Journal: Wednesday 11 March 1998
After Abydos, we had a slow and lazy start to the day, but by lunchtime Robin and I were once more in the Valley of the Kings ready to get back to our self-imposed study of the tombs. We were now into the Rameside tombs of Dynasty 20 and today it was to be the joint tomb of the kings Rameses V and VI. KV9, situated just behind the tomb of Tutankhamun, was open from antiquity and known to the Romans as the Tomb of Memnon – Memnonia being the name the Graeco-Romans gave to the whole West Bank monument area and a large amount of early graffiti was left in the tomb by those early tourists. The mound of rubble from the clearance of this tomb was what prevented Tutankhamun’s tomb being discovered earlier, because the debris actually covered the entrance.
The decoration from the entrance as far as the well-room was done for Rameses V but we don’t know for certain whether the pharaoh, who ruled for only four years, was ever buried in the tomb. It was completed by his successor Rameses VI whose sarcophagus fragments were found in the burial chamber. Here again at the entrance we saw the traditional scene of Isis and Nephthys kneeling at either side of the sun disc. The decoration throughout the tomb is in sunk relief with lovely well-preserved painted scenes on a creamy background. The corridors are wide and gently sloping, without the staircases and ramps of earlier tombs. The left-hand side of the first corridor shows the figure of Rameses V (usurped by his brother Rameses VI) before Re-Horakhty and Osiris, and the now-familiar scenes from the ‘Book of Gates’. On the right-hand side is a similar portrait of the king and scenes from the ‘Book of Caverns’. An astronomical ceiling contains scenes from the ‘Book of Night’ and the ‘Book of Day’. The second and third corridors are similarly painted with the ‘Book of Gates’ and ‘Book of Caverns’, with the addition of the ‘Book of the Divine Cow’ (part of the ‘Books of the Heavens’) on the left wall in the third corridor.
A well-room leads to a pillared hall, perhaps intended as a ‘false burial chamber’, cut and decorated by Rameses VI. The four pillars show scenes of the king offering to various deities. Here are scenes from the ‘Book of Gates’ and the ‘Book of Caverns’, with Rameses VI before Osiris (identified with the sun-god Re) in a double scene on the lintel over the descending passage. The astronomical ceiling continues from the well-room with constellations, decans list and the ‘Book of the Heavens’. A steeper descent leads to the fourth corridor which has depictions of Nekhbet and Meretseger as serpent goddesses and scenes from the ‘Amduat’ on the walls. The ‘Amduat’ is also featured in the next corridor. Here the tomb builders had to drop the level of the floor to avoid cutting in to KV12 above it, which resulted in the unique feature of having a sloping floor combined with a horizontal ceiling. An antechamber, with walls illustrating scenes from the ‘Book of the Dead’ and a ceiling describing the resurrection of Osiris, leads to the burial chamber of Rameses VI.
The walls of the burial chamber show various scenes from the ‘Book of Gates’ and the ‘Book of Aker’ (a new one for us) which deals with creation and the journey of the solar disc. This was the first appearance of ‘Book of the Earth’ in a royal burial chamber. The king offers to the gods on each of the sides of the two pillars. A superb vaulted astronomical ceiling is illustrated by a double image of Nut with the ‘Book of Night’ and the ‘Book of Day’ (‘Books of the Heavens’), showing the mystery of the daily regeneration of the solar disc. In the burial chamber is also the broken remains of a large granite outer sarcophagus of Rameses VI. Both of the mummies of Rameses V and VI were found with other royal mummies in the KV35 cache in 1898.
We had been in the tomb for a couple of hours and our friend Inspector Hamdi had caught up with us, so we had a lively discussion of the wide variety of funerary books here. He then suggested we went to look at the tomb of Mentuherkhopshef. A son of Rameses IX, this was the only prince’s tomb in the King’s Valley, in the eastern branch of the wadi near KV43. This was very different to the long Ramesside king’s tombs and seemed little more than a wide corridor, but is well worth visiting for it’s delicate paintings and beautiful soft colours on a white plastered background behind the glass-covered walls. I thought it was one of the most beautiful I had seen, depicting the young prince with his forelock of youth and wearing various very detailed costumes. The quarrying of the tomb was apparently abandoned and its original dedication texts show that it was first intended for a Prince Setherkhepshef and was later taken over for Mentuherkhopshef.
So, another really nice afternoon and Robin and I both felt that we had learned much more today about the funerary books because of the excellent illustrations in the Ramesside tomb. We had dinner at the Tutankhamun Restaurant down by the ferry. This is one of my favourite eating places in Luxor with superb food. Hag Mahmoud, the charming owner, prides himself on his delicious food and the dishes of soup, rice, and many and varied vegetables just kept appearing in front of us. There was actually much more than we could eat. Afterwards we had fruit and lovely ‘Ahwa Nobi‘ (Nubian’ coffee), while sitting on the restaurant roof looking across the colourful river to a brightly lit Luxor Temple.