Sandro Vannini’s Photography: Tomb KV63 – Storage Room?

The Site of KV63 in the Valley of the Kings. Image Copyright - Sandro Vannini.For many years, people said the Valley of the Kings had revealed all its secrets.. but then came KV63. In 2006, a team from the University of Memphis, headed by Dr Otto Schaden, were excavating the Tomb of King Amenmesse (KV10) when they accidentally uncovered something new. Noticing white stone fragments near where material was being removed, the team uncovered the first tomb to have been found in the last 80 years, since Howard Carter’s startling discovery of KV62 – the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Excavations at the tomb continue to this day, as does the hunt for KV64, and the world-renowned photographer Sandro Vannini visited the site to capture scenes of the latest tomb dig in the Valley of the Kings.

Dating from the 18th Dynasty Amarna period, KV63 was officially identified as a tomb by Dr Zahi Hawass, despite there so far being no evidence uncovered that the tomb was used for burial. It is now believed the tomb was used by embalmers as part of the mummification process. Inside the tomb, 7 wooden coffins and more than 28 large storage jars were discovered and all of them revealed several mummification materials, although none contained any mummies. Dr Hawass has also stated that he believes the tomb to be that of Queen Kiya, the mother of King Tutankhamun.

Heritage Key is working with Sandro to bring his photography online for you to enjoy, and be able to see the excavations from the comfort of your own chair. You can also find out the latest news from the excavations in the Valley of the Kings through our exclusive Heritage Key videos.

Sandro Vannini’s Photography

Sandro took several hundreds of photographs whilst at the KV63 site with his Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n camera, capturing archaeologists as they surveyed the tomb and the artefacts they had uncovered. Decades of professional photography experience have honed Sandro’s skills and his photography demonstrates this perfectly – capturing the details of the tomb, and the people behind the work that has gone into excavating it, we get a real feeling for the atmosphere at Tomb KV63.

The New Tomb (KV63)

Located just 4m underground, and with maximum dimensions of 5.5m long and 4m wide, and a ceiling height of 2m, this isn’t the biggest room you’ll find at the Valley of the Kings. Yet, it was pretty packed full – inside the Eighteenth Dynasty tomb were found seven wooden coffins and at least 28 large jars.


The excavation team hasn’t been without its difficulties though. In January 2008, Dr Schaden cut ties with the University of Memphis (who were his original backers for the expedition) due to differences in opinion, but in a rare move, the Supreme Council of Antiquities stepped in and backed Dr Schaden’s excavations to continue.

The elements have also proved difficult, with the intense heat and dust storms affecting the workers, as well as flash floods threatening the open tomb.

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A 5 metre narrow shaft serves as a transport route to lift artefacts out of the tomb. Apulley system has been set up which allows the safe passage of objects to be removed from the tomb without the use of potentially destructive heavy equipment. The fragility of the artefacts requires this passageway to be secure and stable.

Pottery Fragments

Inside KV63, shards of pottery and a wine label were identical to that found in the Tomb of King Tutankhamun (KV62) indicating that this tomb too was from the 18th Dynasty period. Some pottery fragments were discovered with gold linings, indicating that this tomb may have served as a royal workshop.


The excavations uncovered 7 wooden coffins in the tomb, of which three had been painted with faces. They have been dated to just prior to King Tutankhamun’s reign, and their fragile condition means that restoration has to be done carefully to ensure the sarcophagi don’t disintegrate. Covered in thick, black resin, the coffins contained materials used in mummification as well as the remains of human flesh. Perhaps most telling is that on clearing out the coffins, the team found an imprint on the base, suggesting a mummy had been stored in there. It’s not completely out of the question that somebody stole the mummy of KV63!


The tomb contains 28 large and sealed jars, which the excavation team have been reopening. At approximately 75cm tall and weighing around 40kg, the jars were made from pottery and alabaster. While most of the sealed jars bore no pharoic markings, one jar was marked with the label “Paaten”, which has been suggested to mean Ankhesenamun – the wife of King Tutankhamun.

Dr Zahi Hawass and the Supreme Council of Antiquities

Dr Zahi Hawass travelled to Luxor on the 10th February 2006 when the International press had the first glimpes of inside the tomb. The Supreme Council of Antiquities has been backing Dr. Schaden’s excavations in the new tomb, and Dr Hawass was the first to enter the tomb as the world’s media watched on. “I really believe that KV63 is the tomb of the mother of King Tut,” Dr Hawass said of the new discovery. “She died when she was delivering him and therefore there was no time to cut a beautiful decorative tomb. That is actually the tomb that the mother should be buried [in]. Why King Tut is buried here? He wanted to be buried beside his mother.”

MOVIE: Dr Zahi Hawass in the Valley of the Kings: KV64 is going to be discovered!

Of course, the search for more tombs continues in the Valley of the Kings, with Dr Hawass having strongly suggested his all-Egyptian team are on the verge of uncovering a new tomb – KV64. In the video below, he shares some of the finds at the site of the excavations, and explains that he disagrees with those who believe nothing more is left to be discovered in the Valley of the Kings – for him and his Egyptian team are going to discover KV64!

You can see the transcript of the movie over on our Video Page, as well as seeing other fascinating films from the Valley of the Kings shot by Sandro in our weekly series. Additionally, you can find out more about Ancient Egypt right here at Heritage Key, as well as being able to explore KV62 – King Tutankhamun’s tomb – in 3D in our exciting virtual experience! Also be sure to keep up to date on all new postings about Sandro’s photography from Egypt by subscribing to our feed, simply by entering your email address above.