Anatomy of a Tomb: Modern Tomb Designations

Door Bolt Hole
Evidence for locking doors with horizontal sliding bolts can be seen in the gate thicknesses of some tombs. In a few instances, these occur in one of the thicknesses of a corridor gate, such as gate I of KV 57 [16133] but more often in the gates leading into side chambers, particularly those opening off the burial chamber. The hole served to receive the end of a horizontal sliding wooden bolt attached to the door leaf [17149].     16133 17149
Descents (B, C, F)
Movement from one chamber to a lower part of the tomb was sometimes by means of a descent cut in the floor of a chamber. This descent shares the same letter designation with the chamber. It could be stepped, or have a smooth sloping floor surface.    
Center Descent
A center descent is primarily found in pillared chamber F of Dynasties 19 and 20 royal tombs; the descent is cut into the floor in the center of the chamber, and was usually flanked by two pairs of pillars, as in KV 15 [13537].     13537
Side Descent
In Dynasty 18 royal tombs, the descent was cut in to the floor of a chamber near one of the side walls, usually the left [12595, 14905, 16268].     12595 14905 16268
Other Architectural Features
This feature occurs in several different components. One type we met with in the discussion of stairwells. Another form of recess found at the end of corridor D in Rameside royal tombs from the reign of Merenptah onwards is rectangular with a vertical axis and set near the floor [17150]. Recesses sometimes also occur in burial chambers or in side chambers, and are sometimes decorated [16207].     17150 16207
Sometimes a short ramp occurs at the end of a corridor, and even in some cases, continues through the subsequent chamber [17151]. In burial chambers with sunken central parts, access is often via ramps [17152].     17151 17152
Steps can occur in the entryway, in descents, in burial chambers, and in gates.    
Divided Stairway
This stairway has a central ramp flanked by steps [11821]. It can occur in the entryway, in corridors and descents. The ramp is often called a "sarcophagus slide" from the mistaken idea that it was used when the sarcophagus was lowered into the burial chamber. It is more likely that the sarcophagus was installed before the fragile steps were cut. Similar forms of stairways are known from New Kingdom temples and may have served as ascending approach ramps to aid the two rows of priests carrying processional statues and boats. The similar arrangement in royal tomb descents may have aided the burial party carrying the mummy in its coffin. It could also have had some symbolic association with temple architecture.     11821
In New Kingdom royal tombs, pillars are straight-sided and usually square in section [13634], approximately two cubits to a side, although examples of rectangular ones are also known. Pillars occur most often in chamber F and burial chamber J, although some occurrences in side chambers off these two chambers are known when the dimensions are sufficiently large.     13634
Aside from the intentionally carved pilasters found at the entryways of KV 6 and KV 11 [17122], pilasters found in other parts of tombs such as KV 9 and KV 14 are actually the result of the unfinished cutting of pillars that had not been completely freed from the surrounding bed rock [15080, 10933, 17040].     17122 15080 10933 17040

Published or last modified on: June 24, 2004
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