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Burial site of Tutankhamun
The wall decorations in KV62's burial chamber
are modest in comparison with other royal
tombs found in
the Valley of the Kings.
KV62 is located in Egypt
Coordinates 25°44′24.8″N 32°36′04.8″E / 25.740222°N 32.601333°E / 25.740222; 32.601333Coordinates: 25°44′24.8″N 32°36′04.8″E / 25.740222°N 32.601333°E / 25.740222; 32.601333
Location East Valley of the Kings
Discovered 4 November 1922
Excavated by Howard Carter
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KV62 is the standard Egyptological designation for the tomb of the young pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, now renowned for the wealth of treasure it contained.[1] The tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, underneath the remains of workmen's huts built during the Ramesside Period; this explains why it was spared from the worst of the tomb depredations of that time. KV is an abbreviation for the Valley of the Kings, followed by a number to designate individual tombs in the Valley.

The tomb was densely packed with items in great disarray. Due to the state of the tomb, and to Carter's meticulous recording technique, the tomb took eight years to empty, the contents all being transported to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Tutankhamun's tomb had been entered at least twice, not long after he was buried and well before Carter's discovery. The outermost doors of the shrines enclosing the king's nested coffins were left opened, and unsealed.

Discovery of the tomb[edit]

The unbroken seal on Tutankhamun’s tomb, 1922.
The pharaoh's solid gold funerary mask was interred with him in KV62.

In 1907, just before his discovery of the tomb of Horemheb, Theodore M. Davis's team uncovered a small site containing funerary artifacts with Tutankhamun's name. Assuming that this site, identified as KV54, was Tutankhamun's complete tomb, Davis concluded the dig. The details of both findings are documented in Davis's 1912 publication, The Tombs of Harmhabi and Touatânkhamanou; the book closes with the comment, "I fear that the Valley of the Kings is now exhausted."[2] But Davis was to be proven spectacularly wrong.

The British Egyptologist Howard Carter (employed by Lord Carnarvon) hired a crew to help him excavate at the site of KV62. Carter went back to a line of huts that he had abandoned a few seasons earlier. When the first step was removed, they found a stone step. Carter's foreman got Carter and told him about the step. Working carefully, they uncovered stairs. He sent a message to Carnarvon, who arrived in a week along with his 21-year-old daughter, Evelyn. He cleared the doorway and made his way down a passageway that had been cleared by robbers. Carter then made a hole in the door, struck a match, and after discovering that the air had oxygen inside, went in. The chamber that they found was bare, but Carter was convinced that there must be a secret chamber. He searched the walls and found it; it was filled with treasures and statues. He had discovered Tutankhamun's tomb (since designated KV62) in the Valley of the Kings on November 4, 1922, near the entrance to the tomb of Ramesses VI, thereby setting off a renewed interest in all things Egyptian in the modern world. Carter contacted his patron, and on November 26 that year, both men became the first people to enter Tutankhamun's tomb in over 3000 years. After many weeks of careful excavation, on February 16, 1923, Carter opened the inner chamber and first saw the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. All of this was conveyed to the public by H. V. Morton, the only journalist allowed on the scene.


Howard Carter and associates opening the shrine doors in the burial chamber (1924 reconstruction of the 1923 event)

The first step to the stairs was found on November 4, 1922.[3] The following day saw the exposure of a complete staircase. The end of November saw access to the antechamber and the discovery of the annex, and then the burial chamber and treasury. On November 29, the tomb was opened, and the first announcement and press conference followed the next day. The first item was removed from the tomb on December 27.[4]

On February 16, 1923, the burial chamber was opened,[5] and on April 5, Lord Carnarvon died.

On February 12, 1924, the granite lid of the sarcophagus was raised.[6] In April, Carter argued with the Antiquities Service and left the excavation for the United States.

In January 1925, Carter resumed activities in the tomb, and on October 13, he removed the cover of the first sarcophagus; on October 23, he removed the cover of the second sarcophagus; on October 28, the team removed the cover of the final sarcophagus and exposed the mummy; and on November 11, the examination of the remains of Tutankhamun started.

An alabaster jar found in the tomb, symbolizing the union of Lower and Upper Egypt.

Work started in the treasury on October 24, 1926, and between October 30 and December 15, 1927, the annex was emptied and examined. On November 10, 1930, eight years after the discovery, the last objects were removed from the tomb.[7]

Layout of tomb[edit]

Plan of KV62.

In design, the tomb appears to have originally been intended for a private individual, not for royalty.[8] There is some evidence to suggest that the tomb was adapted for a royal occupant during its excavation.[9] This may be supported by the fact that only the burial chamber walls were decorated, unlike royal tombs in which nearly all walls were painted with scenes from the Book of the Dead.[9]

Axonometric, plan and elevation images of KV62 taken from a 3d model
Stereo drawing of tomb viewed from northwest.


Starting from a small, level platform, 15 steps descend to the first doorway, which was sealed and plastered – although it had been penetrated by grave robbers at least twice in antiquity.

Entrance corridor[edit]

Beyond the first doorway, a descending corridor leads to the second sealed door, and into the room that Carter described as the Antechamber. This was used originally to hold material left over from the funeral and material associated with the embalming of the king. After the initial robberies, this material was either moved into the tomb proper, or to KV54.


The undecorated antechamber was found to be in a state of "organized chaos" and contained approximately 700 objects (articles 14 to 171 in the Carter catalogue) amongst which were three funeral beds, plates in shape of hippopotamus (the Goddess Tawaret), of lion (or leopards) and cattle (the Goddess Hathor). Perhaps the most remarkable item in this room were the components, stacked, of four chariots of which one was probably used for hunting, one for "war" and another two for parades. Many of the 700 objects were made of gold.

Burial chamber[edit]

Cross-section of shrines and sarcophagi in KV62


This is the only decorated chamber in the tomb, with scenes from the Opening of the Mouth ritual (showing Ay, Tutankhamun's successor acting as the king's son, despite being older than he is) and Tutankhamun with the goddess Nut on the north wall, the first hour of Amduat (on the west wall), spell one of the Book of the Dead (on the east wall) and representations of the king with various deities (Anubis, Isis, Hathor and others now destroyed) on the south wall. The north wall shows Tutankhamen being followed by his Ka, being welcomed to the underworld by Osiris.[10]

Some of the treasures in Tutankhamun's tomb are noted for their apparent departure from traditional depictions of the boy king. Certain cartouches where a king's name should appear have been altered, as if to reuse the property of a previous pharaoh—as often occurred. However, this instance may simply be the product of "updating" the artifacts to reflect the shift from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun. Other differences are less easy to explain, such as the older, more angular facial features of the middle coffin and canopic coffinettes. The most widely accepted theory for these latter variations is that the items were originally intended for Smenkhkare, who may or may not be the mysterious KV55 mummy. This mummy, according to craniological examinations, bears a striking first-order (father-to-son, brother-to-brother) relationship to Tutankhamun.[11]


The outer golden shrine, now on display in the Cairo Museum
Tutankhamun's wooden chest

The entire chamber was occupied by four gilded wooden shrines which surrounded the king's sarcophagus. The outer shrine ([1] in the cross-section) measured 5.08 x 3.28 x 2.75 m and 32 mm thick, almost entirely filling the room, with only 60 cm at either end and less than 30 cm on the sides. Outside of the shrines were 11 paddles for the "solar boat", containers for scents, and lamps decorated with images of the God Hapi[disambiguation needed].

The fourth and last shrine ([4]) was 2.90 m long and 1.48 m wide. The wall decorations depict the king's funeral procession, and Nut was painted on the ceiling, "embracing" the sarcophagus with her wings.

This sarcophagus was constructed in granite ([a] in the cross-section). Each corner of the main body and lid were carved from stone of different colours. It appears to have been constructed for another owner, but then recarved for Tutankhamen; the identity of the original owner is not preserved.[10] In each corner a protective goddess (Isis, Nephthys, Serket and Neith) guards the body.

Inside, the king's body was placed within three mummiform coffins, the outer two made of gilded wood while the innermost was composed of 110.4 kg of pure gold.[12] The mummy itself was adorned with a gold mask, mummy bands and other funerary items. The funerary mask is made of gold, inlaid with lapis lazuli, carnelian, quartz, obsidian, turquoise and glass and faience, and weighs 11 kg.[13]


The treasury was the burial chamber's only side-room and was accessible by an unblocked doorway. It contained over 5,000 catalogued objects, most of them funerary and ritual in nature. Also found within the chamber were thirty six wine jars, containing the residue of vintage wines.[14] The two largest objects found in this room were the king's elaborate canopic chest and a large statue of Anubis. Other items included numerous shrines containing gilded statuettes of the king and deities, model boats and two more chariots. This room also held two mummies of fetuses that some consider to have been stillborn offspring of the king.[15]


The "annex", originally used to store oils, ointments, scents, foods and wine, was the last room to be cleared, from the end of October 1927 to the spring of 1928. Although quite small in size, it contained approximately 280 groups of objects, totaling more than 2,000 individual pieces.

Present day[edit]

The tomb is open for visitors, at an additional charge above that of the price of general access to the Valley of the Kings. The number of visitors was limited to 400 per day in 2008.[16] In 2010 the tomb was closed to the public while restoration work was undertaken by the Getty Conservation Institute.[17] As of 2014 the tomb has been reopened to the public. The tomb is expected to be definitively closed to public in the near future, but a reproduction will be placed nearby at the Valley of the Kings and will be available to the public.[18]

See also[edit]


  • The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen, by Howard Carter, Arthur C. Mace.
  • Reeves, Nicholas. The Complete Tutankhamun: The King, the Tomb, the Royal Treasure, Thames & Hudson, 1995, ISBN 978-0500278109
  • The Complete Tutankhamun: The King, the Tomb, the Royal Treasure, by C. N. Reeves, Nicholas Reeves, Richard H. Wilkinson.
  • Reeves, N & Wilkinson, R.H. The Complete Valley of the Kings, 1996, Thames and Hudson, London
  • Siliotti, A. Guide to the Valley of the Kings and to the Theban Necropolises and Temples, 1996, A.A. Gaddis, Cairo


  1. ^ "Tutankhamun". University College London. Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  2. ^ Davis, Theodore M. (2001). The Tombs of Harmhabi and Touatânkhamanou. London: Duckworth Publishing. ISBN 0-7156-3072-5. 
  3. ^ "Howard Carter's diaries (October 28 to December 30, 1922)". Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  4. ^ "A. C. Mace's personal diary of the first excavation season (December 27, 1922 to May 13, 1923)". Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  5. ^ "Howard Carter's diaries (January 1 to May 31, 1923)". Archived from the original on 2007-04-07. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  6. ^ "Howard Carter's diaries (October 3, 1923 to February 11, 1924)". Archived from the original on 2007-04-07. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  7. ^ "Howard Carter's diaries (September 24 to November 10, 1930)". Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  8. ^ "KV 62 (Tutankhamen)". Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  9. ^ a b Reeves & Wilkinson (1996) p.124
  10. ^ a b "KV 62 (Tutankhamen): Burial chamber J". Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  11. ^ Reeves, Nicholas C. (1990-10-01). The Complete Tutankhamun: The King, the Tomb, the Royal Treasure. Thames & Hudson. 
  12. ^ "Note concerning the 3rd Coffin". Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  13. ^ Alessandro Bongioanni & Maria Croce (ed.), The Treasures of Ancient Egypt: From the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Universe Publishing, a division of Ruzzoli Publications Inc., 2003. p.310
  14. ^ Gately, Iain. Drink. Gotham Books. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-592-40303-5. 
  15. ^ Howard Carter, "The Tomb of Tutankhamen", 1972 ed, Barrie & Jenkins, p189, ISBN 0-214-65428-1
  16. ^ "400 visitors to Tutankhamun's tomb". Egypt State Information Service. Retrieved 2007-11-13. 
  17. ^ "Conservation and Management of the Tomb of Tutankhamen". Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  18. ^ "Tutankhamon Tomb recreation". Euronews. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 

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