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The Cliff Tomb of Queen Hatshepsut

 18th Dynasty

 Location - Wadi Sikkat Taka ez-Zeida (approximately one mile to the west of Deir el-Bahri)

The tomb was built for the burial of Queen Hatshepsut, at the point this tomb was begun she was still the wife of Tuthmosis II.

In an attempt to deter tomb robbers the tomb was built high in the cliffs (see picture below), but the tomb itself still followed a similar layout to the tombs that were being prepared in the Valley of the Kings.

After passing through the entrance, a short staircase leads down to a doorway, through this lead to the first corridor of the tomb, the corridor has a gentle slope on it at this point. After 10 metres the corridor leads into an antechamber, a second corridor and then into the burial chamber (a burial shaft had been cut into the floor of the burial chamber but had not been finished - the work in the tomb had halted before any decoration had started (limestone slabs were found in the tomb, probably intended to have words and scenes of the Amduat painted on them - similar to the tomb of Hatshepsut in the Valley of the Kings), the tomb had not been used for a burial).

 

     The positioning of the tomb

 

A sarcophagus was found in the tomb - made of quartzite - which was reminiscent of the wooden coffins used for the burials of the Queen Ahhotep and Ahmose Nefertari. The height of the sarcophagus was impressive; 1.99 metrres (6ft 6"). The sarcophagus was inscribed for Hatshepsut:

"The Great Princess, great in favour and grace, Mistress of All lands, Royal Daughter and Royal Sister, Great Royal Wife, Lady of the Two Lands, Hatshepsut"

The lid to the sarcophagus (6.5 inches thick) was left standing against a corner of the sarcophagus, on the lid was a prayer to the goddess Nut:

"The King's Daughter, God's Wife, King's Great Wife, Lady of the Two Lands, Hatshepsut, says 'O my mother Nut, stretch yourself over me, that you may place me among the imperishable stars which are in you, and that I may not die".

The Discovery of the tomb

The tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1916, he had first been alerted to the fact that tomb robbers had located a previously undiscovered tomb, Carter and his workmen made their way to this new tomb during the night, moonlight guiding their way. On reaching the tomb they discovered a rope leading down the cliffside and could hear the tomb robbers at work, in Howard Carter's own words:

"Listening, we could hear the robbers actually at work, so I first severed their rope, thereby cutting off their means of escape, and then, making secure a good stout rope of my own, I lowered myself down the cliff. Shinning down a rope at midnight, into a nestful of industrious tomb-robbers, is a pastime which at least does lack excitement. There were eight at work, and when I reached the bottom there was an awkward moment or two. I gave them the alternative of clearing out by means of my rope, or else of staying where they were without a rope at all, and eventually they saw reason and departed. The rest of the night I spent on the spot, and, as soon as it was light enough, climbed down into the tomb again to make a thorough examination."

"The tomb was discovered full of rubbish ....... this rubbish having poured into it in torrents from the mountain above. When I wrested it from the plundering Arabs I found that they had burrowed into like rabbits, as far as the sepulchral hall ..... I found that they had crept down a crack extending half way down the cleft, and there from a small ledge in the rock they had lowered themselves by rope to the then hidden entrance of the tomb at the bottom of the cleft: a dangerous performance, but one which I myself had to imitate, though with better tackle ...... For anyone who suffers from vertigo it certainly was not pleasant, and though I soon overcame the sensation of the ascent I was obliged always to descend in a net".

Carter then gives voice to this thoughts on the fate of Hatshepsut's choice of final tomb:

"... as a king, it was clearly necessary for her to have her tomb in the Valley of the Kings like all other kings - as a matter of fact I found it there myself in 1903 - and the present tomb was abandoned. She would have been better advised to hold to her original plan. In this secret spot her mummy would have a reasonable chance of avoiding disturbance: in the Valley it had none. A king she would be, and a king's fate she shared".