Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, September 04, 2011

Andie Byrnes and I have been at the Ancient World Tours Conference for the past couple of days.  The last speaker was Stephen Cross and it turned out he has actual news about a possible tomb KV64.

He ran through his theory that Tutankhamun's tomb KV62, the latest discovery tomb KV63 and the enigmatic tomb KV55 remained intact because they were covered by a layer of water-borne sediment in a flash flood in (he believes)Year 1 of Ay's reign.  The sediment set like concrete and thereafter was frequently taken to be the bedrock so that excavation teams stopped when they reached it.  Tombs beneath it were sealed and hidden. He also ran through the story of the 2008/9 excavations in the Valley of the Kings.  Over the next couple of weeks, Andie and I will be doing a full write-up and review of many of the sessions for publication on Egyptological, and that will include Steve's talk. To avoid duplication, I won't cover Cross's theory and the 2008/9 excavation in more detail now.

At the end of his talk he turned to the possibility of a tomb KV64.  He listed some facts about KV62:

  • it is at an elevation of 170m above mean sea level; 
  • it is sited below an overhang in the rock;
  • there is a leveled area just outside the entrance.
After the 2008/9 excavations, he identified one location in the central area which matches these same facts.  The levelled area was confirmed by ground penetrating radar.  It is about 3 feet from the edge of the excavated area.  The radar also suggested what may be a tunnel filled with limestone chipping stretching from somewhere near that possible entrance location beneath the Rest House, although I don't think it was shown as reaching the theorised tomb entrance.

There is no proof, but it could turn out that KV64 has been identified, although there have been many false dawns on this story over the past 5 or 6 years.  (He says that the Reeves radar anomalies were mostly checked and were surface features such as minor fissures or even modern conduits.)

He was asked if there was any plan to dig the new anomaly.  At present, permissions are not in place and there is something of a hiatus with the change in regime at the SCA but he has lined up a very senior British Egyptologist who has agreed to be mission director and he says that he has "unlimited" funding available.  I guess it now will come down to stability in Egypt and securing permissions. 

He was asked whom he thought might be buried in the tomb.  His answer to that question was slightly unclear - or at least I struggled to follow it, perhaps because he was being a bit cagey.  He said though that as he isn't a professional Egyptologist he doesn't have a reputation to protect so he can speculate - and did.  (It's an attitude I share.  I am a firm believer in having courage to say things which might turn out to be wrong rather than procrastinated - but I digress.)  So far as I followed it, his theory runs like this ...

We know from KV55 that some mummies were transferred from the Royal Tomb at Amarna - possibly/probably the KV55 mummy and certainly Queen Tiye who ended up in KV35.  (Steve Cross also personally believes that Nefertiti was Tiye's daughter and would be moved to KV35 at the same time i.e. I think Cross sees KV35YL as the Younger Lady.  That is something Jo Fletcher covered in one of the other talks.)  So the question of who could be in KV64 gets recast as, who was buried in the Royal Tomb at Amarna and therefore transferred to the Valley of the Kings during the reign of Tutankhamun?  That would seem pretty definitely to be Akhenaten, Tiye and Meketaten.  Maybe Nefertiti?  I don't think anybody really knows.  Steve Cross though points attention at Chamber Alpha.  He says that has niches for magic bricks which is not an Atenistic burial practice, and that they cut through the decoration, suggesting that it was a late development in the tomb, after the death of Akhenaten.  He suspects that it was Meritaten who was buried in Chamber Alpha.   So any of those bodies could be in an unknown tomb in the Valley of the Kings ... which might help solve who is in KV55 as well if a new, intact tomb were to be discovered. 

He sees KV63 as a tomb used for staging the bodies, perhaps usurping an existing noble tomb.

Andie has notes as well, so we will compare notes before we write up the material forEgyptological - in fact in the interest of speed I have written this blog post from memory rather than my notes.  So the coverage in due course in Egyptological should be rather fuller and certainly better structured tha this hasty effort. 


Thutmose said...

Definitely very interesting and exciting news!


Stuart Tyler said...

Thank you for the information Kate.

Its about time we had some updates on the VOK. The last update i recall was ZH on YouTube offering some detail on findings, but seemed to be incomplete and cryptic.

Lets hope for less showmanship and more factual information from this years excavations (and future excavations)

Patrick said...

Interesting news, though the bit about nefertiti being Tiye's daughter runs counter to all established fact!

Stephanie said...

Regardless of the prospective tomb owner it is exciting news!
Even if completely robbed there coul still be vital clues about if it is really a tomb belonging to the Amarna royal family.

What is the exact location of the suspected tomb in relation to KV 55,62 and 63?

AliceG said...

Can't wait for more on the conference. AND the tomb.

Anonymous said...

Wish i had gone now, sounds absolutely brilliant. It would really boost tourist numbers in Egypt and they may have to consider making the new museum bigger. One concern though, would the SCA really allow a foreign mission to discover a possible intact tomb after Hawass made such a big effort with an 'all egyptian' exploration of the central area several years ago. Having said that they did allow Otto Schaden and his team free reign with KV63, Daveh

Stephanie said...

According to this article

foreign missions resume their work from now on and fifteen new applications have been made by international teams to be decided by the SCA. I guess this would not have been mentioned if the SCA were not inclined to grant new concessions to foreign missions.
I think now is just the time to apply for a digging concession because you never know if the political climate will change to the better or the worse.
And the winter season is just about to start, too.

Anonymous said...

Otto Schaden already had his concession for KV10. KV63 was found within that area.
Cross has proposed a new tomb should be between 55 and 63. Val

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

This does sound very encouraging for foreign missions Stephanie. The foreign missions do benefit Egypt immensely as most of them are restoration and preservation orientated. However it would be nice to see a few more of the speculative digs approved in this post hawass era.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patrick and Kate
I think that you will find that Stephen Cross said Nefertiti was the daughter of Ay - not Tiye -
so a correction needs to be made to
conference report. The next step is for the DNA results to be looked at by 'other' experts and I am sure that some of the findings announced by Hawass will be reversed.An exciting new era in Egyptology is about to begin. Many Truths can now be revealed with his departure, and those eminent Egytologists banned by Hawass from working in Egypt may return. KMTScribe

Marianne Luban said...

Hi KMTScribe,

I certainly have no objection to "other" experts reviewing the DNA results but I doubt the non-Egyptian microbiologists who worked on the project would jeopardize their reputations in the field by allowing themselves to be unduly influenced by Hawass. Probably they had a greater influence on him as he is the layman in the field.

Mark Tery said...

Now how does this radar perform? It is specialized radar which performs identical to normal radar. This sort of specialized radar functions lots like normal radar.GPR

Bill Cook said...

I am new to this group, so have missed a bit, and am playing a bit of catch up. Apologies if I have missed something.

Was DNA testing done on the mummies of KV35? Have the results be released?

KV64 has been out there for quite a while, the subject of much investigation and speculation, how reliable is this GPR data?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Kate. Steve Cross is a very kind knowledgeable person. I enjoyed discussing flash flood data and theories with him. I have gone over Reeves GPR data many times and think that Hawass missed 2 important areas shown in the data. There is some indication from traces "C", "D", "E", and numbers 11 through 15 that a deep anomaly may exist starting about 10 feet from the south-west corner of the rest area. See Reeves: . Additionally what he called "Feature 5" was not explored by Hawass. Hawass threw out Reeves' data when an underground cable was discovered in the area. That cable is clearly marked (but not labled) on Reeves' map. Photos from Hawass confirm that he found the marked cable run. Hopefully those present at Hawass' digs and sworn to secrecy will now come forward and tell what they saw.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) sends out a single short pulse one wavelength long into the ground. Echos are plotted in colors indicating return strength. Many improvements have been made allowing much better resolution, penetration and, sensitivity.


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