First Egypt Tomb Since King Tut RevealedFirst Egypt Tomb Since King Tut Revealed
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
May 31, 2006 ó Hopes of finding a royal mummy in the Valley of the Kings got a boost this week as a small, gilded sarcophagus emerged from the mysterious chamber known as KV63.
The finding will be described in "Egyptís New Tomb Revealed," a Discovery Channel production that airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.
The documentary will unveil the history of KV63 in what has become a true detective story.
Discovered in February by a team of archaeologists from the University of Memphis, led by Otto Schaden, KV63 still holds many mysteries.
Buried under 13 feet of rubble and stones just 16 feet away from King Tutankhamun's resting place, the chamber is believed to be the 63rd tomb found since the valley was first mapped in the 18th century.
It is the first chamber discovered since the boy pharaoh was uncovered in 1922.
So far, the chamber has yielded seven wooden sarcophagi in human shapes with colored funerary masks, surrounded by 28 meticulously sealed clay jars.
Pottery and a wine label identical to one found in King Tutís tomb indicate that the place dates from the 18th dynasty (ca. 1539-1292 B.C.), which included pharaohs such as Amenhotep I, the warrior pharaoh; Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt's only female pharaoh; Akhenaten, the "heretic" pharaoh; and Tutankhamun, the boy pharaoh.
Initially, hopes were high that the team had found a royal cache on the West bank of the Nile outside Luxor. The expectation was it may have been the burial ground for many pharaohs.
"It was one of the most exciting moments of my life when I first peeked inside the tomb and saw the coffins," Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Discovery News when the finding was announced.
The excitement did not last long. No mummies were found as the coffins were opened. Dirt, fragments of broken pottery, linen and natronó the salt used for mummificationó lay inside instead of human remains.
"I believe that KV63 was a storage room for items used in the mummification process," Hawass told Discovery News.
But new findings show KV63 wasnít just a ordinary storage room. Strange things seem to have happened there, reported The New York Times Wednesday.
The archaeologists found that several sealed jars, which already contained broken pottery, had been smashed and the bits stuffed inside the coffins.
According to Schaden, it's odd that the embalmers appear to have taken filled jars, broken them and put them in coffins.
The mystery deepened with the opening of a child-sized coffin. To Schadenís amazement, the coffin did not contain a mummy, but was stuffed with pillows.
Hidden under the pillows, the archaeologists found an infant-sized gold sized coffin of a quality that could suggest royalty.
The finding raised new questions. What really was KV63? A royal Egyptian tomb? A supply room for ancient embalmers ... or something else?
Schaden believes the final answer may come as the seal of the last coffin is broken. It is still possible that the sarcophagus contains a royal mummy.
Schaden told The New York Times that if the last coffin holds a mummy, it is probably someone the embalmers wished to hide.
It could be Ankhesenamun (a.k.a. Ankhesenpaaten), King Tutís wife.
One of the few pieces of writing found in KV63, on a seal, bears a faint inscription with the word "pa-aten," which is a part of her name.