The Riddle of KV63 – King Tut’s mom?

Archaeologists moving one of the sarcophagi inside KV63. Click the image to skip to the video.Heritage Key has premiered a new video with Dr. Zahi HawassThe Riddle of KV63. Again we are treated to the film work of Nico Piazza and Heritage Keys exclusive access to the one person who has unfettered access to all of Egypts mysteries, Dr. Zahi Hawass.

The story of KV63 is an epic tale that has been fraught with cliffhangers and surprises since its discovery several years ago. The name KV63 is a result of the naming conventions used in the Valley of the Kings necropolis near Luxor, Egypt. It essentially means that it is the sixty-third tomb discovered in the Valley of the Kings, with KV62 being that of King Tutankhamun.

Why an actual royal name has not been associated with the tomb has to do with the strange turns researchers have had to navigate in unraveling its story. First thought to be a tomb, then thought to be a mummy workshop, it now appears that it may have been both, and Dr. Zahi Hawass thinks we are inching closer to being able to hang a royal name on KV63.

Delayed Gratification

Tomb KV63 was discovered by Dr. Otto Schaden late in the digging season of 2005 in an area where some workers huts belonging to Nineteenth Dynasty tomb builders from Deir el-Medina had been previously excavated. While conducting digs in the area close to KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun, Schaden found what would later prove to be the shaft of a tomb.

He had to wait until the following year to complete his excavations, but when he was able to resume his team soon discovered an underground chamber consistent with an Eighteenth Dynasty tomb. With Dr. Hawass present, on February 8, 2006, the finding was dubbed KV63 and Otto Schaden was credited with discovering the first tomb in the Valley of the Kings since Howard Carter discovered Tut in 1922.

When the burial chamber of the tomb was further excavated it was found to contain seven sarcophagi which contained embalming tools and materials, but no mummies. It then appeared that what Dr. Schaden had discovered was an embalming cachette. On one level this made senseas Dr. Hawass mentions in the video clip, the eventual discovery of a mummification workshop at the mouth of the valley was expected. But on another level it was odd that the cachette should be discovered in what was clearly a tomb.

Handling With Care

The Riddle of KV63 video contains some great footage of work being conducted inside KV63, including the preparation and movement of the sarcophagi. The wooden coffins have severely deteriorated over the millennia, and we see archaeologists doing the meticulous work of gathering fragments and examining the coffins. There is one very tense scene where one of the sarcophagi is being moved using tools and methods that are probably very similar to those used by the ancients.

He [Dr, Hawass] theorizes that KV63 is actually an Eighteenth Dynasty tomb which was robbed fairly early and then converted into an embalming cachette at some point during the Nineteenth Dynasty.

We are also allowed to see the unusual contents of sarcophagus number six, which was stuffed with what appear to be ancient pillows. Dr. Hawass is cautious not to speculate too much about what purpose they may have served. It seems unfeasible that they served some purpose in the mummification process, as we have never seen them represented or mentioned in such a way before. Perhaps they belonged to the workmen or the priests themselves?

But Dr. Hawass is more willing to speculate with regard to the nature of the site which, as mentioned above, looks a lot more like a tomb than just a workshop. He theorizes that KV63 is actually an Eighteenth Dynasty tomb which was robbed fairly early and then converted into an embalming cachette at some point during the Nineteenth Dynasty. Dr. Hawass goes one step further in naming who he thinks the tomb may have belonged toTutankhamuns mother, Queen Kiya. You will have to watch the video to hear his reasoning behind this. There is a good 30 seconds or so of footage after the credits roll, so stick around!

HD Video: Dr. Zahi Hawass on the Riddle of KV63

(Transcription of this video.)

We also have some great images by Sandro Vannini of the sarcophagus in KV63, as well as a map detailing where each of the artefacts were found. Check out our video page for more videos featuring Zahi Hawass, including the search for KV64, and the lost tombs of Thebes. We’re releasing new videos all the time, so sign up to our RSS feed to stay up to date.