Tuesday Tomb – QV66

View of the interior of QV66, showing the east wall of the antechamber, the vestibule and the access route to the lateral chamber (Source: antikforever.com).

QV66 is the extremely well-preserved tomb of Queen Nefertari, the Great Royal Wife of Ramesses II. The tomb, located in the Valley of the Queens, is the largest in the valley, and was discovered by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1904. It is often referred to as ‘the Sistine Chapel of ancient Egypt’ due to its incredibly beautiful decoration.

Depiction of Queen Nefertari playing the popular ancient Egyptian game, senet (Source: antikforever.com).

The standard of the tomb decoration is truly astounding, and provides a wonderful example of the high quality of art found in the Ramesside Period.

Nefertari is depicted wearing a beautiful dress of semi-transparent white linen and the vulture headdress.

Chapters of the ‘Book of the Dead’ illustrate the walls, as well as representations of Nefertari in the company of various deities, including Thoth and Isis, and scenes from the ‘Book of Gates’. Other images include depictions of the Queen being welcomed by the gods, and making offerings to Hathor and to Isis and Nephthys. The passage to the antechamber is flanked by the images of Osiris (left) and Anubis (right).

A dark blue astronomical ceiling decorates the roof of the burial chamber. The chamber itself is decorated with scenes of Chapters 144 and 146 of the ‘Book of the Dead’.

Nefertari before the god, Thoth (left) and before offerings (right) (Source: Science Photo Library).

Ramesses II’s devotion and love for Nefertari are evident throughout the tomb. Poetry written by the king to his wife appears on some of the walls of the burial chamber, including lines such as “My love is unique”, and “nobody can compete, because she is a woman more beautiful than the living”.

A pair of sandals belonging to Queen Nefertari (Source: Osirisnet).

Unfortunately, QV66 had been robbed by tomb-robbers during the New Kingdom. Schiaparelli did recover a few items including some scarabs, shabtis, fragments of a gilded coffin lid, and the remains of the Queen’s pink granite sarcophagus (now in the Turin museum).

A pair of the Queen’s sandals also survived. A few pieces of her jewellery were purchased by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts when they appeared on the Luxor antiquities market in 1904.

Sadly, the fate of the Queen’s mummy is unknown. Schiaparelli only found part of her knees in the burial chamber, among shreds of mummification material. These remains are also in the Turin museum.

Further reading:

The Getty Conservation Institute – Tomb of Nefertari (1986–1992)http://www.getty.edu/conservation/our_projects/field_projects/nefertari/index.html – details of the QV66 conservation project and related articles and publications.

Osirisnet – QV66http://www.osirisnet.net/tombes/pharaons/nefertari/e_nefertari_01.htm – including a 3-D virtual tour of the tomb.

Science Photo Library – Tomb of Queen Nefertarihttp://www.sciencephoto.com/set/1444 – including more photographs.

antikforever.com – The tombs of the Valley of the Queens – QV66http://antikforever.com/Egypte/Tombes/QV_1.htm#QV66 – including more photographs and a description.


5 comments on “Tuesday Tomb – QV66

  1. the colours in Nefertari’s tomb are quite something I think her tomb is one of the best in the Valley of the Queens lovely photo.

  2. […] The Egyptiana Emporium – Gemma takes a  look at QV66, the beautiful tomb of Queen Nefertari, the Great Royal Wife of Ramses II. […]

  3. Reblogged this on lovelyseasonscomeandgo and commented:
    i like this article, it makes those bible stories more real

  4. […] this will also be happening for the arguably more visually spectacular (yet further deteriorated) tomb of Queen Nefertari in the near […]

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