This brief article was written on 15th January when the discovery of Tomb KV64 in the Valley of the Kings was formally announced. Please refer to the Addendum of 18th January for the latest news, which also corrects some of the orginal report.
The tomb was announced in Luxor by Mansour Boraik in Luxor and Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of State for Antiquities in Cairo on 15th January 2012. A pre-annoucement a few days earlier had indicated that something had been discovered and would be revealed shortly.
KV64 is not in the central valley of the Kings. It is not on the hillside near KV8. It is not in the Western Valley. All of these have been mentioned as locations for KV64 – and indeed there is a probability of further finds in each of these areas. This is not then the story of the hunt for Tomb KV64, a story I will tell in full at a later date. Despite all the efforts which have gone into finding new tombs, like KV63 the new tomb was found by accident. The University of Basel has a concession to clean, document and record a number of the poorly studied undecorated tombs in the Valley of the Kings. During routine ground clearance they stumbled on two new features. One is a new feature near tomb KV40, reported as either a trial and abandoned shaft or possibly as foundation deposit for KV40. Dubbed KV40b, the details have not been fully reported and it was scheduled for investigation during winter 2011/12, although it may now take second place to KV64.
KV64 was found by accident alongside the pathway leading to the well-known tomb of Thuthmosis III, KV34. It is a shaft or well tomb with (so far as is known) a single chamber at the bottom. Whether this has been fully cleared yet is unknown. There are no reports that the chamber is decorated. In Valley of the Kings terms, it is a minor tomb.
The reports say that it was originally cut during the New Kingdom in the 18th Dynasty. This is based on some finds, although what those are has not been revealed, nor whether the orginal burial can be identified. Obviously study will take time.
The burial discovered dates to the 22nd Dynasty and the Third Intermediate Period. An inscription reveals the occupant to be a Ni Hms Bastet. There is no standard representation of that yet, although Nehmes Bastet is being used. She was a Singer of Amun Re in the Temple of Karnak, and a Daughter of Amun Re. Jane Akshar reports a suggestion by Ken Griffin that she may have been the daughter of Djedkhonsuefankh (4th prophet of Amun):
Looks like the name should read as Nehmesbastet or Nehemsybastet. The second rendering of the name is in Kitchen (p.219), where she is listed as a daughter of Djedkhonsuefankh (4th prophet of Amun) of the 22nd Dyn
There is no official confirmation of that yet and obviously when the hieroglyhs are published things will be clarified. Jane reports further that Lynn Green is wondering whether this is the Nehmes Bastet who was the mother of Padimut whose mummy is in Birmingham:
If this Nehemes-Bastet is the mother of Padimut in Birmingham, she is the grandmother of Harwa, Chief Steward of God’s Wife Amenirdis I.
Harwa was son of Nestawereret and priest Padimut. According to Padimut’s coffin, he was the son of a woman called Nehemes-Bastet and Ankhefen-Mut
Nor is there any word as to whether the tomb was found intact, but at present it seems likely. Finds include a decorated sarcophagus with hieroglyphic markings. That is due to be opened in the next week or so and it is expected to contain a wrapped mummy and a cartonnage. Had it been empty, the weight would have been different so it seems a safe bet that there is a mummy. We may then know more about Nehmes Bastet.
It is a very interesting find. The 22nd Dynasty is not especially well known and an intact tomb could reveal a lot of information. At the moment she is not thought to be a member of the royal family, making this something of a unique burial in the Valley of the Kings; however, the concept of the Royal Family in Dynasty 22 is complex with the Priests of Amun having near royal status so further commentary on Nehmes Bastet’s social standing is expected over the coming weeks. This is a tomb for archaeologists rather than for tourists.
The rumour mill is in overdrive. There are totally unsubstantiated reports that another tomb has been found. Certainly Mansour Bouraik is saying that he thinks there are more undiscovered tombs in the Valley of the Kings. When Carter found Tutankhamun that was supposedly the last tomb in the valley. We now know that is not the case and the Valley of the Kings has still further secrets to reveal over coming years.
Addendum 18th January
The University of Basel has released two reports, one in English and one in German, which provide much firmer details. It is now confirmed that KV40b is one and the same as KV64, which is the new, official designation. It was first found on 25th January 2011, the day the Egyptian Revolution started, and secured by a metal door. The discovery was kept quiet, although at that stage it had not been firmly identified as a tomb. When the shaft was excavated in January 2012, a side chamber 4m x 2.4m was found with the top of the entrance at a depth of 2.5m. The shaft is 1.60m x 1.10m There is a picture of the shaft in the English report.
The German report has a better picture of the black anthropoid coffin – click on the picture for a larger image. The upper section is covered in dust but the coffin is in a good state of preservation. The coffin was opened on Monday and Professor Susanne Bickel of the University of Basel told the BBC that she could see the “nicely wrapped” mummy of Nehmes Bastet, which is 1.55m tall.
The wooden stellae found next to the feet of the coffin measures wooden 27.5 x 22.5 x 2cm and seems to be part of the evidence for a Dynasty 22 date.
There is a thick debris layer which has not yet been excavated but which contains remains of a 18th Dynasty burial. There is no more information yet.
Various people have noted that there in fact are other 22nd Dynasty instrusive burials in the Valley of the Kings, but these are generally poorly documented.
University of Basel, Kings’ Valley Project, Short Preliminary Report January 2012 - Discovery of a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings, KV 64 (English), http://aegyptologie.unibas.ch/forschung/projekte/university-of-basel-kings-valley-project/report-2012/
Universität Basel, Basler Ägyptologen entdecken neues Grab im Tal der Könige, http://www.unibas.ch/index.cfm?uuid=EC0DA492063193575200541907AFD90A&type=search&show_long=1
Luxor News, Jane Akshar, http://luxor-news.blogspot.com/2012/01/kv64.html
Luxor News, Jane Akshar, http://networkedblogs.com/sJ66v
Yahoo News / Associated Press, Aya Batrawy, http://m.yahoo.com/w/news_america/rare-tomb-woman-found-egypt-valley-kings-153839689.html?orig_host_hdr=news.yahoo.com&.intl=us&.lang=en-us