Tomb of Royal Children Excavated in Egypt

Posted on April 28, 2014

Excavation of tomb of royal children in Egypt

Egyptologists from the University of Basel have excavated a tomb of royal children near the the royal tombs in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings. The egyptologists have been working on tomb KV 40 in the Valley of the Kings close to the city of Luxor for three years. They initially assumed it was a non-royal tomb dating back to the 18th dynasty. They cleared a six meter deep shaft which gave access to five subterranean chambers. In the chambers they recovered the countless remains and fragments of funerary equipment. The scientists also discovered mummified remains of at least 50 people, including children and infants, in the center chamber and in three side chambers.

Based on inscriptions on storage jars, the researchers were able to identify and name over 30 people. Titles such as "Prince" and "Princess" distinguish the buried as members of the families of the two pharaohs Thutmosis IV and Amenhotep III who are also buried in the Valley of Kings. Both pharaohs belonged to the 18th dynasty (New Kingdom) and ruled in the 14th century BC. The analysis of the hieratic inscriptions revealed that tomb KV 40 contains the mummified remains of at least 8 hitherto unknown royal daughters, four princes and several foreign ladies.

Susanne Bickel, Professor of Egyptology at the University of Basel, says in the announcement, "Roughly two thirds of the tombs in the Kings' Valley are non-royal. Because the tombs do not have inscriptions and have been heavily plundered we so far have only been able to speculate on who lies buried in them."

The tomb was looted several times, but the researchers found many fragments of coffins and textiles. Bickel says, "The remains and the walls have been heavily affected by a fire that was most likely ignited by the torches of the tomb raiders."

Photo showing walls of tomb of royal children in Egypt blackened probably from torches of tomb raiders

LiveScience interviewed Bickel about the discovery. She told them they have not yet determined a cause of deaths for the infants buried in the tomb, but they do know they did not all die at the same time. She says, "What is certain is that they did not die at the same time (no epidemic), but over a certain time span."

Photos: Matjaz Kacicnik, University of Basel/Egyptology

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