Sandro Vannini’s Photography – Tomb of Seti I (KV17): The Crypt’s Side Chamber

In 2008, an archaeological team found that the Tomb of Seti I (KV17) was in fact larger than originally thought. Where the original discoverer,Giovanni Battista Belzoni had found the tomb to be 100 metres long when he entered in 1817, recent archaeological excavations overseen by the Supreme Council of Antiquities’ Director Dr Zahi Hawass (You can meet Sandro and Dr Hawass at the British Museum tonight, or meet Dr Zahi at his London book signing on Thursday) have uncovered a mysterious tunnel leading from the Crypt which further extends the tomb by another 36 metres at least (Watch a video with Dr Hawass on the mysterious tunnel in the Tomb of Seti I).

But a smaller room is adjacent to the left of the burial chamber, which like the rest of KV17, is adorned with beautiful tomb paintings which the Tomb of Seti I is famous for. The Pharaoh oversaw the artistic peak of the Ancient Egyptian era, and it is therefore fitting for his tomb in the Valley of the Kings to contain some of the finest and diverse works of art.

Several intense excavations in KV17 during the 1950s and 1960s caused structural damage in the tomb which led to the closure of the tomb to the general public, and protective conservation measures being put in place. So while we may not be able to go down and explore one of the finest examples of Ancient Egyptian art, the renown Egyptology photographer Sandro Vannini has taken his lens down into the tomb and emerged with several beautiful images which Heritage Key brings to the internet.

The mysterious tunnel at the end of the burial crypt in KV17 has reignited the interest in the Tomb of Seti I, as excavations continue to see what is at the end of the corridor. Heritage Key’s video interview which you can watch below, shows Dr Zahi Hawass explaining the latest on the dig inside KV17, and what he thinks may lie at the end of the mysterious tunnel. The side chamber (one of the five side chambers in this tomb) in which Sandro’s photographs were taken is located to the left of the burial chamber, in a room which has two columns.

Sandro Vannini’s Photography

Several of Egypt’s fascinating tombs have been photographed by the skilled archaeology photographer Sandro Vannini, who has spent over a decade taking stunning photography of some of the most famous artefacts and tombs in history, such as the elusive Golden Mask of King Tutankhamun. Using his Hasselblad ELD Ixpress 528C, Sandro took these photographs of the amazing wall paintings in Tomb KV17’s burial chamber of King Seti I and even though the tomb has now been closed to the public, we can still enjoy the magnificence of the Tomb of Seti I through Sandro’s lens.

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This post is part of a series focussing on amazing photographs from ancient Egypt. Keep checking back as well keep adding new images by Sandro Vannini. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the updates, simply subscribe by email to receive notifications when new images are uploaded. For the more digitally advanced, there’s also an RSS feed with updates available.

See More Amazing Photography by Sandro

Have a look at some of the other stunning photographs by Sandro Vannini here at Heritage Key:

Sandro and the Lost Tombs of Thebes

If you love these photographs of the Tomb of Seti I by Sandro Vannini, then you’ll love his captures of the Theban Tombs in his new book with Dr Zahi Hawass – “The Lost Tombs of Thebes:Life in Paradise“. Click here to watch our Heritage Key video on the Theban Tombs, featuring Dr Hawass and Dr Janice Kamrin, as well as reading Sandro’s account on shooting the Lost Tombs.

The Crypt’s Side Chamber of the Tomb of Seti I (KV17)

The Book of the Dead was one of the most popular funerary scriptures amongst the New Kingdom Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, with several adopting to have it portrayed within their tombs. The scripture itself acts as a guide to help the spirit of the deceased Pharaoh reach the afterlife safely, and covers the ritual of the weighing of the heart. The heart of the King would have remained inside the mummified corpse for preparation of this stage of the ceremony, as it is weighed to decide if the sins of the heart outweigh the goodness of the feather. Should the feather be heavier, than the Pharaoh will enter the afterlife, as the mummy figures in Sandro’s photograph represent “those who are in peace”.

The scenes shown on the tomb walls in this room however, come from the Amduat, meaning “that which is in the Netherworld”. Also known as the Book of the Secret Chamber, it describes the journey of the sun god Re and his ventures through the twelve hours of the night, or the Twelve Divisions. The ram-headed sun god is is often shown inside a shrine and is typically accompanied by an entourage of divinities. These include Sia (the god of mind and thought), the opener of the ways Wepwawet, Kherepwia who captains the boat and Horus Hekenu who pilots it, and Nehes – the destroyer god who protects the boat from enemies.

The corpse of Re is shown inside a five-headed snake in this side chamber, which is a scene taken from the sixth hour of the Book of Amduat.Having crossed the waters of the Nun which have existed since the dawn of time and were pivitol in the creation of the world, the sun god is united with Osiris in this scene, and as a result, gains the needed energy to be reborn and continue the journey.

The Book of Amduat portrays a vision of the Ancient Egyptian’s land of the beyond through words on beautifully woven tapestries and tomb wall paintings. This Book of the Secret Chamber laid the foundation for many Netherworld scriptures that would be written in subsequent dynasties.

HDVideo: Dr Zahi Hawass and the Mysterious Tunnel in the Tomb ofSeti I (KV17)

Over the past couple of years, Dr Zahi Hawass has been overseeing a team excavating in the Tomb of Seti I, exploring a mysterious tunnel which was found in the burial chamber. The purpose behind the tunnel and what it leads to is unknown, but Dr Hawass shares what he believes could be at the end of the tunnel and updates the progress on the excavation inside KV17.

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 on Heritage Key, as well as being able to explore the Valley of the Kings and the fascinating 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.