Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings

Location: Map

Used: 16th- 11th century BC

Tombs: 63

Description of the Valley of the Kings

The remote and barren Valley of the Kings was chosen for a necropolis by the pharaohs of the New Kingdom to offer better safety to their earthly remains. Since body preservation was an important part of Egyptian belief system Egyptian leaders wanted a safe place for their tombs. All of pyramids were robbed at some point at time during internal revolutions and invasions, so a new and permanent solutions had to be designed. The pharaohs of the new kingdom, starting with Thutmose I started building their tombs in a secret location in the Saqqara desert. Workers that actually dug their future graves were subsequently executed to keep the mystery of the valley hidden from the rest of the population. This plan did not work out as well as they hoped and only two tombs remained intact, one of Yuyi Tuji and infamous tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamen that was discovered 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon. The last offered modern archaeologists and historians a particular reach source of information about life in the Ancient Egypt. Despite the fact that the tomb was constructed hastily due to unexpected death of a young pharaoh it still impressed discoverers with magnificent artefacts, statues, golden objects and other items. Unlike other tombs it lack any frescoes on the walls. Apparently there was no time for that. The tomb itself was broken in, but robbers were probably caught and subsequently killed. Anyhow the tomb was resealed soon thereafter.


Morphological and geographical aspects

The valley covers an area of about 0.7 km² and consists of a wadi carved out by ancient rivers and the rains that eroded the limestone.

In fact, topographically, it is made up of two separate branches: while the main, eastern branch houses most of the royal tombs known today, the wider western branch, known as the west valley ("west valley"), now houses a very small number of burials.

Originally, the election of this particular wadi (valley) as a royal burial place very probably derived from different morphological-geographical factors as well as safety and religious factors. A first reason was of a strictly practical nature: the limestone of which the valley is made up is in fact easily excavated and workable, which also allowed the equally simple possibility of obtaining fairly smooth walls on which to make reliefs and paint.

From the point of view of security, the valley has only one access, which allowed it to be easily monitored by sentinels who were placed on the ridges overlooking it.

The relative proximity to the Nile is not to be considered of little importance, which allowed the easy landing and the reaching of the locality by the funeral processions of the kings, as well as the easy transport of the many, and often very heavy, funerary furnishings.


Geological structure

The Valley of the Kings is geologically structured in three main layers:
Theban white limestone (from 300 m above sea level - average height of the Theban hills - to 150 m);
schist, called Esna (from 150 to about 90 m above sea level);
Dakhla plaster (from 90 m).

A clear example of the morphological differentiation of the soil is given by the tomb KV17, of Seti I, in which the upper part of the burial chamber was excavated in the Theban limestone layer, while the lower part in the schist rock.

These different rock formations were greatly influenced in the late Tertiary period by erosion caused by the Nile and its smaller tributaries and tributaries during a period of heavy rains in the early Pleistocene. Unfortunately, the conditions that gave rise to the birth of the Valley of the Kings could also be the cause of its destruction since the limestone rock, relatively soft to work, is equally easily susceptible to modifications due to rainwater infiltration which, although scarce in the area, can sometimes becoming even torrential due to heavy rains in the surrounding desert areas.

Originally, with the XVIII dynasty, tombs began to be excavated in the "walls of the valley" or by exploiting the "bed" of ancient waterfalls; in this case, precisely this characteristic has meant that their entrances have been covered, over the millennia, by debris dragged down by the rains.

From the end of the XVIII, and then during the XIX dynasty, on the contrary, the tombs were instead dug in the bed of the valley, creeping underground; for this characteristic, in fact, they are the tombs that have suffered the most over the millennia from the infiltration of rainwater.

Lastly, the tombs of the 20th dynasty were dug inside the walls of the valley, at ground level, under spurs of more compact rock, and are the ones that have suffered least from water infiltration.

Also due to telluric movements that have occurred over the millennia, the valley is crossed by geological fissures, the largest of which, known as the "Valley of the Kings" fault, runs north-south along the west side of the valley and divides the land in different areas one of which includes the relief overlooking the tomb of Ramses III. In some places, over the millennia, the fault has caused the land to shift by up to 30 m.


Religious aspects: Mertseger

To factors of a practical nature for the choice of the Valley, others of a religious nature were added; the goddess Hathor, connected to the idea of rebirth of the deceased pharaohs, was in fact the protector of the Theban mountain area and the Valley was also dominated by a sacred mountain, the ancient Dehenet ("The forehead"), which was the kingdom of goddess Meret-Seger, or "She who loves silence". Furthermore, only from the Valley, and only from this perspective, does the summit clearly recall the shape of a pyramid.

However, the term "Valley", as mentioned above, could be considered misleading since it is actually a matter of two confluent valleys, a western one which hosts, to date, only 4 burials, and an eastern one where other 61 tombs have been discovered, for a total of 65, not considering other excavations (the so-called "wells") used in antiquity as minor burials, or of animals, or as deposits of waste material or furnishings used for the funeral ceremonies officiated in the Valley.

As for safety, which was supposed to be guaranteed by the only access and by the sentinels stationed on the ridges overlooking the valley, this was in fact already violated in historical times so that all the tombs known today were looted. Some of these intrusions occurred, almost certainly, by the work or in any case with the complicity of the guardians themselves. In any case, however, the people in charge of the Valley, and the priests who looked after the cult of the individual sovereigns buried there, arranged to put the looted tombs back in order as far as possible, closing them and re-affixing the seal of the necropolis.


Tombs architecture

From a strictly architectural point of view, it is possible to detect differences between the tombs, according to the dynasty to which they belong.

In fact, the Valley hosts, as mentioned, burials belonging to the XVIII, XIX, and XX dynasties; preliminarily, as a common factor, the sequence is highlighted according to a logical scheme which foresees four architectural passages which develop independently of the planimetric structure: in fact, an entrance is followed by a "sanctuary in which the gods of the east and west rest "; a little further on opens a "waiting room", then a first colonnaded hall also known as the "cart room" followed by the funeral chamber (or "second colonnaded hall"), also known as the "gold room", which houses the sarcophagus.


XVIII dynasty

The tomb develops downwards, through the use of stairs carved into the rock.

From a planimetric point of view (see schematic representation), the tombs of the XVIII dynasty develop according to a "bent" or "elbowed" axis, in fact taking up the structure of the existing passages in the previous pyramidal burials of the Middle Kingdom. This trend referred to the contorted and dangerous path that, according to the sacred texts, the sun must travel with the solar boat in its nocturnal journey in order to rise again in the morning; likewise the deceased pharaoh would be resurrected in the afterlife. However, it cannot be excluded that the first tombs of this dynasty were structured in such a way as to adapt to the shape of the rocks in which they were dug, following natural lines that are easier to work with.

The entrance is generally preceded by a stairway, followed by a descending corridor which flows into the "Sanctuary where the gods of the east and west rest". These are essentially two niches dug into the opposite walls, probably with a practical function: given the weight of the furnishings and especially of the sarcophagus, during the transport phase inside the tomb, here they proceeded to a first stop for effective rest.

Other rooms that perhaps had the same practical (as well as ritual) utility were the "Waiting Room" where, moreover, the vault was organized that the sarcophagus would have had to complete in order to begin its descent towards the burial chamber, and the "first room colonnade".

Finally, in the "gold room", the sarcophagus is placed at right angles to the access corridor to the burial chamber.

It is interesting to note that, at least for the first tombs of this dynasty, the burial chamber has rounded corners, thus reproducing the figure of the cartouche in plan view.


19th dynasty

With the tombs of the 19th dynasty there is a rectification of the previous convoluted path, but still the entrance and the burial chamber are misaligned (see diagram) and still the achievement of the burial chamber takes place by sometimes very steep stairs.

Contrary to what happened with those of the previous XVIII dynasty, whose entrances were sealed with stones, the accesses to the tombs were barred with wooden doors to allow, together with the security service which presided over the valley from foreign intrusions, easier and more frequent inspections by the officials in charge.

In some cases, in the first colonnaded hall there was a further side chamber (not shown in the diagram) which, sometimes completely finished, was to serve as a false burial chamber in an attempt to discourage any looters.

Also in these burials the sarcophagus is positioned at right angles to the entrance corridor.


20th dynasty

With the XX dynasty the definitive simplification of the tomb structure was reached in a purely practical key: the burial in fact opens at ground level, even if the path is still downhill, but the stairs were eliminated and the corridors were widened. Entrance and burial chamber are positioned on the same axis and the sarcophagus is also positioned on the same axis.

As proof of the eminently practical value of the niches existing in the "Sanctuary where the gods of the east and west rest" of the previous dynasties, in the tombs of the XX they disappear. However, there is a well along the access corridor whose purpose, as well as guaranteeing additional relative safety, was mainly to collect rainwater thus avoiding the flooding of the tomb.

In the complex of changes that occurred with this dynasty, the practical intention that tended to guarantee saving of resources both for the material construction of the site and for the burial operations in the strict sense is evident.


The sacred texts

Not all the tombs in the Valley have reliefs or wall paintings, however, when these do appear, in most cases they are sacred texts which, from the 18th dynasty, became part of the equipment of royal burials and which must accompany the deceased on his journey to the Duat, the afterlife, to allow him to live again in the afterlife. The texts generally take the form of collections of formulas, or sayings, or stories centered on the nocturnal journey of the sun god (in his various manifestations) and his struggle with the forces of evil (including the serpent Apopi) who attempt, at night , to stop it so as not to resurrect it in the morning. Normally indicated with the title of Book, they are usually shown in wall reliefs, but also as decorations on sarcophagi or more rarely, for obvious reasons of fragility of the support, transcribed on papyrus.


Table "A": distribution of sacred texts

Table "A", with double entry, shows in the "owner" column the sovereign for whom the tomb was built; in correspondence with each tomb, on the lines, marked with an "X", the presence of the individual sacred texts (books), complete or in chapters, contained in each tomb. This table, chronological by dynasty and by assumption of the throne by individual kings, allows, however, to analyze the evolution in the use of sacred texts whose use in the funerary field began with the XVIII dynasty which was limited, largely part, to Amduat alone (also known as "Book of what is in the afterlife", or "Book of the Hidden Chamber"), and then evolve up to the XX with the birth of the Book of the Earth.


The numbering system of the graves

There are currently 65 burials discovered in the Valley, all cataloged with the initials "KV" (King's Valley) followed by progressive numbers from 1 to 65.

The numbering, however, has nothing to do with the titulars' progression on the throne; in 1827, in fact, the English Egyptologist John Gardner Wilkinson numbered the tombs already discovered from 1 to 22 following the geographical order from north to south. Only from that date onwards, i.e. from KV23, does the number correspond to the order of discovery.

In some cases the numbering of some tombs in the west valley is preceded by the abbreviation "WV", or West Valley, but it should be remembered that the numbering still refers to the Valley of the Kings and, by way of example, the tomb WV23 of Ay , corresponds, in fact, to KV23.


List of graves

Howard Carter underlined that, despite the fascinating history of the Valley, this would have nothing to offer in itself, for further thematic study, since its importance is not intrinsic, but derives from its content.

In this sense, keeping in mind what has been said above on the numbering of the tombs started by Wilkinson, the Valley of the Kings hosts.

KV1: holder Ramses VII (20th dynasty); location known since antiquity, cleared and reopened in 1906;
KV2: titular Ramses IV (XX Dynasty); location known since antiquity, cleared and reopened in 1906;
KV3: never used as a burial (perhaps intended for Ramses III or a son of him); excavated around 1820;
KV4: last tomb excavated in the valley perhaps for Ramses XI (XX Dynasty); location known since ancient times;
KV5: sons of Ramses II (19th dynasty); at the end of the 19th century the Egyptologist James Burton visited it and mapped nine rooms, proceeding no further or with emptying operations; since 1995 the tomb has been excavated by the Theban Mapping Project, headed by the US Egyptologist Kent R. Weeks, proving to be the largest in the Valley since, to date, there are about 150 rooms. The liberation works are still in progress (2017);
KV6: titular Ramses IX (XX dynasty); location known from antiquity, reopened in 1888; holder's mummy found in 1881 in the Deir el-Bahari cache (cataloged as DB320);
KV7: holder Ramses II (19th dynasty); known since antiquity, it was subject to at least two documented lootings during the twenty-ninth year of the reign of Ramses III as shown in the Papyrus of the Turin strike. During the XXI dynasty the mummy of Ramses II was first moved to KV17, then to the DB320 cache of Deir el-Bahari where it was found in 1881:
KV8: Titular Merenptah (19th dynasty); tomb used in the 19th dynasty as burial of Merenptah, in the Greco-Roman period and in the Byzantine period;
KV9: titular Ramses VI (20th dynasty); tomb begun for Ramses V, continued and usurped by his successor Ramses VI. It is not known whether the two rulers shared the burial. The entrance corridor is superimposed on the KV62 tomb of Tutankhamun whose almost complete integrity is due to the huts of the workers who worked on the construction of this tomb built above the access to the tomb below;
KV10: holder(s) Amenmesse (19th dynasty, but there is no evidence of a burial of the king in this tomb), then of the queens Takhat and Baketwerel of the 20th dynasty;
KV11: titular Ramses III (XX Dynasty); the tomb was begun for Sethnakht, but was abandoned when excavations resulted in the nearby tomb KV10. The tomb was later completed for Ramses III by enlarging it;
KV12: owner unknown; the absence of reliefs or wall paintings does not allow us to date the tomb which probably dates back to the XVIII dynasty; however, it is believed that it was used, perhaps as a multiple burial for members of the ruling house, during the 19th and 20th dynasties;
KV13: titular Bay first royal scribe under Seti II and later chancellor under Siptah (19th dynasty); subsequently reused as burial of the princes Mentuherkhepeshef and Amonherkhepshef, sons of Ramses III (20th dynasty);
KV14: holders Tausert, queen wife of Siptah, last exponent of the XIX dynasty, and Sethnakht, founder of the XX dynasty; several stages of expansion have been identified by Hartwig Altenmüller coinciding with the different levels acquired by Queen Tausert, first as royal wife, then as co-regent of her husband Siptah, and then as autonomous queen. It is believed that Seti II was originally buried in this tomb and was later moved to KV15. Queen Tausert's sarcophagus, however, was reused in KV13 for the burial of Prince Amonherkhepshef. Reused as tomb of Sethnakht, Tausert's successor, whose images and cartouches superimposed on those of the queen;
KV15: titular Seti II (19th dynasty); Seti II's body is believed to have originally been buried in KV14 and then moved to this tomb, which was quickly completed, when KV14 became the burial of Sethnakht. However, the mummy of Seti II was again transferred to KV35 to save it from looting;
KV16: holder Ramses I (19th dynasty); only the entrance and two corridors were completed on the death of Ramses I. The poor condition of the sarcophagus shows that the tomb was looted perhaps during the 20th or 21st dynasty when the mummy of Ramses I was first transferred to KV17 and then, in the year tenth reign of Saamen, in cache DB320.
KV17: titular Seti I (19th dynasty); also known as Tomba Belzoni, it was used as a temporary burial place for Ramses I and Ramses II whose bodies were then transferred to the DB320 cache;
KV18 unfinished, perhaps planned for Ramses X of the 20th dynasty and subsequently invaded by alluvial deposits; in 1903 Howard Carter used its entrance for the installation of an electric generator for the lighting of some tombs in the Valley;
KV19: originally intended for Ramses Setherkhepeshef (later Ramses VIII), later intended for Prince Ramses Mentuherkhepershef, son of Ramses IX;
KV20 originally Thutmose I, later enlarged to accommodate Hatshepsut (XVIII dynasty); during the reign of Thutmose III the body of I Thutmose was transferred to KV38;
KV21: owner unknown; when it was discovered in 1817 by Giovanni Battista Belzoni, it contained two female mummies who, due to the posture of the arms (left arm folded over the chest), were supposed to be two queens. After the discovery, the tomb was vandalized by unknown persons and the two mummies dismembered in search of precious amulets;
KV22: begun under Thutmose IV (materials found in the foundation deposit are dedicated to him), decorated and completed under Amenhotep III who was buried there (XVIII dynasty); Queen Tiy and Princess Sitamon, wife and daughter of Amenhotep III respectively, are also believed to have been buried there; the king's body was transferred to KV35 during the reign of Smendes I (21st dynasty);
KV23: holder Ay (XVIII dynasty); it is believed that the tomb was intended for Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten, Smenkhara or for Tutankhamun who was originally buried here before being transferred to KV62; Ay's burial in this tomb is doubtful, which is supposed on the basis of funerary furnishings bearing his cartouche;
KV24: owner unknown, probably dating back to the 18th dynasty; the discovery of furnishings dating back to the Roman and Coptic periods indicate that the tomb was reused several times for at least five different burials starting from the Third Intermediate Period and the XXII dynasty;
KV25: titular not known, perhaps Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten (XVIII Dynasty); the tomb dates back to the last period of the XVIII dynasty, but was never completed. During the Third Intermediate Period (dynasties XXI and XXII) the tomb was reused as a burial for eight mummies and, perhaps, on that occasion the material dating back to the XVIII from KV23 was deposited;
KV26: owner unknown; known from antiquity, unused, possibly dating back to the 18th dynasty;
KV27: owner unknown; known from antiquity, unused, perhaps datable to the XVIII dynasty due to pottery fragments from the reign of Thutmose IV or Amenhotep III;
KV28: vase fragments indicate the holder, perhaps, in Thutmose IV (XVIII dynasty);
KV29: owner unknown; the tomb is inaccessible and perhaps consists of a single chamber still full of debris;
KV30: owner unknown; from this tomb, or perhaps from KV31, would come an anthropoid sarcophagus in quartz, dating back to the XVIII dynasty, found by Giovanni Battista Belzoni in 1817 and donated to the British Museum by Somerset Lowry-Corry, 2nd Earl of Belmore;
KV31: owner unknown; from this tomb still full of debris, or perhaps from KV30, would come an anthropoid sarcophagus in quartz, dating back to the XVIII dynasty, found by Giovanni Battista Belzoni in 1817 and donated to the British Museum by Somerset Lowry-Corry, 2nd Earl of Belmore;
KV32: titular is Queen Tia'a, wife of Amenhotep II, identified through the indications given on a canopic jar found there in 2000;
KV33: holder perhaps Thutmose III, or another member of the royal family or of the Vizier Rakhmira (XVIII dynasty) (never used);
KV34: holder Thutmose III (XVIII dynasty); the tomb was built in nine different stages, each completed. It was looted in antiquity and the sarcophagus and many furnishings were heavily damaged; the body of Thutmose III, still inside his sarcophagus, was moved to cache DB320 during the XXI dynasty;
KV35: titular Amenhotep II (XVIII Dynasty); during the 21st dynasty the tomb was used as a storehouse for the mummies of Thutmose IV, Amenhotep III, Merenptah, Seti II, Siptah, Ramses IV, Ramses V, Ramses VI, for a female mummy known as the Elder Woman (transl. Old Lady) , which some scholars have indicated as Tiy, and for another male mummy possibly from Sethnakht. Finally, in the same tomb were found the mummies of Amenhotep II, of his son Ubensenu and of an unknown woman (once mistakenly identified with Nefertiti), nicknamed The Younger Lady and genetically found to be the daughter of Amenhotep III, sister of the male mummy of the tomb KV55 (probably Akhenaten) and mother of Tutankhamun;
KV36: titular Maiherpera prince of the royal harem of Thutmose IV, perhaps son of Hatshesput who died at around twenty (XVIII dynasty); the tomb was found almost intact because, after a theft inside it, in the Ramesside period, it was once again arranged and resealed;
KV37: owner unknown; plan and location probably indicate the 18th dynasty. Probably used as a burial, due to the many fragments from different other tombs and from different historical periods, without apparent logic, it is believed that it was used as a deposit by thieves;
KV38: titular perhaps Thutmose I (XVIII dynasty); due to its size and shape, it is believed that the tomb was already originally intended for Thutmose I (one of the first kings to be buried in the Valley), but subsequent studies tend to indicate that the king's body was first buried in KV20 which, subsequently enlarged, hosted Hatshepsut, and that the KV38 translation of Thutmose I was later performed by order of Thutmose III;
KV39: holder perhaps Amenhotep I (XVIII dynasty); three distinct phases of construction of the tomb have been identified;
KV40: owner unknown; still full of debris and not accessible;
KV41: titular, perhaps, Queen Tetisheri, wife of Senekhtenra Ahmose (XVII dynasty); if confirmed, it would be, ever, the first tomb built in the Valley;
KV42: intended for Queen Hatshepsut-Meryet-Ra, wife of Thutmose III (XVIII dynasty) as shown by the materials found in 1921 from the foundation deposit; it was probably never used for the queen, who was perhaps buried in the KV35 of her son Amenhotep II. The tomb was probably used for Senetnay, wife of the mayor of Thebes Sennefer (XVIII dynasty);
KV43: holder Thutmose IV (XVIII dynasty); hieratic inscriptions in the first chamber of the tomb inform that it was rearranged in Horemheb's eighth regnal year; during the 21st dynasty the king's body was transferred to KV35;
KV44: owner unknown; it is believed that it could have been prepared for Anen, son of Yuya and Tuia and perhaps his wife. The tomb was reused during the 22nd dynasty as the burial of Tentkerer, "Lady of the house" under Osorkon I. In the 1990s, during cleaning work, the remains of seven other different bodies were found inside;
KV45: titular Userhat (?) supervisor of the fields of Amun (XVIII dynasty), attribution deriving from fragments of canopic jars and from a scarab found in 1902; reused during the XXII dynasty for the burial of two irrecoverable bodies;
KV46: holders Yuya and Tuia, parents of Queen Tiy, wife of Amenhotep III (XVIII dynasty); Evidence of three separate thefts which occurred inside KV46 was found, of which at least two during the construction works of tombs KV3 and KV4 since access was blocked with waste material from these two excavations;
KV47: Siptah titular (19th dynasty); inside the tomb, the king's relief cartouches had been chiseled and later restored by painting. Considering Siptah a usurper, damnatio memoriae has been considered to have been perpetrated in the late 19th dynasty for political reasons. The mummy of Siptah was found in KV35;
KV48: titular Amenemipet (also known as Pairy), brother of Sennefer, mayor of Thebes, vizier and governor during the reign of Amenhotep II (XVIII dynasty); the proximity to the KV35, where the king was buried, demonstrates the high esteem in which the official was held by the sovereign;
KV49: owner unknown; possibly used as a burial at the end of the New Kingdom;
KV50: owner unknown; with the tombs KV51 and KV52 they are known as "the tombs of the animals" since they contained the no longer existing mummies; in this one a dog and a monkey were buried; the proximity to the KV35 has led to believe that they were the favorite animals of Amenhotep II;
KV51: owner unknown; it contained the mummies of three monkeys, a baboon, an ibis, and three geese;
KV52: owner unknown; inaccessible and never exactly mapped; contained the mummy of a monkey; the only significant object found was an ostrakon with the text: Hori chief scribe of the Place of Truth (Deir el-Medina);
KV53: owner unknown; inaccessible and never exactly mapped;
KV54: owner unknown, very likely it is only a well in which objects abandoned by the thieves of Tutankhamun's KV62 were placed;
KV55: titular perhaps Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten, or queen Tiy, or Smenkhara (XVIII dynasty); it is believed that the tomb, in bad condition also due to considerable water infiltration over the millennia, originally contained remains from the tombs of Amarna subsequently distributed in other burials. Originally closed with limestone blocks with the seal of the necropolis, the corridor was subsequently filled with debris and at least one attempted intrusion has been found after this expedient. Resealed during the 20th dynasty, debris from the excavation of nearby KV6 by Ramses IX was dumped at its entrance. The presence of furnishings and symbols dating back to various eighteenth-century personalities, and the almost total lack of excavation diaries by the discoverers, has meant that numerous questions have arisen around this tomb, including its occupant today generally referred to as Amenhotep IV / Akhenaton ;
KV56: titular not known, possibly a son of Seti II; the presence of objects bearing the names of Tausert, Seti II and Ramses II led to the assumption that they were material from Tausert's KV14, usurped by Sethnakht. Other studies have identified it as the tomb of a son of Seti II and Tausert due to a few traces of gold laminated stucco probably coming from a small sarcophagus.;
KV57: holder Horemheb (18th dynasty); the broken sarcophagus and the poor condition of a container for canopic jars and other funerary furnishings show that the tomb was looted. Some accounts in hieratic writing present in the tomb, and dating back to the XXI dynasty, show that the premises were used as a burial warehouse for other mummies then removed and probably transferred to KV35;
KV58: owner unknown, perhaps deposit of grave goods associated with nearby KV57; the presence of materials related to Ay also led to the assumption that it was a cache of material stolen from KV23;
KV59: owner unknown; no information about the tomb and its discovery; already known in the 1800s, it was perhaps excavated by Howard Carter in 1921;
KV60: titular, perhaps Sit-Ra also known as In, nurse of Hatshepsut (XVIII dynasty). Two mummies were found in the tomb, one of which, of Sit-Ra, is today in Cairo while the other is still in the tomb and is believed to be that of Hatshepsut, transferred here under Thutmose III;
KV61: owner unknown; upon discovery it was thought it could be the entrance to a larger tomb, in reality it is little more than a well about 1.70 m deep;
KV62: titular Tutankhamen (XVIII dynasty); the only one found almost intact, it was probably intended for a high court official (perhaps Ay before becoming pharaoh). It was sacked at least twice as indicated by the seals of the necropolis affixed to the entrances. Probably rearranged for the last time under Horemheb, its existence was forgotten and the closure was buried under layers of debris from the excavation of later tombs;
KV63: titular perhaps Ankhesepaaton;
KV64: holder Nehemes Bastet;
KV65 owner unknown.
As highlighted above, the owners of some hypogea have also been identified by means of foundation deposits. These were pits that collected various offerings and sacred objects that were buried in the land chosen for the construction of a tomb or a temple. This took place in the presence of the pharaoh, the priests and the workers during the sacred ceremony which identified the choice of the site.


The workers' village

Such a vast area, so important in the political-religious panorama of ancient Egypt and whose use will last for about 5 centuries, necessarily needed specialized workers dedicated full time to the design, excavation of tombs, as well as their decoration and security.

To the southeast, not far from the valley and separated from it only by a ridge, there was therefore a residential settlement that housed the workers, craftsmen and artists, who worked on the construction and maintenance of the tombs in the valley, and were known as " the servants of the Place of Truth".

This is the village of Deir el-Medina, one of the three villages destined for Egyptian workers that we know of.

The place where the village stands, of which we have however news since the XI dynasty, is relatively far from the Nile and is surrounded by walls, probably with a defensive intent, but perhaps more with a restrictive intent of the freedom of the workers, who were however, in all other respects, free and regularly employed.

The village included homes for workers and officials; the population, on average, never exceeded one hundred to one hundred and fifty units in a decidedly cosmopolitan environment, cosmopolitanism confirmed by the presence of 16 temples of as many divinities, not all of the Egyptian pantheon, including Osiris, Hathor, Ptah, Mertseger, the kings deified Amenofi I (to whom we owe the choice of the Valley for the royal burials and probably the foundation of the village) and Ramses II, and the queen Ahmose Nefertari, mother of Amenofi II.

The workers, divided into two teams of 60 units, worked in the Valley, which they reached by following a path that is still passable today and on which the sentinels that protected the burials were positioned, for a working "week" of ten days followed by a rest period of two days.


The Valley in the history of archeology

The passion for ancient Egypt has always prompted the curious and passionate to visit the Valley of the Kings, since ancient times and even before the archaeological adventure began with its plethora of discoveries.


Greeks and Romans

After the Valley's decline as a burial place for kings of the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties, the place was also lost in memory. We start again to deal with the valley in the 1st century BC. with the Greco-Macedonians who arrived here following Alexander the Great. From the 3rd century BC to the 2nd century AD Egypt was the destination of curious and enthusiasts, including the Emperor Hadrian in 130. The first scholars of the Valley, so as to leave real guides, are to be indicated in the Greek writers Diodorus Siculus (who visited Egypt between 60 BC and 56 BC) and Strabo (between 25 and 24 BC). Both indicated, however based on the stories of Egyptian priests, a number of tombs between 47 (Diodorus) and 40 (Strabo).

If we exclude a few thousand contemporary graffiti with the construction of the tombs, about 2000 are those known today in Greek and Latin, left by the first visitors to the Valley; others have been found in Phoenician, Cypriot, Lycian as well as other languages and in Coptic. From the observable dates and on the basis of the texts, it was possible to evaluate that the winter period, from January to April, was the one with the greatest attendance in the Valley (24 texts), while the least frequented were autumn, from September to December (11 dated graffiti) and the summer, from May to August (10 graffiti).

The oldest graffiti, identified in the KV1 tomb of Ramses VII, dates back to 278 BC, while the most recent bears the signature of Orion, governor of Upper Egypt, and dates back to 537 AD.

The tomb most subject to graffiti is the KV9 of Ramses VI which houses about a thousand. Among these is one in Greek which assigns the tomb to Memnon, a hero who died during the siege of Troy


The first travelers (1595-1792)

After the Greco-Roman period, the Valley of the Kings again fell into oblivion except for the Christian-Coptic communities who occupied the most easily accessible tombs, transforming them into churches as well as homes.

Interest in Egypt in this period centered on Lower Egypt, to the north of the country, and this too contributed to the fact that the Valley of the Kings was forgotten until the Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius, in his map of 1595 , did not identify Luxor with Homeric "Thebes of a hundred gates".

The first traveler who reached "the place of mummies called Biban el Melouc" was the Capuchin father Charles-François d'Orléans, who arrived there in 1668 together with his brother Protais. In 1708 it was the turn of Father Claude Sicard, head of the Jesuit mission in Cairo, in the broader context of a trip to Egypt that lasted until 1726. It is known that Father Sicard had located 10 tombs, but there is no confirmation since the papers relating to this leg of his journey have been lost.

The first organic publication on the Valley, and a first attempt to classify the tombs with letters of the alphabet, is due to an Englishman, Richard Pococke (later Bishop of Meath, Ireland), who visited the country in the 1730s , and published Observations on Egypt in 1742 in which he specified that he had visited 15 tombs. In memory of his mission in the Valley, he left a graffiti on 16 September 1739 of which there is no trace today, but which was noticed by another English traveller, Sir William Richard Hamilton.

In 1768, James Bruce visited the Vale and in 1790 he described in detail the tomb KV11 of Ramses III so that this burial is now also known as the "Bruce tomb" or "tomb of the harpists".

The travel reports of the English explorer William George Browne, who arrived in the Valley in 1792 appear important as they are the first to testify to an interest in research by the local populations; it is testified, in fact, that: "for about thirty years" the son of Sheikh Hamam has been carrying out searches "with the hope of finding treasures".


Antiquarians, merchants and scholars (1672 - 1820)

The renewed interest in ancient Egypt increasingly gave birth to a sort of collecting mania that prompted many nobles and sovereigns to subsidize expeditions in search of treasures or simple objects with which to enrich their private collection. The first expedition of this kind was due to the German Father Johann Michael Vansleb who in 1672, by order of King Louis XIV of France, reached the valley to look for "manuscripts, ancient coins, statues, well-made bas-reliefs for the collection of His Majesty ". The expedition was resolved, from a strictly archaeological point of view and the discovery of treasures, in a negative way, but it certainly paved the way for the subsequent ones.

Only in 1693 did the French consul Benoît de Maillet suggest making trips to Egypt and the Valley of the Kings not only to collect valuables but also to study the tombs.



In 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte attempted the Egyptian adventure to secure passage for France to the riches of India via Suez. His Army also included 139 Savants (or "wise men") whose role was, even if employed by an army in full warfare, that of studying every possible geographical, historical, anthropological aspect of the modern country, but also of the ancient one. Among these essays, but in this case not part of the group, was Baron Vivant Denon who in 1802 published Voyages dans le Basse et la Haute Egypt, an account which contributed even more to unleashing the passion in Europe, and beyond, for ancient Egypt.

If the military expedition turned out to be a disaster for Napoleon, the anthropological-cultural expedition of the scholars, albeit reduced by a third due to various losses, continued in its study activity and on 25 January 1799 reached Thebes and the Valley of the Kings.

The scholars - who in the meantime had founded the Institut d'Égypte - became passionate about the Valley and two of them, Jean-Baptiste Prosper Jollois and Édouard de Villiers du Terrage, were given the express task of mapping the valley and studying it, drawing plans of the tombs and bearing drawings of the reliefs. The resulting cartography was one of the most accurate, since the "primitive" one by Pococke about 60 years earlier, and reported the exact location of 16 graves. Similarly, the designs of the tomb reliefs and paintings were perfect, and today the only memory in many cases.

The work of Jollois and de Villiers then merged into the monumental work, commissioned by Napoleon himself, the Description de l'Égypte which was published between 1809 and 1822 in 19 volumes.


Drovetti, Salt and Belzoni

Also part of the Napoleonic Army, which had entered Egypt in 1798, was Colonel Bernardino Drovetti, Piedmontese by birth, squadron commander of the Piedmontese hussars. Beginning in 1803, and for the next thirty years, he carried out diplomatic activities in Egypt, first as chargé d'affaires and then as French consul general.

A great collector of antiques, starting in 1816 he undertook a journey through the country that took him to the second cataract of the Nile.

Taking advantage, however, of the collaboration of the Italian Giovanni Battista Belzoni, he also carried out excavations in the Theban area, and especially in the Valley of the Kings, also resorting, as was the custom in those times, to drastic methods, including the use of dynamite, to get the desired results.

His first collection of Egyptological material, consisting of about eight thousand pieces, was sold in January 1824, for the sum of 400,000 lire, to Carlo Felice, king of Sardinia; this was the embryo of the Egyptian Museum of Turin.

During Drovetti's absence in 1816, Henry Salt, the British consul general and, in turn, a passionate collector of Egyptian artifacts had arrived in Egypt. The rivalry between the two consuls-general became so bitter that Sir Fredrick Henniker wrote: «A line of demarcation has been drawn through each temple and those buildings, which had withstood the attacks of the barbarians, will not resist the speculation of the civilized greed of the virtuous and antique dealers".

The tension between the two consuls was further exacerbated when, in 1817, Giovanni Battista Belzoni became employed by Salt and also began to obtain excellent results in the Valley of the Kings. Among the other works that Salt commissioned from Belzoni, the transport from the tomb Bruce, of Ramses III (KV11) up to the Nile, and then in France where it would become part first of the private collection of King Louis XVIII and then of that of the Louvre, the King's sarcophagus. The relationship between Belzoni and Salt, however , however they soon deteriorated also because the British consul refused to give due prominence to the figure of the Italian for his actual discoveries including eight new tombs. Among these, particular merit goes to Belzoni for the discovery of KV17 of Seti I, also known as the "Egyptian Sistine Chapel" for its beautiful wall paintings, known today as the "Belzoni tomb".

After interrupting the collaboration with Salt, Belzoni continued to work in the Valley for a certain period and, from the KV17 of Seti I, he made the translucent alabaster sarcophagus which he brought to London and offered, for 2,000 pounds, to the British Museum which refused, arousing the ire of the public opinion for the non-purchase. The sarcophagus was then purchased, in 1824, by the British architect John Soane who installed it in the "crypt" of his London home, in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where it is still located today.


The "amateurs"

Alongside the treasure seekers, or the scholars and "knowledgeable", the "amateurs" are certainly to be counted without, however, wanting to give this term a derogatory value, since in some cases the work of non-professionals still persists today . After all, these were the years in which, with the deciphering of hieroglyphics by Jean-François Champollion, Egyptology was born and precisely the amateurs to whom we refer would later be considered the fathers of this new branch of archaeology.

In this sense, the work of John Gardner Wilkinson was particularly important, today counted among the fathers of Egyptology; destined for a military career, in fact, his passion for ancient Egypt brought him to the country for a long time and to him, especially fond of epigraphy and tomb reliefs, we owe, among other things, the numbering system of the tombs of the Valley still used today and which he assigned, materially painting the numbers at the entrance, to the burials known at the time, from 1 to 21. To these must be added four other tombs already known in the West Valley which, at the time, Wilkinson classified apart from 1 to 4, but which today are indicated with the progressive numbering of the Valley (from KV22 to KV25, but also known as WV22 to WV25).

Another "amateur" who however left his indelible memory in the history of the Valley of the Kings was James Burton who carried out numerous excavations and whose commitment also contributed to the preservation of some of the most important tombs such as, for example, KV17, the "Tomb Belzoni", of Seti I. In fact, he provided for the construction of small dams in front of the entrance and the emptying of the well existing at the beginning of the tomb, which had been filled by Belzoni to allow an easier carrying out of the work inside the tomb and which, as in antiquity, therefore regained its task of collecting rainwater which, otherwise, would have invaded the tomb.

Burton is also responsible for the start of the emptying works of Hatshepsut's KV20 which, suspended for fear of poisonous fumes, was then completed, over 80 years later, by Howard Carter on behalf of Theodore Davis. Furthermore, Burton, crawling in a very narrow tunnel, penetrated the KV5 without however going further and therefore not identifying it as that of the sons of Ramses II and the largest to date discovered in the Valley. Burton, like Wilkinson, also assigned a reference to the known tombs, but in his case he preferred to use letters of the alphabet. Burton's work was never published; after his death, however, it was collected in 63 volumes, now in the British Museum.

In the decade 1820-1830 the Valley of the Kings saw another passionate visitor: the very rich antiquarian Robert Hay, a distant cousin of Burton, who installed his base inside the tomb of Ramses IV (KV2) not disdaining to use it as a "room for guests" the KV9 tomb of Ramses VI, as well as other burials for housing his retinue. His work, like Burton's, was collected posthumously in 49 volumes now in the British Library. We also owe him a third system of cataloging the tombs of the Valley simply numbered in progressive order according to his visits.


The great expeditions (1828 - 1840)

The importance of "field" research from an artistic historical point of view prompted governments to get involved in expeditions, providing them with a very different value that was not exclusively profit or the private and inorganic search for objects and "treasures" detached from the context .


Rosellini and Champollion

The first major expedition of this kind can certainly be identified with the one that Ippolito Rosellini, professor of oriental languages at the University of Pisa, undertook in 1828 with the funding of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. In addition to Rosellini himself, 12 architects and artists were part of the expeditionary force as well as Jean-François Champollion, the decipherer of the Rosetta Stone and the hieroglyphics.

The mission landed in Luxor in March 1829, after three months in Nubia, and camped, as was the custom at the time, in the tomb of Ramses VI (KV9). In the Valley of the Kings the expedition stopped for two months, copying and studying the hieroglyphs, so that Champollion was able to demonstrate the accuracy of his discovery. Rosellini and Champollion's team visited 16 tombs in the main valley from which they copied all the reliefs and paintings which would later merge, in 1832, into Rosellini's work "The Monuments of Egypt and Nubia", in nine volumes, in which drawings appear rich in color which at the time must have still been clearly visible on the walls of the tombs. In 1845 Champollion's Monuments de l'Egypte e de la Nubie was published posthumously.


Carl Richard Lepsius

In 1842 he arrived in Egypt, organized by Frederick William IV of Prussia and led by the German archaeologist Karl Richard Lepsius, an expedition that stayed in the country for four years (until 1845). In fact, the mission had two objectives: the safeguarding of monuments and the collection of antiquities for a systematic and organic study of ancient Egypt; Lepsius sent home over fifteen thousand pieces and the results of the work were published, between 1849 and 1859, in a total of 12 volumes called Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien (translation: Monuments from Egypt and Ethiopia).

In the Valley of the Kings, where the expedition was stationed from October 1844 to February 1845, 25 tombs were mapped and surveyed (21 in the main valley and 4 in the West Valley), following the numbering proposed by Wilkinson; operations were also carried out scientifically to empty the tombs KV7 of Ramses II, KV8 of Merenptah and KV20 of Hatshepsut; for this scientific approach, Lepsius is now considered the father of modern Egyptology.


Modernization (1844-1899)

With the second half of the 19th century, Egyptology assumed full scientific value and the aim was to defend the territory and its archaeological content for a systematic study of the ancient Egyptian civilization. No longer just brutal demolitions of tombs in search of buried treasures, or looting of objects and mummies, but an in-depth examination of the context in which certain objects were found, cataloging them, systematic study to arrive at the possible reconstruction of ancient reality.

The first non-professional Egyptologist (he was in fact a law graduate) to rely on scientific research methods was the Scotsman Alexander Henry Rhind who in 1855 carried out systematic excavations in the Valley of the Kings without success.


Auguste Mariette

This new Egyptological approach must also include the figure of the Frenchman Auguste Mariette, sent in 1850 to Egypt from the Louvre with the express purpose of finding ancient Coptic papyri. The main purpose of his mission was not achieved, but other discoveries, including the Serapeum, or the burial place of the sacred Api bulls, were the basis of what later became the Egyptian Museum.

Returning to France, he returned to Egypt in 1857, becoming, in 1858, the first director of the Bulaq Museum from which, in 1902, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo would derive. To him, and to his successor Gaston Maspero, who took over the management of the museum after his death, we also owe the establishment of the Egyptian Antiquities Service (the Egyptian Service of archaeological antiquities).


Lefebure and Loret

With the assumption of the management of the museum and of the Egyptian antiquities service by Gaston Maspero, the post of director of the French archaeological mission was assumed, in 1881, by Eugène Lefébure.

In January 1883 he reached the Valley of the Kings, set up his base camp in the KV2 tomb of Ramses IV, and by April of the same year he had already copied, in full, all the hieroglyphs of the KV17 tomb of Seti I. Within four years he published two volumes entitled Les hypogées royaux de Thèbes containing, among other things, the first plans of 8 tombs not yet numbered.

In 1886, Maspero was succeeded by Eugène Grébaut as director of the antiquities service, who was succeeded in 1892 by Jacques de Morgan who held the position until 1897, when he was in turn replaced by Victor Loret.

Loret worked in the Valley of the Kings from 1898 to 1899 adding 16 tombs to the local cartography of which only five were already known from antiquity. Unfortunately, the documentary material left by Loret is very scarce and he has only the preliminary reports of the two tombs of Amenhotep II (KV35) and Thutmose III (KV34). Furthermore, it is only from the 1970s onwards that we know of a plan of Loret, discovered in the Brooklyn Museum, with annotations by Charles Edwin Wilbour.


The great discoverers (1900 - 1922)

With the new century and the now well-established Egyptological culture, the Valley of the Kings will see the excavation activity intensify even more, from which some of the most important archaeological discoveries will emerge, still under the care of "adventurers" mainly hunting for fame and treasures hidden, but also, among others, of the one who perhaps represents the prototype of the "scientific" archaeologist in the world: Howard Carter.


Howard Carter (1900-1904)

In 1899 Gaston Maspero, after a gap of 13 years, returned to his post as director of the antiquities service. If it is true that Victor Loret's activity had been generous with discoveries, it was Maspero himself, or more precisely the young archaeologist he protected, Howard Carter, who gave the greatest impetus to archaeological research in Egypt and in the Valley in particular. In 1899 Carter, who was 25 years old and already had nearly eight years of excavation experience, was appointed chief inspector of antiquities for Upper Egypt. Its first discovery in the Valley occurred in the winter of 1900: it was tomb KV42, originally begun for Queen Hatshepsut-Meryetre (wife of Thutmose III), then destined for the noble Sennefer, "mayor" of ancient Thebes during the XVIII Dynasty. Some objects from this tomb, but not the tomb itself, had previously been found during the excavations at Loret.

Continuing his excavations in the Valley, in January 1901 Carter discovered KV44 containing seven different bodies, probably belonging to a noble family of the XXII Dynasty.

In 1903 Carter completed the enormous work of emptying what, at over 200m, is the longest tomb in the Valley, KV20 of Queen/King Hatshepsut.

Carter's scientific approach also stemmed from the belief that more important than discovering new hidden treasures was preserving and restoring what had already been discovered. In the 1901-1902 campaign he therefore dedicated himself to the conservation and restoration of the tomb structures, as well as the furnishings, of the tombs of Amenhotep II (KV35), Ramses I (KV16), Ramses III (KV11), Ramses VI (KV9), Ramses IX (KV6), pledging considerable sums obtained from donors including the American lawyer Theodore Davis, the chemical industrialist Robert Mond and a not better known Mrs. Goff.

One of the innovations that undoubtedly goes to Inspector Carter's credit was the lighting with electric light, in 1903, of six of the best known tombs with the installation of the generator in tomb KV18 (unfinished and planned, perhaps, for Ramses X).


Theodore Davis

Belonging more to the category of adventurers than to that of Egyptologists was the US financier and lawyer Theodore Davis. He had been sailing down the Nile since 1889, but his passion for archaeological excavation did not strike him until much later, in 1902/3.

Although many of the most important discoveries of the Valley of the Kings are owed to him, nevertheless it cannot be ignored that his methods of research, excavation, documentation and conservation have been at least superficial. Probably the passion for archeology was suggested to him by Carter himself who relied on him, given the economic resources at his disposal, to be subsidized in his excavation activities in the Valley. Thanks to grants from Davis, Carter discovered, in January 1903, the tomb of Thutmose IV, KV43; subsequently, in February 1903, Carter began the evacuation of Hatshepsut's KV20 which lasted until February 1904 when, destined for another assignment, Carter left the Valley.

Davis' grants, however, continued with his successor, James Edward Quibell, who discovered KV46 of Yuya and Tuia in 1905. Davis' interference in the excavation work became so pressing, however, that Quibell complained to Maspero, fearing the damage it might cause to the Valley. Maspero, for his part, proved somewhat weak in this case and, shortly after the discovery of KV46, Quibell was replaced as chief inspector by Arthur Weigall, allowing Davis to acquire increasingly unmanageable power.

Thus it was that Davis at first limited himself to contributing financially and then came to the idea of becoming an archaeologist himself.

If the value of an archaeologist was measured in the number of discoveries, Davis would certainly deserve one of the first places, but it cannot be ignored that the methods used, the lack of experience, the arrogance repeatedly demonstrated only mitigated by the support of talented professional archaeologists , have been the basis of concrete results much lower than the value of the discoveries would have led to hope.

Davis having decided to take up his own excavation business, Arthur Weigall diplomatically persuaded him to hire a professional archaeologist. So it was that in 1905 Davis was first assisted by a young archaeologist, Edward Russell Ayrton. The latter, who certainly had a method in his research and well knew the right excavation criterion, under the continuous pressure of Davis devoted himself to several sites, then abandoning them, by order of Davis himself, without being able to deepen his research.

Perhaps the most famous discoveries of Ayrton and Davis in this period must be considered a small faience cup inscribed with the first name (Royal title of ancient Egypt) of Tutankhamun: Neb-Kheperu-Ra, which confirmed to archaeologists the effective existence of a king of that name, and an ostrakon with the representation of the extinct Syrian elephant with the characteristic small ears. In 1905 Ayrton, under the strict control of Davis, began the systematic examination of all the hills of the Valley of the Kings, thus making numerous discoveries; in addition to a large quantity of objects, including a faience box with the name of Horemheb, he discovered the tomb of Siptah (KV47, as well as KV48 of Amenepimet vizier under Amenhotep II; KV49) perhaps of the scribe Butehamon; the KV50, the KV51, the KV52 containing mummified animals.

In 1906 he provided for the emptying of KV19 of Montuherkhepeshef; it was then the turn of KV53 and, once again, Davis and Ayrton came close to Tutankhamun when they discovered well KV54, which contained objects and residues of that sovereign's embalming materials. On that occasion Davis declared that this was certainly the tomb of Tutankhamun and that it was therefore useless to continue with that search.

The discovery of KV55 dates back to 1906 and Davis stubbornly wanted to assign it to Queen Tiy. Unfortunately, there is no documentation of the excavation and, when it exists, it was compiled a posteriori, long after the work, reporting contradictions between different versions; the tomb was emptied with serious damage to the furnishings, which were already seriously damaged by rain infiltration over the millennia.

In January 1908 Ayrton unearthed KV56, a simple tomb possibly belonging to a son of Seti II, in which various objects of gold jewelery were found, so much so that the tomb is also known as the Gold Tomb, and silver.

In February of the same 1908 it was the turn of Horemheb's KV57, after which Ayrton stopped working with Davis.

Davis immediately replaced Ayrton with Ernest Harold Jones, a non-professional archaeologist (he was actually a draftsman), who in the 1908/9 campaign completed the emptying of some already known graves and discovered KV58 containing some furnishings and fr


Carnarvon-Carter (1915-1922)

Carter, who in the meantime had left his position as chief inspector of Lower Egypt in 1905, returned to the Valley of the Kings in 1914 having been hired as an expert archaeologist by Lord Carnarvon.

Davis' researches and discoveries were especially addressed to the "visible" part of the Valley of the Kings; Carter, more expert, instead believed that, considering the alluvial deposits accumulated over the millennia, much was still to be discovered by digging and reaching the "0" layer, i.e. what must actually have been the walking surface at the time in which the burials they had been performed. The British archaeologist was also convinced that tomb KV54, contrary to Davis's assumption, was not the actual burial of the boy King Tutankhamen, but that this was yet to be discovered. In 1912, moreover, he had purchased from a local antique dealer, on behalf of his financier, three bracelet plaques bearing his royal titles and which had been declaredly found near the tomb of Amenhotep III (KV22).

In 1915 therefore, subsidized by Lord Carnarvon, who in the meantime had obtained an excavation concession in the Valley of the Kings, Carter resumed the operations of emptying the KV22, finding further traces of the young sovereign in a funerary deposit near the tomb. Carnarvon's interest increased and Carter began new excavation work which was interrupted, however, by the outbreak of the First World War.

When excavations resumed in 1917, Carter unearthed near the tomb of Ramses VI (KV9) dozens of ostrakas and a number of lists of the material that had been buried with Ramses VI, as well as some pots of embalming ointments used for Merenptah so much so that he declared: "we are digging in areas that have never been touched and we don't know what might be there".

However, being Lord Carnarvon's primary interest in finding material for his private collection, he came to the decision to withdraw the concession for the 1921-1922 campaign. Upon learning of Carnarvon's decision, Carter joined him in England (in October 1922) and proposed that he keep the concession for another year, offering to pay the expenses out of his own pocket.

Having obtained the approval of the financier, Carter returned to the Valley of the Kings at the end of October 1922, moving the excavation site right to the triangle facing the tomb of Ramses VI.

On 4 November 1922, digging under the remains of some ancient huts that the workers had built as a shelter during the construction work on the overlying tomb of Ramses VI, the first step of a staircase was discovered which led to the almost intact tomb of a obscure Pharaoh of the XVIII Dynasty, not even reported in the royal lists: Tutankhamun. The tomb was classified with the initials KV62 and was the last discovery in the Valley until at least February 2006.