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Tomb 55 -

who was the owner?

 The Valley of the Kings

This strange tomb has asked many questions which the excavators and scholars since have tried to answer. Not much has been proved one way or another though a convincing theory has surfaced to do with some aspects of the find.

 When Davis first found the tomb he was convinced that he had discovered the tomb of Queen Tiye and according to Weigall (representative of the antiquities service) Davis rejected any other opinion to do with the owner of the tomb very strongly. In Davis' mind, although he may of come across an incomplete or secondary burial of Tiye's, there was no doubt in his mind that it was the Queen's. He insisted that the heads of the Canopic Jars were of Queen Tiye, that a vulture made of sheet gold (found bent around the mummy) was the queen's crown. Most importantly the damaged shrine found in the tomb were decorated with scenes of Akhenaten and Queen Tiye - her name was on it along with the inscription that declared that it had been made for her by Akhenaten (although his name had been hacked out).

Weigall, however, thought that the bones could not be those of Queen Tiye but must belong to Akhenaten and this tomb was the result of his mummy being quickly removed from Amarna and being deposited in this small tomb. To support his theory Weigall pointed to everywhere in the tomb where a name had been erased - especially on the coffin, gold mummy bands which had encircled the body and the gold portrait mask on the front of the mummy had been ripped off. The gold leaf vulture was not a queen's crown but the 'vulture collar' of pharanoic burials.

The argument between the two could not be settled and so Davis invited both a European physician from Luxor and a prominent American obstetrician who was visiting Thebes to examine the body while it was still in the tomb and decide apon its sex. Apparently both surgeons, after examining the pelvis of the mummy (which was quite visible due to the wrappings having decayed), instantly agreed that it was the pelvis of a woman.

Davis then published his account of the excavations of 1907 - "The Tomb of Queen Tiye". It is now thought that the two surgeons could of been misled by post-mortem damage inflicted on the skeleton which had resulted in the seperation of the hip bones from the sacrum which was disguised by the poor state of the wrappings. Many experts have re-examined the mummy over the years and all have come to the same conclussion: the pelvis is from a male.

In July 1907 the bones (along with the decayed wrappings, gold mummy-bands and the inlaid gold banderoles from the coffin) were sent to Elliot Smith the Professor of Anatomy in Cairo. He then entered in the argument against Davis when he came to age the bones - instead of being the bones of an old woman (as Davis insisted), the bones were that of a young man in his mid-twenties. Smith concluded that the bones must be those of Akhenaten, which many Egyptologists were quick to disagree with - how could Akhenaten have died so young when so many things had happened in his life? A solution to the identity of the mummy came from Norman de Garis Davies who thought that the bones might be those of the other missing ruler of that time - Smenkhkare. However, once again Elliot Smith insisted on the bones being that of Akhenaten - he must of been influenced by the mummy originally wearing the gold bands of Akhenaten even though the names had been erased. Later Elliot Smith thought of a new theory - the reason why the bones were thought to belong to a man in his mid-twenties were due to a medical condition.......Frohlich Syndrome.

With this medical condition the bones of an older person may infact appear much younger - Smith infact offered the example of a 36 year old man whose bones appeared to be those of a 22-23 year old. To back his theory Elliot Smith also noted that another effect of Frohlich Syndrome is that the person during life has an enlargement of the skull and an overgrowth of the mandilble - perhaps a cause of the very strange images of Akhenaten in his statues - the long face, the extended skull, the feminine look to his body (Frohlich Syndrome also causes female hormones) - the perfect answer to both the identity of the mummy in the tomb and the strange appearance of Akhenaten.

Or maybe not.

Another sympton of the syndrome is that men are unable to father any children - Akhenaten had 5 daughters. Also all the royal family at the time were represented with the strange bodies not just Akhenaten - could the new style of depicting the Pharaoh of just been another break with tradition instead?



Another site dealing with objects from KV55 is: KV55 - its lost objects, where are now?, by William Max Miller