KV42, A Tomb Originally Intended for Hatshepsut-Meryetre
by Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews
KV 42, which was never finished, is situated in the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank of Luxor (ancient Thebes) leading up to the tomb of Tuthmosis III. This is the south branch of the southwest wadi.
Victor Loret may have discovered the tomb during his excavations in the vicinity, but it was Howard Carter, at this time the Inspector General of the Monuments for Upper Egypt, who first entered it on December 9th, 1900. He states:
"On entering, I at once saw that the tomb had already been plundered in early times...for the funeral furniture, vases and Canopic jars, were [s]mashed and lying about on the ground of the passage and chambers, evidently just as the former robbers had thrown them..."
However, when the tomb was only recently cleared by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), there still remained a barrier in place at the entrance to the first stairway. It had suffered considerable flood damage.
This tomb was almost certainly built by Tuthmosis III for his queen, Hatshepsut-Meryetre.
However, it is more likely that she was never buried here, but rather in the tomb of her son, KV35 belonging to Amenhotep II. Though it takes a royal appearance, being larger than private tombs of the 18th Dynasty, it lacks the typical well shaft and pillared halls of a royal burial, though it did have two pillars within the burial chamber (both of which are badly damaged). It also lacks the annexes normally found in kingly burials. This tomb may have been reused by Sennefer, mayor of Thebes, Senetnay, his wife who was the royal wet-nurse, and Baketra, the "king's adornment," during the reign of Amenhetep II or used as a cache for materials from their burials elsewhere. Carter found fragments of funerary equipment that indicated that the tomb had been used for some such purpose.
This tomb consists of an initial steep stairway leading to a steep, wide corridor that in turn communicates with stairwell chamber followed by a second chamber with no pillars. From their the orientation takes a left turn towards the northeast into a final corridor before reaching a cartouche shaped burial chamber. The burial chamber has a single, small chamber leading off to the southeast. With the exception of an unfinished celestial ceiling and a kheker-frieze in the burial chamber, the tomb is completely undecorated.
The entrance way has well cut steps and there are holes in the doorway that were used to lower the sarcophagus. Here, we also find graffiti telling of some work by a scribe at the end of the 20th or beginning of the 21st Dynasty. It reads:
"3rd month of summer, day 23: work was begun on this tomb by the necropolis gang, when the scribe Butehamun went to the town to see the general's arrival in the north."
Within the first corridor, the easternmost part of the ceiling remains rough. Apparently the workman encountered harder stone in this area. Some red mason marks are still visible along the right wall, as they also are on both the left and right walls of the following stairwell. In the square chamber prior to the burial chamber, an interesting feature is a bench which is built along the entire length of the right wall. Here, we find a shallow pit in the southeast section of the room, the purpose of which is unclear. The floor of the room gently slopes down towards the doorway to the last, short corridor. The burial chamber itself lies on a west-east axis. The westernmost of the pillars is damaged, while the east one is badly broken. :There are several copper pins at the top of the west wall, with holes remaining for other pins in the other walls. These may have been used for plumb bobs.
The sarcophagus may be found in the east part of the burial chamber. It is made of stone, and appears to have never been used, as it is unpolished, undecorated and seemingly had not been placed in its proper resting place in the tomb The small annex leading off the burial chamber is trapezoidal in shape.
About the decorations
The walls of the burial chamber were plastered, but the decorative theme was never completed. A star pattern of yellow stars on a blue background adorns the ceiling, while the kheker-frieze surmounts a band of color below.
The kheker frieze art work appears to have been in vogue during the time of Tuthmosis III. They were also featured in a chapel of this king at Deir el Bahari and revived during Greek times in Egypt. Khekers with splayed tops were found in the tombs of Tuthmosis I (KV38), Tuthmosis III (KV34) and Amenhotep III (WV23).
It has been said that this pattern work represents knots with plant stems, and were used not only for decoration but also had religious significance. It seems that they referred back to the primeval home of the god, the national shrine, and symbolize the 'first time' when the gods ruled Egypt). However, it has also been argued that they represent the stylization of the fixed loops for mats or the open knotted fringes of hanging rugs.
Discoveries within the Tomb
Carter apparently discovered limestone canopic jars, dummy vessels and an offering table along with the remains of wooden "sledges and coffins" and uninscribed items including some "twenty or thirty, whole and broken, rough earthen jars" within the small side room off the burial chamber. He also found "some gold leaf and an exquisite gold inlaid rosette" in the entrance corridor. This apparently led him to believe that the tomb was at some point used for Sennufer and his family, though we now know that this individual had a tomb elsewhere on the West Bank (TT96). Hence, most Egyptologists seem to agree today that the tomb may have been used as some sort of cache.
However, in 1921 Carter firmly established the original owner of the tomb when he discovered foundation deposits placed at the entrance. Though she was apparently never buried in the tomb, the items carried the name of the great royal wife, Hatshepsut-Meryetre.
General Site Information
- Structure: 42
- Location: Valley of the Kings, East Valley, Thebes West Bank, Thebes
- Owner: Hatshepsut-Meryet-Ra
- Other designations:
- Site type: Tomb
- Axis in degrees: 178.08
- Axis orientation: South
- Latitude: 25.44 N
- Longitude: 32.36 E
- Elevation: 189.17 msl
- North: 99,347.618
- East: 94,092.1713
- JOG map reference: NG 36-10
- Modern governorate: Qena (Qina)
- Ancient: 4th Upper Egypt.
- Surveyed by TMP: Yes
- Maximum height: 4.32 m
- Minimum width: 0.86 m
- Maximum width: 7.61 m
- Total length: 58.18 m
- Total area: 184.77 m
- Total volume: 423.6 m
Additional Tomb Information
- Entrance location: Base of sheer cliff
- Owner type: Queen
- Entrance type: Staircase
- Interior layout: Corridors and chambers
- Axis type: Bent
Categories of Objects Recovered
- Architectural elements
- Religious objects
- Tomb equipment
History of Exploration
- Loret, Victor (1899): Discovery
- Macarios, C. (1900): Excavation
- Andraos, Boutros (1900): Excavation
- Carter, Howard (1900): Excavation
- Carter, Howard (1921): Excavation (discovery of foundation deposits)
- Supreme Council of Antiquities (1999): Conservation
- Supreme Council of Antiquities (1999): Excavation
Complete Valley of the Kings, The (Tombs and Treasures of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs)
Reeves, Nicholas; Wilkinson, Richard H.
Thames and Hudson Ltd
Guide to the Valley of the Kings
Barnes & Noble Books
Valley of the Kings
Heyden, A. Van Der