Dispute And Mystery: Strange Case Of The Tomb KV55 In The Valley Of Kings, Egypt

A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - No doubt, a mysterious tomb KV55 located in the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank in Luxor is one of the most debated ancient places in Egypt.

Tomb 55 was discovered in the Valley of the Kings by Edward R. Ayrton in January 1907 and is connected to the Heretic King Akhenaten.

Entrance to the the tomb KV55, which is related toTutankhamen, the mysterious king Smenkhkare and heretic king Akhenaten.

Entrance to the tomb KV55, which is related to Tutankhamen, the mysterious king Smenkhkare and heretic king Akhenaten.

In a simple tomb, there was only one, single chamber and a small niche. A few items of note, such as a coffin, a gilded wooden shrine, and two clay bricks were found in the chamber itself. In the niche were four canopic jars.

This wooden coffin was probably created for Pharaoph Akhenaten. Contrary to expectations he found himself not in Amrna but in the Valley of the Kings. Photo credit: © Getty Images / Kenneth Garrett

This wooden coffin was probably created for Pharaoh Akhenaten. Contrary to expectations he found himself not in Amarna but in the Valley of the Kings. Photo credit: © Getty Images / Kenneth Garrett

It was found to have been desecrated and ransacked. The shrine for enclosing a coffin had been dismantled and pieces scattered everywhere. Names had been erased, but not everywhere, so some traces remained.

Tomb KV55 in the Valley of the Kings

Tomb KV55 in the Valley of the Kings

All of the artifacts found in the tomb are connected to several different individuals, making it very difficult to decide to whom they ultimately belonged.

There are traces of the names of Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, Tiy, Sitamun (a daughter and wife of Amenhotep III), and the enigmatic Kiya (who is believed by some to have replaced Nefertiti late in Akhenaten's reign).

The shrine appears to have been made for Akhenaten's mother, Tiy, who is thought to have been originally buried in KV55. The shrine appears to have been abandoned when it proved difficult to remove, probably when Tiy's mummy was removed.
The tomb also contains the magical bricks of Akhenaten, arguing strongly that his mummy was interred here at some point.

It appears that the coffin itself was designed for Kiya but later modified for a male occupant, by the addition of a fake beard. However, the cartouche bearing the name of the occupant has been cut out, and the face mask ripped off.

It appears that the coffin itself was designed for Kiya, but later modified for a male occupant, by the addition of a fake beard. Was it for Akhenaten himself or Smenkhkare?

It appears that the coffin itself was designed for Kiya but later modified for a male occupant, by the addition of a fake beard. Was it for Akhenaten himself or Smenkhkare?

See also:

Valley Of The Kings – Necropolis Of New Kingdom Rulers Of Ancient Egypt

Ancient Tombs Of The Nobles In The Valley Of The Queens

Akhenaten: Unorthodox Ruler Who Had Only One God

The mummy contained within the coffin has not made the problem any simpler. It is male, but opinion is still somewhat divided on the age of the corpse; more recent examinations [1] have suggested a younger age around 20, too young for Akhenaten, but there is some evidence that these age estimates are not very accurate.

Some have argued that it is Akhenaten himself, while others suggest that it is Smenkhkare, an enigmatic ruler, who ascended the throne after the death of Akhenaten, but he died shortly. After his death, Tutankhamen was proclaimed the new Pharaoh. It is also known that Smenkhkare ruled for some time as the co-regent of Akhenaten.

There is not much information about Smenkhkare and his rule can be found in the historical records. His body has still not been found, so he is the ideal candidate for KV55 mummy. What is suggested from the records is that – Smenkhkare was either the elder brother or uncle of Tutankhamen.

The mummy's identity has been long debated. For now, it seems that the most probable KV55 mummy is that of Smenkhkare who ruled Egypt for a very short period.

Smenkhare's body has still not been found, so the identity of the KV55 mummy will remain a mystery unless the mummies of some of the candidates are found.

Written by – A. Sutherland  - AncientPages.com Senior Staff Writer

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References:

Aldred C. Akhenaten: King of Egypt

Freed R.E. Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen