KV 5 Finds

The relief carving in KV 5 was cut either directly into the limestone bedrock, or, where the stone was too brittle, into a thick layer of plaster applied to the walls. There are traces of decoration on every wall and every pillar in the tomb, but because of flooding most of the scenes and inscriptions have disappeared. Sometimes, the traces are so faint that it is impossible to photograph them.    
Nevertheless, Egyptologists and artists working together can frequently reconstruct scenes from the fragments. Where the wall is well preserved, a full-sized tracing of the decoration is made on plastic film [11473]. This tracing is rechecked several times, then inked, and photographically reduced. Once more it is checked against the original wall [10826]. It is then reduced again and made ready for publication. Where remains of color are visible, the tracing will serve as the base of a watercolor painting.     11473 10826
The decoration in KV 5 consists of scenes in which Rameses II presents one or more of his deceased sons to various Egyptian gods and goddesses. This, plus the funerary offerings (either depicted in the reliefs or actually placed in offering chapels), ensured that the princes made a safe journey into the netherworld and there could perform the duties expected of them. The presentation scenes in the tomb are more elaborate than those found in the tombs of the sons of other pharaohs. Rameses II's sons filled important roles in their father's court, and would be expected to take up significant duties in the afterlife.    
Some of the walls in KV 5 may appear to be undecorated. But a careful examination will reveal faint traces of carving on the walls or fragments of painted plaster that have fallen and lie on the floor. Because Egyptian religious scenes followed well-understood conventions, it is often possible for an Egyptologist to reconstruct entire scenes from such small fragments.    
A small piece of painted plaster was found lying on the floor at the base of a wall in pillared chamber 4 [16948]. Its color and shape identified it as a part of a feather [16949]. The thin red lines above it are the pleats of a kilt. Comparing this with other relief scenes, we know that such feathers were usually held by a prince or a figure of the kings' ka, or soul [16950]. When such figures appear in a relief, they invariably stand behind the pharaoh himself [16951]. Thus from a piece of plaster no larger than a postcard, we have been able to reconstruct a scene covering 6 square meters (55 square feet). From clues like this, it may be possible to recreate the decoration on an entire wall [12814].     16948 16949 16950 16951 12814

Published or last modified on: August 23, 2002
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