In Zahi Hawass in the Valley of the Kings: Part 1, Dr. Hawass caught us up on how excavations were progressing in the Central Valley area of the Valley of the Kings, particularly with the northern side, between the tombs of Ramesses II and Merneptah, and the area to the south of Tutankhamuns tomb. Watch part 2!
In my analysis of what the Part 1 said – and left unsaid – I pointed out that theWestern Valley dig was conspicuously absent from the discussion.
Well, it remains such. The second video makes no mention of KV64 at all, much less the Western Valley dig. Dr. Hawass devotes this clip to some of the artifacts recovered from the excavations in the Valley of the Kings in general, and while royal tombs are the real headline grabbers, artifacts will always be the coin of the realm. Taking Dr. Hawass at his word, our anticipation is undoubtedly being stoked for some major revelations, and the pieces he shares in this video are interesting and informative, and even a bit provocative, for a number of reasons.
Artefacts from the Valley of the Kings
Cartouches of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III
Keeping count of what the workmen at the Valley of the Kings eat
Weret Hem Netjer – The Great God’s Wife
An ancient Egyptian girlfriend?
A couple of pieces are directly related to the work of the tomb builders who were encamped at the site 3000 years ago. One is a manifest listing the daily amount of food required to support the workforce. Another piece appears to show the floor plan of a tomb under construction. Looking like a modern blueprint, the image is a top-down view of the tomb and a section of the entrance hall. There is even a grid marked on the plan showing the dimensions of the hallway and the tomb.
18th Dynasty Pinup Girl
Dr. Hawass also shows two artifacts that seem to give a hint of how the workmen spent their leisure time. One is an Eighteenth Dynasty pinup girl. While the artist isnt exactly what one might call a prodigy, we get a relatively clear idea of his taste. The other, well, maybe I should let Zahi describe this rather flattering self-portrait. It appears after the credits roll, so be sure to stick around for it.
Hatshepsut and Thumose III
One of the pieces may contribute to our understanding of some of the most interesting personalities of the New Kingdom Period. It shows the cartouches of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III side by side, which seems to challenge the long-held notion that the latter held great enmity for the former, going so far as to obliterate all references to her. Dr. Hawass says that this shard bolsters the position that the destruction may have instead occurred at the hands of officials who didnt like the idea of a female pharaoh.
When Thutmose II died, the only successor to the throne was Thutmose III. This resulted in a delicate situation for two reasons. First, Thutmose III was the son of Iset, one of the pharaohs lesser wives, not Hatshepsut, who held the title of Great Royal Wife. The second issue was Thutmose IIIs age. He was too young to rule on his own, so Hatshepsut was appointed co-regent. The result was a young pharaoh who had to share power with a woman who was not his actual mother.
Women had ruled Egypt in the past, but Hatshepsut didnt just rule as a co-regent, she actually took on the title and accoutrements of pharaoh, false beard and all. In addition, she was recognized as pharaoh by the court, and ruled Egypt with a great deal of independence until her death. This has led to speculation that Thutmose III may have harboured a deep resentment for Hatshepsut.
Late in Thutmose IIIs reign, long after Hatshepsuts death, a determined effort was made to literally rip her memory from Egyptian history. Her cartouches and likenesses were gouged away and her statues smashed and buried. For many years Egyptologists concluded that this was a result of Thutmose IIIs acrimony at having spent years in Hatshepsuts shadow. According to Dr. Hawass, this notion is challenged by the appearance of their cartouches together.
There are other reasons for doubting that Hatshepsuts posthumous banishment was the result of a royal tantrum by Thutmose III. For one, the defacing began some twenty years after her death, which is a long time for someone with absolute power to await revenge on someone who is already dead. For another, Hatshepsut had placed her coregent in charge of the military, and there are no indications he ever attempted to usurp the throne, though he almost certainly could have.
There are other more likely culprits for this particularly focused and prolonged wave of vandalism. One would be, as Dr. Hawass stated, the misogyny of royal officials who, interestingly enough, did not attempt to vent their displeasure while Thutmose III was a younger and more capable ruler. Another suspect, also cited by Dr. Hawass, is Amenhotep II, who served as coregent with Thutmose III during the latters twilight years. This is given further credence by the fact that the defacements continued under Amenhotep IIs reign after Thutmose III had died. Most Egyptologists agree that the predominance of evidence points away from Thutmose III.
Weret Hem Netjer, or the “Great God’s Wife”
But possibly the most interesting artifact Dr. Hawass shares with us in this video clip is a small piece inscribed with the title Great Gods Wife (weret hem netjer) and lists the name of a previously unknown queen, the name of which he gives as Tiy (or possibly Tiye, who is hardly unknown). He declines to expand further on this particular find.
Speaking for myself, I have gotten used to Dr. Hawass dispatches raising more questions than answers, namely because I have faith that he is soon to reveal some really great discoveries. I was a bit let down that he didnt fill us in on how the excavations in the Western Valley are going, or for that matter, mention KV64 at all. But he has promised that there will be a tomb revealed in October, so his team has found something. The question is: what? And where?
I havent heard anything about a Zahi Hawass in the Valley of the Kings: Part 3. Maybea Part Three is in the works. Who can know? But you can be sure that if a Part 3 pops up, you will find it here at Heritage Key, and I will be blogging about it.
While you wait, why not explore King Tut’s tomb? Impossible you say? Welcome to the 21st Century, my friend! Heritage Key makes it possible for you to ramble through Tutankhamun’s tomb in virtual reality. Try it out!