Wm. Max Miller,
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About Our Project
See what's new at the T. R. M. P.
Quickly Access Specific Mummies With Our
View mummies in the
Including the mummy identified as Queen Hatshepsut.
Including the mummy identified as Queen Tiye.
Featuring the controversial KV 55
mummy. Now with a revised reconstruction of ancient events in this perplexing
Featuring the mummies of Tutankhamen and his children.
Still in preparation.
Now including the
mummy identified as
21'st Dynasty Coffins from DB320
Examine the coffins
of 21'st Dynasty Theban Rulers.
Including the mummy identified as Tutankhamen's mother.
About the Dockets
Using this website for research papers
Links to Egyptology websites
Biographical Data about William Max Miller
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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Feel free to use material from the Theban Royal Mummy Project website.
No prior written permission is required. Just please follow the same guidelines
which I employ when using the works of other researchers, and give the Theban
Royal Mummy Project proper credit on your own papers, articles, or
This website is constantly developing and contributions
of data from other researchers are welcomed.
Contact The Theban Royal Mummy Project at:
Background Image: Wall scene from the tomb of Ramesses II (KV 7.) From Karl
Richard Lepsius, Denkmäler (Berlin: 1849-1859.)
About the Dockets
various kinds of hieratic inscriptions, or dockets, which the ancient reburial
party scribes left on the mummies, their coffins, and, sometimes, the walls of
certain sepulchers, help add important details to the story of the cache tombs.
By examining them closely, especially in context with other physical evidence
found in the tombs (such as the placement and condition of burials within the
caches) a chronology of the funerary activity that took place within DB320, KV35,
and much of the Valley of the Kings can be worked out.
Up until ten years ago, the dockets had never been
systematically studied in detail, and had not been completely published in a
single work that could be used for serious research purposes. Elizabeth Thomas's
Royal Necropolis of Thebes (1966) and Kenneth Kitchen's The Third
Intermediate Period (1973) provided the best sources for docket data, but
did not include all the dockets.
This situation changed in 1990, when C. N. Reeves published Valley
of the Kings: the Decline of a Royal Necropolis (abbreviated as DRN on
this website.) This monumental study of the Theban royal necropolis undertook
nothing less than the complete reconstruction of all burial and post-burial
activity that transpired within the the Valley of the Kings and the Dier
el-Bahri area during the New Kingdom and early Third Intermediate Period. With a
virtuoso display of historical analysis, Reeves succeeded remarkably well in
completing this daunting task, and was greatly aided in its completion by a
detailed examination of the dockets, most of which were published in Chapter 11 of DRN. Reeves developed a simple method
of classifying dockets which I use on this website.
Reeves' Docket Classifications
Reeves distinguishes between three basic
kinds of dockets which were encountered in the cache tombs and in other
locations in the Valley of the Kings:
Linen Dockets (LD)--inscriptions found on
shrouds and/or wrappings of mummies
Coffin Dockets (CD)--inscriptions found on coffins (usually on
Wall Dockets (WD)--inscriptions found on the
walls of certain tombs or on cliff walls located
close to the tombs
On his tables of dockets, Reeves also lists
two other types of docket: graffiti inscriptions (G) found
on locations in the Theban necropolis which make them especially relevant to the
subject of post interment activity; and linen notations (LN)
which give (i.) the name of the person who had originally donated the linens
thus indicated for use in the temple rituals pertaining to a deity, and (ii.)
the date when the linens were made and/or donated. These dockets are especially
interesting because they provide evidence of the Egyptian custom of using temple
linens for later mummification purposes, and also help to give an approximate
date for the death of the person on whose wrappings they appear.
Reeves further distinguishes dockets into two types: type A
and type B. A type A docket merely records the name, and often the
titles, of the deceased person. Reeves states that these dockets had a clear and
simple purpose as identification aids, and were placed prominently on on the
coffin lids and/or wrappings of the mummies so identified. Based on a study of
Gaston Maspero's facsimiles of type A dockets from DB320, Reeves was able
to use similarities in ancient handwriting styles to make some conclusions
concerning the dates of various reburials and the mummies that had been grouped
together in earlier cache tombs. He notes that similar type A dockets from the KV35 cache were never documented properly.
Type B dockets are more interesting and informative
because they contain a record of the actions undertaken with respect to specific
mummies. They provide the mummy's post interment "itinerary," to
borrow Reeves' happy choice of words, and an understanding of these dockets
enabled him to generate a chronology for post-interment activity in the Theban
Reeves notes five sorts of
activity which the dockets record. The Egyptian terms for these activities,
along with their definitions, are as follows (keeping in mind that my word
processor cannot duplicate all the sub- and superscripts employed in the
accepted system of transliteration):
which may indicate a routine visit to a tomb simply to check on things, or one
occasioned by signs or reports of illicit activity at or near the tomb site. Reeves notes that this
term appears only once on a docket from DB320 (on the mummy of Meryetamun.)
2. krs--"burial," in the
sense of a complete Egyptian burial, with coffins, canopics, rituals, etc.
3. whm krs--"repetition of
burial," which Reeves translates to mean a renewal or restoration of a tomb
(that, apparently, had been disturbed through illicit activity.)
4. whm sm3--"repetition of
interment," a term which Reeves explains was used only once on the mummy of
Tuthmosis II, perhaps in connection with a possible reburial of this king in the
tomb of Amenhotep I.
5. rdit wsir--"osirification,"
a term for which the precise definition remains uncertain. Reeves points out
that it appears on only four mummies in the DB320 cache (those of Ramesses III,
Ahmose-Sitkamose, Amosis I, and Siamun.) He interprets it as an allusion to the
myth in which Isis gathers the scattered portions of the body of Osiris and
gives them to Anubis for mummification. This might at first lead one to assume
that the term, when used in the cache dockets, implies that the mummy so
docketed had been broken to pieces by thieves and then restored to its former
order by the reburial party. But Reeves notes that rdit wsir was
used on the docket attached to the mummy of Ramesses III, which had not been
damaged significantly by thieves. He also notes that the term was also applied
to the mummy of Siamun, which had not been restored to any kind of order by the
reburial party. Reeves tentatively concludes that rdit wsir
refers to some type of status-change undergone by a mummy whenever it was
removed from its original tomb and reburied elsewhere.
How Reliable Are The Dockets?
Soon after the mummies and coffins from
DB 320 were shipped to Cairo and examined, it became apparent that the ancient
restorers had sometimes gotten confused, and placed some mummies in coffins that
had not originally belonged to them. The cached group of mummies from KV 35
exhibited similar signs of confusion regarding mummies and their coffins.
These mix-ups produced a generalized doubt regarding the
accuracy of all the dockets, one which Reeves feels is over-reactive. He agrees
with Herbert Winlock's dicta that the ancient dockets should be accepted as
accurate unless there is very good reason to doubt them, and points out that
none of the docket identifications of mummies have ever been conclusively proven
false. Reeves also notes that the presence of undocketed, unidentified mummies
in the caches indicates that the ancient restorers would not docket a mummy
about whose identity they were uncertain.
Another possibility which Reeves doesn't consider revolves
around the question of the literacy level of the people who actually placed the
mummies in the coffins after they had undergone "osirification" (rdit
wsir) or "repetition of burial" (whm sm3.)
Levels of literacy in ancient Egypt were always low, and it is highly possible
that not everyone employed in the caching of the royal mummies could read. We know from examining tombs in the Valley of the Kings that they were
constructed by gangs of workers, each gang performing a highly specialized task.
A similarly specialized approach was probably used in the preparation of the
cached burials. It is easy to see one group of literate priests rewrapping
mummies, a group of literate scribes writing out the dockets, another group
removing the gold surfaces from coffins, and a fourth group of simple laborers
doing the actual "dirty work" of placing mummies in coffins and
transporting them to the cache tombs. If these laborers were illiterate, they would have been given verbal instructions concerning the coffins
in which to place the mummies. Without constant supervision by the priests and
scribes, mistakes would inevitably occur. In the case of DB 320, the lay-out of
the tomb and the size and weight of many of the coffins may have forced the
workers to remove mummies from their coffins in order to facilitate the process
of moving these sometimes colossal objects into place. If this occurred, the
mummies would have been replaced in coffins at the actual tomb site in a process
that would have given another opportunity for confusion to occur.
No contradictions between linen dockets appearing on the
shrouds or wrappings of the mummies themselves have been found. The only discrepancies occur
between linen dockets and coffin inscriptions. This is easily explained if we
postulate several different groups of workers, some of whom could not read or
write. This also resolves the problem of mummy identification altogether because
the confusion found in the cache tombs is actually a confusion regarding
the owners of coffins, not the identity of mummies. The whole line of reasoning
which contends that linen docket identifications on mummies are unreliable
because the names on their coffins sometimes fail to correspond with them is
based on a fallacy.
Throughout this website, Reeves' reconstruction of
post-interment activity in and around the Valley of the Kings is taken as
accurate, and his assumptions regarding the accuracy of the dockets are accepted