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Tuesday Tomb – KV46


The entrance to KV46 (Source: The Theban Mapping Project).

This week we are paying a visit to KV46, the tomb of Yuya and Tjuyu who were the parents of Amenhotep III’s principal wife, Queen Tiye.
KV46 is a very rare example of a non-royal tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Although the tomb does not boast beautiful wall decorations, the treasures it held may rival those of Tutankhamun himself!


A selection of pots found in KV46 (Source: Tour Egypt).

The tomb was discovered in 1905 by James E. Quibell (sponsored by Theodore M. Davis) and consists of staircase leading to a descending corridor and a burial chamber. As well as lacking decoration, the walls of the tomb were not smoothed or plastered. It is not certain whether the tomb construction came to an untimely end or whether the poor stone quality prevented its completion.


A carved chair presented to Yuya and Tjuyu by Sitamun (Source: Tour Egypt).

It was the most famous tomb prior to the discovery of that of Tutankhamun due to the large volume of well-preserved funerary equipment. However, the tomb was robbed three times during its history, once shortly after the burial as indicated by the absence of perishable goods such as oils. The second and third robberies may have taken place during the excavations of KV3 and KV4. Debris from these tombs blocked the entry of KV46 keeping it safe until its discovery in 1905.

Squeezing their way between the wall and the rock ceiling, Mr. Maspero and Mr. Davis were soon in the midst of such a medley of tomb furniture that, in the glare of their lighted candles, the first effect was one of bewilderment. Gradually, however, one object after another detached itself from the shimmering mass, shining through the cool air, dust-free and golden…

Henry Copley Greene describing the entry into the tomb.

Despite the robberies, many treasures remained in the tomb including the beautiful mummy masks of Yuya and Tjuyu, a beautiful chest of inlaid wood and faience (below), and a carved chair gifted to the couple by Sitamun, a daughter of Amenhotep III (above). This chair was used by the Empress Eugenie who visited Egypt for the opening of the Suez Canal.

A chest of inlaid wood and faience (Source: Tour Egypt).

The conditions inside the tomb ensured that the silver items remained shiny until their discovery. Vessels contained honey which retained its scent even after thousands of years! However, one of the most amazing discoveries inside the tomb was a completely intact chariot (below). 


Chariot (Source: The Theban Mapping Project).

The mummies were found inside their original coffins, complete with their masks. The mummy of Yuya lay within a nest of three beautiful coffins. Both mummies now rest in the Cairo Egyptian Museum along with their glorious treasures.

Bibliography and further reading: 

The Theban Mapping Project – KV46 (Yuya and Thuyu): http://www.thebanmappingproject.com/sites/browse_tomb_860.html

The Theban Royal Mummy Project – Yuya: http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/18B.htm

The Theban Royal Mummy Project – Tuyu: http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/18B.htm

Tour Egypt – The Private Tomb of Yuya and Tjuyu in the Valley of the Kings: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/yuyat.htm

Miller, William M. 2003. Tomb Raiders of KV 46: Post Interment Activity in the Tomb of Yuya and Tuyu: http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/SpecialExhibits/PIAKV46.htm

Davis, Theodore M. 2000. The Tomb of Iouiya and Touiyou. Duckworth Press: London.


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