Gerard LeBlond for www.redorbit.com – Your Universe Online
In the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, near the city of Luxor, Egyptologists from the University of Basel identified a tomb containing several children and other family members of two pharaohs.
The Valley of the Kings is located 310 miles south of Cairo. The tomb has been raided several times and fire damage made the excavation difficult. However, the discovery was of historical value.
“The remains and the walls have been heavily affected by a fire that was most likely ignited by the torches of the tomb raiders,“ Prof. Susanne Bickel said in a statement.
They had been working on tomb KV 40 for three years and discovered a depression in the ground indicating a tomb underground. The layout of the tomb and who was buried there was not known until now, however. The team assumed that it was a non-royal tomb dating to around the 18th dynasty. A six-meter-deep shaft was cleared to gain access and five chambers were found containing remains and funerary equipment debris.
In the center of the chamber and three side chambers, at least 50 mummified remains were discovered. Inscriptions were found on storage jars and after deciphering them, over 30 people were identified by name. “Prince” and “Princess” titles accompanied the names discovered, along with linking them to the two pharaohs, Thutmosis IV and Amenhotep III, who were also buried in the Valley of Kings. The pharaohs were part of the 18th dynasty, which ruled during the 14th century BC.
The inscriptions on the tomb identified at least eight hitherto unknown royal daughters, four princes and several foreign ladies buried within. The majority of the remains belonged to adults, but children were also found.
“We discovered a remarkable number of carefully mummified new-borns and infants that would have normally been buried much simpler. We believe that the family members of the royal court were buried in this tomb for a period of several decades,” Bickel explained about the findings.
Non-royal tombs have also been discovered in close vicinity of the tomb in the Valley.
“Roughly two thirds of the tombs in the Kings’ Valley are non-royal. Because the tombs do not have inscriptions and have been heavily plundered we so far have only been able to speculate on who lies buried in them,” Bickel explained.
The tombs have been raided many times over the centuries, but numerous fragments from coffins, clothing and textiles were uncovered. The researchers were also able to determine that the tomb was used a second time by members of a priestly family around the 9th century BC from these fragments.
Upon further analyses on the discovery, the burial customs and conditions of the life of the pharaonic court should been known. Prof. Bickel has lead the team on the project that began in 2009. She has been studying on how the Valley of the Kings was used. In 2012 another tomb, KV 64, was discovered with the help of Egyptian authorities and local workmen.
Image Below: Mummified remains among fragments of coffins, cloth and sherds: Tomb KV 40 was plundered several times and damaged by a fire. Credit: (Fig: Matjaz Kacicnik, University of Basel/Egyptology)