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Mummies in Egypt

Mummy bed in KV63

Hazel Heyer, eTN Staff Writer  May 01, 2009

An ancient jigsaw puzzle has been solved finally. Egypt's Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni announced that after weeks of restoration work, pieces of wood found inside a jar discovered in KV63 have proven to be the remains of a mummification bed. Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that when members of the University of Memphis archaeological mission working in the tomb found the pieces, they did not know what they were or what their function might have been. Hawass clarified that with the help of Egyptian conservator Amani Nashed, the team was finally able to reassemble the pieces to form a bed of the type used in the ancient Egyptian mummification process.

In February 2005, the University of Memphis mission led by Dr. Otto Schaden accidentally discovered KV63. It was named KV63 as Schaden’s team has located the first tomb found in the valley since Tutankhamun, bringing the number of known tombs to 63 (of which 26 belonged to kings). Previously, Howard Carter found the most celebrated tomb and the treasures of Tutankhamun (called KV62).

The pit also contained 28 clay jars and seven coffins, along with mummification materials including linen and resin. KV63 is believed to have been a storeroom for materials and objects used in the mummification process – not just a tomb for an individual, contrary to popular notion.

During initial excavation work at King Amenmesse’s in the Valley of the Kings, the University of Memphis’ mission stumbled upon a corridor that led to the entrance of another side chamber that houses seven wooden sarcophagi and 20 sealed clay jars. Further excavation revealed two additional well-preserved coffins, of which, one belongs to a child. The first sarcophagus opened is reportedly the tomb of Tutankhamun's mother Kiya who died while giving birth to the boy king. The tomb was robbed of valuable antiquities and used as a store house for embalming materials. From initial findings that include seals and inscriptions, archaeologists found a ceremonial bowl that exactly matches one found in King Tutankhamun's tomb bearing identical hieroglyphics text. Hawass said the face, depicted on top of one of the sarcophagi found, is similar to the one of the boy king’s. The nose and the cheeks are definitely Tut’s.

Five of the other tombs contained embalming materials such as natron, risen and linen have been unearthed. No mummy was ever found. The sixth sarcophagus was opened later. It revealed another small gilded sarcophagus found inside one of the six cousins’ tombs. Hawass believes it belongs to an infant. Other Egyptologists think these were used to bury shawabti figures and figurines long ago.

Following the completion of cleanup works, all hieroglyphic texts engraved on the sarcophagi were studied in an attempt to reveal more secrets of the tomb.

Although explorers and archaeologists have been combing the Valley of the Kings for centuries, not a single tomb has been found to date by an Egyptian. Hawass and his protégés hope to break this record. They are currently working in three different areas between the tombs of Merenptah and Ramesses II on the northern side of the central valley; in the area to the south of the tomb of Tutankhamun; and in the Western Valley, where the tombs of Amenhotep III and Ay are located. Each of these excavations has revealed significant finds. Hawass is committed to dig up a KV tomb.

 Mummy bed in KV63
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