Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 26, 2009

The SCA inspector specifically mentioned Queen Isisnofret to the JHU team, and her name has cropped up before as a possibility for one of the (possibly three?) tombs in the cliffside excavation. The map above is taken from The Lost Tomb by Kent Weeks, published in 1999. (The version linked is from the Spanish copy - see below.)

Weeks relates that in 1902 Howard Carter found an ostracon in debris somewhere near the entrance to KV5 which mentions several tombs:

From tr(t)yt [Kate: willow tree] to the general in chief 30 cubits; (and to) the tomb of the Greatest of Seers, Meryatum, 25 cubits. From Tr(t)yt (and? to?) tomb of
the oils to my Greatest of Seers, 40 cubits. Downstream on the
northern path where the old tomb is, 30 cubits to the general-in-chief.
And on the other side:

(From?) tomb of Isisnofret to the tomb of my Greatest of Seers, Meryatum,
200 cubits. From the end of the Water of the Sky to the tomb of
Isisnofret 445 cubits.
Following the translation, Weeks comments on possible interpretation. There's quite a bit I could say in comment on the first face, but for Isisnofret the second face is the important one. Weeks confidently identifies the tomb of Meryatum as KV5 (for details please refer to the book) and it seems reasonable to accept this. The diagram then represents the overlapping of circles: one of 200 cubits centred on KV and one of 445 cubits centred on the Water of the Sky, which Weeks suggests refers to one of the waterfalls where flood waters spilled over the cliffs into the Valley. The intersection of these circles identifies the probable location of these tombs - as shown in the diagram. For unspecified reasons, Weeks suggests that the black dots near KV16 and KV8 represent the most likely locations.

The theory seems sound but I have reservations about his execution. Firstly, it is clear that the Valley of the Kings during the New Kingdom, while probably still relatively arid, was considerably wetter than today. The first face indicates a willow tree growing in the valley - and willows are a tree requiring considerable water. The reference to a waterfall suggests that its appearance was at least semi-regular and Hawass's latest excavation has also discovered a channel [which he presumes was] cut to divert water away from KV8, which suggests that water also came down that side valley. There are therefore more possible waterfall sites than the diagram suggests - and therefore more intersections between the small circle and the large ones.

We must also consider what is meant by a distance in the osatracon. Is a line of sight distance as the diagram suggests or was it, more likely, a distance measured along the ground, which would have the effect of shrinking the circles (particularly the large ones) and making them less regular. I think that would push the intersection of the circles near KV8 south of that tomb rather than north as marked. It would also push the intersection near KV16 back onto the cliff face. Ignoring the lower valley intersections, that suggests two probably locations for the tomb of Isisnofret: one in the cliffs near KV16 and the other just north of the entrance to KV8 - right where Hawass is digging with such energy.

The scan of the diagram came from a Spanish message board with a thread discussing KV64. Google does a passing job of translation - just navigate forwards or backwards in the thread from the link and it should remain in pigeon English. Some of the photos are interesting. Perhaps the most interesting comment is from someone recently in the Valley where he (I think!) says that digging is now concentrated in four areas - lending further credence to the reports that 3 potential tombs have been found in the area around KV8.

It's perhaps also worth adding that the workmen's huts in the central area are more interesting that I'd initially thought as some people believe huts were built on top of tombs to hide them (or, less charitably, so that the worker could rob them more easily).

PS - thanks to Geoff Carter for straightening up the image for me.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog - thanks. The Carter ostricon, if it is authentic, implies to me that the tomb of Isisnofret must have been robed in antiquity. The central area holds the best possibility for an undisturbed tomb assuming that Steve is correct in 'Hydrology of the Valley of Kings'. Steve is saying that a flash flood occurred shortly after the building of KV-62/63 covering these tombs. The workers huts being constructed on top of the flood debris in the 19th dynasty.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Nozomu Kawai on his Abusir-Sakkara Project found the tomb chamber of Isisnofret. I just don't know if that Isisnofret equals with this one or not.

Kate Phizackerley said...

That's a different Isisnofret`

John Bright said...

There are several areas in The Valley that might benefit from re-investigation. I think that any tombs found, though, would belong to nobles or royal children rather than pharaohs. However, I would like to be proved wrong on this! The side wadi leading to the tomb of Ramesses IV is one such zone and quite close to that, at the entrance to The Valley is an area where Davis did some exploration, though this involved trial trenches that look like claw marks on the side of the wadi and suggest that the clearance was not as thorough as it might have been. I would also add some of the areas where Victor Loret worked since his objective was, or seemed to be, royal tombs. As for "Amarna Caches", why would the burials have been disturbed and brought to Thebes? If Akhnaten hated the area so much, would his wishes have been ignored?


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