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.
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.