The Theban Royal Mummy Project
An online catalogue of Egyptian mummies from the Theban cache tombs 
DB 320 & KV 35, plus other mummies from the Theban Necropolis

 
 

Presents...
The Tale of the Cache Tombs

July, 1881. Deir el-Bahri, Egypt: 

    For several years, Gaston Maspero, head of the Service of Antiquities, knew that 21'st Dynasty funerary papyri were available on the antiquities market, and that someone had discovered a royal tomb somewhere in the vast Theban necropolis across the Nile from modern Luxor. Suspicion fell on members of the Abd el-Rassul family from the village of Qurna, but, when questioned, they would admit to nothing. By 1881, Maspero had all but given up hope of locating the hidden tomb. But finally, after seeing his brothers arrested and tortured, Mohammed el-Rassul confessed and led Emile Brugsch, Maspero's assistant, to the site of the tomb in the cliff's of Dier el-Bahri. When Brugsch climbed down the entrance shaft of the tomb that would later be named DB 320, he made a discovery unlike any other in the history of Egyptology. As his eyes adjusted to the candle-lit dimness of the roughly hewn corridors, he found himself confronting the massed remains of 50 different burials, among them the coffins and mummies of  some of the greatest rulers from ancient Egypt's glorious past. Stunned by the unprecedented nature of his find, Brugsch had the tomb rapidly cleared of its valuable contents and sent the mummies to Cairo for further study.  

March 9'th, 1898. Biban el-Muluk, Egypt:

    Seventeen years after the incredible Deir el-Bahri discovery, French Egyptologist Victor Loret entered the just-uncovered  tomb of Amenhotep the 2'nd in the Valley of the Kings, and soon discovered that the New Kingdom Pharaoh did not rest alone. He found thirteen other mummies, most of them royal, interred in side chambers of the 18'th Dynasty ruler's tomb. These mummies were also eventually sent to Cairo for examination. 
    How had the mummies  of so many Egyptian monarchs ended up in these two special tombs? And why were they removed from their own sepulchers to begin with? Investigators soon discovered many clues, including hieratic inscriptions (which they called "dockets,") on the coffins and wrappings of the mummies. Like pieces from an ancient puzzle, the physical evidence and inscriptions fit together into a strange tale of tomb robbers and priest-king rulers who tried to keep one step ahead of them. It turned out that Egypt's most illustrious rulers had not rested easy in their tombs, and had embarked upon many secret journeys since their departure to the Underworld. In an attempt to safeguard the bodies of their sacred dead (and also out of a desire to prop up a failing economy by exploiting the riches that had been buried with them) the Theban high-priest rulers of the late 20'th and 21'st Dynasties  entered the tombs concealed by the cliffs of the Valley of the Kings, appropriated most of the the valuable funerary equipment for themselves, and shifted the mummies from tomb to tomb until they finally came to rest in DB 320 and the tomb of Amenhotep the 2'nd (KV 35.) There they lay, hidden and undisturbed, for almost three thousand years until modern searchers discovered their secret hiding places. This website tells their amazing story.
  

To explore these 3,000 year old mysteries...
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Background Music: From www.shabtis.com. Sound Design by Peter Willmott.
Used with his permission. Thanks also to Glenn Janes and Roger Dowling for technical support.

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