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KV 55
Tiye (?) or Akhenaten (?)

About the image
Tomb entrances and inspector's office.
More Details

Entryway A

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The entrance stairwell becomes narrower as it descends eastward to the first gate of the tomb. The entrance is cut into the cliff face and is covered by overhanging rock.

Architectural Features

Overhang
Steps

Condition

Cutting finished
Excavated
Undecorated

Dimensions

  • Width:

    2.68 m
  • Length:

    10.1 m
  • Area:

    26.06 m2
  • Orientation:

    92.25°

Graffiti

  • Mason's marks:

Gate B

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The gate is undecorated, and has traces of the original blocking.

Condition

Excavated
Cutting finished
Undecorated

Dimensions

  • Height:

    2.36 m
  • Width:

    1.64 m
  • Length:

    1.08 m
  • Area:

    1.77 m2
  • Volume:

    4.18 m3
  • Orientation:

    0° from entryway A

Corridor B

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A single sloping corridor leads down to the burial chamber.

Condition

Cutting finished
Excavated
Undecorated

Dimensions

  • Height:

    2.37 m
  • Width:

    2.08 m
  • Length:

    8.38 m
  • Area:

    17.38 m2
  • Volume:

    41.19 m3
  • Orientation:

    0° from entryway A

Gate J

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The gate is undecorated and leads into the burial chamber. It drops almost a meter (three feet) into burial chamber J.

Condition

Excavated
Cutting finished
Undecorated

Dimensions

  • Height:

    2.39 m
  • Width:

    1.62 m
  • Length:

    0.81 m
  • Area:

    1.31 m2
  • Volume:

    3.13 m3
  • Orientation:

    0° from corridor B

Burial chamber J

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A series of long, black, vertical masons' marks on several walls may have been used to lay out KV 55. The walls are plastered but not painted. The plastering seems to have been done some years after the tomb was first cut, and repairs to the work are evident. Most of the plaster on the left (north) wall had fallen off before the burials were inserted. A side chamber was started off the right (south) wall.

  • Chamber plan:

    Rectangular
  • Relationship to main tomb axis:

    Parallel
  • Chamber layout:

    Flat floor, no pillars
  • Floor:

    One level
  • Ceiling:

    Flat

Condition

Cutting finished
Excavated
Undecorated

Dimensions

  • Height:

    3.93 m
  • Width:

    6.64 m
  • Length:

    4.96 m
  • Area:

    32.9 m2
  • Volume:

    129.3 m3
  • Orientation:

    0° from corridor B

Graffiti

  • Mason's marks:

    rear (East) wall
  • Mason's marks:

    front (West) wall

Gate Ja

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The gate is located in the right (south) wall of burial chamber J.

Condition

Excavated
Cutting finished
Undecorated

Dimensions

  • Height:

    1.87 m
  • Width:

    1.34 m
  • Length:

    0.61 m
  • Area:

    0.78 m2
  • Volume:

    1.63 m3
  • Orientation:

    89.94° right from burial chamber J

Side chamber Ja

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This side chamber was only partially cut. Canopic jars were found here.

Condition

Cutting unfinished
Excavated
Undecorated

Dimensions

  • Height:

    1.42 m
  • Width:

    2.58 m
  • Length:

    1.67 m
  • Area:

    4.1 m2
  • Volume:

    5.82 m3
  • Orientation:

    89.94° right from burial chamber J

Details

About

The entrance to KV 55 is cut into the floor of the main valley between the resthouse and the tomb of Rameses IX (KV 6). This tomb is composed of an entryway (A) followed by a single corridor (B) leading directly into burial chamber J and its side chamber Ja. KV 55 was probably excavated at the same time as KV 46 and 62. An ostracon painted with what may be part of the original tomb plan was found in KV 55 in 1993 when the tomb was cleared by Lyla Pinch Brock.

It may show indications of the widening of the entrance, a feature also suggested by mason's marks on the wall near the tomb entrance. Marks on the walls indicate that, after the entrance and stairs were cut, the entrance was enlarged, the ceiling raised, and the number of stairs increased. The walls and ceiling in the burial chamber were plastered but undecorated. Objects found in KV 55 date from the time of Amenhetep III to the reign of Tutankhamen.

Noteworthy features:

This appears to be a cache of burial equipment and human remains from the Amarna royal necropolis.

Site History

The tomb may originally have contained a number of burials brought from Amarna and later redistributed in other tombs. The mummy of Queen Tiye, for instance, may have been placed in KV 55 and later in the Amenhetep II cache (KV 35). KV 55 was originally sealed with blocks of limestone plastered with mortar and stamped with the seal of the necropolis. When this was broken through, rubble fill was inserted in the corridor. An attempt seems to have been made to remove the remaining burial equipment sometime after this event. It was resealed with rough blocking, perhaps during Dynasty 20, as were other tombs in the area, but this blocking did not remain in place. It appears that when the tomb for Rameses IX (KV 6) was cut just north of KV 55, debris was dumped over the entrance to KV 55. Analyses of the assortment of objects found in the tomb have contributed to several theories concerning the use and owner of KV 55. It is now generally believed that the mummy found inside the tomb was Amenhetep IV/Akhenaten.

Dating

This site was used during the following period(s):

New Kingdom
Dynasty 18
Amenhetep IV/Akhenaten
New Kingdom
Dynasty 20

Exploration

1992-1993: Excavation
Brock, Lyla Pinch
1907: Discovery
Ayrton, Edward Russell
1907-1908: Excavation
Ayrton, Edward Russell

Conservation

Conservation History

By 1908, all the objects had been taken from the tomb and the entrance was protected by a steel door. This later disappeared, to be replaced by a stone blocking, which, by 1944, had collapsed. The entrance of the tomb then began to fill with debris. In 1993, Lyla Pinch Brock cleared the tomb, and in 1996 she repaired the plaster in the burial chamber and cemented the broken stairs.

Site Condition

Stains on the walls and ceiling of corridor B show that water infiltrated the tomb in antiquity.

Resources

Articles

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Bibliography

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Aldred, Cyril.  The Tomb of Akhenaten at Thebes.  Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 47 (1961): 41-60.

Allen, James P.  Two Altered Inscriptions of the Late Amarna Period.  Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt.  Boston [and Elsewhere].  25 (1988): 117-126.

Bell, Martha.  An Armchair Excavation of KV 55.  Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt.  Boston [and Elsewhere]. 27 (1990): 97-137.

Brock, Lyla Pinch. Shooting in KV 55: New Light on Early Photography. In: Pearce Paul Creasman (ed.). Archaeological research in the Valley of the Kings and ancient Thebes: papers presented in honor of Richard H. Wilkinson. Tucson: University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition, 2013.  Pp. 241-254.

Brock, Lyla Pinch.  Theodore Davis and the Rediscovery of Tomb 55.  In: Richard H. Wilkinson (ed.), The Valley of the Sun Kings: New Explorations in the Tombs of the Pharaohs.  Tucson: University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition, 1995.  Pp. 34-46.

Brock, Lyla Pinch. An Unpublished Photograph of the KV 55 Burial Chamber.  Göttingen Miszellen 175 (2000): 65-71.

Brock, Lyla Pinch.  The Final Clearance of KV 55.  In: Jacke Phillips (ed.). Ancient Egypt, the Aegean, and the Near East: Studies in Honour of Martha Rhoads Bell.  San Antonio: vansiclen Books, 1997. (1997): 1, 121-136.

Brock, Lyla Pinch.   The Real Location of KV ‘C’?  Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 85 (1999): 223-226.

Costa, Pedro.  The Frontal Sinuses of the Remains Purported to be Akhenaten.  Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 64 (1978): 76-79.

Measurements

Maximum height:

3.93 m

Minimum width:

1.34 m

Maximum width:

6.64 m

Total length:

27.61 m

Total area:

84.30 m²

Total volume:

185.25 m³

Additional Tomb Information

Owner type:

Unknown, possibly royal

Entrance location:

Valley floor

Entrance type:

Staircase

Interior layout:

Corridor and chambers

Axis type:

Straight

Categories of Objects Recovered

Accessories
Carpenters' and sculptors' tools
Furniture
Human mummies
Jewelry
Models
Scarabs and seals
Sculpture
Tomb equipment
Vessel stands
Vessels
Warfare and hunting equipment
Written documents

Hieroglyphs

Tiye

Queen Tiye

Akhenaten

King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Beautiful are the Manifestations of Ra, Unique of Ra; Son of Ra, Useful to Aten-Ra