The Enigma of Tomb KV55
Who Was Who
Amarna Period chronology
The City of Akhetaten
Amarna in Museums
The Talatat Wall
Tomb KV 55
The Royal Tomb
Perhaps the most controversial find ever made in the Valley of the Kings was tomb KV55. This tomb was discovered on the 3rd of January 1907 by Edward Ayrton.
The tomb contained a number of objects which may have been returned to Thebes from Amarna. These include a large gilded shrine, originally prepared by Akhenaten for the Akhetaten burial of his mother Tiye.
On the south side of the chamber a badly decayed Rishi, or feathered, coffin was found. The mask had been torn off in antiquity, and the mummy inside was crowned with a bronze pectoral which was wrapped round the head.
There is archaeological evidence in the tomb that there were originally two mummies there. As the other contents point to the tomb being a cache of equipment brought from Akhetaten it is possible that the other mummy was that of Akhenaten himself.
The mystery of the occupant of the coffin was deepened by the removal of the Cartouches. There are various theories about this, each of which leads to a different identity for the body.
Originally it was thought that the mummy was that of queen Tiye,
but examination revealed that it was actually that of a young
male. One theory says the mummy is actually of Akhenaten himself,
but the mummy has been identified on the basis of partially erupted
wisdom teeth of being of a person of a young age would seem to
preclude this, although the wisdom tooth explanation is by no
means a certain indication of age.
The most likely occupant of the coffin is the short lived Pharaoh
Smenkhkare, who succeeded Akhenaten. Various
other objects found in the tomb could indicate a hastily arranged
burial with items from various sources gathered together. In
the tomb there are objects inscribed for Amenhotep III, Tutankhamun,
Akhenaten, and Tiye. The recent discovery of a piece of gold
foil bearing Smenkhkare's cartouche, stolen when the tomb was
opened, would seem to confirm this.
A set of Canopic jars were found in a niche at the back of
the tomb. These are generally accepted as being originally intended
for Kiya, who replaced Nefertiti
for a short time after Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign. The theory
about a hastily arranged Pharaohnic burial is strengthened by
alterations made to the brow of the jar stoppers to add the royal
Akhet © 1997 - 2008 Iain Hawkins