April 22, 2012

The Great Tomb Robberies | Reign of Ramses IX

The Great Tomb Robberies
It was in the reign of Ramses IX that the first of a series of scandals broke, when it was revealed that the tombs in the Valley of the Kings were being plundered. The robberies mainly took place in Year 16 of the reign, although there had been an earlier incident before Year 9, followed by an attack on KV 9 where Ramses VI had only recently been buried. The affair in Year 16 largely came to light because of intense rivalry between the mayor of Thebes, Paser, and the mayor of western Thebes, Paweraa, who was responsible for the cemeteries.

Ramses IX
Reports of the robberies were made to the vizier, Khaemwaset, who ordered a commission to investigate the allegations. Of the ten tombs that were checked, only that of Amenhotep I was said to have been intact. Of the remainder, some had been partly robbed whilst others had been completely despoiled. The verbatim accounts of the trials of several of the culprits have survived in over a dozen papyri, known as the 'Tomb Robbing Papyri', which are now scattered in various museums. One confession by a stonemason, Amun-pnufer, recorded on the 22nd day of the third month of winter in Year 16 of Ramses IX (c. 1110 BC), related in detail how the tomb of the 17th Dynasty king Sobekemsaf and his queen Nubkhas had been totally pillaged, even to the extent of setting fire to their coffins. The stonemason actually details the extent of the spoils from the two bodies, amounting to ‘160 deben of gold’, which is about 32 lb (14.5 kg). Compare this with the items from Tutankhamun’s tomb, where the gold mask alone weighs 22% lb (10.23 kg) and the inner gold coffin nearly 243 lb (110.4 kg).

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