|Changing venues: moving a large work-table to the other side of the Valley|
About a week ago we finished up our investigation of KV 48,
the tomb of the vizier, Amenemopet, and turned our attention to KV 60, one of
the more controversial tombs in the Valley of the Kings. It's located near the cliffs on the opposite of the Valley. The tomb is relatively small consisting of
some stairs .leading down to a corridor with a little side chamber about halfway
down. At the end of the corridor is a
square opening leading to a single burial chamber.
The tomb throughout is very crudely carved and obviously unfinished, as if quickly
made at the death of someone important enough to be buried in the Valley. Here’s a short history of its exploration:
1903: KV 60 was first encountered by English archaeologist,
Howard Carter. The tomb had been robbed
in ancient times and there were bits and pieces of objects from a destroyed
burial. In the chamber at the end of the
corridor chamber were found two female mummies: one lying on the floor and the
other in a lidless coffin bearing the name of a royal nurse named Sitre. There were
no paintings on the wall to provide additional information. Carter and a colleague surmised that perhaps
these two women were nurses of the 18th dynasty pharaoh, Thutmosis IV (c.1400- 1390 B.C.) whose royal tomb is situated
nearby. He wrote only a few comments
about the tomb in a journal article the next year. A few years later, a statue was found that indicated
that Sitre was the royal nurse of the famous female pharaoh, Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut ruled Egypt successfully (c.1473-1458) during the 18th dynasty and her reign was characterized by spectacular building projects
and foreign expeditions. There is much
speculation about her life and she is recognized as one of the great women of
ancient history. A royal and much damaged tomb in the
Valley, KV 20, belongs to her.
1906: Edward Ayrton excavated a tomb directly behind KV 60
and likely removed the nurse’s coffin and its occupant to Cairo around that time,
leaving the other mummy in the tomb. The
tomb was thereafter covered over and its exact location lost.
Egyptologist, Elizabeth Thomas, suggested that if KV 60 ever were to be
rediscovered, perhaps the remaining body therein might be the long-missing mummy of
Hatshepsut herself. Her idea was that
after most of the royal tombs were robbed around 1000 B.C, her mummy might have been removed from KV 20 by priests, and then hidden in the nearby KV 60, the tomb of
her nurse. (The comment was published in her masterful research volume on the
Valley of the Kings and other royal cemeteries, “The Royal Necropoleis of
|The entrance stairs of KV 60 as rediscovered by the PLU expedition in 1989.|
1989: The Pacific Lutheran University Valley of the Kings
Project rediscovered the tomb on its first day of work in the Valley. (It’s a great story but it will need to wait
for a future post.) We found lots of
broken up and well-preserved bits of coffins and other objects, several examples
of mummified food (“victual mummies”) meant to serve as provisions for the
deceased, and a female mummy lying on the floor. It was striking what some argue is a pose for
royal females: left arm bent diagonally across the body with a clenched left
hand and the right arm straight alongside the body. We found nothing in the tomb to indicate her
identity, although we reconstructed a once gold-gilded face-piece from a coffin
that has a notch for a beard – a symbol of royalty.
|The mummy as seen on the floor of the burial chamber of KV 60.|
|A reconstructed fragment from a shattered coffin lid found in KV 60. They eyes and eyebrows were once inlaid and the face gilded with gold.|
2006: The head of Egyptian antiquities, Zahi Hawass,
removed the mummy (which he named KV 60-A) to Cairo as part of a study to
identify Hatshepsut’s mummy from among several possibilities. He originally speculated that the mummy in the nurse's coffin (KV 60-B) could be the queen, but then changed his mind.
|The mummy from KV 60. Hatshepsut?|
|The coffin fragment, cleaned of black resin, reveals a painting and a name.|
2007: Zahi Hawass announces that KV 60-A is indeed the mummy
of Hatshepsut. The identification method
was unique. A wooden box bearing the
name of Hatshepsut, and containing what appeared to be some mummified internal
organs, was CT-scanned and a tooth was found within; a specific tooth with a
broken root. It seems to have been a
perfect fit in the mouth of KV 60-A and the announcement of the identification
was an international sensation. (There
was also a Discovery Channel documentary made on the subject: Secrets of Egypt’s Lost
2007: The PLU Valley
of the Kings Project examined a large fragment of coffin found in KV 60. It was covered with black resin and when a
local conservator cleaned it, a beautiful painting of the goddess Nephthys was
revealed along with a funerary inscription.
The inscription indicates that the coffin belonged to a female temple singer by
the name of Ty.
2014: I (Donald P. Ryan) presented a conference paper entitled,
“Who is really buried in KV-60?” which considered the various possibilities for
the tomb’s history. Have the mummies
been accurately identified? Is one of
them really Hatshepsut? Are there three
women involved with this tomb (Sitre, Ty and Hatshepsut) or is it some sort of
mummy cache? Would KV 60 simply be
considered the tomb of a royal nurse and a temple singer had Elizabeth Thomas
not thrown the name Hatshepsut in the mix?
These are all interesting questions and the story of KV-60 isn’t over
yet. (A version of my conference paper has recently been published as “KV 60:
Ein rätselhaftes Grab in Tal der Könige." In, Michael Höveler-Müller, ed., 2015, Das Hatschepsut-Puzzle.
|Our new protective door reveals the upper steps of KV 60.|
2015: The PLU Valley of the Kings Project installed a special
door over the entrance to KV 60 and added a descriptive sign.
2016: We revisited KV 60 in order to find any additional
clues. A thorough examination of all the
mummy wrappings stored in the tomb kept us busy but unfortunately added nothing new. We did, however, make a great improvement by
removing a rock wall installed in front of the entrance of the tomb’s
underground corridor in 1989. Now, for
the first time in 25 years, the lower steps of KV 60 are once again revealed.
|Examining boxes full of mummy wrappings in the burial chamber in 2016.|
|Clearing away the old wall blocking the lower steps.|
Believe me, the above is the short version. KV 60 remains both enigmatic and controversial and someday perhaps...maybe...we’ll figure
out its true story.