Tuesday, July 04, 2006

KV63 - A round-up of the week's news

A round-up of the main news items concerning last Wednesday's opening of the last coffin, with Zahi Hawass at the helm.

First of all, here's an excellent photograph of what they found when they opened the coffin:

Dissapointing for some, no mummy was discovered when the coffin was eventually opened:
http://tinyurl.com/racss (commercialappeal.com)
"When researchers from the University of Memphis last week saw the contents of the last of seven sarcophagi they had found in a previously undiscovered chamber in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, for the seventh time there was no mummy inside."

However, the findings were still great news for the archaeologists:
http://tinyurl.com/gw4mv (mg.co.za)
"The first tomb discovered in Egypt's Valley of the Kings in 80 years doesn't have any mummies, but archaeologists opened the last of eight sarcophagi inside on Wednesday and found something they say is even more valuable: embalming materials and a rare collar of ancient, woven flowers. Hushed researchers craned their necks and media scuffled inside a stiflingly hot stone chamber six metres underground to watch Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass slowly crack open the last coffin's lid -- with his bare hands -- for the first time in what scientists believe is more than 3 000 years . . . . Hawass, who heads the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, said he believed the new tomb could have belonged to King Tut's mother. Closely related Egyptian royals tended to be buried near each other, and graves of the rest of Tut's family have already been found, he said."

The BBC website gives more information about the garland:
"Archaeologists in Egypt expecting to find a mummy during their excavation of a burial chamber in Luxor have instead discovered a garland of flowers. The 3,000-year-old garland is the first to be discovered . . . . The chief curator of Cairo's Egyptian Museum said the surprise find was 'even better' than discovering a mummy. 'I prayed to find a mummy, but when I saw this, I said it's better - it's really beautiful,' said Nadia Lokma. 'It's very rare - there's nothing like it in any museum. We've seen things like it in drawings, but we've never seen this before in real life - it's magnificent,' she said. Experts say ancient Egyptian royals often wore garlands entwined with gold strips around their shoulders in both life and death.

A slightly different take on things comes from the International Herald Tribune, which focuses on Hawass's speculations about the tomb's original owner
"Archaeology is about patience, and about expecting the unexpected. It is about finding a clue in the sand and gently sifting through layers of time. KV 63 has offered up many mysteries. . . . But archaeology is also about show business, and in modern Egypt the master of ceremonies, the only man allowed to pull back the curtain for the audience, is Hawass, the general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. He has a theory about KV 63, but by the end of the day Wednesday it was hard to know how much of that was show business and how much science, or whether there was a bit of both. His theory was that the tomb was the burial place of King Tut's mother, Queen Kiya. While there is evidence linking Tut's tomb with this one, others who have actually worked inside the newest tomb said there was no evidence a mummy was ever buried there."

The WSTM website lists some of the reasoning behind Hawass's conclusions:
"* A coffin that included a garland of flowers like that buried with Tutankhamun signifying sweetness in the afterlife, gold beads, lemons, cloves and garlic, which was considered a protector of the soul and guardian of riches in the afterlife;
* Contents within the last-opened coffin that date back to the time of King Tutankhamun and feature unique embalming materials and actual linen scraps used to wrap mummies;
* Seals and inscriptions that include "PA-ATEN," which an Egyptian expert believes is part of the former name given to Tutankhamun's wife, and point directly to the time of King Tutankhamun;
* A ceremonial bowl and additional pottery shards that exactly match those found in King Tutankhamun's tomb, including identical hieroglyphic messages;
* Pots found with gold lining, indicative of materials produced in a royal workshop; and
* An imprint found at the bottom of a coffin that suggests a mummy was once inside. There is a possibility a mummy may have been stolen from KV63."

From the New York Times there's a photo of Zahi Hawass with the unopened coffin:

And from CNN, photos and video footage:

There are no updates yet on the official KV63 website.

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