Coordinates: 25°44′20.7″N 32°36′12.4″E / 25.739083°N 32.603444°E / 25.739083; 32.603444
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Burial site of Thutmose I and Hatshepsut
KV20 Burial chamber J2 as seen by Howard Carter circa 1904
KV20 is located in Egypt
Coordinates25°44′20.7″N 32°36′12.4″E / 25.739083°N 32.603444°E / 25.739083; 32.603444
LocationEast Valley of the Kings
Discoveredbefore 1799
Excavated byJames Burton (1824)
Howard Carter (1903–1904)
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KV20 is a tomb in the Valley of the Kings (Egypt). It was probably the first royal tomb to be constructed in the valley. KV20 was the original burial place of Thutmose I (who was later re-interred in KV38) and later was adapted by his daughter Hatshepsut to accommodate her and her father. The tomb was known to Napoleon Bonaparte's expedition in 1799 and had been visited by several explorers between 1799 and 1903. A full clearance of the tomb was undertaken by Howard Carter in 1903–1904. KV20 is distinguishable from other tombs in the valley, both in its general layout and because of the atypical clockwise curvature of its corridors.

Location and exploration[edit]

KV20 is located in the easternmost branch of the valley near the later tombs KV19, KV43, and KV60. It was known to the French expedition of 1799[1] and to Belzoni, who worked in the area in 1817.[2][3] A first attempt to excavate the tomb was undertaken by James Burton in 1824, who cleared it as far as the tomb's first chamber.[4] Although Lepsius explored it in 1844 and 1845,[3] no further attempts to excavate the tomb were undertaken until Howard Carter started his clearance of the rock-hard fill in the corridor in the spring of 1903.[5] This excavation was conducted by Carter as Inspector of the Antiquities Service, but the work was sponsored by Theodore M. Davis, who published a full report of the work in 1906.[6]

After Carter's work in the tomb ended, no further activities have been carried out.[3] The ceiling of the burial chamber had suffered a further collapse when John Romer visited the tomb in the late 1960s.[7] Since 1994 the burial chamber has been inaccessible due to debris deposited by flooding.[3]


The tomb has an unusual layout, consisting of a series of five curving, descending corridors, interspersed with sections of steep stairs and passing through two chambers and an antechamber before ending in a pillared burial chamber with three small satellite storerooms.[8] The corridors bend east-south-west in a clockwise fashion, which is a unique feature amongst the tombs in the valley.[3] Beginning halfway down the first corridor are sockets, likely to take the timber supports used to lower the sarcophagus. Additionally, the corridors have steps cut along one side, with the remaining portion forming a ramp.[6] Another unusual feature of the tomb is its extreme length of 210 metres (690 ft).[3]

Excavation and contents[edit]

KV20 schematic

Carter found two items bearing Hatshepsut's cartouches during his excavation of the tomb of Thutmose IV (KV43), leading him to suspect her tomb must be nearby. A single foundation deposit was found on 2 February 1903 immediately in front of KV20.[6] The foundation deposit was carefully placed between layers of sand and covered over with limestone chips. It contained small alabaster vases, and model items and tools including brick moulds, adzes, axes, chisels, and a flail; other contents included linen samples, bread, and vase rests. Some elements of the foundation deposit had washed into the first corridor and were recovered there.[9]

Carter's excavation and clearance began in early Feb 1903 and proved to be difficult, only concluding in March the following year. He found the tomb to be filled with hard, cemented debris. The first passageway was cleared by the end of February; this corridor curves to the right (clockwise) and is 49.5 metres (162 ft) long by 2 metres (6.6 ft) wide and tall. The first rectangular chamber was full of cemented debris and was cleared by 15 April. A steep flight of steps cut into the centre of the floor leads to the second corridor. Midway down the second passage, the limestone layer ends and the unstable tafle (marl) stratum below it begins; Carter characterised the latter as a "...stratum of rock so bad that there was fear of it falling at any moment."[6] The second corridor was identical to previous sections, ending in a chamber with another set of stairs cut into the floor leading to a further hallway. At this point work stopped "on account of the heat and the exhaustion of the air, owing to the great numbers of workmen required to carry out the excavation."

The excavation restarted in mid October but the conditions inside the tomb necessitated the installation of an exhaust fan. This third corridor was cleared by 26 January 1904; the curve to the right becomes a sharp bend at its end. Carter again found the chamber totally filled with debris and his team used pickaxes as the fill was "so hard...one could hardly tell whether the men were cutting the rock or the rubbish."[6] Additionally, the ceiling of this chamber had collapsed. The final flight of steps was cleared by February 11; it was short, at only 12 metres (39 ft) long. In this corridor Carter began encountering the remains of funerary items, mostly stone vases bearing the cartouches of Ahmose-Nefertari, Thutmose I, and Hatshepsut.

The final chamber, the burial chamber, was found to be full of debris and had suffered a ceiling collapse. The ceiling of the rectangular room was supported by three columns aligned along the length of the room.[6]

One of the two sarcophagi found in KV20, originally intended for Hatshepsut, but re-inscribed for her father Thutmose I

The burial chamber proved to contain two sarcophagi and the canopic chest of Hatshepsut. Her sarcophagus was found at the far end of the chamber with its lid lying on the floor at the head end; her canopic chest was located in the centre of the room. The sarcophagus of Thutmose I was in the middle of the room, tipped on its side against the second pillar, likely to support that column. Its lid was found leaning against the wall. Carter noted that none of the items were in their original locations. One of the sarcophagi likely sat in the depression cut immediately in front of the main doorway.[6]

Foundation deposits found at KV20

Also found in the burial chamber were fifteen limestone slabs bearing chapters of the Amduat in red and black ink[6] and illustrated with 'stick figures' like those seen in the tomb of Thutmose III (KV34).[8] The soft rock in the burial chamber was unsuitable for decoration and the slabs were intended to line the walls.[4] Similar blocks, probably from the same series, were found in KV38.[10]

Smaller finds included fragments of vases, bowls, and jars in stone and pottery, burnt pieces of coffins and boxes, the foot and face of a large wooden statue (probably a guardian statue), faience vases and ushabti coffins, and small pieces of inlay.[6][8]

Carter's excavation was completed at the end of March 1904, and the sarcophagi and canopic box were removed to Cairo,[6] although the sarcophagus of Thutmose I was given to Davis for the Boston Museum.[11] The sarcophagus of Thutmose was originally inscribed for Hatshepsut, but later altered for the former king. The interior was entirely recarved to enlarge it and new texts were added. Some of the interior decoration at the head and foot ends was later hastily cut away, presumably during the reburial of Thutmose I, when it was discovered that it was slightly too small for his coffins.[12]

Model bread loaves from the Foundation deposit for Hatshepsut's Tomb

Other items associated with KV20[edit]

A box inscribed for Hatshepsut as pharaoh, containing the remains of a mummified liver or spleen was recovered from the DB320 royal cache.[4] Other items associated with Hatshepsut, including the legs and footboard of a couch or bed and a fragmentary cartouche-shaped lid are of uncertain origin, but might come from either the Deir el Bahari cache or KV6 (tomb of Ramesses IX).[4]

Fragments of at least one anthropoid coffin belonging to a mid-Eighteenth dynasty female ruler (presumably Hatshepsut), fragmentary wooden panels with decoration that links them to objects found in KV20, and a faience vessel, possibly belonging to Thutmose I, were recovered from the shaft in the burial chamber of KV4, together with remains of royal funerary equipment belonging to several other New Kingdom rulers.[13]

Intended ownership[edit]

Model Dish from a foundation deposit

Despite the foundation deposit of Hatshepsut and the existence of another tomb for Thutmose I, (KV38), it is now generally presumed that KV 20 originally was quarried for the latter king.[3] Re-evaluation of the architecture of KV38 and some of its content has shown that it is unlikely that this tomb pre-dates the reign of Thutmose III. It also has been noted that the proportions of the KV20 burial chamber are different from those in the rest of the tomb and that they display a design relationship to the architecture of Hatshepsut's pharaonic mortuary temple.[7][4]

Therefore it has been suggested that KV20 originally extended only to its present penultimate chamber, in which Thutmose I first was interred, and that the tomb was re-cut and refurbished during the reign of Hatshepsut to accommodate the burial of both her and her father. Later, the burial of Thutmose I was moved again, to KV38, by his grandson Thutmose III while the burial of Hatshepsut probably remained in KV20, eventually suffering from robbery (and official dismantling).[7][4]

An unidentified mummy, recovered from DB320 and found within coffins prepared by Thutmose III for Thutmose I is usually identified as the later king.[14] The body of Hatshepsut has not yet been identified with certainty and the mummified liver or spleen found in DB320 might be all that remains of her,[15] although it also has been suggested that one of two female mummies found in KV60 is her.[3][16] A molar found in the wooden box containing her liver, was matched to one of these mummies in 2007, making it likely that the mummy belongs to Hatshepsut.[17][18][19]


  1. ^ Commission des sciences et arts d'Egypte (1812). Description de l'Égypte... Antiquités, Planches, Tome Deuxième (in French). Paris: Imprimerie impériale. p. Plate 77.
  2. ^ Belzoni, Giovanni (1820). Narrative of the Operations... in Egypt and Nubia: Plates Illustrative of the Researches and Operations of G. Belzoni in Egypt and Nubia. London: John Murray. p. Plate XXXIX. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "KV 20 (Thutmes I and Hatshepsut) – Theban Mapping Project". www.thebanmappingproject.com. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Reeves, C. N. (1990). Valley of the Kings: Decline of a royal necropolis. London: Kegan Paul International. pp. 13–17. ISBN 0-7103-0368-8.
  5. ^ Carter, Howard (1903). "Report of Work Done in Upper Egypt (1902–1903)". Annales du Service des Antiquités de l'Égypte. IV: 177. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Davis, Theodore M.; Naville, Edouard; Carter, Howard (1906). The Tomb of Hâtshopsîtû (Duckworth 2004 reprint ed.). London: Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd. pp. 77–80. ISBN 0-7156-3125-X.
  7. ^ a b c Romer, John (1974). "Tuthmosis I and the Bibân El-Molûk: Some Problems of Attribution". The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. 60: 119–133. doi:10.2307/3856179. JSTOR 3856179.
  8. ^ a b c Reeves, Nicholas; Wilkinson, Richard H. (2010). The Complete Valley of the Kings : Tombs and Treasures of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs (Paperback reprint ed.). London: Thames and Hudson. pp. 91–94. ISBN 978-0-500-28403-2.
  9. ^ Davis, Theodore M.; Naville, Edouard; Carter, Howard (1906). The Tomb of Hâtshopsîtû (Duckworth 2004 reprint ed.). London: Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd. pp. 105–106. ISBN 0-7156-3125-X.
  10. ^ Reeves, C.N., Valley of the Kings, (kegan Paul, 1990) p.28
  11. ^ Carter, Howard (1905). "Report of Work Done in Upper Egypt (1903–1904)". Annales du Service des Antiquités de l'Égypte. VI: 119. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  12. ^ Manuelian, Peter Der; Loeben, Christian E. (1993). "New Light on the Recarved Sarcophagus of Hatshepsut and Thutmose I in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston". The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. 79: 121–155. doi:10.2307/3822161. JSTOR 3822161.
  13. ^ Reeves, C.N., Valley of the Kings, (kegan Paul, 1990) pp.121–122
  14. ^ Reeves, C.N., Valley of the Kings (Kegan Paul, 1990) p. 244
  15. ^ Reeves, C.N., Valley of the Kings (Kegan Paul, 1990) p. 245
  16. ^ "The Search for Hatshepsut and the Discovery of Her Mummy – Dr. Zahi Hawass – The Plateau – Official Website of Dr. Zahi Hawass". www.guardians.net.
  17. ^ Hawass, Zahi; Saleem, Sahar N. (2016). Scanning the Pharaohs : CT Imaging of the New Kingdom Royal Mummies. Cairo: The American University in Cairo. pp. 59–63. ISBN 978-977-416-673-0.
  18. ^ Wilford, John Noble (June 27, 2007). "Tooth May Have Solved Mummy Mystery". New York Times. Retrieved June 29, 2007. A single tooth and some DNA clues appear to have solved the mystery of the lost mummy of Hatshepsut, one of the great queens of ancient Egypt, who reigned in the 15th century B.C.
  19. ^ "Tooth Clinches Identification of Egyptian Queen". Reuters. June 27, 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2008.

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