Journal: Sunday 15 March 1998
Robin was staying here another week but I was due to return home next day, so we needed to go to the King’s Valley to visit the last two open tombs we had not yet seen and to complete our study. These were the tombs of Rameses VII and Rameses IX. When we arrived at the ticket office our friend Inspector Hamdi was nowhere to be seen, as he wasn’t expecting us, but he turned up after a few minutes – someone must have told him we were there.
The tomb of Rameses VII (KV1) is right at the entrance to the King’s Valley a little way back from the road and like some of the other Ramesside tombs it has been open since antiquity. Although it is Ramesside in plan, and similar in decoration to that of Rameses VI, it is a much smaller tomb than those of the king’s recent ancestors, consisting of only one corridor and a burial chamber. The outer lintel, similar to the other tombs, was decorated with the traditional sundisc and scarab, flanked by Isis and Nephthys below the king’s names. In the wide corridor, the fine quality relief decoration is unusual – in place of the Litany of Re there are two scenes. On the left-hand side, the king is seen before an altar offering to the falcon-headed solar god Re-Horakhty-Atum-Khepri, and on the right before Ptah-Sokar-Osiris with a hymn to the gods of the Underworld. Further along, the initial scene and first division from the ‘Book of Gates’ (the barque of Re being pulled through the Underworld) can be seen on the left, with the first scenes from the ‘Book of Caverns’ (the divinities paying homage to the dying sun-god) on the right. On either side the king is depicted as an Osiris, being purified by the Iun-Mutef priest. The ceiling of the corridor is decorated with vultures and the king’s cartouches.
There is no well-room or antechamber and the corridor leads straight into a sarcophagus hall. The entrance wall illustrates two goddesses; on the right a composite goddess Sekhmet-Bubastis-Wert-Hekau and on the left, Wert-Hekau (‘Great of Magic’) each facing the doorway. Scenes from the ‘Book of Aker’ (the double-headed lion which symbolises the horizon) and the ‘Book of the Earth’ appear on the walls and the north wall also depicts Osiris as ‘Chief of the Westerners’. An astronomical ceiling features the goddess Nut stretching across the heavens with the decans and constellations. Beyond the burial chamber is another small chamber with a niche. It’s outer walls show the king facing the doorway on each side and offering to aspects of Osiris on the inner walls. The wall above the niche illustrates the barque of the sun containing baboons from the ‘Book of Gates’ supported by djed-pillars on the sides of the niche. The sarcophagus itself was cut directly into the floor of the tomb and over this hollow was placed a massive stone covering, decorated with the usual incised figures of Isis, Nephthys, Selkis and the Four Sons of Horus. This is still in place, with an opening at its foot where the body of the king was removed. The mummy of Rameses VII has not yet been found.
The larger tomb of Rameses IX (KV6) was found opposite the tomb of Rameses II near the entrance to the main part of the Valley. This has also been open since antiquity. It continues the Ramesside style although some of the decoration is not completely traditional. Even though the king reigned for 18 years, only the first corridor was completely decorated by the time of the pharaoh’s death and the corridor beyond the pillared hall was hastily enlarged to house the king’s sarcophagus. The first corridor is very similar to the previous tomb with the usual decoration that has become familiar in tombs of this period, but on the south wall the king is in a kiosk, in an unconventional scene offering to a form of Amun-Re-Horakhty with four rams heads and to Meretseger, the goddess of the Western Mountain. The first division of the ‘Book of Caverns’ is illustrated on this wall. There are four niches off the first corridor which show the king’s names on the jambs and the first one of these on the right may have been cut short because it ran into KV55 next to it. The ceiling is decorated with vultures and the king’s names. The second corridor depicts scenes from the ‘Litanies of Re’, the ‘Book of the Dead’ and the ‘Book of Caverns’. An astronomical ceiling shows constellations and decans lists. In the third corridor the south wall has scenes from the ‘Amduat’ with representations of Underworld deities and some hieratic graffiti. On the opposite wall are scenes of the king offering to Ma’at, Ptah and the king as Osiris, with more hieratic graffiti. The astronomical ceiling shows pictures of divine barques and processions of gods in yellow on a dark blue background. This tomb, unlike that of Rameses VII, contains a well room which illustrates priests officiating in the ritual of the ‘Opening of the Mouth’. There is a winged disc and the king’s names on the outer lintel of the four-pillared hall, but it was otherwise left undecorated.
The tomb of Rameses IX extends beyond the pillared hall with a corridor which was turned into the burial chamber at the king’s death and which depicts, on the south and north walls, scenes from the ‘Book of Caverns’, ‘Book of the Earth’ and the ‘Amduat’. The ceiling is similar to that in the burial chamber of Rameses VI, showing Nut swallowing the sun in a double scene of the ‘Book of the Night’. The divine barque is pulled by jackals. The floor of the burial chamber was cut to contain the king’s coffin though no traces of a lid has been found. The mummy of Rameses IX was found in the Deir el-Bahri cache (DB320) in 1881, still with its floral garlands in a re-used coffin.
There were still very few other tourists coming to the Valley and during the three hours or so we spent in these two tombs I hadn’t seen another soul. It was so quiet and peaceful due to the tragic events of November 1997 and I knew I would never see the King’s Valley so empty again. After we had finished in the tombs we took Hamdi to the resthouse for a drink and to thank him properly for all his invaluable help and interest. It had been a wonderful opportunity to have him all to ourselves and to share our discussions actually in situ. I sat there with a Coke and wondered how I would ever afford to develop the 35 films I had taken over the past couple of weeks, mostly pictures from the Kings’ tombs. It was a sad moment when we finally said goodbye but we all promised to keep in touch and meet again next time.
I spent the afternoon visiting the good friends I had made in several Egyptian families, saying goodbye and wishing everyone a better year than the past one. It had been a very sad few months for my friends on the West Bank with so few tourists here and times were hard for everyone. My gloomy mood was not improved by the dense cloud which was covering the sun today, it looked like we could be in for another sandstorm. In the evening, Robin and I celebrated my last night here with a meal at the Tutankhamun restaurant, which is always so enjoyable and I went off early to bed after promising to come back soon.