Wm. Max Miller,
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The Treasures of Yuya and Tuyu
the funerary equipment of Queen Tiye's parents.
Raiders of KV 46
How thorough were the robbers who plundered the tomb of
Yuya and Tuyu? How many times was the tomb robbed, and what were the thieves
after? This study of post interment activity in KV 46 provides some answers.
Special KV 55 Section
Follow the trail of the missing treasures from mysterious KV 55.
55's Lost Objects: Where Are They Today?
The KV 55 Coffin Basin
and Gold Foil Sheets
Gold Foil at the Metropolitan
Mystery of the Missing Mummy Bands
See rare photographic plates of a great
discovery from Daressy's Fouilles de la Vallee des Rois.
Unknown Man E
Was he really
Tomb of Maihirpre
Learn about Victor Loret's
important discovery of this nearly intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
Who were the real tomb raiders?
What beliefs motivated their actions? A new perspective on the ancient practice
of tomb robbing.
Spend a Night
with the Royal Mummies
Read Pierre Loti's eerie account of
his nocturnal visit to the Egyptian Museum's Hall of Mummies.
Audience With Amenophis II Journey
once more with Pierre Loti as he explores the shadowy chambers of KV 35 in the
Most of the images on this website have been
scanned from books, all of which are given explicit credit and, wherever
possible, a link to a dealer where they may be purchased. Some images derive
from other websites. These websites are also acknowledged in writing and by
being given a link, either to the page or file where the images appear, or to
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Background Image: Wall scene from the tomb of Ramesses II (KV 7.) From Karl
Richard Lepsius, Denkmäler (Berlin: 1849-1859.)
KV 55's Lost Objects:
Where Are They Today?
William Max Miller, M. A.
Valley guard stands in front of the entrance to KV
55 (lower right.)
Photo from Arthur Weigall's The Glory of the Pharaohs (London,
facing page 136.
a hundred years after its discovery, KV 55 remains a subject of controversy.
The evidence uncovered in the tomb is especially difficult to interpret
because no one living today can be certain of exactly how things were found
when Theodore Davis, Edward Ayrton, Arthur Weigall, and Gaston Maspero first
entered the tomb. The written accounts produced by these men all contain
discrepancies which make it impossible to formulate a clear, unambiguous
version of the discovery. Worse, no one can even be sure of exactly what
was found in KV 55 because some of the smaller objects were stolen by Davis's
workers when the tomb was first opened, and were never included in Daressy's
catalogue of the tomb's contents printed in Davis's The Tomb of Queen Tiyi (London,
1910.) Still other valuable artifacts (including the coffin basin which
contained the much-discussed KV 55 mummy) were later stolen from the Cairo
Museum, or misplaced and forgotten within its labyrinthine expanse of
galleries, storage rooms and offices.
Over the years, some of these priceless relics of the
Amarna period have resurfaced. Others, however, remain elusive. It is possible
to trace their movements through the hands of various collectors up to a
certain point, and then the trail abruptly ends. In what follows, some of the
more rewarding trails are charted. They lead the traveler through a strange
world of antiquities dealers, secretive collectors, old diaries, forgotten
museum ledgers, and elite auctions.
Theodore Davis at Sotheby's
For John A. Larson, Museum Archivist of the Oriental
Institute of Chicago, the trail to some of KV 55's missing objects opened unexpectedly on January 18'th, 1990,
when he stumbled across a letter that had been sent to the Institute by a John
W. Allen of Tallahassee, Florida, in February, 1958. Mr. Allen, a great-nephew
of Theodore Davis, had wanted to know if the O. I. C. would be interested in
acquiring a collection of Egyptian antiquities that had once belonged to
Davis. He also sent along a catalogue which described and illustrated the
antiquities, and Larson soon realized that he was looking at ink sketches of
objects that had
originally come from KV 55. Sparked by this unexpected discovery, Larson
embarked on a fascinating historical quest that he chronicled in KMT (1:
KV 55 scholars had known for some time that a number of
smaller objects found in KV 55 had been pilfered by Davis's workmen. Among the
papers of Howard Carter at the Griffith Institute, Oxford, appears a comment
by Carter stating that "...a number of pieces of jewelry bearing the
king's [Akhenaten's] name and the Aten cartouches were in the dealers' shops
in Luxor within a few days of the discovery [of KV 55.]" (Carter, MSS,
I. C. 145 ; MSS,
I. C. 145 ; cf. also DRN, 57, n. 146; RNT, 154, n.
100; KMT [1: 2], 46, n. 15.) In 1962, Cyril Aldred
published portions of the diary of Emma B. Andrews, a traveling companion of
Theodore Davis's who was with him in Luxor at the time KV 55 was discovered. (JEA
48,, 162; cf. Larson, KMT [ 1: 2], 43-44.) In
her entry for February 17, 1907, Andrews wrote: "...Carter told him
[Davis] of various small and precious things which had been shown him by a
native which had been stolen from Tiyi's tomb." Among these objects,
Andrews lists gold "neferts" from a necklace, carnelian lotus
flowers, an object "bearing Aten's cartouche," and a gold and enamel element from a necklace inscribed with the number 17 in
"hieroglyphic characters" on the reverse side. (In
his article for Century Magazine [vol. 74, no. 5, September, 1907], 727-738) Arthur Weigall describes the discovery of a numbered
gold and enamel necklace element: "One pendant picked up in the rubbish [of
the coffin and mummy] bore the numeral 17, as though it had formed the
seventeenth piece of a great necklace.")
Aware that the artifacts in Allen's catalogue were those
mentioned by Andrews in her diary entry, Larson investigated further and discovered
(through the Andrews diary) that Carter helped Davis trace the stolen objects
to two Luxor antiquities dealers named Abd el Hamed and Ali. Ali returned the articles to Davis
and would not accept payment for them. Davis kept these objects, probably
realizing that he could not include such stolen items with the rest of the KV
55 antiquities without damaging the integrity of the whole collection.
From the John W. Allen correspondence (which amounted to a
single letter), Larson learned that Davis had given the retrieved KV 55 pieces
to a distant relative named Jeanette Buttles, who had compiled the catalogue
of the collection (with illustrations by her sister Mary) during her tenure as
its caretaker. The objects remained at her home in Florence, Italy, until her
death sometime in 1956 or 1957. In the summer of 1957, John W. Allen brought
the collection of artifacts and the illustrated catalogue back to his home in
Tallahassee, and tried, without success, to interest the Oriental Institute in
acquiring some (or all) of the objects. Here the matter was dropped, and the
trail was 32 years cold when Larson picked it up again. Remarkably, he was
able to trace the Davis-Buttles-Allen KV 55 collection an additional step.
Martha R. Bell called Larson's attention to a 14 year old Sotheby's
sales catalogue, Antiquities (December, 1976, Sale 3934, Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., New York) which listed the KV 55 artifacts as Lot
Numbers 39, 161-164, and 235-250. Further research disclosed that more items
from the Davis-Buttles-Allen collection were auctioned in New York by Sotheby's
in 1986. Larson records that he contacted Richard M. Keresey, Sotheby's antiquities expert, but was unable to obtain any data on the
buyer(s) of the KV 55 collection. However, he later refers to the auctioned gold/enamel
necklace element, inscribed on the reverse side with the number 17, as "the piece
that went to Cairo," and gives the museum entry number (JdE 39632)
for an object now in the Cairo Museum which matches the auctioned item's description (KMT [vol.
44, and 46, n. 19.) Originally part of the necklace found on the KV 55 mummy, the auctioned piece noted by Larson was one of the thirteen objects in Sotheby's Lot #
238 (entitled "Thirteen Gold and Electrum
Amulets" in the sales catalogue) which sold in 1976. It was described by
Sotheby's as a "gold plaque probably from a collar inlaid with part of
a foliate frieze in carnelian and remains of glass paste." Martha Bell
discussed the piece catalogued by the Cairo Museum as JdE 39632, and
concluded that "Unfortunately, this piece was purchased," (JARCE 27
101, and n. 31) and referred to the Andrews diary entry for February 17'th,
1907, mentioned above, which reports the theft and retrieval of a necklace
element inscribed on the reverse with a number 17. The Cairo Museum object certainly sounds like
the necklace element that was sold by Sotheby's in 1976, but documentary
evidence seems to make this far from certain.
For example, Daressy lists a necklace element marked on the
back with a number 17 in his catalogue (ToQT, 21, item # 10)
and this is problematic because it seems to indicate that the particular
necklace element he describes had officially been included in the
collection of KV 55 objects shipped to the Cairo Museum. However, we have seen
(above) that Davis retained the stolen KV 55 objects which he retrieved from dealers,
and never sent them to Cairo. The Andrews diary
clearly states that such an object had been stolen, and, as has been
noted above, Larson found an
object fitting the necklace element's description in the Sotheby's 1976 sales catalogue. Could Daressy have
prepared his catalogue entry without ever actually seeing the necklace element,
using excavation notes written by one of the men who
found the piece, unaware that this particular object had subsequently been
stolen? Or could there be two similar necklace elements, both with the
number 17 inscribed in hieratic on their reverse sides, one of which went to the
Cairo Museum, the other eventually ending up at Sotheby's? This is not altogether
Martha Bell describes the Cairo Museum piece as a
"single 'bead' from a gold w3h-collar, with a repeated
pattern of alternating pendant lotus and poppy (?) petals. The cloisons were
inlaid with lapis, turquoise, and carnelian colored materials, probably
glass." She explains the hieratic number 17 on the back as a jeweler's mark indicating "position within a row [of
necklace elements], the higher the number apparently the smaller the
size, i.e. on the outer edges, or rear of the necklace, nearer to the
terminal." (JARCE 27 , 101 and n. 32.) This explanation for the purpose of the numerical markings on the
back of the Cairo piece leaves room for the possibility that another similarly
numbered piece could have occupied the same position on the opposite side of the same
string of beads. If two such # 17 pieces were found in KV 55, then one could have
been stolen along with other parts of the necklace while the other # 17
piece went to Cairo. The Cairo #17 piece would have been the one catalogued by
Daressy and accessioned into the museum's collection as JdE 39632. The stolen
would have become part of the Davis-Buttles-Allen
collection, and eventually ended up at Sotheby's. Bell's comment about the Cairo
# 17 piece having been purchased could have been an understandable mistake caused by
her confusing the Cairo necklace element with the similarly numbered necklace
element reported as stolen by Emma Andrews in her diary. Larson's comment that
the Sotheby's necklace element "went to Cairo" may itself be based on
his reading of Bell's incorrect statement that the Cairo # 17 piece had been
purchased. Only further research can hope to resolve the mystery of the necklace
element(s.) If there were two necklace elements, both inscribed with the number
17, then the location of the one auctioned by Sotheby's in 1976 is still unknown.
Through C. Lilyquist, M. J. Raven, and H. D. Schneider, Bell learned that another piece from the same necklace (this one with a
hieratic number 16 inscribed on the reverse side) had been sold to the
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, by J. N. E. Esser, an antiquities dealer in
the Netherlands. This object (Leiden F 1940/8.4) had come to Esser from
the collection of Baron Van der Straeten-Solvay of Brussels. (JARCE 27 ,
101, no. 8
and n. 32. See Lilyquist's black & white photo of the
necklace element along with a color photo of this intriguing antiquity from the Huub Pragt Egyptoloog page on Facebook.) How the Baron had acquired the piece is currently
Read more about KV 55's missing
The Coffin Basin and Gold Foil Sheets
See how KMT editor Dennis Forbes
tracked down missing treasures.
More Gold Foil at
Learn how the M. M. A. acquired
valuable KV 55 objects.
The Missing Mummy
These mysterious objects still
evade KV 55 detectives.
Theodore Davis at Boalsburg, PA
I recently had a moment of
excitement involving my "discovery" of a relative of Theodore Davis.
A man by the name of Theodore Davis Boal was mentioned in Davis's New York
Times obituary as being a surviving nephew of the famous Egyptologist. His
home was given as Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. I began tracking him down on the
internet, and soon found a website for a Boalsburg Museum in Boalsburg, PA,
near State College. The Museum is run by a Mr. Christopher Lee, Theodore
Davis's great-great-nephew. Immediately, I sent Mr. Lee an e-mail, explaining
to him that I was doing research on Theodore Davis. I asked if Mr. Lee had any
Egyptian artifacts, either in his personal collection or in the museum. He
replied that he did have "some items from Egyptian tombs" on display
in the museum. Greatly excited, I dashed off e-mails to John Larson and Dennis
Forbes. I was ready to drive to Boalsburg to photograph these artifacts when
John Larson wrote back, explaining that he and Robert Ritner (now an Associate
Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute of Chicago) had seen the
objects in 1989, and determined that none had probably come from Davis's
excavations in the Valley of the Kings. My visions of discovering the missing
KV 55 mummy bands and gold foil sheets vanished like cartouches on the KV 55
Mr. Lee told me that he has all of Theodore Davis's
published works at the museum. John Larson added that the Boalsburg Museum
also has an impressive bust of Theodore Davis, and a large framed picture of
Davis's dahabiya. Even though no KV 55 missing treasures are there, the
Boalsburg Museum should be of great interest to Theodore Davis scholars and is
definitely worth a visit for anyone fascinated by Egyptology in the
"Gilded Age." (Click
here to go directly to the Boalsburg Museum website.)
55's missing objects continue to tantalize researchers, and there
are many of them still hidden away, mostly in private collections. Martha Bell
compiled an extensive list of these articles, which include (in addition to the
ones noted above) such things as an alabaster jar stand from the burial chamber,
an alabaster vase lid and wooden mallet head from the entrance corridor, and a
fragment of furniture bearing the names of Tiye and Nebmaatre (written without
employing the M3ct-figure.) (JARCE 27 ,
108.) Who knows when or where they may turn up.
The search for the elusive KV 55 missing objects continues
today, and can be greatly facilitated by internet communications and search
capabilities. The Theban Royal Mummy Project would like to especially
thank Susan J. Allen, Senior Research Associate & Librarian, Department of
Egyptian Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Dennis Forbes, editor of KMT: A
Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt; John Larson, Museum Archivist of the
Oriental Institute of Chicago; and Monica J. Verona of the MMA's Thomas J.
Watson Library, who all communicated with me about the Cairo and MMA gold foil
sheets and other KV 55-related subjects, and generously shared valuable
I would be glad to hear from anyone who has any new data
about missing objects from KV 55. Even unconfirmed rumors concerning these
artifacts are welcome, since--regardless of their validity--they serve as
starting points for research and may, in some cases, be based on facts. (Of
course, such rumors will be clearly labeled as such on this page.) Please feel
free to contact The Theban Royal Mummy Project at:
Learn about the controversial
KV 55 mummy
in our XVIII'th Dynasty Gallery IV
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