August 3, 2012

Tomb Of Amenhotep II

Tomb Of Amenhotep II
This tomb was excavated in 1898. The attention of Loret, the prominent French archeologist, was drawn to it by local felaheen. It was a remarkable find. For one thing it was the first tomb ever opened in which the Pharaoh was found where he had been laid. Secondly, there was a windfall of mummies in a sealed-off chamber, including nine of royalty. Thirdly, the burial chamber proved to be one of the most beautiful, certainly the most original, in the entire Valley of the Kings. But more important, the tomb was nearly complete and contained a complete and unspoiled set of texts from the Book of the Dead.

Tomb Of Amenhotep II
The first corridors are rough and undecorated. They lead to a shaft (now bridged), a false burial chamber (/) created to confuse robbers, and finally to the actual tomb chamber (2). This is supported by six pillars and the sarcophagus of the Pharaoh lay in the crypt-like section at the rear. The mummy was festooned and garlanded and the sandstone sarcophagus was all that the grave-robbers had left. Everything else had been ruthlessly plundered.

As one enters the tomb chamber one is immediately struck by the originality and beauty of the decorations. The figures on the columns for the most part depicting Amenhotep and the gods of the underworld are outlined in black with only his crown, jewellery, belt and the- surrounding decorations in colour. The drawing is exquisitely fine and the blue roof is covered with stars. The walls are painted yellow and the traditional religious formulae are so drawn as to give the impression of papyrus texts having been pinned to the walls. There is not too much detail and the use of the pigment is beneficially restrained. As already explained, the Book of the Dead was a development of the magical formulae inscribe on the inside of the coffins of the Middle Kingdom. With the aid of these formulae the deceased would overcome the foes to eternal triumph in the underworld. Only with the magic inscription could he hope to make his heart (conscience) acceptable in the awesome presence of Osiris when it was weighed against the feather of truth; and only thus could he hope to live securely forever.

On each side of the chamber are two small rooms. Three mummies lay in the first to the right (j), and in the second (4) were nine royal mummies including Thutmose IV, Amenhotep III, Seti II and Ramses IV, V and VI. All have been taken to Cairo Museum. Not surprisingly this quickly became known as the Safety Tomb and this is undoubtedly what the priests had intended it for. When they found that Amenhotep II’s tomb had been violated they reasoned that the robbers would not return to its ravaged corridors. In fact they never did. The royal personages remained in peace for centuries.

When Loret excavated the tomb quite a controversy arose as to whether the mummy should be left on site or whether it should be removed with the others to the museum. It was finally agreed that it should remain on site but with an armed guard. Nearly three years later the tomb was rifled when, deliberately or otherwise, the backs of the guards were turned. The mummy of Amenhotep was found on the floor, in a very much poorer condition as a result of delving and prying hands in search of overlooked treasures in the folds of the cloth. There was now no question about it. The mummy of the Pharaoh was placed in Cairo Museum. The marvellous sandstone sarcophagus stands on site.

Tomb Of Amenhotep II
A - entrance steps
B - 1st descending corridor
C - shaft with the steps
D - 2nd descending corridor
E - well shaft (undecorated)
Ea - side chamber on the bottom of shaft (undecorated)
F - 2-pillared hall (antechamber) (undecorated)
G - descending corridor
J - 6-pillared burial chamber (walls decorated with scenes from Amduat, pillars with king before Osiris, Anubis and Hathor, gold stars on blue ceiling)
Ja-Jd - four side chambers

Tomb Of Amenhotep II

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