Anatomy of a Tomb: Modern Tomb Designations

Chambers (C, I)
The components C and I sometimes are simple chambers, distinguished from corridors by the fact that their width is equal or greater than their length.    
Well Chamber/Chamber E
This chamber, in about half of the tombs, contained a deep well shaft [17136, 16232]. It appears first in KV 34. In some examples, such as KV 35, KV 43, and KV 22, there is a side chamber off the bottom of the shaft.     17136 16232
The shaft has been suggested to be intended either to deter tomb robbers or to collect floodwaters that might enter the tomb. Since the integrity of the tombs depended on the remoteness and guarded condition of the Valley, thwarting tomb robbers is not a convincing argument for the shaft's purpose. The latter purpose seems unlikely too, as the tomb entrances were sealed and covered. Another theory is that the shaft represented the burial place of the Memphite necropolis god Sokar, also identified with Osiris. In Rameside period royal tombs, the decoration on the walls of corridor D, preceding the well shaft, depicts the fourth and fifth hours of the Imydwat, describing the sun god Ra's passage over the burial place of Sokar [16237]. The walls of the chamber into which the shaft was cut were often decorated with scenes of the king in the presences of various deities, including Hathor, Isis, Horus, Anubis, and Osiris [14714]. This decoration was usually carried over the blocked and plastered gateway leading to pillared chamber F, and has often been subsequently lost when the tombs were entered in antiquity [16139].     16237 14714 16139
Pillared Chamber F
This chamber served as a location for the change from one angle of axial orientation to another in Dynasty 18 tombs. During that dynasty, beginning with KV 34, the hall contained only two pillars and the stepped descent in the floor was set to the side [14684]. It is thought that one purpose of the chamber was to provide sufficient space for maneuvering the sarcophagus in Dynasty 18 tombs with a bent axis. Four pillars were placed in the chamber beginning with KV 17 (Sety I) and in KV 7 (Rameses II), onwards, the descent was moved to the center of the chamber and flanked by the two pairs of pillars.     14684
Burial Chamber J
This is the most important part of the tomb and New Kingdom royal examples were always decorated from Thutmes III onwards. The apparent exception of KV 43 may be the result of lack of sufficient time to carry-out the decoration after the Thutmes IV's death, since the walls had only been smoothed before plastering [16265].     16265
The sarcophagus was placed at the rear of the chamber, beyond a set of pillars in a lower (sunken) level, beginning with KV 35 [13550, 13551]. From the reign of Rameses II through the reign of Rameses VI, the sunken area with the vaulted ceiling above was moved to the center of the chamber [13546]. There is usually a stepped or ramped descent cut from the entrance of the tomb to the sunken area. Two sets of four columns on the upper level flanked the sunken central area to the front and rear [17120]. In the better-preserved examples, the upper edges are carved as a cavetto cornices and the vertical faces are decorated with images of burial equipment.     13550 13551 13546 17120
In some instances the actual burial chamber is not in the intended location after pillared chamber F. Instead, due to time constraints brought about by the unexpected death of the king, a corridor or a chamber, such as pillared chamber F, would be converted into use as the burial chamber. This type of conversion occurred in KV 2 (Rameses IV) and probably KV 23 (Ay). Examples of the conversion of a corridor into a burial chamber are found in KV 1 (Rameses VII), KV 10 (Amenmeses), KV 15, (Sety II), KV 19 (Prince Mentuherkhepeshef), and perhaps KV 16 (Rameses I).    

Published or last modified on: June 24, 2004
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