Maat-ka-Ra Hatshepsut

last update: 01.06.2008

Royal Tomb - KV20


Location of the tomb:
The tomb is hidden below of a crevice on the eastern side of the Valley of Kings.

The photo shows the modern way to the tomb of Mentuhirhopshef  (KV19). The tomb of Hatshepsut (KV20) (red arrow), is hidden on the left side below a crevice, the entrance to the tomb of her wet-nurse, Sit-Ra (KV60) lies closed and covered below the modern way (green arrow).

The entrance had been dug at the bottom of the crevice around 2 ms deep. The first passage runs nearly exactly to the east (~ 100) (see following photo).

As shown in the drawing below the roughly smoothed passage  runs a few ms to the east then turns to the right (see following photo).

Description of the tomb:

KV20 is the longest and deepest and - apart from some private tombs in the Valley of Kings - probably the most unusual tomb. KV20 winds itself from the entrance (A) over approx. 213 m down to the burial chamber (J), which is to about 97 m below the surface. At the beginning the passage runs eastwards, into the direction of Deir el-Bahari - thus, towards the temple of Hatshepsut -, however, it rapidly leaves (after approx. 50 m) this direction and turns after the south.
Probably, the stability of the rock might have been the reason for the change of the direction, because at the beginning the passage that consists of three galleries was dug through limestone, later through fragile gray-slate. The rock was so fragile that not only any attempt to smooth the walls was doomed to fail but there are even no references that one had tried to plaster the rough walls.

The 1. section (A - B) runs smoothly, without stairs. In 2. section (B - C) as suggested in the plan steps were hewn on the left side of passage, on the right side the passage had been smoothed so that the sarcophagi could be pushed down. The first chamber (C) is undecorated and only roughly hewn. In its right corner the passage (C - D) continues, again with stairs on its left side. In section D - C2  stairs are missing but here are attachment slots for bars at the walls with which the sarcophagus was slowed down. The section ends up in a small chamber (C2). From C2 a passage (D2) continues to southwards, however, it turns westwards into a bend and ends up in the large antechamber (F), which probably had been the originally burial chamber. Finally, a short passage (G) leads to the burial chamber (J) which is supported by 3 central columns.

The burial chamber (J) is inasmuch unusual as that it is smaller than the antechamber (F) - in every other royal tomb in the Valley of Kings the burial chamber is the largest room. Furthermore, the large antechamber does not have columns, the burial chamber has three. From that it clearly follows that the burial chamber and the last short passage which lead from the antechamber to the burial chamber are based on a different plan in comparison to the other parts of the tomb.

Three storerooms (A - C) go off at the rear side of the burial chamber. In the direction of the storerooms the sarcophagus ("C") of Thutmosis I stood between the columns and the right (eastern) wall and that of Hatshepsut ("D") stood left between the columns and the western wall. Due to the bad quality of the rock also the burial chamber was not decorated. However, Carter found several red and black marked limestone blocks with scenes of the Amduat, these blocks were probably intended to line the walls. These blocks which are exhibited today in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, probably represent the oldest scenes of the Amduat.

Plan of the burial chamber "J" of KV20 with the positions of the sarcophagi of Hatshepsut = "D" and Thutmosis I = "C"; the lid of sarcophagus "C" stood at the wall, that of "D" lay on the floor (here left above the lower part of D). Please note, that the (rounded) head of sarcophagus "C" faces south!
From the 3 large 3 columns which were located centrally in the axis of the tomb, only one is preserved

The tomb was probably already robbed in antiquity. Therefore, the passages and the burial chamber contained only few artifacts. Beside the two sarcophagi of quartzite "C" and "D" (the designations go back to William C. Hayes, "Royal Sarcophagi of the XVIII Dynasty", 1935) a canopic chest made of quartzite (presented on a separate page) was found which was according to the inscription intended for the embalmed internal organs of Hatshepsut. The sarcophagus of Hatshepsut (sarcophagus "D"; H: 100 cm, without lid: 86.5 cm; B: 87.5 cm, L: to 245 cm) was found open and empty in the burial chamber, the lid laid on the floor. The sarcophagus "C" was tipped over on its left side, its lid leaned carefully at the wall of the burial chamber.

Front wall of sarcophagus "D" of Hatshepsut found in KV20 with the goddess Isis, kneeling on the sign of "Gold"; 

right in 1. and
3. register as well as in the line above there is  the cartouche with the throne name of the Hatshepsut, "Maat-ka-Ra" to to be seen

(Museum Cairo; ground floor, Atrium)

Together with the canopic chest sarcophagus "D" and its lid is today exhibited in the museum at Cairo. Furthermore, from her funeral equipment a small wooden box was found that shows her kingly titles. This box had been reused for a burial in the 21.  Dynasty.
Parts of anthropoid wooden coffin of Hatshepsut had been discovered in KV4, the tomb of Ramses XI (20. Dyn.), in which also remainders from other royal tombs had been found. Obviously, tomb KV4 has served as workshop during the 3. Intermediate Period - most likely, mummies and funeral equipments have been restored there and, probably, robbed of their gold decoration on this occasion.
The fact however that during the 3. Intermediate Period still an anthropoid wooden coffin of Hatshepsut got repaired in KV4 and that during the 21. Dynasty still a small wooden box with her titles as king existed and could be reused for another burial, agues very much for the fact that she had been buried in accordance with her rank. On the other hand, the fact that the aforementioned small wooden box could be reused for another burial during the 21. Dynasty indicates that the royal tombs were already plundered at this time.

The second sarcophagus of Hatshepsut, sarcophagus "C" which was reworked for Thutmosis I, was given to Davis as an acknowledgment of his financial support of the excavation. Davis gave it to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (where it still is today). The sarcophagus "C" was originally intended for Hatshepsut and already inscribed in an appropriate way. For the admission of the mummy of Thutmosis I the sarcophagus had to be newly decorated, the interior was obviously extended several times, since it was too small for the anthropoid coffin of Thutmosis I. Thereby, the inscriptions made for Thutmosis I were destroyed again. Probably, these changes were not sufficient so that the mummyhad to be taken out of the anthropoid coffin.
A detailed investigation of the Sarcophagus "C" was published by Der Manuelian and Loeben (1993) - comparable investigations for the other two sarcophagi of Hatshepsut are still missing.


History and assignment of the tomb:
The location of the tomb was well-known already early in modern times, because already the French expedition under Napoleon I reported on it. However, the attempt to open the tomb failed. British John G. Wilkinson, however, succeeded to open the first part of the tomb in the twenties of the 19. century. Finally, he also gave up because rotten rock and chalky debris had formed together with seeping rainwater in past thousands of years a cement-hard mixture. Later again James Burton (1824) tried to open the tomb but the work had to be stopped after the 2. stairway since the used lamps went out due to a lack of oxygen.

After the discovery of the tomb of Thutmosis IV. Howard Carter and Theodore Davis wanted 1903 to open KV20. Until then nobody had made it down to the burial chamber, it was only well-known that the steep course turned to the right in clockwise direction.

Carters work was just as with difficulty as those of his predecessor, but at least he had electrical light. Before the entrance (A) he finally found a "foundation-deposit" with a written reference to Hatshepsut (beside it also broken stone jars with the names of her great-grandmother, Ah-mose-Nefertari, and her parents, Thutmosis I and Ah-mose). Thus, it seemed clear to whom the tomb belonged - above all, because Carter at this time already searched for the tomb of Hatshepsut, since he had found during the investigation of the tomb of Thutmosis IV. (KV43) in the proximity a scarab and a bowl which were marked with their name.

On the basis of the foundation-deposit and the sarcophagi of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis I found later in the burial chamber (J) Carter assumed that Hatshepsut had built KV20 for herself and her father who was taken out of his tomb KV38 and reburied.

However, later analyses of tombs and sarcophagi of the Thutmosid time led Romer (1974) to the conclusion that KV38 was built later than KV20. After his analyses KV20 had been started as tomb for Thutmosis I and was extended by Hatshepsut for a joint burial with her beloved father. According to Romer KV20 was extended by Hatshepsut only by the final burial chamber with three columns (see below). In the opinion of Romer, Hatshepsut let set the new foundation-deposits, probably together with the extension of the tomb. Later on, these misled Carter.
According to Romer KV38 was probably built by Thutmosis III for his grandfather Thutmosis I who had been removed from the tomb of Hatshepsut leaving behind his sarcophagus.
The starting point for the discussion was the observation of Hayes (in: Hayes, W.C., " royal Sarcophagi of the 18th Dynasty. ", Princeton in 1935), that the quartzite sarcophagus of Thutmosis I (according to Hayes, op. cit.: sarcophagus "E"; Cairo JdE 52344) from KV38 was formally and stylistically nearly identical with the sarcophagus "F" of the Thutmosis III. Therefore both sarcophagi have been presumably produced at the same time during the reign by Thutmosis III.
After that Romer examined the remaining findings in KV38 and go to the conclusion that not only the sarcophagus "E", but also the larger large part of inscriptions and archaeological findings from the tomb likewise belonged in the time of Thutmosis III.
Romer compared the architecture of KV38 with KV42 (presumably the tomb of Thutmosis II) and KV34, the tomb of Thutmosis III. With all three tombs he ascertained common typological characteristics (e.g. a sarcophagus hall in shape of a cartouche). Thus, he dated the construction of all three tombs into the same time period. Now as a result of the later dating of KV38 a tomb for Thutmosis I was missing.
Typologically, the tomb of Hatshepsut, KV20, did not fit at all in the development of the royal tombs as indicated by KV 38, KV42 and KV34. Not only that the axis of the tomb showed 2-times a sharp bend to the right, but also the antechamber (F) and burial chamber (J) are very specific, because the antechamber is in contrast to other royal tombs larger than the burial chamber.
Moreover, Romer noticed that for the construction of the coffin chamber "J" another architect was responsible than for the segments before it (A - D2; see plan on top) . The tomb had been obviously built in 2 phases.
It is assumed that Ineni, architect and mayor of Thebes had been responsible for the building of the part of the tomb (part of A - D2).
As Romer (1974) recognized in addition in the burial chamber, but in none of the other rooms, the same "unit of measurement" was used as in the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari (the burial chamber consists of two rectangles with a side length of approximately 10.5 inches; this measure was also used when the temple of Montuhotep II Neb-hetep-Ra was designed and then again used at Djeser djeseru). In his opinion this indicates that  Senenmut has been the architect of the extension of the tomb.
Altogether, Romer got to the conclusion that  KV20 was begun as a tomb for Thutmosis I and that it was extended by Hatshepsut only the burial chamber with three pillars (see plan above). Probably together with the extension of the tomb Hatshepsut let - in his view - also place new foundation-deposits which later misled Carter.
According to Romer KV38 has been built by Thutmosis III for his grandfather Thutmosis I. who was removed from the tomb of Hatshepsut leaving behind his sarcophagus.


 Family Tombs Mummy

Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)