KV62 is the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings (Egypt) , which became famous for the wealth of treasure it contained. The tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, underneath the remains of workmen's huts built during the Ramesside Period; this explains why it was spared from the worst of the tomb depredations of that time. KV is an abbreviation for the Valley of the Kings, followed by a number to designate individual tombs in the Valley.
The tomb was densely packed with items in great disarray. Carter was able to photograph garlands of flowers, which disintegrated when touched. Due to the state of the tomb, and to Carter's meticulous recording technique, the tomb took nearly a decade to empty, the contents all being transported to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Tutankhamun's tomb had been entered at least twice, not long after he was buried and well before Carter's discovery. The outermost doors of the shrines enclosing the king's nested coffins were left opened, and unsealed. It is estimated that 60% of the jewellery which had been stored in the "Treasury" was removed as well. After one of these ancient robberies, embalming materials from KV62 are believed to have been buried at KV54.
In 1907, just before his discovery of the tomb of Horemheb, Theodore M. Davis's team uncovered a small site containing funerary artifacts with Tutankhamun's name. Assuming that this site, identified as KV54, was Tutankhamun's complete tomb, Davis concluded the dig. The details of both findings are documented in Davis's 1912 publication, The Tombs of Harmhabi and Touatânkhamanou; the book closes with the comment, "I fear that the Valley of Kings is now exhausted." But Davis was to be proven spectacularly wrong.
The British Egyptologist Howard Carter (employed by Lord Carnarvon) hired a crew to help him excaavate at the site of KV62. A few weeks into the dig, Howard carter had asked a page boy to fetch some water, he had done so, and then being bored and with nothing else to do, began to dig in the sand with a stick. He then uncovered a small stone, which he revealed to be a stone step. He called Howard Carter over, and soon the entire group were there excavating. They descovered a flight of steps leading down to a sealed door. Howard carter made a hole in the door, struck a match, discovering that the air had oxygen inside, went in. The chamber that they found was bare, but Howard Carter was convinced that there must be a secret chamber. He searched the walls and found it, it was filled with all manor of treasures and statues. He had discovered Tutankhamun's tomb (since designated KV62) in the Valley of the Kings on November 4, 1922, near the entrance to the tomb of Ramesses VI, thereby setting off a renewed interest in all things Egyptian in the modern world. Carter contacted his patron, and on November 26 that year, both men became the first people to enter Tutankhamun's tomb in over 3000 years. After many weeks of careful excavation, on February 16, 1923, Carter opened the inner chamber and first saw the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. All of this was conveyed to the public by H. V. Morton, the only journalist allowed on the scene.
Howard Carter and associates opening the door to the innermost shrine in the burial chamber, 1923
The first step to the stairs was found on November 4, 1922. The following day saw the exposure of a complete staircase. The end of November saw access to the Antechamber and the discovery of the Annex, and then the Burial Chamber and Treasury.
On November 29, the tomb was officially opened, and the first announcement and press conference followed the next day. The first item was removed from the tomb on December 27.
February 16, 1923 saw the official opening of the Burial Chamber, and April 5 saw the death of Lord Carnarvon.
On February 12, 1924, the granite lid of the sarcophagus was raised. In April, Carter argued with the Antiquities Service, and left the excavation for the United States.
In January 1925, Carter resumed activities in the tomb, and on October 13, he removed the cover of the first sarcophagus; on October 23, he removed the cover of the second sarcophagus; on October 28, the team removed the cover of the final sarcophagus and exposed the mummy; and on November 11, the examination of the remains of Tutankhamun started.
An alabaster vase found in the tomb, symbolizing the union of Lower and Upper Egypt.
Work started in the Treasury on October 24, 1926, and between October 30 and December 15, 1927, the Annex was emptied and examined.
On November 10, 1930, eight years after the discovery, the last objects were finally removed from the tomb of the long lost Pharaoh.
Plan of KV62.
In design, the tomb appears to have originally been intended for a private individual, not for royalty. There is some evidence to suggest that the tomb was adapted for a royal occupant during its excavation. This may be supported by the fact that only the burial chamber walls were decorated, unlike royal tombs in which nearly all walls were painted with scenes from the Book of the Dead.
Starting from a small, level platform, 16 steps descend to the first doorway, which was sealed and plastered – although it had been penetrated by grave robbers at least twice.
Beyond the first doorway, a descending corridor leads to the second sealed door, and into the room that Carter described as the Antechamber. This was used originally to hold material left over from the funeral and material associated with the embalming of the king, after the initial robberies this material was either moved into the tomb proper, or moved to KV54.
The undecorated Antechamber was found to be in a state of "organized chaos" and contained approximately 700 objects (articles 14 to 171 in the Carter catalogue) amongst which were three funeral beds, plates in shape of Hippopotamus (the Goddess Tawaret), of lion (or leopards) and cattle (the Goddess Hathor). Perhaps the most remarkable item in this room were the components, stacked, of four chariots of which one was probably used for hunting, one for "war" and another two for parades.Many of the "700" objects were made of gold.
Cross-section of shrines and sarcophagi in KV62
This is the only decorated chamber in the tomb, with scenes from the Opening of the Mouth ritual (showing Ay, Tutankhamun's successor acting as the king's son, despite being older than him) and Tutankhamun with the goddess Nut on the north wall, the first hour of Amduat (on the west wall), spell one of the Book of the Dead (on the east wall) and representations of the king with various deities (Anubis, Isis, Hathor and others now destroyed) on the south wall. The north wall shows Tutankhamen being followed by his Ka, being welcomed to the underworld by Osiris.
Some of the treasures in Tutankhamun's tomb are noted for their apparent departure from traditional depictions of the boy king. Certain cartouches where a king's name should appear have been altered, as if to reuse the property of a previous pharaoh—as often occurred. However, this instance may simply be the product of "updating" the artifacts to reflect the shift from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun. Other differences are less easy to explain, such as the older, more angular facial features of the middle coffin and canopic coffinettes. The most widely accepted theory for these latter variations is that the items were originally intended for Smenkhkare, who may or may not be the mysterious KV55 mummy. Said mummy, according to craniological examinations, bears a striking first-order (father-to-son, brother-to-brother) relationship to Tutankhamun.
One of the golden shrines, now on display in the Cairo Museum
Tutankhamun's wooden chest
The entire chamber was occupied by a series of gilded wooden shrines which surrounded the king's sarcophagus. The outer shrine ( in the cross-section) measured 5.08 x 3.28 x 2.75 m and 32 mm thick, almost entirely filling the room, with only 60 cm at either end and less than 30 cm on the sides. Outside of the shrines were 11 paddles for the "solar boat", containers for scents, and lamps decorated with images of the God Hapi.
The fourth and last shrine () was 2.90 m long and 1.48 m wide. The wall decorations depict the king's funeral procession, and Nut was painted on the ceiling, "embracing" the sarcophagus with her wings.
This sarcophagus was constructed in granite ( in the cross-section). Each corner of the main body and lid were carved from stone of different colours. It appears to have been constructed for another owner, but then recarved for Tutankhamen; the identity of the original owner is not preserved. In each corner a protective goddess (Isis, Nephthys, Serket and Neith) guards the body.
Inside, the king's body was placed within three mummiform coffins, the outer two made of gilded wood while the innermost was composed of 110.4 kg of pure gold. The mummy itself was adorned with a gold mask, mummy bands and other funerary items. The funerary mask is made of gold, inlaid with lapis lazuli, carnelian, quartz, obsidian, turquoise and glass and faience, and weighs 11 kg.
The treasury was the burial chamber's only side-room and was accessible by an unblocked doorway. It contained over 500 objects, most of them funerary and ritual in nature. The two largest objects found in this room were the king's elaborate canopic chest and a large statue of Anubis. Other items included numerous shrines containing gilded statuettes of the king and deities, model boats and two more chariots. This room also held two mummies of foetuses that some consider to have been stillborn offspring of the King.
The 'Annex', originally used to store oils, ointments, scents, foods and wine, was the last room to be cleared, from the end of October 1927 to the spring of 1928. Although quite small in size, it contained approximately 280 groups of objects, totaling more than 2,000 individual pieces.