am honoured bound to point out that this is not the only view about this tomb and a search on the internet using the keyword KV55 brings up over 12,000 web pages; there are almost that many theories about various aspects of KV55 including who was buried there. See also http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/kv55.htm
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December 8th, 2006