Scene from gilded shrine of Tutankhamen showing him and his wife Queen Ankhesenamun. Queen hols a sistrum and menat.

Tomb of Prominent Queen and Wife of Tutankhamun Could Soon Be Unearthed

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Egyptologists may be on the brink of making a major discovery in the Valley of the Kings – they believe they are on their way to unearthing the tomb of a famous ancient Egyptian royal.

Although excavations are only in the early stages, well-known archaeologist Zahi Hawass believes that a tomb is waiting to be unearthed at the site. But if he’s correct in what he’s pondered to Live Science , the proposed tomb may belong to the ancient queen Ankhesenamun, Tutankhamun's wife.

Ankhesenamun was a longstanding member of ancient Egyptian royalty. Her story begins as the third of six daughters to Pharaoh Akhenaten and his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti. Ankhesenamun married her half-brother Tutankhamun when he was just 8 to 10 years old and she was 13. It is said the couple had stillborn twins . She may have also been briefly married to Tutankhamun's successor, Ay, (believed by many to be her maternal grandfather). There have also been suggestions that Ankhesenamun may have been married to her father for a time as well.

Ankhesenamun Hands Tutankhamun an Arrow.

Ankhesenamun Hands Tutankhamun an Arrow. (Asaf Braverman/ CC BY NC SA 2.0)

Controversial proof for Ay and Ankhesenamun’s marriage has been offered in the form of a finger-ring that was found by Professor Percy Newberry in an antique shop in Cairo in the spring of 1931. It had cartouches of Ay and Ankhesenamun inscribed side by side―which many scholars say is proof of wedlock.

Nonetheless, there is also an argument against a marriage between Ay and Ankhesenamun. “Her name never appeared within his tomb and it is believed that she may have died during or shortly after Ay’s reign, as she disappears from history shortly after his period.” 

Portrait study thought to be of Ay from the studio of the sculptor Thutmose.

Portrait study thought to be of Ay from the studio of the sculptor Thutmose. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

It is the location of the alleged tomb in the West Valley, also called the Valley of the Monkeys, especially near the tomb of the pharaoh Ay, which has been the biggest suggestion that the tomb may belong to Ankhesenamun.

Live Science points out that to date there are only a few other examples of royal tombs in that area; most of the ancient Egyptian rulers were buried in the East Valley of the Valley of the Kings.

Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt.

Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt. (Wouter Hagens/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

Archaeologists were tipped off to the tomb’s possible existence by the discovery of four foundation deposits which Zahi Hawass described in July 2017 as “caches or holes in the ground that were filled with votive objects such as pottery vessels, food remains and other tools as a sign that a tomb construction is being initiated.”

It is an exciting prospect to think that the site Hawass and his team are exploring may be the location of Ankhesenamun’s final resting place. To date, no one has been able to ascertain where she was buried and no funerary objects with her name have been found.

Back in 2010 it was proposed that a mummy found in KV21A was Ankhesenamun. As Ancient Origins reported, “Although her remains are headless and mostly destroyed, it was possible to use her DNA to confirm that this woman is the mother of two of Tutankhamun’s children.” These results have been debated , but they do not discount her as the new tomb’s owner either. Ancient Egyptian priests were known to have moved mummies in an effort to save them from looters.

Detail; gold plate depicting Pharaoh Tutankhamun and consort, Ankhesenamun.

Detail; gold plate depicting Pharaoh Tutankhamun and consort, Ankhesenamun. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

Hawass has been documenting the current excavations at the site on his website.

Top Image: Scene from gilded shrine of Tutankhamen showing him and his wife Queen Ankhesenamun. Queen hols a sistrum and menat. Source: AnnekeBart/ CC BY SA 4.0

By Alicia McDermott

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