Women Crush Wednesday: Tiye

For this week’s Women Crush Wednesday we are going to talk about Amenhotep III’s Great Royal Wife, Tiye. She was quite influential during the rule of her husband and her son Akhenaten.

Her Life

Tiye was born sometimes around 1398 B.C.E. to Yuya and Tjuyu. Her father was a wealthy landowner from the Upper Egyptian town of Akhmin. He served as a priest, superintendent of oxen, and commander of the chariotry. It has been speculated that he may be of foreign origins because his name has various spellings and could be originally non-Egyptian. Her mother Tiuyu was involved in many religious cults as the singer of Hathor and chief entertainers of both Amun and Min. These titles suggest that she may have been part of the royal family in some way, but this is not clear. Tiye also had a brother named Anen, who was the second prophet of Amun. Pharaoh Ay, who was pharaoh after her grandson King Tutankhamun, may have also been her brother as he was also from Akhmin and he inherited most of the titles Yuya held while in the court of Amenhotep III.

Tiye was most likely married to Amenhotep III in the second year of his reign. She could have been either 11 or 12 when she married. Their marriage was a unique case as Egyptian pharaohs usually married their sisters or half-sisters to keep the power in the family. As Amenhotep III was born to a minor wife of Thutmose IV, he may have needed a stronger tie to a royal lineage, which is why some scholars think that Tjuyu may have been of royal blood.

In the 11th year of Amenhotep III’s reign, he released several commemorative scarabs, including one that has been dubbed the marriage scarab. Here he announced that she was elevated to Great Royal Wife, which meant that she technically had a higher rank than Amenhotep III’s mother. On these scarabs, her name is actually written within a cartouche, which was a long oval with one line on the side. These cartouches are usually only reserved for the king’s name. Here is the text on the back of the Marriage Scarab:

Scarab Commemorating the King’s Marriage to Queen Tiye, ca. 1390–1352 B.C. Egyptian, New Kingdom Glazed steatite; L. 8 cm (3 1/8 in.); W. 5.4 cm (2 1/8 in.); H. 2 cm (13/16 in.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Helen Miller Gould, 1910 (10.130.1643) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/548625

“Year 11 The Living Horus Strong Bull Appearing in Truth. He of the Two Goddesses Establishing Laws, Pacifying the Two Lands. The Golden Horus, Great of Valour, Smiting the Asiatics. King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands, Neb-Maat-Re  Son of Re, Amenhotep Ruler of Thebes, given life. The Great Royal Wife Tiye, may she live. The name of her father is Yuya, the name of her mother is Tuya. She is the wife of the mighty king whose southern boundary is as far as Karoy, whose northern is as far as Naharin.”

Her Children

She and Amenhotep III had several surviving children. Her eldest daughter Sitamun was elevated to the position of Great Royal Wife by her father around the 30th year of his reign. She had her own apartments in the royal city of Malqata, across the hall from her father. She also may have intended to be buried in Amenhotep III’s tomb, but it not clear if she was ever buried there. Another daughter Isis or Iset was also a Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep III. Two more daughters are known named Henuttaneb and Nebetah, although the latter may have been renamed Baketaten during her brother’s reign. Baketaten is frequently seen seated next to Tiye in Amarna reliefs so it is not clear if this was a daughter, granddaughter, or someone else. Finally, the “Younger Lady of KV35” who was found with the body of Tiye, has been identified through DNA to be the daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye and the mother of King Tutankhamun. Presumably, the body is of one of the already known daughters, but as the body was not labeled, we may never know which daughter she was.

Tiye and Amenhotep III had at least two sons. Crown Prince Thutmose was a High Priest of Ptah before he predeceased his father. Their second son was originally known as Amenhotep IV. After his father’s death and when he took the throne, he changed his name to Akhenaten and moved the capital city to a new site in Middle Egypt, which was also called Akhenaten. Tiye and Amenhotep III may have had another son named Smenkhkare, who was the successor of Akhenaten, but this is just one of the many theories about the identity of Smenkhkare.

Famous Monuments and Depictions

Queen Tiye pictured as two sphinx at her temple in Segeinga, Nubia

Throughout his rule, Amenhotep III built various structures for his Queen Tiye. He devoted several of his shrines to her and also constructed a temple dedicated to her in Segeinga, Nubia. Here she was worshipped as the goddess Hathor Tefnut and she was also displayed as a sphinx. Her temple was the female counterpart to the larger temple of Amenhotep III.

Most importantly, Amenhotep III gifted her a pleasure lake at the city of Djaruka, which supposedly was near Akhmin. Her husband sent out another commemorative scarab detailing the lake. This lake may have been similar to the lake that was built at the royal city of Malqata. Here is a translation of the Pleasure Lake Scarab:

Pleasure Lake Scarab, Liverpool Museum, M12400

“Year 11 under the majesty of Horus: Strong bull, appearing in truth; two ladies: Who establishes laws and pacifies the two lands; Golden Horus: Great of Strength, smiter of the Asiatics; king of Upper and Lower Egypt, lord of the two lands, Nebmaatre; son of Re: Amenhotep, ruler of Thebes, given life; and the great royal wife Tiye, may she live. Her father’s name is Yuya; her mother’s name is Tuya. His majesty commanded the making of a lake for the great royal wife Tiye, may she live, in her town Djarukha. Its lengths is 3700 (cubits) and its width is 700 (cubits). (His majesty) celebrated the festival of opening the lake in the third month of inundation, day 16. His majesty was rowed in the royal barge Aten-nefru in it.”

Colossal Statue of Amenhotep III, Tiye and their daughters, Egyptian Museum, Cairo

There are a variety of statues of Tiye, but none is as impressive as the colossal statue of Amenhotep III and his wife in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (M610 & JE 33906). It originally stood in Medinet Habu. It is 23 feet or 7 meters tall and depicts the couple and three of their daughters. Interestingly, Tiye is pictured the same size as her husband, which is not typically done in Egyptian art. Usually, women are always portrayed slightly shorter than their husbands. No other Queen has ever figured so prominently in her husband’s lifetime. This emphasizes her role as the king’s divine and early partner.

Statue of Tiye and Amenhotep III, Louvre Museum, E 25493

This blue-green statue of Tiye used to include her husband, but that half has since been lost. It was made out of steatite and embellished with bright green enamel. The lower half of this statue was in the Louvre Museum (N2312) when it was stolen during the revolution of July 1830. It was then mysteriously returned to its place a few months later. Then in 1962, the upper part of this statue turned up on the art market and the Louvre purchased it to piece the two halves together (E25493).

But this bust is by far the most famous image of Queen Tiye. It was found in Medinet el Ghurab, which is an ancient site near the Faiyum Oasis. It is currently located at the Egyptian Museum in Berlin (AM21834 & AM1752). It is thought that this bust was created towards the end of the rule of her husband, as she is shown in advanced age. After her husband’s death, this piece may have been reworked. Using computer scan technology, Egyptologists have discovered that the Queen originally wore a silver headscarf with a gold uraeus. This headscarf was called a Khat headdress and was traditionally worn by the four funerary goddesses, Isis, Nephthys, Selket, and Neith. Then the piece was covered in several layers of linen and decorated with faience beads, a few of which are still preserved.

Computer rendering of the original design of the bust of Tiye
Reconstruction of the three different phases of the bust of Tiye

The crown which was added separately was actually lost within the Berlin Museum. This crown consists of a sun disc, cow horns, and a pair of features. This crown is typically worn by goddesses or deified kings. It seems that Akhenaten raised his mother, while she was still alive, into the realm of a goddess.

Her Power

This is a list of all of the titles that she held throughout her life:

  • Hereditary Princess (iryt-p`t)
  • Great of Praises (wrt-hzwt)
  • Sweet of Love (bnrt-mrwt)
  • Lady of The Two Lands (nbt-t3wy)
  • King’s Wife (hmt-nisw)
  • Great King’s Wife (hmt-niswt-wrt),
  • King’s Wife, his beloved (hmt-nisw meryt.f),
  • Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt (hnwt-Shm’w-mhw)
  • Mistress of the Two Lands (hnwt-t3wy)

During her husband’s rule, she was able to wield a lot of power, probably more than a typical Queen. She became her husband’s trusted advisor and confidant. She was especially known for gaining the respect of foreign dignitaries, who were willing to deal directly through her. Tiye was the first Egyptian queen to have her name recorded on official acts.

In Akhenaten/Amarna

After Amenhotep III died in either his 38th or 39th regnal year when Tiye was about 48 or 49, their son Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten continued to rule out of Memphis for a few years. Then he decided to move away from Memphis and the religious cult of Re to create a new city in Middle Egypt. This city was called Akhenaten and is currently located in Amarna. His reign triggered a switch from a polytheistic (multiple gods) religion to a monotheistic (one god) religion focusing on the Aten. There is a slight possibility that Tiye had a short co-regency with her son when he came to the throne.

Tiye lived for about 12 years after her husband died, so she was closely involved with her son’s rule in both Memphis and Amarna. She most likely continued to advise her son about foreign relations. A large cache of letters between the Egyptian administration and foreign nations was found in Amarna and several of the letters mentioned Tiye herself. In one letter the king of Mitanni told Tiye directly that he remembered the good relations when her husband ruled and hoped that they will continue to be on friendly terms with her son.

Banquet scene from the tomb of Huya, steward of the Mother of the King, Depicting Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tiye, and children feasting

Tiye also had a house in Amarna as well as a steward named Huya. In Huya’s tomb in Amarna, Tiye is depicted at a dinner table with Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and their family and then being escorted by the king to her sunshade. The last time that Tiye is mentioned dates to the 12th year of Akhenaten’s reign. She is depicted with her granddaughter Meketaten.

Where was She Buried?

Tiye may have died around 1338 B.C.E. around the age of 60. There is a theory that she may have died in a widespread epidemic that occurred in Amarna and may have taken the life of her granddaughter Meketaten.

She was most likely originally buried in the royal tomb at Amarna. Because Amarna was only occupied for about 14 years, the tomb was never completed. Two northern plinths of the incomplete pillared hall were removed to accommodate a sarcophagus plinth and pieces of her smashed sarcophagus were found in the burial chamber. There is also a destroyed decoration that may indicate Tiye was buried there. In a depiction that closely resembles the mourning of Meketaten, a figure stands beneath a floral canopy while the royal family grieves. The figure wears a queenly sash but cannot be Nefertiti as she is seen with the mourners, so she could be Tiye.

Tomb Relief from the Royal Tomb of Amarna depicting the mourning of Meketaten (Note: this is not the same scene where Tiye may be under a canopy)

Akhenaten did have one or a series of golden shrines built for his mother. The shrine is thought to have looked similar to the second and third shrine of King Tutankhamun. It resembled a large box with a lintel, doors, and a cornice along the top. It was entirely gilded and decorated by large scenes of Akhenaten and Tiye making offerings to the Aten, with a focus on the king rather than his mother. I’ve provided the surviving text on the shrine below. In one instance the House of Aten in Akhenaten is mentioned, which seems to imply that the shrine was made for Tiye’s burial in the royal tomb in Amarna.

But, after the death of Akhenaten, his son King Tutankhamun moved the capital back to Thebes, so he removed the burials of his family to the Valley of the Kings. It is unclear if Tiye was buried with her husband in KV/WV22 or with her son Akhenaten in KV55. Her shabtis were found near her husband’s tomb while the surviving pieces of her shrine were found in her son’s tomb.

The Shrine of Queen Tiye found in KV55

i. Door Post, left: Long live the father Heka-Aten, given life forever continually; (and) the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, who lives of Maat, Neferkheperure-Waenre, and the King’s Mother Tiye, may she live forever.

ii. Door Post, right: King of Upper and Lower Egypt, who lives of Maat, Lord of the Two Lands, Nebmaatre; The King’s Chief Wife, his beloved, King’s mother of Waenre, the Mistress of the Two Lands, [Tiye], may she [live] forever.

iii. Upper traverse, left: Long live the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands, Nebmaatre; (and) the King’s mother, King’s Chief Wife, Tiye, [may she] live. forever.

iv. Upper traverse, right: Long live the King of Upper and Lower Egypt who lives of Maat, Neferkheperure-Waenre, what he made for the king’s mother, the King’s Chief Wife, Tiye

v. Door leaves: Heka-Aten, given life forever continually; Great living Aten. Lord of jubilees, lord of everything [Aten] encircles, lord of heaven, lord of earth in the House of Aten in Akhet-Aten.

vi. Other Side: Nebmaatre, given life forever; [King of Upper and Lower Egypt] Amenhotep III, long in [his] lifetime; [King’s] mother, Tiye, living forever continually.

vii. Side panel of the Canopy: Akhenaten offers to the Aten, followed by Queen Tiye.

Invocation addressed to Tiye: When the Aten appears in his horizon, his rays lift you up at dawn in order to see him every [day]. May you live on the Ka of the living Aten, may [you] breathe the air with finest incense (?).

viii. Lateral Panels: [Long live Heka-] Aten, given life forever continually; (and) the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, who lives of Maat, the Lord of the Two Lands, Neferkheperure-Waenre, the Son of Re, who lives on Maat, Akhenaten, great in his lifetime: what he made for the King’s mother, the King’s Chief Wife, Tiye, may she live. forever.

(Murnane W.J., Texts from the Amarna Period in Egypt)

Her Mummy

Only the mummy of Akhenaten was found in KV55, so it was still unclear where Tiye was buried. In 1898, the tomb of Amenhotep II, KV35, was found with two large caches of royal mummies. You can see the full list in my blog post about Amenhotep III. Priests during the 21st dynasty took many of the royal mummies from their looted tombs and resealed them in the tomb of Amenhotep II. In one of the side chambers of the tomb, three mummified remains were discovered unwrapped. These were an older woman, a younger woman, and a young boy. As I mentioned before the “Younger Lady” was identified as the daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye and the mother of Tutankhamun. The young boy may be Webensenu or Prince Thutmose.

The “Elder Lady” was proven by DNA to be of Tiye. She was found to be anywhere from 40-50 years old at her death and 4 ft 9 in (145 cm) tall. She had long brown hair attached to her scalp. Her mummy was unwrapped and had been badly damaged. The whole front of the abdomen and part of the thorax were damaged. Her right arm was extended at her side with her palm on her thigh while her left hand was across her chest and gripping something.

A very unique artifact relating to Queen Tiye was found in the tomb of her grandson Tutankhamun. It was a gilded coffin set with four coffins inscribed with her name. Inside the smallest coffin was a small lock of hair that was presumably Tiye’s. In 1976, a microbe analysis was conducted on the hair sample and the hair on her mummy and it proved to be a near perfect match! This may have been seen as a memento from a beloved grandmother.










Photo Credits

https://mathstat.slu.edu/~bart/egyptianhtml/kings%20and%20Queens/Tiye.html – Images of wall paintings with Tiye in it and one from Sedinga

http://www.egyptian-museum-berlin.com/c52.php – Images of Tiye’s bust

https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/queen-tiye – Louvre Statue

https://egyptianaemporium.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/museum-piece-12-am-21834-am-17852/ – Computerized tomography image of Queen Tiye head showing the Khat-headress (actual source Arnold, ed., 1996, 32)

Pinterest (Ria Bytes) – Color photo of the mini sarcophagus found in Tut’s tomb

A.M. v. Sarosdy/SC Exhibitions – Color photo of the mini sarcophagus found in Tut’s tomb standing

Flickr (Hand Ollermann) – Black and white (and one color) photos of the mini sarcophagus found in Tut’s tomb

https://www.nilemagazine.com.au/2015-5-june-archive/2015/6/17/a-treasured-heirloom – Color photo of the mini sarcophagus found in Tut’s tomb sitting in each other

https://www.ancient.eu/image/5431/funeral-mask-of-queen-tiye/ – Funerary Mask thought to be that of Tiye

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/02/ancient-artifacts-honor-egyptian-queens-museum-exhibit/ – Reconstructions of Tiye’s bust

https://www.historyofroyalwomen.com/egypt/queen-tiye-elder-lady/attachment/800px-theelderlady-61070-frontview-platexcvii-theroyalmummies-1912/ – Mummy photo

https://id.fanpop.com/clubs/ancient-egypt/images/37472817/title/amenhotep-iii-tiye-photo – Monumental Statue

https://dreamtriptoursegypt.com/king-tuts-grandmother-queen-tiye/ – New Statue

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/548625 – Scarab (10.130.1643)

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/548621 – Scarab (10.130.99)

https://www.facebook.com/AncientEGYPT2017/photos/a.455928327842459/1571326942969253/ – Mummy Color Photo

Flickr (Aidan McRae Thomson) – Fragments of the Shrine of Tiye

Flickr (Merja Attia) – Fragments of the Shrine of Tiye

Global Egyptian Museum – Pleasure Lake Scarab

The Ancient Egypt Blogspot – Yuy and Tjuyu photo

Wikimedia Commons – Banquet scene from tomb of Huya


Mummy Monday: Amenhotep III

As I talked about last week, the ancient palace structure of Malqata was built by Amenhotep III, a king in the early 18th Dynasty. Because I really liked learning about Malqata and Amenhotep III, I thought I would make the rest of this week themed about him. So today we are going to talk about the king himself and his mummy.

His Life

Amenhotep III was most likely born around 1401 B.C.E. to Pharaoh Thutmose IV and a minor wife Mutemwiya. He was a member of the Thutmosid family that had ruled Egypt for almost 150 years. His birth (personal) name was Amenhotep-Heqawaset, which roughly means, “Amun is pleased, Ruler of Thebes.” If you didn’t know, Egyptian pharaohs often had more than one name. Depending on the time period, some kings could have up to five names. So Amenhotep III’s throne name was Nebmaatre or “Lord of Truth of Re.”

He may have been crowned king at a very young age, either 6 or 12. He married a non-royal woman named Tiye very early into his rule. They had at least two sons and four daughters. Their eldest son was named Thutmose and he was the High Priest of Ptah in Memphis before he died suddenly, leaving his younger brother Amenhotep IV to inherit the throne. Amenhotep IV later became known as Akhenaten when he took the throne.

Their daughters were most likely named Sitamun, Henuttaneb, Isis/Iset, and Nebetah. Sitamun and Isis/Iset were elevated to the role of the Royal Wife near the end of Amenhotep III’s rule. Although Amenhotep III married at least 6 foreign princesses to secure alliances with different nations, he was adamant that “no daughter of the King of Egypt is given to anyone.”

Throughout his almost 40 year reign, he had stable international trade and a plentiful supply of gold from the mines and other products. Because of this, the economy was booming. He led exhibitions to Nubia to put down a rebellion in his 5th year, but otherwise, his reign was quite peaceful. He has the most surviving statues of any Egyptian pharaoh with over 250 discovered and identified.

Scarab Commemorating the King’s Marriage to Queen Tiye, ca. 1390–1352 B.C. Egyptian, New Kingdom Glazed steatite; L. 8 cm (3 1/8 in.); W. 5.4 cm (2 1/8 in.); H. 2 cm (13/16 in.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Helen Miller Gould, 1910 (10.130.1643) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/548625

During his rule, Amenhotep III commissioned several commemorative scarabs. These scarabs were quite larger than the typical seal scarabs. They had several lines of text, describing some events from his rule. These were created around the 11th year of his reign and have been found in several archaeological sites in Egypt, the Near East, Syria, and Sudan. Here is a list of the scarabs. The two that detail Queen Tiye, I will talk about Wednesday.

  • Lion Hunt Scarab– He claimed that he killed over 100 lions during the first ten years of his reign.
  • Marriage Scarab– He records the name of his wife Tiye with the name of her parents, to state her non-royal birth.
  • Lake Scarab – He announces the construction of a lake for his wife Tiye.
  • Bull Hunt Scarab – He claimed to kill almost 100 bulls in two days.
  • Gilukhepa – To announce the arrival of a Princess Gilukhepa, his new wife, from Mitanni.

As I talked about in the Malqata post, Amenhotep III built the royal palace to celebrate his three Heb-Sed festivals. Just north of the royal palace, he was building his mortuary temple called Kom el-Hettan. It was built by his architect, scribe, and overseer, Amenhotep, son of Hapu. Amenhotep was such a great architect, that the pharaoh blessed him with his own smaller mortuary temple nearby. At the time of its construction, Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple was the largest ever built by a pharaoh. Unfortunately, it completed razed by Ramses II, who used the materials to make his own temple. Only the two colossal statues, called the Colossi of Memnon, are left at the site.

The Colossi of Memnon at the entrance of the former mortuary temple of Amenhotep III

Unlike kings of the Old Kingdom, who combined their tombs and their mortuary temples into huge pyramid complexes, the New Kingdom king realized that this was bad practice because the tombs were robbed very easily. So they built their mortuary temples on the west bank of Thebes and their tombs up in the wadi behind it.

His Death

In his final years, Amenhotep III may have been very sick. According to the Theban tomb of Kheruef, he is depicted very frail. He may have been suffering from arthritis, became obese, or had painful abscesses in his teeth. Around this time, he requested a statue of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar of Ninevah from his father-in-law Tushratta of Mitanni. This statue could supposedly cure him of his aliments, but this is not clear as the statue may have been sent as a blessing of the marriage of the pharaoh and another Mitanni princess.

The latest regnal year mentioned is year 38, so he may have died in year 38 or 39. He was originally buried in the Valley of the Kings, in tomb KV22 or WV22.

His Tomb

This tomb is halfway into the Western Valley of the Kings, on the left and away from the cliff face. They reason that it is also called WV, is because it is located in this separate Western Valley, with only one other tomb. The tomb was originally found by two of Napoleon’s engineers, Prosper Jollois and Edouard de Villiers du Terrage, in 1799, but was excavated by both Theodore M. Davies in 1905-1914 and Howard Carter in 1915. The Egyptian Archaeological Mission of Waseda University in Japan excavated and restored the tomb in 1989.

Conservation of the tomb paintings by Waseda University

Davies left virtually no records of his excavations in the tomb. Carter became interested in the tomb after he purchased three bracelet plaques from a dealer in Luxor that had the name of Amenhotep III. By the entrance of the tomb, he found the foot of a shabti of Tiye and found five intact and one robbed foundation deposits. In the tomb, he found the hub of a chariot wheel, a small fragment of a faience bracelet, and fragments of a canopic chest. The Japanese team found one more foundation deposit with the head and bone of a calf, five miniature pottery vessels, and wooden model cradle, and a wooden carving of a symbolic rope knot which was all in a reed basket.

The tomb was quite a large one, with various passages to try and turn away tomb robbers. This unfortunately didn’t work as the tomb was virtually empty when discovered.

The entrance of the tomb leads to a steep flight of stairs, then an inclined corridor, another steep flight of stairs, and another inclined chamber before reaching a well chamber. This chamber is 5.9 meters down into an undecorated chamber. This room especially may have been built to deter tomb robbers, because the corridor to the rest of the tomb was bricked and stuccoed up to make it seem like a dead end.

The first room that you enter is decorated on three walls with a very similar scheme that will follow through the majority of the tomb. The walls were given a coat of blue wash and topped with a kheker frieze on a yellow background. The sky hieroglyph also runs along the tops of the walls, while a border of red and green stripes run underneath the scenes. The scenes all feature Amenhotep III being given an ankh, which is the sign of life, by different gods and goddesses. He is also presided over by the vulture goddess Nekhbet, which if you remember is a prominent figure in the decoration scheme at the royal palace at Malqata. In this room, he is given life by Anubis, the Western Goddess, and Osiris. He is also protected by his father Thutmose IV’s ka and the goddess Hathor. You can see from the images that some of the faces of the king have been removed. These were removed sometime in the 19th century and are currently located in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The corridor to the next room was also bricked up and stuccoed before being destroyed by tomb robbers. It leads into an undecorated pillared hall another steep stairway, corridor, and another stairway. This all descends another 9 meters, leaving the burial chamber about 17 meters below ground. These corridors and stairways are undecorated except for a small graffiti reading, “Year 3, 3rd month of Ankhet (season), day 7.” This may have been placed when Amenhotep III was buried in the chamber, but if so the year wouldn’t refer to his reign but rather his son’s or possibly a co-regency between the father and son.

The antechamber is decorated with almost identical decorations to that in the well chamber, with Amenhotep III receiving life from Hathor, Nut, the Western Goddess, Anubis, and Osiris. This room was again sealed from the burial chamber, so the decoration was destroyed by the tomb robbers.

The Burial chamber was a dual-chamber with a few steps between the two chambers. The upper level had six pillars in two rows and had two side chambers. The lower level had a place where the sarcophagus would have sat and had three side chambers, two of which had another side chamber off of it. The sarcophagus was lost and only fragments of its lid remain. The ceiling of these chambers was at one point painted a dark blue with pale yellow stars, but much of the plaster has fallen off.

The burial chamber

The rest of the chamber is painted with a representation of the Amduat, which was an ancient Egyptian funerary text which tells the story of Ra and how he makes the journey through the afterlife when the sun sets. This text is usually reserved only for pharaohs and was used as a way to help the deceased follow that path of Ra through the afterlife. The text and figures are reproduced in the cursive style that was usually found in papyri records. It begins at the left end of the north wall and proceeds clockwise around the chamber. The pillars are mostly damaged, but they feature a similar scheme with the other rooms, depicting Amenhotep before Hathor, Osiris, the Western Goddess, or Anubis.

All but one of the side chambers are undecorated. Most have a slightly lower floor than the previous chamber. Only chamber Jc was plastered and partially decorated with a kheker frieze over the doorway. These rooms were most likely made to house funerary goods or relatives of the king. It has been speculated that Queen Tiye was buried in this tomb for a short time, but we’ll talk about that on Wednesday.

Only the lid of the red granite sarcophagus remains. There is evidence that the king was placed in a series of golden and inlaid anthropoid wooden coffins, with the inner coffin and/or mask made out of solid gold. Debris found in the antechamber indicates that either a mask or one of the coffins had a superb cobra head made out of lapis lazuli with inlaid eyes set in gold. Following the looting of the tomb, the priests of Amon in the 21st dynasty moved multiple mummies from the looted Valley of the King’s tombs to one specific tomb in the valley. This was the tomb of Amenhotep II, KV35.

Are you my Mummy?

Map of KV35. Amenhotep III’s mummy was found in side chamber Jb

The mummy cache in KV35 lay undiscovered until 1898. Although it was the tomb of Amenhotep II, here is a list of the other pharaohs found in this cache:

  • Amenhotep II
  • Thutmose IV
  • Merneptah
  • Seti II
  • Siptah
  • Amenhotep III
  • Ramses IV
  • Ramses V
  • Ramses VI
  • Queen Tiye (originally labeled and the Elder Lady)

  • A prince (either Webensenu, child of Amenhotep II, or Thutmose, son of Amenhotep III)
  • The Younger Lady (mother of Tutankhamun, and daughter of Amenhotep and Tiye)
  • Unknown Lady D (sometimes labeled as Queen Tausret/Twosret)
  • Two skulls and an arm

The mummy of Amenhotep III was found in a side chamber (Jb) with the majority of the other kings. It was located in a makeshift coffin made up of a lid of Sety II and a coffin box of Ramses IV. The identification of the mummy, and many of the mummies found in the cache, are still up for debate.

A label or docket on the shroud of the mummy label the mummy as Amenhotep III. There were also hieratic on bands within the shroud and around the neck of the mummy, but these have yet to be published. The labels on the coffin box and lid identify those pieces with Seti II and Ramses IV. But the label on the lid was edited to add the throne name of Amenhotep III, Nebmaatre. The full text is listed below.

Linen Docket: “Year 12/13 4? prt 6? of Smendes/Pinudjem I: “Yr 12/13 4? prt 6? On this day renewing the burial (?) (whm krs?) of king (nsw) Nebmaatre l.p.h. by the high priest of Amon-Re king of the gods Pinudjem son of the high priest of Amon-Re king of the gods Piankh…(by?)…Wennufer (?)”

The mummy identified as Amenhotep III was badly damaged, either by tomb robbers or the priests who relocated the body. The mummy (now located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, JE 34560l CG 6107) was unwrapped by G.E. Smith and Dr. Pain on September 13th, 1905. (This practice of course is no longer followed by Egyptologists.) The head of the mummy had been broken off, the back broke, and the entire front wall of the torso was missing. The right leg and thigh had also been detached from each other and the body. The mummy was probably anywhere from 40 to 50 years old when he died. He also had very worn and cavity pitted teeth, which did not necessarily cause his death, which could have left him in severe pain during his final years.

The priests from the 21st dynasty were quite careless in the re-wrapping of the body because bones of two different birds and a big toe, ulna, and radius bone from another person were found wrapped with the body. The birds’ bones may have originally been a food offering in the tomb, but the human bones remain a mystery.

The original embalmers of the body packed the skin with a resinous material, which has led to questioning if this really is the body of Amenhotep III. This technique was popular in the 21st dynasty, so there is the worry that this body was contemporary to the re-burial and not the 18th dynasty. But Smith noted that the 21st dynasty Egyptians packed the bodies with linen, mud, sand, sawdust, or mixtures of fat and soda, but not resin.

While it is not 100% confirmed that this is mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, scholars agree that he is the most likely candidate.











Photo Credits

Osirisnet.com – Photos and layouts of tomb KV22

Anubis4_2000.tripod.com – Photos of the mummy

Wikimedia commons (Einsamer Schütze) –  Amenhotep III head

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – Commemorative Scarab (10.130.1643)

Wikimedia commons (MusikAnimal) – Colossi of Memnon

https://alchetron.com/KV35 – KV35 map

TourEgypt – Map of KV22

Kenneth Garrett, National Geogrpahic Creative – Color photo of mummy