KV 5 History

The TMP's excavations have shown that KV 5 contains not just the six rooms first seen by Burton in 1825, but over 110 corridors and chambers dug deep into the hillside. It is, in fact, one of the largest tombs ever found in Egypt. From the wall reliefs and objects found on the floors, we now know that KV 5 was the burial place of the sons of Rameses II. The tomb is unique in size, in plan, and in purpose. Many have called the work in KV 5 one of the most exciting and important archaeological projects of the twentieth century.    
In 1990, the TMP built walls around the entrance of KV 5 to protect against flooding. The kiosks were moved by order of the government, and all vehicular traffic was banned. On the right was a power transformer, finally removed in 1997. On the left was our "field office," [11486] replaced by a canvas tent and caravan trailer [10402].     11486 10402
Chronological overview of discoveries in KV 5
Burton dug channels through the first three chambers [16980]. He was also able to crawl into three other chambers, probing with a stick into inaccessible corners to determine their rough dimensions.     16980
Between 1987 and 1994, the TMP began clearing the first two chambers of KV 5 [16981]. It did not know yet that the tomb might extend beyond the rooms Burton sketched in his notebook. TMP staff, however, saw extensive painted reliefs on the walls and found thousands of objects on the floors. These included inscriptions giving the names of several of the sons of Rameses II, proof that KV 5 was a family mausoleum.     16981
Unable to remove the debris from the structurally unstable sixteen-pillared chamber 3, in 1995 the TMP turned its attention to gate 7 in the rear wall of the chamber. Once through the gate, clogged to the ceiling with debris, the level of the fill dropped. It was possible to crawl forward into a long, T-shaped set of corridors that had not been entered in over three thousand years. KV 5, once thought to be unimportant and undecorated, was now known to contain over sixty-seven chambers with traces of paint and reliefs, making it the largest tomb ever found in the Valley of the Kings [16982].     16982
Returning to pillared chamber 3, the TMP found two gates. These apparently led to parallel corridors 12 and 20 sloping downward beneath the road and towards KV 7, the tomb of Rameses II [16983].     16983
As of spring 1997, one of the two parallel corridors (12) had been partially explored. It leads to a three-pillared chamber (14) from which yet another corridor (with more side-chambers) runs into the heart of the Valley of the Kings. Over 110 chambers were now known, and KV 5 had become one of the largest tombs ever found in all Egypt [16984].     16984
For subsequent activities in KV 5, see our progress reports.    

Published or last modified on: October 1, 2002
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