Tomb Raiders of KV 46:
Post Interment Activity in the Tomb of Yuya and Tuyu
by William Max Miller, M.A.
Copyright 2003 by William Max Miller
The beautifully preserved mummies of Yuya (left) and his wife Tuyu (right) had
their mummy masks removed, their wrappings torn off, and their funerary jewelry
stolen by thieves. Their physical remains, however, were not damaged. (From
James Edward Quibell's The Tomb of Yuaa and Thuiu. Catalogue Général du
Musée du Caire 51001-51191 (Cairo: IFAO, 1908) pl.'s LVII, LIX.)
Although often described as "intact," the burial of Yuya and Tuyu had been extensively plundered in ancient times, and Quibell, Davis, Maspero, and Weigall discovered many indications of illicit post interment activity in the tomb. Davis, who expressed initial skepticism regarding the archeological potential of the excavation site, proved to be correct when he doubted that a burial located so closely between KV 3 and KV 4 would be found undisturbed. "The site was most unpromising," he wrote, "lying as it did between the Ramses (sic.) tombs, which had required many men for many years; therefore it did not seem possible that a tomb could have existed in so narrow a space without being discovered." (IT, xxv.) Although the site turned out to be much more promising than Davis first suspected, evidence clearly shows that KV 46 had, indeed, been discovered by thieves and robbed of many of its smaller grave goods.
First Signs of Post Interment Activity
The Breached Outer Blocking--The excavators discovered unmistakable indications of an illicit entry into KV 46 after they cleared Entryway A and examined the first blocking of the tomb. This blocking (at Gate B ) consisted of a wall described by Davis as "...made of flat stones, about twelve inches by four, laid in Nile mud plaster." (IT, xxvi.) He described an 18 inch gap at the top of this wall and characterized the obvious robber's entry as "a most unwelcome indication!" (IT, xxvi.) Davis stated that the gap occurred at about "chin height" on the wall, probably at approximately five feet from the bottom.
Weigall described the wall as covered with plaster and reported that it had been stamped "in many places" with the "seal of the priests of Amon." (WMSS, III, 8.) Reeves confidently states that Weigall is referring to the traditional "jackal over nine bound captives" seal of the Royal Valley (DRN, 148) but Weigall conceivably may have meant some other types of seal impressions. We know that the Necropolis officials employed several different kinds of seals to stamp the blockings in KV 62 (CT, 92-94; DRN, 64-67), and the vagueness of Weigall's description of the KV 46 outer blocking seal impressions is unfortunate. Of more interest is Weigall's observation that the gap (which he locates in the upper right-hand portion of the wall [WMSS, III, 8]) had been re-closed in a crude fashion (WMSS, II, 21), perhaps with the stones that had originally been removed from the wall by the thief or thieves when they broke into the tomb. (Weigall's report about the re-closing of the gap receives indirect substantiation from Davis, cf. IT, xxx.) This attempt at re-closing the robber's entry strongly indicates that KV 46 had last been entered by necropolis officials and not thieves, who normally would not have taken the time or effort to repair the breach they made in the wall. Whether the officials who re-closed the gap were the same people who had attempted to "tidy up" the disarray in the burial chamber (see below) cannot be determined with any degree of certainty. The last people in the tomb, however, certainly didn't do much to rearrange its scattered furnishings into a semblance of order.
The fact that the robbers had only made an 18-inch gap in the blocking provides some insight into their motives. It shows that their intentions had been to steal only smaller, easily portable objects. Had they desired to engage in the kind of large-scale pillaging or re-appropriation of grave goods that characterized later episodes of post-interment activity in the Valley of the Kings, then they would have required a larger opening for the transport of bulkier loot.
The Objects in Corridor B and Stairwell C--Several objects were found on the floor of Corridor B, close enough to the entrance to be visible from the opening in the first blocking. Davis (IT, xxvi) later identified these objects as: "a wooden staff of office" (Quibell's CG 51131? Reeves expresses some doubt concerning the precise identification of this object), a "neck yoke" (from the chariot, Quibell's CG 51188), and "a large stone scarab, covered more or less with gold foil" (Quibell's CG 51165?) Again, Reeves is in doubt regarding this object's exact identification. He provides an inventory of the KV 46 objects which implies that only three scarabs were found in the tomb: two inscribed for Tuyu, and the third uninscribed. (cf. CVK, 178.) However, Percy Newberry includes three scarabs inscribed for Tuyu in his "Descriptions of the Objects Found in the Tomb" published by Davis (IT, 33.) If Reeves is correct about one of the three scarabs being uninscribed, then this would have been the one found near the tomb entrance, because Davis relates that he didn't have "the slightest clue" regarding the tomb owner's identity when he discussed his discoveries later that night with Maspero and Sayce. (IT, xxvi.) He had examined this scarab by then and surely would have attributed the tomb's ownership to Tuyu if it had been inscribed for her. The same reasoning holds for the staff mentioned above, which had to have been the uninscribed one of a pair found in the deposit--the other staff is inscribed for Yuya (cf. CVK, 178), and depicted in Davis's publication (IT, pl. XLIII.) Elsewhere in his account, Davis described all these objects as being gilded, and theorized that thieves had abandoned them when they realized, in the brighter light near the breached entrance, that these things were not solid gold (IT, xxx.)
Although these are the three objects which most popular accounts of the discovery of KV 46 focus upon as having been found discarded by thieves in the corridor, Reeves researched all the primary sources and his results show that the number of objects reportedly found in the corridor and lower stairwell of the tomb was greater than noted by Davis. This research also reveals some interesting discrepancies that arise between the various accounts. Joseph Lindon Smith reported that a pair of sandals (perhaps CG 51123 and CG 51124--Reeves is not certain) had been found in Corridor B (TTAA, 27, 32). Maspero (NL, 242) states that pieces of a broken alabaster vase (which are not included in Quibell's catalogue [DRN, 163, n. 142]) were found in the corridor. Maspero (NL, 242) also mentions a packet of onions and "dried herbs" that had been "carelessly thrown onto a bench at the left of the stairway", i.e. Stairwell C which descends to the burial chamber entrance. Maspero's "bench" is probably a wall recess, and most likely corresponds to the "shelf" noted by Davis, although Davis locates this feature at a point in the wall of Corridor B nine meters up from Stairwell C (IT, xxvii.) This measurement is completely inaccurate, since a location nine meters up from Stairwell C would actually be outside the tomb (Corridor B is only 7.76 meters in length.) The only architectural features of KV 46 which correspond to Maspero's "bench" and the "shelf" mentioned by Davis are the recesses cut into the walls on either side of Stairwell C. Maspero correctly locates his "bench" in this stairwell, although he only mentions one of the two recesses. Davis reports that "an armful of dried flowers," (CG 51186) and a "large ceremonial wig made of flax and dyed black" (CG 51185) occupied the "shelf" (IT, xxvii.) It is not necessary to assume, as Reeves does (DRN, 163, n. 142), that the "vegetable matter" described by Maspero is the same as that noted by Davis. It seems unlikely that Maspero would have failed to mention the large wig had it been found along with the less impressive onions and herbs which he does note. Conceivably, Maspero could have seen a packet of onions and "dried herbs" placed in the recess to the left of Stairwell C while Davis noted the floral bouquet and ceremonial wig in the recess to the right.
In addition to these objects, Maspero also notes that a papyrus roll (CG 51189, Yuya's Book of the Dead, cf. Naville, FPI) was found in the corridor (NL, 242.) Reeves points out that this contradicts Weigall, who implies that the papyrus had been found in an unspecified box in the burial chamber (WMSS, I, 29; II, 28). Reves states that Weigall is evidently mistaken about the find-spot for this papyrus. He presents convincing evidence that it had been removed from Yuya's model coffin (CG 51054) which was found in the burial chamber, and notes that although this miniature coffin had been found empty, Quibell's observation of "slips" of papyrus adhering to its decorative coating of pitch (cf. ToYT, 41) indicate that it had once contained a papyrus (or a papyrus wrapped object.) Reeves also points to the damage on the outer part of the papyrus roll (cf. FPI, pl. I), which could have been caused if it had been hastily removed from a surface to which it had been stuck, and shows that the roll, measuring 45 cm. in height, could have easily been contained in the 65.5 cm. long model coffin (DRN, 163, n. 142.) Maspero's location of the find-spot for this papyrus roll in the corridor is not beyond possibility (and is accepted by Romer, TVK, 200) even though it is difficult to understand why thieves would have carried such an object, which would have seemed intrinsically valueless to them, out of the burial chamber.
Some of the objects allegedly found in Corridor B and Stairwell C present a challenge for the reconstruction of events in KV 46. Most of them can be explained in terms of the actions of thieves. The gilded staff, neck yoke, and scarab reported by Davis in the corridor near Gate B are the kinds of small objects thieves would understandably be tempted to carry out of a tomb. Obviously targeted for removal by the KV 46 robbers, these gilded grave goods may have simply been dropped accidentally. Davis felt they were discarded because they were not solid gold. This assumption is questioned below.
The fragments of alabaster noted by Maspero are more difficult to evaluate because they were never catalogued and no one else mentions them. Could the fragments (which may have been inscribed and therefore of value on the modern antiquities market) have been stolen by workers while clearing KV 46, just like the smaller objects which would later be pilfered from Davis by his workers at KV 55? (KMT [1: 2], 46, n. 15.) Or could Maspero have mistaken something else, perhaps limestone chippings, for pieces of broken alabaster? If his report concerning them is accurate, the presence of the fragments in Corridor B can also be explained as the result of clumsy ancient pilfering, since a thief could easily have dropped a vase containing expensive oil while attempting to carry it up the steep incline of Corridor B. But the discovery of a pair of sandals outside the burial chamber (as mentioned by J. L. Smith) is much more challenging to explain. It is difficult to interpret their presence in the corridor as the work of thieves, who would not normally be interested in such intrinsically inexpensive items. Perhaps the thieves had been carrying out a box of expensive linens in which the sandals had also been placed, and discarded the sandals when they examined the contents of the box more thoroughly in the corridor.
More difficult to explicate as the result of activities by robbers are the positions in the corridor and stairwell of the onions and herbs, the ceremonial wig, and the papyrus roll. This last item, if it was actually found in Corridor B, would have possessed no interest for a thief, who may have accidentally carried it out still contained in Yuya's model coffin, which had itself been taken because the thief mistakenly believed it contained something of greater value. The model coffin would also have been discarded as worthless by the robber, and could have been one of the objects which officials actually returned to the burial chamber during a restoration of KV 46. But why they would leave the papyrus roll in the corridor and not replace it in its container remains a mystery.
The bunches of desiccated vegetation, probably found in one or both of the recesses at Stairwell C, were identified as containing onions, herbs, and unnamed flowers by Maspero and Davis. Quibell specified that they consisted mainly of persea, a large number of young onions, and bundles of some type of smaller plant (ToYT, CG 51186; DRN, 163, n. 142.) Davis believed that these assorted vegetables, herbs, and other flora (referred to by him simply as "dried flowers") were undoubtedly "offerings to the dead..." (IT, xxvii.) We know from KV 35 (BIE [3 ser.] 9 , 108) and KV 62 (ToT, I, pl. XXVII; CT, 205, 211) that botanical specimens and offerings of edible vegetation were often buried with the deceased, but the examples in these burials were found within one of the tomb chambers or the burial chamber (or even within the sarcophagus or coffin, as in the case of the floral "bouquets" of Amenhotep II) and not in the entrance corridor. If such items had originally been placed in the burial chamber of KV 46, it is hard to imagine why they would be moved out into Stairwell C, either by robbers or necropolis officials. The same problem applies to the ceremonial wig, which would be of insufficient interest to motivate a tomb robber to carry it out of a burial chamber for even a brief examination, unless, of course, he conducted his pilfering in poor light or complete darkness (as was suggested by Davis, cf. IT, xxx--see below) and had mistaken it for a gilded mummy mask. The most likely explanation for the onions, herbs, flowers, and wig is that they were all left in the recesses of Stairwell C by participants in the funerary banquet of Tuyu (who was probably buried last in the tomb) after the entrance to the burial chamber had been sealed off. We know that prior to its removal to KV Pit 54, the refuse material from Tutankhamen's funerary banquet had been stored in the entrance corridor of KV 62 (MET, 7ff.; DRN, 69f.; CT, 39.) Subsequent intruders and inspectors who entered KV 46 probably ignored these objects, and they remained untouched in their out-of-the-way recesses. Another possibility is that they had been in the burial chamber as part of the funerary goods from the first interment in the tomb, but had been moved out into the recesses in the stairwell in order to facilitate movement of the large sarcophagus, coffins, and other furnishings employed by the final burial into the small and crowded burial chamber.
The Breached Inner Blocking--Another blocking was discovered at the bottom of Stairwell C which presented further evidence of illicit entry. This wall (at Gate J) had also been made of stones cemented together and covered over with mud plaster. Davis vaguely states that it had been stamped "from top to bottom with seals," but does not specify their type (IT, xxvii.) Professor Sayce is equally vague in his account, merely referring to the impressions as being of the "royal seal" variety (Rm, 323.) The more informative Quibell describes the seal impressions as depicting the traditional recumbent jackal over nine bound captives (ToYT, ii.) A breach of roughly the same size as that found in the first blocking also appeared at the top of this wall (IT, xxvii), and J. L. Smith records that it had been made by removing several of the uppermost layers of stones (TTAA, 32.) None of the observers note that an attempt had been made to reseal this breach, as had been done in the case of the outer blocking. Two bowls made of red pottery, each containing a flat stick and dried mud residue, lay on the floor to the left and right immediately in front of the wall (IT, xxvii, pl. V; ToYT, 11.) Predating the making of the robber's opening discovered by the excavators, these bowls had contained the wet mud used to plaster the stones. Reeves believes that the bowls had been employed in the re-blocking of an earlier robber's entrance, and were not part of the equipment used in the original construction of the wall (DRN, 151.) (His possible reason for thinking this will be discussed more fully below.) The sticks were probably used to apply the mud (DRN, 148), and also to scrape it from the workers hands when the job was finished (IT, xxvii.) The erection of this wall, as well as its stamping with seals, very probably dates to the time of the last burial in KV 46, which most researchers believe was that of Tuyu (due to differences in the method of mummification employed on the two bodies [XRA, 169f; XRP, 142] and stylistic differences between the couple's canopic jars [DRN, 149.] Maspero also believed that the placement of Yuya's sarcophagus suggested that it had been placed in the tomb first [IT, xxi.])
Evidence of Post Interment Activity
In Burial Chamber J
Direct Evidence: Objects in Disarray--Inspection of the diagram of KV 46 drawn by J. L. Smith (ToYT, iv; reproduced in DRN, 150) showing Burial Chamber J with its contents still in situ clearly shows that the tomb had been pillaged (see J. L. Smith's diagram.) Boxes had been opened, moved around, and set at awkward angles on top of beds; a chariot sat on a heap of clay vessels in the sunken northern section of the chamber with a bed perched precariously on one of its wheels; and the lids of the two sarcophagi had been displaced. Yuya's lid perched on top of his sarcophagus at a crooked angle, while Tuyu's lid had been completely thrown off, leaving her sarcophagus open. According to Smith's diagram, the eastern side-panel of Tuyu's sarcophagus had also been removed and tossed aside to facilitate reaching her coffin. Lids and one of the basins from the buried couple's coffin sets had been removed and tossed about, and Davis reported that a coffin lid had been thrown so carelessly upon the chariot in the northern end of the room that the chariot's pole had been broken (IT, xxviii.) (According to Smith's diagram, the object referred to by Davis as a "coffin lid" is Tuyu's outermost coffin basin. The diagram does not show it resting on the chariot, as reported by Davis, but depicts it as lying quite close to the chariot. The diagram also indicates that the chariot pole was broken, thus corroborating this detail of Davis's account.) As the excavators cleared the burial chamber and had a chance to examine things more closely, they found evidence of the thoroughness with which the tomb had been ransacked. Cloth coverings of vases and lids of boxes had been removed in a search for valuable oils and jewelry (ToYT, CG 51104-6; IT, xxix.) Even smaller items, such as a sistrum (ToYT, CG 51174; DRN, 149), which may have been used by Tuyu in her capacity as a temple Chantress, had been greedily stripped of its valuable elements. The loop and tiny shakers of this small temple instrument, evidently made of gold, silver, or even electrum, had been removed and carried off by thieves.
Further Direct Evidence: Rifled Mummies--The mummies had also been disturbed, and, although not completely stripped of their belongings, showed clear signs of the robber's activities. Both mummies lay in coffins from which the lids had been removed, and Tuyu rested only in her inner coffin. The lid and basin of her outermost coffin had been separated and carelessly deposited in different locations of the burial chamber. The lids of Yuya's outermost and second coffin lay on the floor against the western outer side of his sarcophagus, perhaps having been thrown or dropped there with sufficient force to cause the damage to the woodwork visible in photographs of this massive object (see photo.) His innermost coffin's lid was found leaning against the inner eastern side of the sarcophagus, turned on its side and balanced on top of the rims of his three coffin basins.
The mummies' funerary masks had been pulled off, and Yuya's had been seriously damaged (KMT [7:2] 40-45.) Both mummies had been equipped with gilded cartonnage shroud retainers--variously referred to as "mummy straps" "cages" or "frameworks"--and Tuyu's lay on top of a pile of vessels toward the north-eastern corner of Burial Chamber J. The wrappings of both mummies had been crudely mangled: "...we found in both coffins," Davis related, "on either side of the bodies, great quantities of mummy-cloth torn into small bits." (IT, xxix.) Davis theorized that the thieves had scratched the bandages off with their finger nails (IT, xxix)--a somewhat unlikely procedure for removing fresh linen wrappings from recently prepared mummies, but one that may have worked if the linen was old enough and had been oxidized by its impregnation with slowly decomposing libation oils (cf. the mummy wrappings of Tutankhamen, ToT, 106f; CT, 116f.) Quibell remarks that impressions of missing jewelry remained on the hardened resinous material which in places coated Tuyu's mummy (ToYT, 71) and Davis noted that the string which had suspended a glass-and-lapis lazuli beaded necklace around the neck of Yuya had been broken (IT, xxix.) Davis thought that this had been done accidentally during the hasty tearing-off of the bandages (IT, xxix) but the string conceivably could have been broken intentionally to facilitate the removal of some valuable metallic necklace element.
In spite of having received such a large amount of illicit attention, enough objects of value remained on the mummies to indicate that the robbers had either been hurried in their pilfering, or had been caught in the act. Reeves supplies a list of objects found on the mummies (DRN, 161, n. 120) including (among other things found on Yuya's mummy) a gold embalming plate (cf. ToYT, 68; IT, xxix); gold finger stalls (ToYT, 68) and finger rings (XRP, 141), all of which would have probably been taken by thieves had they possessed sufficient time to find them. The awkward replacement of the lid on Yuya's sarcophagus (cf. above) and the covering-over of Tuyu's mummy "from her chin to her feet with very fine mummy-cloth arranged with care" (IT, xxix) indicate the activity of necropolis officials, who attempted to reorganize the ransacked burial into some kind of order. Necropolis officials are also probably responsible for replacing some of the objects left scattered by thieves back into boxes (e.g. CG 51115-6 were found containing "a jumbled assortment of shabtis, shabti implements, copper foil, barley grains, a sandal and rags" [DRN, 163, n. 144. Cf. ToYT, vf.] It seems highly unlikely that such a diverse assembly of objects represents the original contents of these boxes, and offers still more proof of a poor-quality clean-up job conducted by tomb inspectors.)
Indirect Evidence--In addition to the obvious signs, further inferential evidence of robbery can be found via Reeve's comparison of the contents of KV 46 with the objects found in TT 8, the tomb of Kha and Meryet. Discovered intact in 1906 by Ernesto Schiaparelli (cf. Rel, II), TT 8 contained another high status burial dating to the time of Amenhotep III, and was stocked with certain kinds of items significantly absent from Quibell's inventory of KV 46 grave goods. Reeves points out that such items were probably originally included in the tomb of Yuya and Tuyu, and argues that their absence implies that they were stolen by ancient thieves (DRN, 149.) If TT 8 provides a valid standard for comparative purposes, KV 46 should have contained more items made of metal and glass; numerous linens and expensive clothing; and containers holding dried residues from precious cosmetics, ointments and oils (DRN, 149.) As noted above, the thieves had removed the metal loop and shakers from the sistrum buried in the tomb, indicating that their looting of metallic objects had been very thorough. Reeves notes (DRN, 162, n. 124) that only three items of glass were found in KV 46: a scarab belonging to Tuyu (CG 51164); an amulet (CG 51167); and the beads on the broken cord found with Yuya's mummy (CG 51184--cf. above.) Only a single item of linen not forming a part of the mummy wrappings was discovered in KV 46 (ToYT, v ; DRN, 162, n. 125.) This offers a notable contrast with the numerous linens found in TT 8 (Rel, II, 92ff., 129ff.) And, as noted above, calcite vessels had their coverings and lids torn off in a rough search for expensive oils. The three calcite vessels left in the tomb contained only rancid castor oil, natron, and some unidentified reddish colored substance, all apparently deemed of little worth by the thieves (DRN, 149.)
Reconstructions of Post Interment Activity
The Traditional View--The excavators of KV 46 believed the tomb had been robbed only once (IT, xxix; ToYT, vii; TTAA, 38.) According to Davis, this robbery had occurred not many years after the final burial had been deposited in KV 46, and was perpetrated by someone who knew the exact location of the tomb. (IT, xxix.) Reeves points out that most other accounts accept this dating for the illicit entry into KV 46 (DRN, 161, n. 111, where he cites Smith [TTAA, 38], Quibell [EEFAR, (1904-5), 27], and Maspero [GCM, 496], as examples.) In spite of his initial feelings that any tomb located between KV 3 and KV 4 would have been robbed by the workers employed in their construction (cf. above), Davis ignored the nearby 20'th Dynasty tombs when formulating the history of events in KV 46, and Reeves can only cite one example of a report postulating any illicit 20'th Dynasty activity associated with the burial (that given in Rapp, [1899-1910], 175.)
Davis's reconstruction of the robbery incorporates several additional assumptions. First, in his brief account, he only refers to a single robber. This implies that Davis thought one individual could have accomplished the ransacking found in KV 46. However, as noted above, massive sarcophagus lids had been removed and heavy coffins moved about. Surely no single person could have done this without assistance.
Davis also believed that the robber, after tunneling through the fill covering Entryway A and breaking through both blockings, had managed to plunder the burial chamber in "a very dim light or none at all." (IT, xxx.) According to Davis, the robber's lack of proper lighting explains the presence of the gilded staff, chariot yoke, and scarab found in Corridor B near the first blocking. Davis thought these had been mistaken for solid gold due to poor visibility in the burial chamber, and were simply discarded when their gilded nature became apparent in the allegedly better light near the tomb's entrance.
This explanation seems unlikely. Why would a robber enter a buried tomb chamber, where his activities would be completely invisible, without bringing adequate lighting? The amount of pilfering found in the burial chamber and its careful selectivity seem to argue against Davis's theory. And why should the light be better near the tomb entrance? Did Davis assume that the robber conducted his illegal operation in broad daylight, and that enough illumination from the surface would filter down the tunnel and in through the breach in the first blocking to enable the thief to identify objects? Although somewhat implausible, the idea of a dimly lit or lightless robbery does nevertheless explain the admittedly odd assortment of objects found in Corridor B (e.g. the papyrus scroll and the sandals.) And it must be admitted that most of the materials which Reeves argues were stolen from KV 46 (the valuable oils and linens) could be identified solely by taste, odor, and touch. But the selection of metals would be much more difficult in darkness, and the missing loop and shakers from Tuyu's sistrum (cf. above) indicate a degree of selectivity probably necessitating good lighting.
Davis's assumption that the thief discarded the three objects in Corridor B because they were not solid gold also needs reexamination. Reeves notes that the difficulty of removing gilding from stolen booty is alluded to in various tomb robbery papyri (DRN, 149, 163, n. 138) and accepts Davis's explanation for the abandonment of the staff, yoke, and scarab near the tomb entrance. However, ancient Egyptian gilding was thicker than the gold leaf used today, and its value could have compensated the effort required to remove it. A robber willing to undertake the strenuous labor of clandestinely tunneling into a tomb would hardly baulk at this comparatively minor chore. A more likely reason for the presence of these objects in the corridor is that the thief (or thieves) had intended to take them and had either dropped them by accident or been caught by necropolis authorities.
Davis also assumed that some of the signs of "tidying-up" found in KV 46 were the work of the robber. He was "disposed to think" that the makeshift pall "arranged with care" over the mummy of Tuyu had been placed there by the thief out of respect for the dignified appearance of the deceased lady (IT, xxix.) Respect for the dead, however, is not an attitude typically attributable to grave robbers, and Tuyu's mummy had undoubtedly been covered over by Necropolis officials. Davis was simply indulging in romantic speculation when he thought otherwise. Davis also believed that the robber had "carefully concealed the doorway [i.e. the breach in the first blocking] and his tunnel with stones and debris." (IT, xxx.) A tomb robber might have wanted to hide the entrance to his tunnel after completing the theft, but it is highly unlikely that he would go to the effort of re-closing a breach in a wall that could never be detected from the surface once the tunnel entrance had been concealed. As in the case of Tuyu's pall, the crude attempt at repairing the robber's entrance in the tomb's first blocking should be viewed as the work of necropolis officials.
An Alternative View--Reeves challenges the traditional history of post interment activity in KV 46 presented above, and discerns evidence in the deposit of two (and perhaps three) illicit entries. Like Davis, Quibell, and Maspero, he believes the first robbery took place not long after the last burial in the tomb. Reeves comes to this conclusion because expensive oils and cosmetics, which were absent from the tomb's contents, would only be stolen while they were fresh. Since the tomb was not completely plundered, Reeves postulates that this first robbery was not of long duration (DRN, 151.) According to him, the thieves' main targets during the first illicit entry of KV 46 were perishable commodities. Their window of opportunity was narrow and they had to work fast, probably within a time frame when large scale pillaging would not have been feasible.
Reeves argues that this break-in was followed by an attempt at restoration on the part of the necropolis officials, and sufficient evidence of restoration work was found in KV 46 to support this contention. However, he alleges that this attempt to restore the tomb was the first of a series of at least two restorations. From this, Reeves derives the conclusion that KV 46 had been robbed on at least two separate occasions. His interpretation of the red pottery bowls found on either side of Gate J is crucial to his argument. As noted above, Reeves claims that the bowls were used by restorers and not by the workers who had originally built the wall to seal off the burial chamber after the last interment. His use of the term "small scale plastering" to describe the kind of work in which the bowls played a part helps us to deduce his reasoning on this point (DRN, 151.) He evidently believes that the bowls were not large enough to have been of practical use in the original construction of the inner blocking wall, but would have served nicely in the re-blocking of a small robber's entry. Since this wall was breached when discovered by the excavators, Reeves argues that the earlier mending of the first robbers' entrance (implied by the small red bowls) had been broken through during a second episode of robbery.
Reeves dates this proposed second robbery and resealing of KV 46 to the time of Ramesses III. He contends that the preparation of nearby KV 3 would have provided the gangs of workers with ample opportunity to discover and plunder the tomb of Yuya and Tuyu. Reeves (along with Richard Wilkinson) refers to the discovery of two seal impressions in KV 46 bearing a name which he translates as that of Ramesses III. He cites this as evidence of restoration work during the reign of that king (DRN, 151; CVK, p. 177.) However, Quibell does not specify the exact location in the tomb where these seal impressions were discovered (ToYT, p. 64, CG 51179-80.) Their provenance is therefore questionable, and Elizabeth Thomas indicates that one of them may even have been found above the entrance to the tomb (RNT, 144.) Reeves argues that Quibell would not have included them in his catalogue unless he were sure of their relevant association with the KV 46 deposit (DRN, 152.) But it is certainly odd that Quibell did not take these impressions into account when formulating his own reconstruction of illicit activity in KV 46. Reeves explains this by arguing that Quibell may have been ambivalent about the value of the impressions as evidence for post interment activity (DRN, 152.)
In a recent correspondence, Professor Marc Gabolde (of the University Paul Valery - Montpellier 3) informed me that the seals most probably bear the name of Amenhotep III and not that of Ramesses III. He points out that Quibell described the imprints on these seals as “incomplete” (ToYT, ibid.) and goes on to say that their attribution to Ramesses III is based on an over-interpretation of a very indistinct hieroglyph as a wsr-sign. Dr. Gabolde also notes that the impressions on these seals are partly paralleled by an Amenhotep III seal from Malqatta, thereby strengthening their association with this ruler (MG, personal communications, 7/12/2020.) If Marc Gabolde’s analysis is correct, the seal impressions would be completely ruled out as evidence for dating the second robbery of KV 46 to the reign of Ramesses III.
According to Reeves, a possible third robbery of KV 46 occurred during the reign of Ramesses XI, when nearby KV 4 was being quarried. A "section" showing the stratigraphy of the fill above the entrance stairway to KV 46 indicates that it consisted of mixed rubble from the cutting of KV 4 and KV 3 (Greene, Century Magazine, [Nov., 1905.] Cf. DRN, 152, fig. 58.) Reeves admits, however, that hard evidence substantiating the occurrence of a third illicit entry is lacking (DRN, 151.) The close proximity of KV 4, plus the documented fact that tomb workers frequently engaged in pilfering activities in the Royal Valley during the weak rule of Ramesses XI, nevertheless make Reeves's theory of a third intrusion into KV 46 during this time at least plausible. And the mixed KV 3-KV 4 debris filling above the tomb's entrance establishes the late XX’th Dynasty as the latest possible date during which KV 46 could have been robbed.
In evaluating the history of KV 46 as reconstructed by Reeves, one must admit that evidence he supplies for multiple robberies is slim. His main argument seems to revolve around the two red pottery bowls outside Gate J and the unclosed breach in this wall. His argument based on the two seal impressions (which he interprets as displaying the name of Ramesses III) is highly questionable due to the lack of a definite provenance for the impressions, and also due to the fact that the impressions themselves are indistinct and may actually bear the name of Amenhotep III (MG, ibid..) These seal impressions therefore provide nothing in the way of solid support for Reeves’ hypothesis that KV 46 had been robbed more than once or for his dating of one of these robberies to the reign of Ramesses III. Proving that KV 46 was, indeed, robbed more than once requires a detailed examination of J. L. Smith's diagram of Burial Chamber J, which provides the only stratigraphic record of the KV 46 deposit as it was first discovered by the excavators.
A Reexamination of The Evidence
J. L. Smith's Diagram--In order to formulate a viable historical reconstruction of events in KV 46, the diagram of Burial Chamber J drawn by J. L. Smith must be carefully considered (see J. L. Smith’s diagram). It supplies important data that could reveal the order of burials in the tomb, how the tomb was robbed and restored, the sequence in which objects were rifled, and even how many post interment disturbances had taken place in KV 46. Smith stated that he had drawn the diagram "from notes of the way it [the burial chamber] had looked when first seen by me." (TTAA, 39.) This statement is misleading because it conveys the impression that the diagram represents the view of the tomb chamber Smith had when he first entered KV 46. This, however, cannot be the case because the diagram shows the positions of objects that could not possibly have been seen when Smith first went into the burial chamber (e.g., the alabaster vase in the box on the bedstead, which was concealed by the lid and side-panel of Tuyu's sarcophagus. Cf. below.) The notes upon which Smith based his diagram must have been written sequentially during the tomb's clearance, and recorded the way each object appeared as it was first revealed by the excavators.
Smith's diagram of Burial Chamber J employs a series of solid, dotted, and dashed lines in order to show how the various objects in the burial chamber were layered. Unfortunately, Smith's rendering of these lines is not always clear and his labeling of objects with hand-written characters poses difficulties, especially when he resorts to using Greek symbols, some of which are almost illegible. The interpretive key that Smith supplies for reading the diagram is therefore not always very helpful, and the exact position of certain objects is sometimes ambiguous.
The diagram distinguishes five different stratigraphic levels of objects in the burial chamber. Objects found at floor level (referred to here as Level I) are indicated with a thin solid line. The wooden sarcophagi of Yuya and Tuyu (objects A and J according to Smith's key) were found resting directly on the floor of the tomb, and so were drawn with thin solid lines. Both canopic chests (Smith's R and S) rested at floor level and are similarly drawn. Since Yuya's sarcophagus was not equipped with a floor, the basin of his outer coffin (Smith's C) also lay at this level. The shabtis in their shabti boxes (Smith's e) and the three limestone vases (Smith's i) found between the eastern wall and eastern side of Yuya's sarcophagus are also at Level 1, as is Tuyu's model coffin (Smith's c). The other Level 1 objects lined along the southern wall are Yuya's two boxes (Smith's m and x), the two Osiris beds (Smith's l and n), and the Ibex chair (Smith's T.)
Level 2 objects are drawn with a thick solid line. Yuya's second coffin basin (Smith's E) is indicated at this level because it was contained within the outer coffin basin and did not lay directly on the floor. Part of the lid of Yuya's outer coffin (Smith's D) rested on the western lower rim of Yuya's sarcophagus (and perhaps also partly on Chair V), and so it, too, is drawn with a thick solid line at Level 2. The basin of Tuyu's inner coffin (Smith's N) is drawn with a thick solid line at Level 2 because her sarcophagus, unlike her husband's, possessed a floor which raised the basin to this slightly higher elevation. The lid of her inner coffin (Smith's O) is also at Level 2 because it was found on its left side, facing east, perched mostly on the floor of sarcophagus J. (The eastern side-panel of this sarcophagus had been removed, making this position for the coffin lid possible.) Other Level 2 objects include Tuyu's cartonnage "mummy cage" (Smith's Q), the reed mat (Smith's b?--his lettering is difficult to make out) both found in the north-eastern corner, and the wig-basket (Smith's d) in the north-western corner behind Tuyu's sarcophagus. These objects all lay on pottery vessels which elevated them to Level 2.
Smith indicates the third stratigraphic layer of the KV 46 deposit with a heavily dotted line. At this level (Level 3) were found Tuyu's mummy (Smith's P) and Yuya's inner coffin basin (Smith's G). The gilt chair (Smith's U), the alabaster vase (Smith's h) Yuya's jewel box (Smith's z), and a wooden chest (possibly CG 51114), all of which were found on bedsteads X and W, are also indicated with heavily dotted lines at this level. Bedstead Y, which was found resting on a heap of pottery jars and a chariot wheel in the rear of the burial chamber, also lay at Level 3.
Objects at Level 4 are indicated with a line made of alternating dots and dashes, and include Yuya's mummy (Smith's I) and his inner coffin lid (Smith's H), both of which lay within sarcophagus A at approximately the same level. The lid of Yuya's second coffin (Smith's F) is also drawn with an alternating line at Level 4: it lay on its right side, facing west, on top of the lid of Yuya's outer coffin D and leaning against the western side of Yuya's sarcophagus. The other Level 4 objects are Tuyu's sarcophagus lid (Smith's K) and her outermost coffin basin (Smith's L). This sarcophagus lid lay on bedsteads X and W, covering the gilt chair, alabaster vase, and other objects that had been placed upon them. Outer coffin basin L rested on top of a heap of pottery vessels in the north-western corner of the chamber. The vessels had apparently been piled higher in this corner than those on which bedstead Y and the chariot rested, and therefore elevated the coffin lid high enough for inclusion in Level 4.
Objects in the uppermost level depicted by the diagram (Level 5) are drawn with a fine dotted line. These objects include Yuya's sarcophagus lid (Smith's B), the eastern side-panel of Tuyu's sarcophagus (Smith's a), and the lid of Tuyu's outer coffin (Smith's M). Coffin lid M lay on its left side, facing east, with its foot end against the eastern wall. It rested on top of bedstead X, partly covering Tuyu's sarcophagus lid K. The side-panel of Tuyu's sarcophagus lay across sarcophagus lid K. It's eastern corner extended into (beneath? above?) coffin lid M, and its western corner extended above bedstead W, coffin lid O, and sarcophagus J as far as the rim of Tuyu's innermost coffin.
What the Diagram Reveals--Any attempt to make sense of the jumbled contents of Burial Chamber J must sort out the roles played by several distinct groups of people in the cumulative formation of the KV 46 deposit. Smith's diagram provides a valuable aid to this endeavor. Although it is impossible to be certain regarding the original positions of many of the objects in the tomb, or to determine whether they were subsequently moved to different locations by workers, thieves or restorers, some degree of confidence may be attained concerning particular objects. In the following account, a basic presupposition is accepted as a guiding principle: (i.) tomb workers, robbers, and restorers would only exert the minimum effort required to attain their differing objectives. It follows logically from this that (a.) burial party members would rearrange grave goods from an earlier burial only if they got in the way of conveniently placing the funerary equipment used in a subsequent interment; (b.) thieves would not touch objects of little intrinsic value unless they blocked access to more valuable things, and large items, such as sarcophagi and coffins, would only be dismantled to the extent necessary to reach expensive objects; and (c.) necropolis officials responsible for tomb restorations would not move objects that thieves had not disturbed.
Accepting these premises, it seems clear that some of the larger funerary furnishings were found exactly where the original burial parties placed them. There would have been no need for the workers employed at Tuyu's burial to move the massive sarcophagus of Yuya (A) when more easily movable objects (e.g. Yuya’s chariot Z--see below) could be relocated in order to make room for Tuyu’s grave goods. There also would have been no reason for robbers to move either of the heavy sarcophagi to other areas of the burial chamber in order to reach the jewelry-laden mummies that they contained. And restorers would only be required to move the coffins and mummies back inside the sarcophagi, and to return certain sarcophagus elements to their original positions, in order to restore these large wooden structures to their original configurations.
Similarly, the position of Yuya's canopic chest (R) is probably original to this object. Smith's diagram shows it in the south-eastern corner of the chamber, near Yuya's sarcophagus, exactly where such an object might be placed by the first burial party. If originally placed here, it would not have been in the way when Tuyu's grave goods were carried into the tomb, and so would not have been moved at this time. Nor would thieves familiar with its contents be attracted to such an object, since they knew it probably would not hold anything of more than religious value. There would have been no avaricious motive or practical reason for them to drag this moderately heavy chest out of its original position and relocate it elsewhere. The same reasoning also obtains for Tuyu's canopic chest (S) which was probably left against the western wall near the southern end of her sarcophagus by members of her burial party. The lid of her sarcophagus (K) could have been easily removed without repositioning the canopic chest, so thieves would have lacked a practical reason to move this object.
It also seems likely that Yuya’s chariot (Z) had either originally occupied its place on top of the pile of vessels in the northern end of the burial chamber, or had been located in the space taken over by Tuyu’s sarcophagus (J). In the latter case, members of Tuyu's burial party would have moved it onto the pile of vessels, where it was found. It is difficult to imagine any practical location in the raised main area of Burial Chamber J where the chariot could have been deposited when Tuyu’s funerary ensemble was moved into place. Thieves would not have been sufficiently interested in this object to give it much attention and, providing it was out of their way, the chariot would remain unmoved in the place where one of the two burial parties had left it.
Also probably in their original locations (circa Tuyu’s funeral) are the two bedsteads X and W, located next to the northern end of Yuya’s sarcophagus. As with Yuya’s chariot, this position seems to be the only practical spot at which one of the burial parties could have left the bedsteads, and their straight alignments indicate that they had not been jostled about by robbers. The third bedstead (Y), which had been thrown by thieves onto the nearby chariot in the rear of the room, might have originally rested upon these bedsteads. The crooked angles of the alabaster vase (h), Yuya's jewel box (z), the wooden chest (possibly CG 51114) and gilt chair U found on the bedsteads indicate that thieves had carelessly left them there. Perhaps the original position of the vase and chest had been on the floor under the bedsteads. The robbers might have thrown the third bedstead off the other two in order to place these boxes at a more convenient spot for searching. Circa Tuyu's burial, the gilt chair inscribed for Sitamen (U), could have occupied a position at the southern end of Tuyu’s sarcophagus, next to the eastern side of her canopic chest, and would have been moved out of the way onto the bedsteads by thieves in order to facilitate the removal of sarcophagus lid K. This original position would have placed chair U close to chair V, which had also been inscribed for Sitamen. That these two funerary gifts from Tuyu's granddaughter should have originally been placed close together near Tuyu's sarcophagus and canopics seems quite likely.
Although slightly displaced when the massive lid of Yuya's outer coffin (D) was lowered upon it, chair V, as noted above, was probably put into the position indicated on Smith's diagram by members of Tuyu's burial party. It's close association with canopic chest S and sarcophagus J further suggest that it formed a part of Tuyu's burial equipment. Ibex chair T also probably remained in its original position against the southern wall. From its location near the southern end of sarcophagus A, it seems probable that this chair formed a part of Yuya's funerary equipment. Of little interest to thieves, only one of the three KV 46 chairs might have given robbers a practical reason for moving it elsewhere (see gilt chair U above.)
Only few traces of restoration work can be found in the burial chamber. The covering of Tuyu's mummy can safely be attributed to necropolis officials who made token gestures of restoring the burial. Also, as noted above, Yuya's boxes m (CG 51115) and x (CG 51116) contained a jumbled assemblage of objects unlikely to be their original contents. These diverse things had probably been gathered up by restorers and stowed away in the boxes. The position of box m provides a bit of a clue concerning the number of robberies that took place in KV 46. Consulting Smith's diagram, it will be noticeable that most of the objects in the southern part of the burial chamber are set flush with the southern wall. Two notable exceptions are Yuya's miniature model coffin k and box m. This box and its companion, box x, had both been restored by necropolis officials, who probably would have placed both of them flush with the wall. It seems unlikely that the officials who took the care to properly align one of these boxes would have left the other at such a crooked angle. The position of box m makes sense, however, if we posit a second robbery of KV 46 during which this previously restored box was moved out of alignment by thieves.
The most important areas of the burial chamber to examine for further signs of a second robbery are those which contained Tuyu's funerary equipment. Assuming that Tuyu's mummy had originally been buried in both of her coffins, and that both coffins had originally been placed in her sarcophagus, it is crucial to note that Tuyu's inner coffin had been completely removed from her outer coffin at some point. According to Smith's diagram, the outer coffin basin was found on top of the pottery jars in the north-west corner of the burial chamber, and the outer coffin lid was found on top of the side-panel and lid of Tuyu's sarcophagus on the two bedsteads (see above.) It is also crucial to note that (i.) the side-panel, which lay almost perpendicularly across the sarcophagus lid, extended over and possibly downward into approximately 1/3 of the open sarcophagus; (ii.) Tuyu's inner coffin, containing her mummy, was found in a perfectly aligned position in the sarcophagus; and (iii.) the inner coffin lid had been removed and placed on it's side partly on the eastern edge of the sarcophagus floor.
Two distinct robberies are necessary in order to explain this arrangement of objects. Tuyu's coffins had to be removed from her sarcophagus in order to be separated, but this operation could not have been accomplished if the sarcophagus side-panel occupied the position in which it was discovered by the excavators. The side panel had to be placed somewhere else during a first robbery in order to permit the removal and disassembly of the large coffin set. Logically, since the inner coffin had to be removed from the sarcophagus along with the outer coffin, it had to have been put back in the sarcophagus at a later date by restorers, as the carefully aligned position in which it was found within the sarcophagus would indicate. The lid and side-panel had to have then been removed from the restored sarcophagus and placed at their diagrammed positions during a second robbery, in which the robbers had crouched beneath the overhanging side panel and dragged the inner coffin lid off the restored inner coffin in order to reach Tuyu's mummy.
Tuyu's outer coffin would also have received attention from the thieves during the second robbery. They probably found it in the northern part of the burial chamber where necropolis officials had placed it during the first restoration (perhaps on top of the chariot pole--this may have been when the pole was broken.) Discovering that the coffin was empty, the thieves would have moved it out of the way to provide better space for maneuvering other objects. While the coffin lid and basin were being set aside, other members of the robber's gang busied themselves with removing the lid and side-panel of Tuyu's sarcophagus. They laid the lid and side-panel upon the two bedsteads as diagrammed and their partners in crime placed outer coffin lid M upon these sarcophagus elements. Outer coffin basin L was carried in the opposite direction to the north-west corner, where it was lifted onto the pottery jars and left.
Questions and Possible Answers--The reconstruction of events in the burial chamber of KV 46 proposed here offers more persuasive arguments for a second robbery than Reeves provides. However, it also raises several questions. The most challenging question concerns Tuyu's outer coffin. Why would thieves have gone to the trouble of lifting the inner coffin out of the outer coffin in the first place? In order to rifle Tuyu's mummy, all they needed to do was remove the coffin lids. The thieves apparently adopted this easier procedure when they looted Yuya's mummy. Smith's diagram shows that only the lids had been removed from Yuya's sarcophagus and coffins, indicating that the thieves had accomplished the looting of this mummy while standing inside the sarcophagus. There doesn't seem be any practical reason why the robbers would have adopted a different modus operandi when they tackled Tuyu's sarcophagus, coffins, and mummy.
Assuming that Tuyu's mummy had originally rested in both of her coffins (and this is the key assumption of the reconstruction given above) something must have happened during the first robbery to necessitate the laborious procedure of removing the heavy nested coffins from Tuyu's sarcophagus. The separation of these coffins within the crowded confines of the burial chamber would also have been an onerous task, and a very compelling motivation to undertake this difficult job would have been required. Quibell supplies a clue to what such a motivation might have been. As noted above, he observed impressions of missing jewelry on the hardened resinous material on Tuyu's mummy (ToYT, 71.) Deemed of sufficient value by the thieves to be worthy of stealing, one of these missing pieces of jewelry may have been a solid gold pectoral ornament similar to those found by Howard Carter on Tutankhamen (CT, 112-113.) As one of the most expensive of the easily portable objects found on Tuyu's mummy (and perhaps in the entire tomb) the accidental dropping of such a pectoral ornament out of reach into an awkward position between Tuyu's inner and outer coffin basins would have motivated the thieves to remove and separate the two coffins. One can only imagine the curses heaped upon the unfortunate thief responsible for such a clumsy accident!
Another possible explanation for the removal and separation of Tuyu's coffins may be based on an observation made by Ikram and Dodson (MiAE, 211 [ill. 272.]) They point out that Tuyu's outer coffin is quite unusual because it is entirely gilded. Outer coffins from nested coffin sets of this period were typically of the "black" style, with only the inscriptional bands and decorative figures in gilding. All other areas of such coffins were coated with black pitch. Perhaps the unusual amount of gilding on Tuyu's coffins encouraged the robbers to target them for scraping, a procedure which would have required their removal from the sarcophagus and also their separation. The robbers could have been scared out of the tomb by approaching necropolis guards before getting a chance to adz the gilding off the coffins, or they may simply have run out of time.
Other questions arise concerning the extent and quality of the two restorations of KV 46. Much of the "tidying up" that may have been done by the first restorers would have been undone by the second band of thieves. Consequently, not many deductions can be made from Smith's diagram concerning the activities of the first group of necropolis officials who restored the tomb. We know that they refilled boxes m and x. They also replaced Tuyu's mummy and inner coffin (with lid in place) back into her sarcophagus, and put the sarcophagus side-panel and lid back into position. The first restorers also would have laid Tuyu's discarded outer coffin out of the way in the northern end of the burial chamber. It is possible that they replaced Tuyu's chair U back beside her canopic chest, and repaired any damage done to Yuya's mummy, coffins, and sarcophagus at this time as well. Any further traces of efforts made to reorganize the burial during its first restoration remain indiscernible, unless we accept Reeves's theory that the two small pottery bowls found outside Gate J were used during this restoration to repair the robber's breach in the inner blocking wall.
It is probably a misnomer to call the fourth post interment entry of KV 46 a "restoration." From the state of disarray found in the burial chamber by the excavators, virtually no actual restoration work was done by the last people who entered the tomb. Tuyu's mummy was covered by the linen cloth, the lid of Yuya's sarcophagus was put back slightly out of alignment, and the robber's entrance in the first blocking wall was repaired. That seems to be the extent of the second so-called "restoration." It seems more accurate to refer to this final activity as an "official inspection" during which the inspectors happened to make a few token repairs. If these inspectors had actually been ordered to restore the burial, then they must have been too daunted by (or uninterested in) the task to make more than a few futile gestures before giving up and leaving.
Conclusions--While a third robbery of KV 46 was possible, no evidence can be found supporting any further post interment activities in the tomb beyond the two robberies and subsequent restorations discussed above. Applying the principle of Occam's Razor, the alleged third robbery is unnecessary to explain the arrangement of objects in the burial chamber and corridor as they were found by Davis and the other excavators, and should be viewed as merely speculative.
The arguments given by Reeves for the dating of the first robbery are very convincing, and it would be interesting to chemically determine how long the ancient Egyptian oils, unguents and cosmetics stolen by the first band of thieves would have remained fresh. Determining the "shelf-life" of these commodities would provide the temporal window of opportunity open to ancient tomb robbers who wanted to steal them, and would thereby approximate the time-frame during which the first illicit entry of KV 46 probably occurred. It is tempting to date this event to the later reign of Amenhotep III. Dennis Forbes points out that stylistic features on Yuya's mummy mask (the small nose and large eyes) seem to indicate that this object had been fashioned during the last decade of Amenhotep III's reign, when the aging monarch had adopted the artistic convention of "juvenilizing" portraits of himself in order to stress his magical rejuvenation. (KMT [7:2] 40-45.) If the coregency theorists are correct in claiming that the elderly king shared the throne with his son, Amenhotep IV-Akhenaten, then perhaps the latter's preoccupation with his planned religious revolution and new city produced a general disinterest in security measures in the Valley of the Kings during the final years of Amenhotep III's reign. Robbers might have exploited an opportunity to pillage the tomb of Akhenaten's grandparents at this time. But there is no way of knowing how long the oils and other perishables in KV 46 would have kept. They could conceivably have remained fresh even into the chaotic days of Akhenaten's persecution of the Amun cult, when the official medjay police force who protected the Royal Necropolis had probably been mobilized elsewhere by the fanatical king.
From the way the objects were discovered, it appears that Tuyu's mummy received much more attention from the first band of thieves than Yuya's mummy. As noted above, her sarcophagus and coffins were partly disassembled and separated, and even the gilded "cage" which held the shroud in place upon her mummy had been removed. Perhaps the thieves had been interrupted before they had the chance to do equivalent damage to Yuya's burial equipment and mummy. However, a more likely explanation for the unequal amount of attention given to Tuyu may be found by comparing the relative sizes of her grave goods with those employed for her husband. Yuya's wooden sarcophagus was massive, as were the coffins which it contained. A glance at the photograph of one of Davis's assistants standing beside the immense outer coffin of Yuya (see photo here) conveys a vivid impression of the sheer bulk of this huge object. Tuyu's sarcophagus and coffins, while still large, heavy items, were smaller than Yuya's, and would have been comparatively easier to dismantle and move about. Consequently, Tuyu's was probably the first of the two sarcophagi to be tackled by the thieves. Considerable time would have been spent in removing both coffins and separating them (this procedure perhaps being necessitated by the robber's accident postulated above.) By the time they turned toward Yuya's mummy, the window of safety for pillaging the tomb may have been starting to close. Hampered by the great weight of Yuya's sarcophagus and coffin lids (and also by the fact that Yuya's "mummy cage" was not removed, perhaps due to the shrinking time element), the thieves were less thorough in their looting of his mummy.
The restoration which occurred after this first robbery was probably fairly thorough, at least according to the standards which seem to have been employed by the ancient restorers of Egyptian burials. Perhaps due to a lack of convenient work space in the crowded burial chamber, the decision was made not to replace Tuyu in both of her coffins, and only the inner one was returned to the sarcophagus. Ancient tomb restorers, like people at all times and places, would have adopted a policy of expediency while conducting their labors. We know that the restorers of KV 62 did the very least required to repair the damage done by thieves. Boxes had been carelessly refilled with jumbled contents, and the whole Annexe of Tutankhamen's tomb was left in a state of disarray. In KV 46, the abandonment of Tuyu's outer coffin would have been completely in character with the type of restoration work apparently deemed acceptable by the ancient Egyptians.
Given the lack of hard evidence, establishing a date for the second robbery of KV 46 is a purely conjectural enterprise. Marc Gabolde thinks that a robbery during the 20’th Dynasty is highly unlikely because too many objects were allowed to remain in the tomb. (MG, personal communications, 7/14/20.) This argument certainly could be used to counter theories that propose a Ramesses XI dating for the second robbery. Beginning in the late Ramesside period, the Theban Necropolis was subjected to large-scale official salvaging operations. Had KV 46 been entered during this time, its contents (especially its valuable coffins) would all have been removed, scraped clean of their valuable gilding, and redistributed for use in other burials. But Gabolde’s reasoning does not apply with equal weight to a robbery tentatively dated to the earlier reign of Ramesses III. The era of whm mswt was still far in the future at that time, guards in the Royal Valley were numerous, and thieves would have only been able to engage in petty pilfering of the sort that occurred in KV 46. Therefore, Reeves’ dating of the second robbery of KV 46 to the reign of Ramesses III, although unsupported by the evidence he provides, is nevertheless still quite plausible. The construction of KV 3, conducted during the reign of Ramesses III, shows that excavation work was being conducted very close to KV 46 and would have provided a large “window of opportunity” for this latter tomb to be discovered and entered.
Workers on KV 3 could have discovered the entrance to KV 46 while searching for a good place to begin the new tomb, and would take advantage of the quarrying dumps used during KV 3's construction to camouflage the rubble displaced by their own illicit tunneling. This band of thieves probably found little of intrinsic market value left in the tomb. They would have examined Tuyu's unused outer coffin first, since it presented the easiest target for looting. Finding it empty, they would have turned to their next target: Tuyu's sarcophagus. Discovering that Tuyu's mummy had already been looted, the thieves would have then directed their attentions to Yuya's intimidating funerary furnishings. After laboriously removing the heavy sarcophagus and coffin lids, the disappointed tomb robbers would have taken what they could find on Yuya's already ransacked mummy (somehow managing to miss the gold embalming plate, finger stalls, and rings noted above.) Finally, probably frustrated by the poor yield from the tomb, the second band of robbers would have gone for the easily portable gilded objects that the first thieves had considered not worth taking. In order to get some kind of return for their efforts, they grabbed the gilded scarab, the staff of office, and the chariot yoke (which may have been broken off the chariot pole when the first robbers threw Tuyu's outer coffin basin in the back of the burial chamber.) Other small gilded objects may have been taken as well, all targeted for eventual burning in order to melt off their golden coatings. Perhaps hurried in their exit from the tomb by some alarm, the thieves dropped the scarab, staff, and chariot yoke where Davis finally found them some thirty-five centuries later.
The officials, perhaps of Ramesses III, who last entered KV 46 may have been primarily interested in seeing what they could take from the tomb for themselves. The discovery of the illicitly entered sepulcher would have occasioned great interest among mid-level management at the KV 3 work site, and several officials, who probably secretly coveted a piece of anything valuable that might remain in KV 46, quickly stepped forward to inspect the tomb. Finding nothing of real intrinsic worth, the inspectors made a few insignificant gestures at repairing the damage done by the robbers, and then decided to exert no further efforts toward actual restoration. They probably realized that nobody else would care to inspect the quality of the work they had done in this small tomb of forgotten relatives of a long dead king and queen, and so they left the tomb as it was found, making sure to patch up the robber's entrance in the first blocking wall just for the sake of appearances.
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