Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Farewell to the Warrior and His Canopic Chest

When the eighteenth dynasty Pharaoh Thutmosis III decided to be buried in the Valley of the gates of the Kings the valley was still relatively free from human activity as far as tombs go so his secret tomb hidden in the barren hostile valley made sense even if a big man made gash could clearly be seen above the tomb of Thutmosis predecessor Hatshepsut.

Thutmosis cartouche shaped burial chamber is truly the first wonderful room created in the valley so that at the end of the kings life he was placed into his beautiful quartzite sarcophagus, many feel it is the most beautiful sarcophagus ever created in Egyptian history. There he was laid to rest surrounded by statues of the gods of whom he would remain in their presence forever with oars laid around on the floor to aid Thutmosis on his eternal celestial journey with the sun god Re.

Well at least that was the plan the eighteenth dynasty kings lying in their hidden chambers within the valley however the establishment of nineteenth dynasty the right to be buried in the valley became a political tool with ever growing and decorated entrances the kings of the twentieth dynasty's announced the right in ever larger entrances.

When the priests of the twenty first dynasty show up a half a millennium has passed and though the warrior lies in his secret tomb his fame more likely made his tomb the worst kept secret among the officials of the necropolis who would have passed the information down the generations as to where the cemeteries most prestigious eighteenth dynasty king was.

It probably should not have surprised anyone upon entering the kings burial to find they were not the first to visit the kings house of eternity it having been brutally robbed the warriors mummy torn apart and the pieces scattered around the chamber. The statues of the Gods smashed against the chambers walls and the sarcophagus badly damaged.

In the chamber the warriors inner coffin trough lay nearby with its lid, the priests rounded up the remains of the King along with four oars and removed him to safety elsewhere where they scrapped off the coffins gold leaf and removed its eye inlays.

The enigma of the tomb is the complete lack of a canopic chest. The suggestion that the canopic chest remained undamaged in a pillaged tomb and was removed for re-use by members of the elite of dynasty twenty one would seem unlikely but is perhaps what happened.

The other thought is that 200 years earlier Rameses II who appropriated everything from other Kings to his own glory may have ordered the great warriors tomb open so that he may visit, just as Julius Caeser would visit Alexander the greats mummy millenia later, and during that visit Rameses acquired the canopic chest for his own now destroyed burial.

This visit having alerted robbers to the tombs location and it being plundered after great King Rameses left and hundreds of years before the great recycling of the necropolis.

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