-

-
-
OUSE OF ETERNITY
The Tomb of
Nefertari
John K. McDonald
The Getty Conservation Institute
and the J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles
Cover/title page:
Detail a/Queen
Nefertari 0/ the north
wall of Chamber G.
All photographs are
by Guillermo Aldana
unless credited
otherwise.
The Getty Conservation Institute works internationally to further
the appreciation and preservation of the world's cultural heritage
for the enrichment and use of present and future generations.
This is the first volume in the Conservation and Cultural Heritage
series, which aims to provide in a popular format information
about selected culturally signifcant sites throughout the world.
© 1996 The J. Paul Getty Trust
All rights reserved
Printed in Singapore
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
McDonald. John K.
House of eternity: the tomb of Nefertari I John K. McDonald.
p. cm.
ISBN 0-89236-415-7
1. Nefertari. Queen. consort of Rameses II. King of Egypt-Tomb.
2. Mural painting and decoration. Egyptian. 3. Tombs-Egypt.
4. Valley of the Queens (Egypt) I. Title.
DT73· v34M35 1996
932-dc20 96-24123
C1P
Contents
Foreword
5
Introduction
Dynasties of Ancient Egypt
II Nefertari: Radiant Queen
A Letter from Nefertari
The Queen's Titles and Epithets
19 The Valley of the Queens
Ernesto Schiaparelli
25
Conveyance to Eternal Life: The Royal Tombs of Egypt
Tomb Paints and Materials
33 The Tomb Builders' Village
37 After Nefertari's Burial
41 Resurrection and Recurrent Risks
47
The King of the Dead and His Divine Family
Divine Guidance
55 Among the Immortals:
A Walk through the "House of Eternity"
The Texts in the Tomb
III Conclusion
116 Acknowledgments
I
I
< >
.
HOUSE OF ETER ITY
an honored and
beloved queen,
still in the prime
of earthly existence, set off
upon a voyage to the netherworld, in quest
of eternal life.
In our own time, the art and culture
of ancient Egypt have come to reflect the
aesthetic imagination and spiritual aspira­
tions of peoples everywhere. In Egypt,
enduring yet endangered monuments
embody some of the finest craftsmanship
that has ever graced the planet.
The tomb of efertari, its brilliant
images vividly depicting her voyage to the
hereafter, ranks among the most precious
and most fragile of Egyptian treasures,
indeed of humanity. Moreover, it repre­
sents perhaps the most exquisite gift to be
passed down through more than a hundred
generations, a centerpiece of cultural heri­
tage and a priceless patrimony of our time.
Yet ever since its modern discovery in
1904, the art in Nefertari's tomb-among
the most beautiful examples of pharaonic
wall paintings ever found -has been
known to be in fragile and precarious con­
dition. Consequently, for most of this time,
the tomb has been closed to the public.
If the Nefertari paintings had contin­
ued to deteriorate, the world would have
suffered an incalculable cultural loss.
Instead, between 1986 and 1992, the
The last four columns
of text behind Nefertari
on the north waLL of
Chamber G. The
Previolls page:
Sections of the north
and east walls of
Chamber G. On the
inscription, which reads left, Nefertari pays
from right to left, is homage to Thoth, the
from Chapter 94 of the god of writing. On the
Book of the Dead. right, she makes ofer­
ings of incense, food,
and cowhide .
FOREWORD
Egyptian Antiquities Organization and the
Getty Conservation Institute undertook an
intensive collaborative effort to conserve the
wall paintings in the queen's "house of eter­
nity." This joint project proved exemplary in
preserving for posterity one of the greatest
treasures ever yet created by the human
mind and hand.
In 1986, I was privileged to see the
tomb for the f rst time. Like so many before
me, I was both awed by the beauty of the
paintings and appalled by the damage they
had sustained. Ten years later, the ravages of
time, nature, and humankind have been
arrested. The surviving paintings have been
rescued from destruction, with their his­
torical integrity and authenticity intact.
Now, more than ever before, these
marvelous paintings have a chance to
survive for future generations. But only a
chance. The tomb has been open to the
public since November 1995. Consequently,
in spite of all the painstaking conservation
work, the paintings remain vulnerable.
Today, they stand as vibrant testimony
to the creative genius of ancient Egyptian
artists and as a celebration of art by an
interational community of policymakers
and conservation professionals. Tomorrow,
the paintings' survival will depend largely
on the vigilant protection they receive in
the years that lie ahead.
The mutual mandate of the renamed
Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities
and the Getty Conservation Institute
will not be fulflled until we succeed in gen­
erating broad awareness of the pressing
problems facing endangered cultural prop­
erties worldwide. Solving these problems is
not the exclusive privilege or responsibility
of cultural, scientifc, and political elites.
It is rightly a matter of general public con­
cern. Cultural treasures provide a record of
our human condition on both a spiritual
and a material plane. To decipher this
record is to know our past. And so, our­
selves. To preserve it is to pass that knowl­
edge on to future generations. In this sense,
the tomb of Nefertari belongs to -and
must be preserved by-all of us.
We have already learned that the pub­
lic's interest in the tomb is remarkable. In
1992 the J. Paul Getty Museum and the
Getty Conservation Institute organized an
exhibition devoted to enhancing public
awareness of the conservation problems
and created a replica of one of the cham­
bers. The exhibition, which subsequently
traveled to Rome and Turin, proved to be a
great success.
At the Getty Conservation Institute,
our goal is to ensure that people every­
where come to recognize, appreciate, and
acknowledge that the tomb of Nefertari
and similarly rare and delicate works of art
comprise precarious treasures of humanity.
Paradoxically, they need to be protected
above all from the risks of unrestrained
exposure to those who admire them most.
In entering the tomb of Nefertari,
you are about to experience a unique and
sublime example of human creativity, in its
aesthetic, material, and spiritual aspects.
As we marvel at this priceless heirloom, let
us fnd equally creative ways to provide not
only public access to the treasures housed
within the tomb, but also the means for
their perpetual existence.
In this way, we may both respect the
original intent of the creators and inspire
future generations, as they too embark on
our collective journey to the beyond.
Miguel Angel Corzo
Director
The Getty Conservation Institute
3
6
Stereo view of the
tomb entrance taken
by Don MicheLe
PizziolFra ncesco
BaLLerini, members of
the Italian Mission
led by Ernesto
SchiapareLLi in 1904.
Photo: Courtesy of the
Museo Egizio. Turitl.
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
Tunneled into the northern
slo
p
e of the necro
p
olis, Nefertari's
"house of eternity" is one of the fnest
tombs ever created by ancient Egypt's
master crafsmen.
Emblazoned on its walls and corri­
dors, some 520 square meters of exquisite
wall paintings reveal a ritual process and
illustrate Nefertari's journey of transfor­
mation into a blessed soul in the hereafter.
It would prove a long and perilous passage;
but she could rely on these hieroglyphic
texts and illustrations to be her beacons to
the beyond.
The Valley of the Queens is not
renowned for the quality of its limestone.
Indeed, like much of the rock in the
Theban area, the limestone has been frac­
tured by earthquakes and is banded with
veins of flint. As a result, it is not well
suited to painting or carving. Several layers
of plaster had to be applied to the walls to
build a suitable surface for the wall paint­
ings. Vignettes and texts were lightly carved
into the plaster when dry. The walls were
then primed with a gypsum wash and
painted in brilliant color.
The carved plaster in Nefertari's
tomb is an early but sublimely successful
instance of what was then a novel tech­
nique. The multitude of colors in her tomb
is exceptional, especially the lighter ones,
set off against the luxurious blacks and
blue-whites.
Previous page:
The Valley of the
Queens, across the
river NiLe from Luxor.
Opposite:
DetaiL from the south
face of Pillar I in the
sarcophagus chamber
before conservation.
Conservators at work
during fnal treat­
ment on the northeast
corner of Chamber K
The theme of the tomb is timeless­
ness: the decoration exclusively funerary.
No references are made to any specifc his­
toric events or to anything that actually
happened to Nefertari in her lifetime. Both
aesthetically and spiritually, the transient
concerns of this life are considered to be
incompatible with eternity.
Similarly incompatible is the salt­
laden nature of the limestone from which
the tomb was hewn, as well as the Nile
River mud used to plaster its walls. In the
presence of moisture, salt, dormant in
the rock and the plaster, migrated to the
surface of the walls. Over time, fluctuations
in humidity within the tomb, whether
from the workmen who built it, subsequent
flooding, seepage through fssures in the
porous rock above, or perspiration and
respiration from contemporary visitors
eager to view its marvels, have all served to
mobilize the salt, bringing it to the painted
surfaces, where it crystallized to damage
and in some cases irretrievably destroy the
art within the tomb.
To combat these dangers, the inter­
national team of conservators assembled in
1986 by the Getty Conservation Institute
(GCI) and the Egyptian Antiquities
Organization ( EAO) undertook conserva­
tion of the tomb. First, emergency stabi­
lization of detaching painted plaster; then
meticulous conservation to preserve the
tomb for present and future generations.
Nowhere in this process has "restora­
tion" of the paintings been undertaken.
Nor will it be. The GCI is philosophically
committed never to engage in restoration,
INTRODUCTION
believing that to restore an ancient work
by adding to it is inevitably to assault its
authenticity. In the tomb of Nefertari, not
a single drop of new paint was added to
the images. Similarly, all cleaning processes
and materials used in the conservation
were reversible.
The paintings that remain are in
every way authentic, entirely the work of
the original artists and artisans. They
have been carefully and respectfully con­
served, stabilized where in danger of
detachment, and cleaned of dirt and salt to
regain their original luster. Where the
original paintings have been lost, patches
of blank plaster (made from local, natural
products) now cover the walls.
Systematic, complex, laborious,
devoted, and respectful-such conserva­
tion work has much in common with the
journey undertaken by Nefertari in her
transition from this world to the next.
Within her "house of eternity," descending
stairways, asymmetries of design, and
the skewing of the tomb's axis are all
thought to allude to the tortuous topogra­
phy of the Egyptian netherworld. This
is the daunting domain that Nefertari
must traverse successfully in her search for
everlasting life.
DYNASTIES OF ANCIENT EGYPT
circa 3000 B.C.E.
Late Predynastic Period
2920 -2575
Early Dynastic Period
(Dynasties 1-11)
2575 -2'34
Old Kingdom
(Dynasties III-VIII)
2'34-2040
First Intermediate
Period
(Dynasties IX-XI/1)
2040-,640
Middle Kingdom
(DYllasties xI/2-XIII)
,640 -'532
Second Intermediate
Period
(Dynasties XI V-XVII)
New Kingdom
• (Dynasty XVIII)
'550-'525
Ahmose
'525 -'SOl
Amenhotep I
'504-'492
Thutmoses I
'492-'479
Thutmoses"
1479-'425
Thutmoses III
1473-1458
Hatshepsut
'427-'401
Amenhotep II
'40'-139'
Thutmoses IV
139'-'353
Amenhotep III
1353 -'335
Amenhotep Ivl
Akhenaten
1335-1333
Smenkhkare
'333 -1323
Tutankhamun
'323-'3'9
Ay
'3'9-'307
Horemheb
(DYllasty XIX)
'307-'306
Rameses I
'306-1290
Sety I
1290 -1224
Rameses II
(The Great)
'224 -'2'4
Merneptah
'214-'204
Sety II
1204-1198
Siptah
1198-1196
Twosre
1196-1070
(DYllasty xx)
'070-712
Third Intermediate
Period
(DYIasties XXI-XXIV)
7'2-332
Late Period
(Dynasties xXV-XXXI)
332 -30 •. C.E.
Macedonian­
Ptolemaic Period
30 •. C.E.-C.E. 395
Roman Period
• Dates givell Jor individuals
represellt regllal period.
Adapted Jroll1 John Bailles
at,d Jarom!r Malek,
Atlas of Ancient Egypt,
OxJord: 1980.
aile oj two statlles oj
Rameses II 01 the Jafade oj
the Temple oj Hathor at
Abll Simbel.
12 HOUSE OF ETERNITY
Why? Only because we have been blessed
with brilliant images from her tomb in
the Valley of the Queens.
Detail of the colossus
of Nefertari at the
Temple 0/ Luxor.
Previous page:
On the west wall of
Chamber G, south
side, a band of relief
separates Nefertari
from Nephthys and
Isis who flank
the ram-headed god
representing a union
of Re' and Osiris.
If Nefertari's magnifcent "house of
eternity" had not survived, perhaps
scholars of Egyptian history might still
recognize her name. But could anyone even
begin to imagine the elegant, dazzling
young woman, the radiant being, we see so
vividly portrayed throughout her tomb?
With such evocative images enduring, no
doubt remains that Nefertari was indeed
the beautiful queen of one of history's
most powerful and celebrated rulers,
Rameses the Great.
What can historians tell us about the
actual woman behind this compelling
portrait? Certainly, Nefertari played impor­
tant roles in state and religious affairs.
Her importance was amply confrmed by
her titles and the multiplicity of her images
on monuments throughout Egypt: at the
temples of Karnak and Luxor; in her tomb;
and at a sandstone temple built at Abu
Simbel, in far-distant Nubia, where her
impact was literally colossal.
It is impossible to judge how much
Nefertari's prestige was due to her personal
qualities. It is also prudent to recall that
she was by no means the first Egyptian
queen to wield such power. Two of her pre­
decessors-Ahmes-Nefertari and Nefertiti,
wife of Akhenaten -fgured prominently
in the history of the New Kingdom. And the
Eighteenth Dynasty King Hatshepsut was
in fact a woman.
Opposite:
Nefertari on the east
side of the upper
descending corridor.
The vignette difers
from the correspond-
ing west-side compo­
sition in that here
the queel1's headdress
is without the high
plumes.
A LETTER FROM NEFERTARI
"Says Naptera [NefertariJ,
the great queen of Egypt
to Padukhepa, the great
queen of Hatti, my sister,
thus. With you, my sister,
may all be well, and with
your country may all be
well. Behold, I have noted
that you, my sister, have
written me enquiring
after my well being. And
you have written me
about the matter of peace
and brotherhood between
the great king of Egypt
and his brother, the great
king of Hatti. May the sun
god [of Egypt [ and the
storm god [of Haiti]
bring you joy and may the
sun god cause the peace
to be good .... I in friend­
ship and sisterly relation
with the great queen [of
Haiti] now and forever."
NeJertari's letter to
Padukhepn, the Hi//ite
queell, expresses her wishes
Jor lastillg peace. The
Hittites lere the IlIdo­
Europeall illvaders oj the
Allatoliall highlallds. They
established all empire dllr­
illg the COllrse oj the secolld
mi/Jellllillm B.C.E. alld
cI,a/Jel/ged the supremacy oj
Egypt ill the Middle East
dllrillg the Eighteel1th alld
Nilleteelth Dynasties.
The relief on the
inner face of the First
Pylon at the Temple
of Luxor. Nefertari,
shaking a sacred rattle,
is preceded by her
husband, Rameses II.
NEFERTARI: RADIANT QUEEN
The outline of Nefertari's life can be
sketched. Of noble birth and perhaps from
the Theban area, she was married, when
barely a teenager, to User-maat-re' Setep­
en-re', who was known to posterity as
Rameses the Great. Their frst-born child
was a son, named Amenhirwenemefl
Amenhirkhepeshef. Their eldest daughter
was named Meryetamun.
Early in Rameses' reign, Nefertari
took an active role alongside her husband:
at Abydos, in Thebes, and at Gebel el­
Silsila. Then came a long silence, unbroken
until Year Twenty-one, when she suddenly
reemerged at the signing of a peace treaty
with Hatti, the other superpower of the
times. Scarcely three years later, Nefertari
died, was mourned, and was conveyed
to her "house of eternity" in the Valley of
the Queens. The year was 1255 B.C.E.
Images, inscriptions, and artifacts
found in her tomb tell us more. Nefertari
was of noble birth but not royal. Nowhere
is she identifed as king's daughter. Her
family probably came from Thebes.
Invariably, Nefertari's name was followed
by "beloved of [the goddess] Mut." In the
Theban area, Mut was an important deity.
Together with her husband Amun-re' and
their son Khonsu, she formed the sacred
Theban triad of Karnak Temple. The con­
sistent affliation of Nefertari with Mut
may point to the queen's Theban origins.
To her countrymen, Nefertari's
name no doubt evoked a wealth of posi­
tive associations, above all with the
memory of Ahmose-Nefertari, the founder
of the Eighteenth Dynasty. As wife and sis­
ter of Pharaoh Ahmose and mother of
Amenhotep I, Ahmose-Nefertari lived
through the glorious days of Thebes' rise to
power and her husband's expulsion of
Asiatic invaders, the Hyksos, events occur­
ring about 1560 B.C.E. It was probably
intentional that Nefertari's chosen head-
dress-a vulture surmounted by double
plumes-was also the headdress favored by
Ahmose-Nefertari.
For Rameses to marry the daughter
of a Theban nobleman would have been
politically shrewd. The Ramesside clan was
based in the Delta and had no blood ties
with Egyptian royalty. Their rise to social
prominence occurred through military ser­
vice under Pharaoh Horemheb. Horemheb
had no heir and designated his chief
general, Parameses, as successor. When the
old king died in 1307 B.C.E., Parameses
assumed the throne, and changed the fam­
ily name to Rameses, the name used by no
less than eleven succeeding sovereigns.
Although Rameses I ruled only a year,
he had time enough to inaugurate what
Egyptian historians regard as a new era, the
Nineteenth Dynasty. In a concerted effort
to validate and legitimize Ramesside king­
ship, Rameses the Great, grandson of
Rameses 1, may well have sought a daughter
of Thebes as his queen. Her given name
recalled a resplendent moment in Egypt's
history and her sobriquet invoked the
Temple of Karnak, home of Egypt's frst
divine family.
In all likelihood, Nefertari married in
her early teenage years and bore Rameses
a son almost immediately. Together with
his father, the boy was depicted as early as
the frst year of Rameses' reign, in the rock
shrine of Beit el Wali in Nubia. Historians
assume that Nefertari's frstborn child
died young.
The queen's youth proved no impedi­
ment to her participating in religious and
state business. Another depiction from Year
One shows her offciating with the king at
the investiture of the new Chief Prophet of
Amun, Nebwenenef. This investiture was
such a signal honor that Nebwenenef had
the event memorialized on the walls of his
own tomb.
Throughout his sixty­
seven ycars of rule,
Rameses took at least eight
wives: efertari; [stnofret;
Bintanath (his daughter by
Istnofret); Meryetamun
(his daughter by Nefertari);
Nebtawy; Henetmire' (the
king's own sister); Maat­
Hor-Neferure' (the frst
Hittite princess); and a sec­
ond Hittite princess. He
fathered at least forty-fve
sons, perhaps as many as
fify· two, as well as some
forty daughters.
As Rameses' frst and
favorite queen, Nefertari
must have expected to
see a child of hers inherit
the throne. She is, after
all, called "king's mother"
in the great temple of
Abu Simbel. Given her
enormous importance)
it is doubly ironic that
Nefertari's children
fgure not at all in the
succession. In fact,
they all died prior to
their father.
The enormous family
catacomb that came to
light in 1995 in the
Valley of the Kings (KVS)
may have been destined
for the luckless, aging
sons of Rameses 11.
Scattered throughout its
more than ninety rooms
are short inscriptions,
at least one mentioning
Nefertari's frstborn
son, Amenhirwenemefl
Amenhirkhepeshef.
The catacomb is thus the
likely place of his burial,
along with scores of his
half-brothers.
16
The fa�ade of the small
Temple of Hathor at
Abu Simbel. On either
side a colossus of
Nefertari is fanked by
colossi of Rameses I I.
Nefertari is crowned
with the cow horns
and sun disk symbolic
of Hathor.
More evidence of Nefertari's role
as religious officiant comes from the rock
shrine of Gebel el-Silsila, where she was
depicted "appeasing the gods." This por­
trayal of the queen was extraordinary, for
making such offerings was a responsibility
of kings, in their capacity as Chief Priest of
Egypt. On the walls of Rameses' own mor­
tuary temple in western Thebes, Nefertari
was again shown taking part in an impor­
tant religious holiday, the annual festival of
the god Min.
Moreover, at Gebel el-Silsila, Nefertari
was called "mistress of the two lands."
Normal usage was for kings alone to be
called lords of the two lands, a reference to
the mythic union of the northern kingdom
of Lower Egypt, the Delta where the
Nile flows into the sea, with the southern
kingdom of Upper Egypt, up river toward
its headwaters. Applied to Nefertari, the
phrase suggested that she exercised power
in secular affairs.
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
In Year Three of Rameses' reign,
Nefertari was shown beside the king in
monumental scale on the interior face of
the new pylon of Luxor Temple. Yet for
a long while after that, no datable reference
to the queen can be found.
In Year Twenty-one, however,
Nefertari sent a letter to the distant capital
of Hatti (modern Boghazkoy) in Anatolia.
With words of warmth and friendship,
the queen sent her wishes for lasting peace
to the Hittite queen, Padukhepa, on the
occasion of the signing of a treaty between
Rameses and the Hittite king, Hattushilis III.
The treaty ended two decades of uneasy
relations between their two countries.
At Abu Simbel in Nubia, on the
Sudanese border, rises the great rock shrine
of Rameses II. Beside it is the small temple
of Hathor of Ibshak, dedicated to Nefertari.
Here the queen is shown making offerings
before a local form of the cow-goddess,
Hathor, and Mut, Nefertari's patron. This
in itself is impressive, but even more
astonishing are the two enormous statues
of the queen. On either side of the temple
entrance stands a colossus of Nefertari,
flanked by colossi of her husband. The two
statues of the queen are every bit as large as
those of Rameses. In the Egyptian artistic
tradition, the scale of an image, whether in
two or three dimensions, signifies its rela­
tive importance. Kings are made larger
than their wives, children, courtiers, sub­
jects, or enemies. For the queen to warrant
a statue as large as her husband was an
unparalleled honor.
The text on the temple fa<ade is
similarly remarkable, for it declares:
"Rameses II has made a temple, excavated
in the mountain of eternal workmanship in
Nubia ... for the king's great wife Nefertari,
beloved of Mut, forever and ever, ...
Nefertari ... for whom the sun does shine."
NEFERTARI: RADIANT QUEEN
The great shrines at Abu Simbel
were dedicated three years after the Hittite
treaty, in the twenty-fourth year of
Rameses' reign. Yet Nefertari, noticeably
absent from memorials of these consecra­
tion ceremonies, had probably already died.
A number of rock inscriptions set
into the cliff face around the temples
recorded the events. One of these inscrip­
tions, by the Viceroy Hekanakht, includes
a picture of the royal entourage: Rameses
was shown not with Nefertari but rather
with his daughter Meryetamun, now iden­
tifed as queen.
We cannot say how Nefertari died.
All that is known is that, sometime toward
the end of her fourth decade, she began her
journey to the hereafter.
Transported to the netherworld by
the magnifcent tomb that Rameses had
built for her, she would henceforth dwell in
a new domain, a resplendent "house of
eternity." For Rameses, it would be another
forty years before he would pass through
the portals of his own tomb, perhaps antici­
pating renewed union with the blessed
spirit of his beauteous, beloved wife.
The titles and epithets of
Nefertari defne her vari­
ous roles as divine con­
sort, queen, and mother.
The scope of her activi­
ties is consistent with the
expanding importance
of queenship in the New
Kingdom generally.
"[The one] to whom
beauty pertains" is one
of several translations of
her name. Ancient
Egyptian hieroglyphic
script does not show
vowels, so no one can be
certain how the queen's
name was spoken.
Cuneiform script
documents from the
Hittite capital of
Bogazkoy in Anatolia
suggest the name was
pronounced "Naptera" or
something similar.
"Beloved of Mut" is a
standard component of
Nefertari's full name and
occurs even within her
cartouche, the oval ring
surrounding royal names.
The goddess Mut,
together with her hus­
band Amun and their son
Khonsu, form the great
Theban triad of gods
residing within or near
Karnak Temple.
"King's great wife"
identifies Nefertari as
preeminent among
Rameses the Great's eight
known spouses.
THE QUEEN
'
S TITLES AND EPITHETS
"Mother of the king" is
the title held by the
crown prince's mother,
confrming that one of
Nefertari's sons had
already been picked to
succeed Rameses.
"God's wife," a term first
encountered early in the
Eighteenth Dynasty but
falling into disuse after
the reign of Thutmoses
IV (1401-1391 B.C.E.). It is
revived in the Nineteenth
Dynasty in association
with the dynasty's frst
three queens: Sat-re, wife
of Rameses I; Mut-tuy,
wife of Sety I; and
Nefertari. The term was
probably resurrected
partly to strengthen the
dynastic claims of the
Ramesside kings, who
were not of royal blood.
It embodied a theological
concept. Any child of
a queen bearing this title
was the issue not only
of the king but also of the
god Amun, the queen's
mythical consort; and so,
the child would be singu­
larly fit to serve as king
of Egypt.
"Hereditary noble­
woman" is an honorifc
designation signaling
that Nefertari came from
noble stock.
"Mistress of the two
lands." The masculine
form is an epithet of
Egyptian kings and pro­
claims their suzerainty
over both Upper and
Lower Egypt. It indicates
that Nefertari exercised
some role in state affairs.
"Mistress of Upper and
Lower Egypt." This term
may also hint at an active
role in state affairs.
"Who satisfies the gods"
is a phrase normally
reserved for kings,
in their role as Chief
Ritualist.
"For whom the sun
shines" (inscription from
the fa�ade of the Small
Temple at Abu Simbel) is
unique. In conjunction
with the Great Temple of
Abu Simbel, any invoca­
tion of the sun-either
its disk (the Aten) or the
sun god (Re') -is appro­
priate. The Great Temple
of Abu Simbel was pur­
posely orientated so that
rays from the rising sun
would shine straight into
the sanctuary on February
22 and again October 22.
"Great of favors" possi­
bly carried a judicial
implication, along the
lines of intercessor. That
is how the term was used
much earlier, in the popu­
ular Egyptian tale of the
wanderings of Sinuhe.
"Pleasant in the twin
plumes" (on the great
seated statue of Rameses,
now in the Museo Egizio,
Turin) is a reference to
the twin-plumed head­
dress favored by Nefertari.
The god Amun wears a
similar crown; one of
his titles is "he of the high
plumes." Nefertari's
namesake, Ahmose­
Nefertari, is ofen shown
wearing a double-plumed
headdress.
20
Previous page:
A view across the
river Nile toward
western Thebes.
The main wadi in the
Valley of the Queens
showing some of
the tombs of queens
and royal children.
Nefertari's tomb is
indicated. Photo: A. Siliotti.
beyond the broad
swath of cultivation
between the river
an d th e Libyan plateau.
The plateau is a vast desert region
that extends westward from the Nile more
than a thousand miles. Made of fossil-rich
limestone laid down by incursions of
ancient seas, it stretches from magnifcent
cliffs formed over millennia by the mean­
derings of the river. Innumerable bays and
canyons have been etched by wind, sand,
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
and the thermal stress of hot days and
cold nights. Such forces of nature broke
down the rock still more into scree that
now rings the bases of the cliffs. In this
desolate region lie the world-famous ceme­
teries of western Thebes: the Valley of
the Kings, the Tombs of the Nobles, and
the Valiey of the Queens.
Placing their cemeteries to the west
was instinctive for the ancient Egyptians,
who localized the netherworld in the land
of the setting sun. This association took
on particular meaning in Thebes because
• Kadesh
MEDITER R ANEAN SEA
L O W E R E G Y P T
u P P E R E G Y P T
VALLEY OF THE QUEENS
(
Aswan High Dam
THE VALLEY OF THE QUEENS
of the great western peak of Qurna, by far
the most prominent landmark around.
From its summit, one can look
down into the Valley of the Kings or east
across the cultivation to the river.
Beyond the Nile, barely visible through
the haze, are the pylons of Luxor Temple.
Along the edge of cultivation stands a row
of mortuary temples. The largest of these,
Medinet Habu, was erected to the memory
of Rameses III.
Just behind this temple, an asphalt
road follows an ancient track and wends
its way back to the peak, running near
the workmen's village of Deir el-Medineh.
After passing a rock-cut shrine to the
god Ptah, another to the local goddess
Meret-Seger, and the ruins of a Coptic
monastery, the road peters out in a small
valley directly beneath the peak of
Qurna. This is the Valley of the Queens.
At its western limit is a gorge. In
front of that are vestiges of an ancient dam
that once diverted runoff from sudden
cloudbursts. Signs of wind and water
erosion abound. Weathered chunks of
limestone and flint litter the ground. Finer
material washed down to the valley foor
has softened the contours. Suggestions
of rude huts made from tabular limestone
are all that remain of the shelters used
by the workmen who excavated the tombs
in the Valley of the Queens.
It's unclear precisely why this area
was selected for burials. Though vulnera­
ble and hard to police, its chief virtue
may have been convenience. But certainly
the looming mass of Qurna and its divine
associations with the beyond would have
appealed to the ancient Egyptians. It is also
possible that the gorge suggested to them
the vulva of the sky goddess Nut, depicted
in tombs and coffins giving birth to the sun
god each morning.
ERNESTO SCHIAPARELLI
Italian Egyptologist
Ernesto Schiaparelli
(1856-1928) began his
studies with Francesco
Rossi at the University of
Turin, and continued
them in Paris between
1877 and 1880 with the
great French Egyptologist,
Gaston Maspero. For
many years, Schiaparelli
was director of the
Egyptian Museum in
Turin.
As head of the Italian
Archaeological Mission
to Egypt between 1903
and 1920, Schiaparelli
also explored numerous
Egyptian sites. His most
enduring achievements
were in the vicinity of
Thebes - in the work­
men's village at Deir el­
Medineh and in the
Valley of the Queens.
In 1906, while work­
ing at Deir el-Medineh,
Schiaparelli discovered
the undisturbed burial of
Khai, an overseer of
works, and his wife
Meryl. The abundant
household materials from
their tomb, now on dis­
play in Turin, provide a
detailed picture of life
among the workmen who
dug and decorated
Egyptian royal tombs.
In 1904, Schiaparelli
opened Nefertari's tomb,
one of thirteen that he
cleared or discovered in
the Valley of the Queens.
Though he spent only
a year in the tomb,
Schiaparelli compiled an
important photographic
record of its condition
and decoration. These
135 glass plate negatives -
housed in the Turin
Museum -have served as
a benchmark ever since.
Schiaparelli and his
assistant Francesco
Ballerini assigned num­
bers to all the tombs in
the valley, installed iron
gates at their entrances,
and pioneered site
management by laying
out pathways between
the tombs. The arched,
brick portal that now
protects the entrance to
Nefertari's tomb was
also built by the Italian
mission.
Ernesto Schiaparelli
published a volume on
his work in the Valley of
the Queens in 1924.
A second volume, on his
explorations at Deir
el-Medineh, was pub­
lished in 1927, a year
before his death.
Stereo view of Ernesto
Schiaparelli (far
right) at the entrance
to the tomb of
Nefertari after con­
struction of the
brick portal.
Photo: Courtesy of the
Museo Egizio, Turin.
THE VALLEY OF THE QUEENS
An ephemeral stream surging down the
gorge might have reinforced this image of
sacred issue.
There are eighty numbered tombs
in the Valley of the Queens. Only twenty
are decorated. Most are little more than pit
tombs, without decoration or inscription.
The larger openings of the more substantial
tombs probably suggested the common
Arabic name for this site: "Biban el Malikat"
or "the Portals of the Queens."
The most ancient of these large
tombs date from the Eighteenth Dynasty
and were private or anonymous. But early
in the Nineteenth Dynasty, it became the
fashion to bury queens and royal children
in this lonely valley. Throughout the next
two centuries, many important members of
the court found their fnal resting place
here. Along the northern fank of the valley
are tombs of the queens and daughters of
Rameses II; along the souther flank, the
sons of Ra meses Ill.
The ancient Egyptians initially
referred to this locale as simply "the Great
Valley." But after the surge in royal inter­
ments - queens, dowager queens, and
children - it became known as "the place
of the beauteous ones."
Archaeology has confrmed what the
texts say. Most of the burials in this valley
are royal. They include those of three
very important queens from the early years
of the Nineteenth Dynasty: Sat-re, wife
Opposite:
The calllp site of
Emesto Schiaparelli's
expedition in the
foothills of the Valley
of the Queens, 1904.
Pilato: COllrtesy of t"e
Museo Egizio. Turi".
of Rameses I; Mut-tuy, wife of Sety I; and,
of course, Nefertari, favorite consort of
Rameses II.
Why was this place reserved for
queens? Several explanations come to mind.
Most likely is that Hatshepsut had a tomb
prepared for herself in a neighboring
canyon before she became pharaoh, and the
three foreign-born wives of Thutmoses III
were interred not far away.
The designation "Valley of the
Queens" was introduced by Jean Fran<ois
Champollion in the nineteenth century
C.E., then taken up by other Egyptologists.
The frst Europeans to explore the site were
J. G. Wilkinson (1821-33), Champollion
(1828-29), Ippolito Rosellini (1834), and
C.-R. Lepsius (1845). Lepsius correctly
identifed the tomb of Meryetamun,
Nefertari's eldest daughter, but missed
locating the queen's, just adjacent. That
honor fell to Ernesto Schiaparelli, who
explored the valley between 1903 and 1904.
For this and his efforts at the workmen's
village, Schiaparelli eared himself a last­
ing place in the annals of Egyptology.
23
CONVEYANCE TO ETERNAL LIFE
royal tombs were
probably drawn
up by court archi­
tects, with the king's
involvement. Yet no one
knows exactly how the sovereign expressed
his wishes for the tomb's location, size,
and decoration.
During the Old and Middle
Kingdoms, they took the form of pyramids.
There are some seventy such pyramids in
the Nile valley. During the New Kingdom,
royal tombs underwent fundamental
redesign ultimately evolving into a pencil­
thin shaft, sunk obliquely into the hillsides
of the Valley of the Kings. Beginning with
the pharaoh Thutmoses J (1504-1492 S.C.E.)
and for fve centuries afterward, Egyptian
sovereigns ordered their tombs excavated
in this remote canyon.
New Kingdom tomb design at frst
consisted of a series of descending corri­
dors, small waiting rooms, and then a sar­
cophagus hall with annexes. These
elements were usually assembled in the
repeating pattern of corridor followed by
chamber, corridor followed by chamber: a
rhythm of down-pause, down-pause.
This design accomplished two aims.
First, it reminded the Egyptians of the
"crookedness of the beyond." For the tomb
was meant to evoke the twisted topography
of the netherworld. Turns and plunging
stairways imitated the convoluted path that
the deceased had to follow to become an
effective, blessed soul. Second, the doubling
of the basic unit -down-pause, down­
pause - may have alluded to the tradi­
tional division of Egypt into northern and
southern kingdoms, or have suggested the
duality of earthly versus timeless existence.
Previous spread:
Looking into the
burial chamber from
the descending
corridor. The goddess
Ma'at, with out­
stretched wings,
adorns the lintel.
Opposite:
The head of Nefertari
on the west wall of the
descending corridor
showing carved relief
work.
27
Detail of Nefertari's
face on the west wall
of the descending
corridor showing the
painted correction to
the relief work.
Detail from the
north wall of Recess
E illustrating a
correction in the
painting.
A simple, painted wall primed with
whitewash had been the standard in the
tombs of the early Eighteenth Dynasty.
Carved limestone was not introduced until
the reign of Horemheb (1319-1307 B.C.E.),
but was then immediately adopted as the
standard in royal tombs. Carved plaster
imitating limestone made its appearance
about this time - most sublimely in
Nefertari's tomb - and remained a feature
of Ramesside tomb decoration.
The overall design of Nefertari's
tomb borrows from the architecture of
contemporary royal tombs. It also reflects
the increasing religiosity that pervades
Ramesside tomb decoration.
For his own tomb, Rameses the
Great reintroduced a sharp ninety-degree
turn just before the burial chamber and
increased the number of its supporting
pillars around the sunken sarcophagus
emplacement to eight. A shelf around the
perimeter of the burial hall was a feature
repeated from Nefertari's tomb. In strictly
architectural terms, Rameses' tomb
remains the most complex and interesting
in the Valley of the Kings.
From Rameses' death forward,
Egyptian royal tombs underwent immense
simplifcation, especially in their ground
plans. The tomb of Merneptah, Rameses'
immediate successor, stressed length over
annexes and chambers, which began to
diminish in size or vanish altogether. The
descending stairway was replaced by a
shallow, continuous ramp leading deep
into the mountainside.
The logical conclusion of these
trends was the tomb of Rameses VI: long,
straight, spare. Its decoration also showed
evolution characteristic of the later Rames­
side era: illustration and text were drawn
in outline, with a minimum of modeling or
internal detail. The many colors of
CONVEYANCE TO ETERNAL LIFE
Nefertari's tomb were replaced by predomi­
nantly golden hues to reinforce solar imagery.
A royal tomb's design could not be
turned over to the workmen until a site was
selected. This task proved increasingly
diffcult as the royal valleys became flled
with burial sites. In some instances, architects
chose unwisely, siting their work where
it eventually intersected older tombs and so
had to be abandoned or modifed.
Once construction had begun, many
steps in the work - from cutting to smooth­
ing to decorating - may have gone on simul­
taneously, heavy work preceding lighter.
Quarrymen frst opened the shaft by ham­
mering the porous rock with heavy mauls.
They then removed the shattered pieces with
chisels and adzes. All such heavy-duty tools
were provided by the state and rigorously
Hammers and chisels
used in the construc­
tion of royal tombs.
Photo: ]. Hyde.
Detail from the east
side of the south wall
of the upper corridor
showing uncorrected
overlapping paint.
29
30
accounted for. Tailings from the cutting
were dumped right outside the tomb, a
convenient but untidy practice. However,
this custom had at least one happy conse­
quence. The entrance to the tomb of
Tutankhamun was buried beneath an
avalanche of rock from the excavation of
Rameses VI
'
S tomb. Had it not been, the
boy king's tomb might have been found
and looted long ago.
As work progressed into the selected
hillside, an army of artisans followed at the
quarrymen's heels. Masons rough-leveled
the walls using a boning rod (a primitive
sighting gauge consisting of two fat rods
connected by twine) and ensured that walls
were vertical by means of a plumb bob.
Imperfections, such as flint nodules, were
either left in place or removed, as the situa­
tion warranted. Any large holes or weak
pockets of rock were plugged with mortar
made of crushed limestone and gypsum.
Smooth-leveling was probably achieved by
abrasion. Once this stage was complete, the
walls were primed with a gypsum wash.
With the walls prepared, apprentice
draftsmen could begin drawing both illus­
tration and text. Working frst in red, they
outlined hieroglyphic text and images that
were subsequently corrected and adjusted
in black by master draftsmen, exactly
the reverse of the Western artistic custom.
Guided by these outlines, sculptors then
carved and scoured away the background
so that the designs stood out in relief.
Painters and varnishers came last,
carefully painting over the carved design,
sometimes making inspired deviations
that improved upon the composition.
Details too fne to execute in rock or
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
plaster were liberally supplied in paint.
The completely self-assured brushwork of
these artists has given a fresh and sponta­
neous effect to many scenes throughout the
Theban necropolis.
Some tombs were constructed in
distinct stages, with long intervals between
successive trades plying their crafts. Yet
when time was short - as it likely was in
the case of Nefertari - there is reason
to believe that quarrymen, plasterers, out­
line draftsmen, carvers, and painters all
worked at the same time. Under these
conditions, parts of the tomb were com­
pleted from the inside out, the squads
of workmen eventually fnishing up back
at the entrance where they began.
Workers seem to have maintained
"left" and "right" crews, each performing
two four-hour shifts a day. At night, they
camped out in huts midway between the
tomb and their village, on a ridge beneath
the peak of Qurna. Their "weeks" lasted
ten days, eight days of labor and two days
off back in the village.
Besides the tools provided by the
state, other materials and supplies had to
be brought daily to the site. Food and
water were essential to sustain the men; but
water was also required for painting and
plastering. Critical lighting was provided by
shallow pottery saucers that burned oil or
animal fat mixed with salt to reduce smoke.
Wicks for these lamps were made of twisted
flax and were supplied by the state. Like
the tools, these wicks were strictly rationed.
Ceiling detail showing
black underpainting.
TOMB PAINTS AND MATERIALS
Paints used in efertari's
tomb consisted of pig­
ment for color, water to
make the paint Aow, and
gum to bind it to the
surface of the wall. The
Egyptian palette was
limited to vivid, primary
colors. Only a handful
of words for these colors
existed, and none cap­
tured the nuances
between shades of the
same hue.
Egyptian pigments
were mineraL not
organic. Earth colors­
reds and yellows - were
made from burnt umber,
cooked iron oxide. Shades
of red resulted from trace
amounts of manganese,
while yellow was pre­
pared from a hydrated
iron oxide or ochre. Blues
and greens were com­
pounded from natural
copper ores: malachite or
azurite. Occasionally,
these ores were cooked
with calcium and quartz
or other forms of silica,
producing a glass that
was then pulverized.
Blue and green pig­
ments tended not to
adhere well to the wall
surface and consequently
show more damage today.
The black in Nefertari's
tomb was powdered char­
coal. It too could be eas­
ily brushed off. Whites
were made of chalk (cal­
cium carbonate) or gyp­
sum (calcium sulphide)
or some blend of the two.
The binder was gum
arabic, derived from the
local acacia tree. Unlike
egg tempera, which
becomes insoluble over
time, gum arabic can
redissolve under certain
conditions and is dam­
aged by ultra violet radia­
tion. Thus, if the paint
in Nefertari's tomb were
to become damp enough,
it could "Aow."
Surface coatings in
the tomb consist of tree
resin and egg white
(albumen). Employed
chieAy as a glaze on red
and yellow areas, they
enhance the brilliance of
the color beneath. But
since resin and albumen
have always been readily
available, no one knows if
these coatings are origi­
nal or, if not, when they
were applied.
Detail of impasto pail/t.
Workmen excavating
in the Theban
necropolis during the
expedition of the
Italian Archaeological
Mission led by Ernesto
Schiaparelli in 1904.
Photo: Courtesy of the
Museo Egizio. Tur;'l.
Previous page:
The community of
the pharaoh's tomb
builders at Deir
el-Medineh.
Photo: C Leblnllc.
Their simple homes
were made of lime­
stone and fint.
Each house had an entryway leading
to a living room, which was often provided
with a built-in sleeping couch. This was the
only piece of fxed furniture. Behind were
a tiny room and an unroofed kitchen, with
oven and silos beyond. Stairs made of a
notched palm trunk led to the roof, used
for storage and sleeping in hot weather.
Some houses also had a tiny storage cellar
beneath the living room floor.
HOUSE OF ETER lTV
The community was founded early in
the Eighteenth Dynasty by Thutmoses I,
the frst pharaoh to dig a sepulcher in the
Valley of the Kings. The settlement grew,
but not steadily. The Amara period, when
the court was resident in middle Egypt,
could not have been a prosperous time for
the village. But it was reinvigorated and
reorganized during the reign of Horemheb,
who enclosed the settlement and organized
the workmen into crews. Under Rameses "
the community consisted of perhaps 48
men and their families, but reached its
zenith in the reign of Rameses IV, when the
population peaked at about 120 families.
Much of what we know of the village
comes from tens of thousands of inscribed
limestone flakes on which the workmen
recorded their daily affairs. These, the
paper of ancient Egypt, summarize impor­
tant matters such as law suits and divine
oracles. But they are also filled with the
mundane. They chronicle the revictualing
of the village, tell us when the men were
sick or shiftless, speak of marital problems,
and hint at drunkenness. They describe
what other jobs the workmen performed
and what they did on holidays, feast days,
and occasional days off. We can even
reconstruct the genealogies and fortunes
of thirteen families and so form a picture
of life in a community that enjoyed work,
prayer, and leisure.
The workmen spent their entire
careers as privileged state employees. When
not digging in the necropolis they stayed in
the community and when they died, they
were buried in tombs of their own making,
in the hillside just opposite the village. Two
of these were discovered intact with their
full complement of funerary equipment:
the tomb of Sennedjem in 1885 and that of
Khai in 1906.
THE TOMB BUILDERS
'
VILLAGE
The men of the community were
known as "servitors in the place of truth," a
reference to the royal tombs in the Valley
of the Kings. The men were organized into
teams known as "gangs," modeled afer a
ship's crew. The most important members
of the community were the foremen of the
gangs, followed closely by the scribes. The
foreman functioned as chief of works and
had a deputy to distribute tools and collect
them again at the end of each shift. The
scribe functioned as director of person nel,
recording workers' attendance and calcu­
lating their pay.
Originally, these village captains were
appointed by the vizier, the king's chief
minister. But in the Ramesside age, the
positions became hereditary; dynasties of
scribes and foremen over fve and six gen­
erations were not uncommon.
The men were trained as stone
masons, draftsmen, carvers, carpenters,
and painters, all skills acquired from
fathers and passed down to sons. Wages
varied according to rank; but everyone
was paid in kind: grain, oil, and beer drawn
from state storehouses. Supplementing
these were disbursements of fsh, vegeta­
bles, water, pottery, and fuel.
Estimates of the value of wages sug­
gest that the workmen had enough left
over to barter for durable goods or luxury
items not readily available inside their
compound. They even undertook contract
work on each other's tombs, helped out on
state projects outside the necropolis, and
perhaps invested some free time in private
projects not sanctioned by the state. It is
conceivable that some of these men worked
on the Tombs of the Nobles, not far away.
With the workmen spending most
of their time on state-funded projects or
engaged in occasional "freelance" work,
they had to rely on a staff of water carriers,
fuel porters, victualers, and provisioners
of all sorts to supply many of their essen­
tial needs.
After repeated attacks by bandits
sweeping down out of the western desert,
Deir el-Medineh was abandoned in the
early Twenty-frst Dynasty (1070-945
B.C.E.) . The community of workmen was
relocated to the safety of Medineh Habu,
the mortuary temple of Rameses III.
In any event, the industry of royal
tomb construction was now all the more
literally a dying business. Tombs might yet
be constructed for the Theban priesthood,
but the kings of the Twenty-frst Dynasty,
who resided in distant Tanis, preferred
burial in the temple enclosure there rather
than in Thebes with its hallowed valleys
of the kings and queens.
35
Recently restored
dwellings of the work­
men in the Valley of
the Queens.
Photo: A. Si/iotti.
Example of limestone
flakes inscribed with
daily events in the
workmen's lives.
Photo: f. Hyde.
A piece of embossed
gold foil bearing
Nefertari's name and
an epithet "true of
voice" discovered in
1988 by one of the
tomb's conservators.
Previous page:
The upper west wall of
Chamber C. Nefertari,
masked and mummi­
fed lies on a bier with
the goddesses Nephthys
and Isis in their kite
form at her head and
feet. Next to Nephthys
is the benu bird, asso­
ciated with resurrec­
tion. Beside Isis is a
water god symbolizing
abundance of years.
several severe economic depres­
sions, brought on in part by the
loss of gold mines and deteriorating relations
with allies in the ear East. For an economy
based on precious metal, the loss of the
mines amounted to a fnancial catastrophe.
Sit-down strikes by the necropolis
workers in Thebes occurred in the twenty­
ninth year of Rameses III (about 1165 B.C.E.).
Workmen laid down their tools and
marched to the Ramesseum, the mortuary
temple of Rameses the Great, seeking back
wages. The disputed payments consisted
mostly of grain and oil, which the workmen
had ample reason to believe were sequest­
ered in huge, mud-brick storehouses that
today still stand behind the temple_ Despite
assurances from government offcials,
the back wages did not materialize until
the workmen called a second strike, one
involving their wives and children.
AFTER NEFERTARI
'
S BURIAL
Not surprisingly under such circum­
stances, a cottage industry in tomb robbery
arose. Apart from its spiritual function,
the necropolis was a vast treasure trove of
liquid wealth just waiting to be pillaged.
All one had to do was muster the courage
to break into a tomb and strip the mummies
of their gold and jewels.
The situation became acute during
the reign of Rameses IX (1125-1107 B.C.E.).
In the sixteenth year of his reign, there was
a rash of tomb robberies. Court proceed­
ings preserve the testimony of people who
knew about or had participated in the
looting. Charges were hurled against local
officials and even the mayor of western
Thebes who were accused of conniving
with workmen to rob tombs.
A generation later, the situation had
grown even worse. The Theban priests of
the Twenty-frst Dynasty (1070-945 B.C.E.)
were so alarmed that they gathered what­
ever royal mummies they could locate and
secured them in places of safety. Two
such caches have been discovered, one in
the tomb of Amenhotep II in the Valley of
the Kings, and a second in an Eleventh­
Dynasty tomb belonging to a minor queen
named In-hapy.
Neither sign nor mention of
Nefertari's mummy has been found apart
from some telltale fragments of her
remains, discovered by Schiaparelli in 1904.
Considering the extreme vulnerability of
the tombs in the Valley of the Queens, it
seems likely that Nefertari's tomb was
robbed as long ago as 1109 B.C.E.; yet no
one can know what took place inside the
tomb for some three thousand years.
Ill-addition to the mummy fragments,
Schiaparelli discovered that the tomb still
held pieces of the queen's rose granite
sarcophagus, thirty-four servant fgurines
(ushabtis, believed to be essential for the
deceased to become an Osiris), several large
glazed earthenware vases, and an enamel
knob bearing the name of King Ay.
[n 1904, some items of the queen's
personal jewelry appeared on the antiqui­
ties market in Luxor and were purchased by
the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. These
included a large plaque of gilded silver, a
small plaque made of embossed sheet gold,
a gilded bronze pendant in the shape of a
lily, and four servant fgurines. Although
the exact origin of this jewelry is unknown,
there is every reason to suppose it was part
of the queen's burial equipment.
Astonishingly, in 1988, while trying to
reattach a section of wall plaster, one of the
tomb's conservators discovered a piece of
embossed gold foil. The ornament bore
Nefertari's name and the epithet "true of
voice." The title is a customary designation
for a deceased person and a strong indica­
tor that the bracelet was made expressly
for the great queen's burial.
Nefertari's sandals
were among the few
objects that escaped
looting. Photo:]. Hyde.
39
42
A conservator work­
ing on the south wall
of Recess E in 1988.
Opposite:
The goddess Isis in
Recess E, north wall,
showing a few of the
nearly ten thousand
Japanese mulberry
bark paper bandages
used to hold loose
fragments in place
during emergency
conservation.
Previous page:
Removing ground
dust during site
preparation in 1988
in Chamber Q.
tomb's 520 square
mEte�s of original
paIn tings and hieroglyphic
decoration, at least twenty percent has
completely vanished.
Since its discovery in 1904, the
archaeological community has known of
the perils facing the tomb and its matchless
decoration. Even Schiaparelli had to per­
form emergency consolidation on sections
of wall paintings during his initial survey.
Yet despite his and others' efforts to solve
some of the tomb's most tenacious prob­
lems, the deterioration continued, much of
it the result of carelessness by visitors.
With this in mind, in 1985, the
Egyptian Antiquities Organization ( EAO) -
renamed the Egyptian Supreme Council of
Antiquities in 1994 -and the Getty
Conservation Institute (GCI ) began discus­
sions to see how the tomb's paintings
might be consolidated and cleaned, and
further deterioration arrested or at
least slowed. A joint EAO-GCI project was
established in 1986.
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
Initial plans called for a full year's
analysis of the tomb's geological, hydrologi­
ical, climatic, and microbial problems, as
well as exhaustive testing of plaster, pig­
ments, and other materials. Preliminary
results confrmed suspicions that the pri­
mary culprit responsible for the deteriora­
tion was salt. The limestone of the tomb
and the mud plaster coating with which
the walls had been fnished were affected
by moisture. As a result, minute amounts
of sodium chloride dormant in the lime­
stone and plaster were dissolving. Once
mobilized, this salt-laden moisture seeped
to the surface of the wall. There the mois­
ture evaporated, leaving the salt behind, as
crystals either within the plaster or as a
crust upon the paint.
Salt crystals lodged between the lime­
stone and the plaster can detach entire
sheets of plaster. Smaller crystals within
the plaster layers can split whole layers off
the painted surface. Th� crust on the paint
itself can all too easily be brushed away,
and with it a good deal of pignient. Any
increase in moisture within the tomb
or sustained high humidity will affect the
plaster and painting adversely.
The basic problem has been too
much moisture from four sources: water
used in the original preparation of plaster
and paint; flooding via the tomb entrance;
seepage through the porous limestone;
and water vapor, introduced mainly by
modern-day visitors.
Flooding has been a constant risk.
The ancient dam at the head of the valley
gorge proves how seriously Necropolis
offcials took this threat. Thick layers of
water-transported debris in the Valley of
the Kings and the Valley of the Queens
have been dated from the Nineteenth
Dynasty and testify to serious flooding in
ancient times.
44
Since the tomb was
opened to the public,
some 150 visitors a day
each spend ten minutes
inside the tomb ..
Photo: Shin Maekawa.
Schiaparelli's account of his opening
the tomb mentions extensive debris on the
chamber foors, presumably fushed in by
storm water. In 1914, major fooding in the
Valley of the Kings damaged the tomb of
Rameses II, leaving it choked with rubble.
As recently as November 1994, a modest
shower in western Thebes became a torrent
sweeping through the Valley of the Kings.
Current estimates predict serious fooding
about once every three hundred years.
In addition to all this, an ancient
earthquake fractured the roof of Nefertari's
tomb, opening tiny fssures that have
since permitted the infltration of surface
water. In fact, apart from people inside
the tomb, the principal historic mechanism
for accumulation of water has been the
slow seeping of moisture through these fs­
sures and the pores of the bedrock.
Emergency conservation work under­
taken in 1987 required the temporary
placement of nearly ten thousand small
bandages of Japanese mulberry bark paper
to secure loose bits of decoration. Begin­
ning in 1988, the actual treatment program
was carried out by a team of Italian,
Egyptian, and English conservators led by
Professors Paolo and Laura Mora, with
more than four decades' experience in the
conservation of wall paintings. Guiding
all their efforts was a determination to keep
interventions to a minimum and to use
only reversible methods and materials.
The goal was to clean and stabilize, not
restore, the tomb paintings; no in-painting
took place.
Working under diffcult conditions,
the Moras and their team painstakingly
consolidated faking and chalking paint with
acrylic solutions, and reattached loose and
crumbling plaster by means of a special
mortar made from local sand and gypsum.
The fnal stage of work, carried out
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
between 1990 and 1992, involved cleaning
the paintings with solvents that did not
affect the pigments or gum arabic binding
material.
This work took more than six years
to complete. A photographic record of all
phases of the work - from analysis to
consolidation to cleaning - was compiled
between September 1986 and April 1992.
More than seven thousand images, consist­
ing of 35 millimeter and 4 x 5 inch color
transparencies, provide a complete archival
record of the tomb and are the principal
resource for scholars wishing to study it.
Although the tomb became a favorite
tourist destination almost as soon as it was
discovered, it was more often shut than
open. Between the early 1970S and 1994, the
tomb was closed to all but specialists and
occasional VIPs. With the 1992 completion
of consolidation and cleaning, pressure to
reopen Nefertari's tomb grew dramatically.
But three more years of scientifc monitor­
ing of the tomb environment in an un­
disturbed state were needed to establish
base levels for future monitoring.
In November 1995, the decision was
made by the authorities to open the tomb
to the public. Now some 150 visitors move
through the site every day, each allowed
to spend ten minutes inside the tomb.
Monitoring has shown that a single indivi­
dual exhales and perspires between one­
half and two cups of water per hour as well
as carbon dioxide. So every day between
fve and twenty liters of water are deposited
in the tomb. This moisture must go some­
where. What is not reabsorbed by people's
clothing or extracted by the ventilation
system is sucked up by the plaster and paint
of the tomb.
Humidity within the tomb can climb
to dangerous levels very rapidly. Especially
during the summer, when humidity tends
RESURRECTION AND RECURRENT RISKS
to be high and natural ventilation of the
tomb is less effcient, relative humidity can
easily exceed seventy percent. At such ele­
vated levels, the tomb requires from three
days in winter to twelve days in summer to
regain its micro climatic equilibrium.
Moreover, biological activity is trig­
gered at only ffty percent relative humid­
ity; and increased growth of microbes
and fungi on the tomb walls may simulta­
neously contribute to deterioration of
the paint layer. Prolonged, elevated humid­
ity may further imperil the images by
softening the gum arabic that binds the
paint to the wall.
But, salt recrystallization and biologi­
cal deterioration are not the only dangers.
Physical damage to the fragile wall paint­
ings, especially in the narrow entranceways,
can occur easily, and the risk increases
with the number of visitors in the tomb at
any one time. There are other potentially
adverse consequences of tourism. Apart
from microorganisms, dust, and materials
from visitors' clothing, there is the
unknown long-term effect of artifcial
lighting on the wall paintings.
Continuing photographic and
climatic monitoring have taken place since
the completion of work in 1992. Telltale
strips have been placed within the tomb to
register tectonic shifts. A solar-powered
monitoring station measures relative
humidity, temperature, and carbon dioxide
levels inside the tomb, as well as weather
data externally. Spot readings by colorime­
ters disclose any color shifts or alterations
in the paintings, and photographs provide
a record of damage or change. By these
means, Gel and Egyptian scientists hope to
verif if the deterioration within Nefertari's
tomb has been halted, slowed, or if further
measures may be required.
Meanwhile, no simple equation exists
for balancing the needs of tourists and
the best interests of the tomb. This problem
is hardly unique to Egypt. Yet Nefertari's
tomb is a special case, both because of its
fragility and its extraordinary beauty.
Short-term solutions have already
been implemented. The Valley of the
Queens has been landscaped and diversion
structures installed at key points to shunt
flood water away from tomb entrances. The
large tour buses whose idling motors can
be felt far away have been relocated still
farther from the tombs, thus lessening any
possible risk from vibration and pollution.
Long-term solutions include offering
visitors a virtual reality tour of the tomb
at a nearby museum. Similar experiments
are already underway at other sites, and
initial results elsewhere are encouraging.
Perhaps the number of visitors to the tomb
might be adjusted as humidity levels cycle,
without creating too much frustration
among a public eager to see one of Egypt's
greatest sights.
The dangers are great. Having sur­
vived for thirty-two hundred years, the
remaining original paintings now confront
perhaps the greatest threat of degradation
and destruction they have ever faced.
Conservators working
on the west wall of
Chamber C. Much of
the decorated surface
of this wall, which
illustrates Chapter 17
of the Book of the
Dead, has been lost.
The entrance to the
tomb can be seen on
the left.
�I
J
Previous page:
The center section of
two parallel scenes
that occupy the east
wall of Chamber C.
Osiris, on the left, is
in mummifed form
and wears the twin­
plumed crown. A huge
fan separates him
from the god Atum in
human form and
wearing the double
crowns of Upper and
Lower Egypt.
Opposite:
Kheperi, the beetle­
headed god of the
moring sun, on the
east wall of Recess E.
or another. The
most influential and
enduring of these
stories related how Atum,
the creator god, emerged from the receding
waters of the primeval ocean (personifed
by the god Nun) to squat atop a small
mound. While perched upon this eminence,
he engendered by masturbation both air/
light and moisture. Air/light was repre­
sented as male, the god Shu; moisture as
female, the goddess Tefnut. From this
brother-sister pair sprang the next genera­
tion: earth, personifed by the god Geb;
and sky, personifed by the goddess Nut.
They in turn produced. four divine off­
spring, again grouped into two pairs of
sister-brother deities: Isis and Osiris,
Nephthys and Seth.
These nine gods fgured prominently
in Nefertari's tomb. Their traditional home
was Heliopolis, the City of the Sun, near
modern Cairo. This Heliopolitan divine
family provided a theological basis for
the creation of the physical world and em­
bodied truths about Egyptian society and
attitudes toward life and death. Implicit
in the scheme were such fundamental
oppositions as earth and sky, female and
male, order and chaos, good and evil. Even
the potential for intergenerational conflict
existed: Atum represented self-renewing
force drawn from the sun, while Osiris rep­
resented the inevitability of physical decay.
At least as early as the Old Kingdom,
the solar deity Re' was worshiped at
Heliopolis. Early on, Re' and Atum were
fused into Re' -Atum, a composite deity
sharing attributes of both. Manifest in the
late afternoon sun, Re' -Atum was the
mature or setting sun.
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
Another version of Re', the morning
or nascent sun, was Kheperi, a beetle­
headed god often protrayed in royal tombs
as a scarab beetle issuing at daybreak from
the vulva of the goddess Nut. The intense
noonday sun was the falcon-headed god,
Re'-Horakhty. Temples to all these forms of
Re' existed at Heliopolis; ten during the
Ramesside period alone.
The chief sun symbols were the
phoenix bird or heron (the benu bird), the
sun's disk (the aten), and the obelisk
(the benben stone). These appear repeat­
edly in the tomb of Nefertari, "for whom
the sun shines."
The second and third generation of
Heliopolitan gods symbolized the natural
world and its basic constituents: earth,
air, sky. But the fourth generation related
directly to human beings and human
relations. The institution of kingship was
symbolized in the person of Osiris, the
original earthly king. Human strife
emerged in the conflict between him and
his brother Seth. Their struggle was the
subject of many Egyptian myths and was
seen as the endless battle of good against
evil, truth against falsehood.
This conflict plays out in funerary
rites too. The dead needed to identify with
Osiris, the ultimate model for their sal­
vation and a protection against Seth, who
represented hostile, chaotic forces that
imperiled a soul' s transformation into an
effective, eternal spirit.
The most complete account of
Osiris and the cycle of stories associated
with him comes from De Isis et Osiris,
by Plutarch, the Greek biographer and
historian. This tale tells how Seth killed
Osiris, either by drowning or by dis­
memberment, and dispersed his body
parts throughout Egypt.
The west wall of
Chamber G. The god­
desses Nephthys and
Isis flank a ram­
headed mummified
figure. The text on the
left reads: "1 t is Osiris
who sets as Re'," whiLe
the right-hand text
decla res: "1 t is Re'
who sets as Osiris,"
thus impLying the
union of the two gods.
THE KING OF THE DEAD AND HIS DIVINE FAMILY
Fearing her wicked brother Seth, Isis
took sanctuary in the Nile Delta marshes
with her infant son Horus. During this
time of exile, Horus acted as his mother's
support and protector (Iunmutef: the pillar
of his mother). Isis, together with her sister
Nephthys, eventually reassembled her
brother/husband's body, preserving it from
decay. In time, Osiris was reanimated.
Most often, Osiris was depicted as a
mummy, wearing either the white crown of
Upper Egypt or an elaborate variation with
twin plumes on either side (the ate!). The
god was swathed in linen bandages, elbows
akimbo, bandage-wrapped hands crossed
over his breast. He held a crook in his right
hand and a flail in his left. As his hands
were crossed, these regal emblems rested
on opposite shoulders.
Osiris' face, the only exposed part
of his body, was often green, an explicit
evocation of vegetal life and its annual
renewal. New Kingdom private tombs ofen
had "Osiris beds" - gauze frames in the
outline of Osiris - with seeds strewn on
them to sprout in the darkness of the tomb,
a convincing demonstration of renewal
and rebirth.
All Egyptians hoped to become
an "Osirianized" being. But that depended
on passing the judgment of Osiris, a
scene illustrated countless times in tombs
and funerary papyri, chiefly from the
New Kingdom.
The deceased is ushered into the
judgment hall, usually by Ma'at, the god­
dess of cosmic order and truth. Osiris sits
in royal majesty accompanied by Isis, his
consort. In the center of the room looms
an enormous balance beam. In one pan is
the heart of the deceased; in the other,
Ma'at's Feather of Truth. Thoth, the ibis­
headed god of writing, stands ready to
record the result of this trial. Close by, a
ferce demon, "the great swallower," is
poised to devour the hearts of those who
fail the test.
Throughout her tomb, Nefertari is
consistently referred to as "the Osiris," so
confrming her successful completion of
this crucial step in her quest for immortality.
51
The djed pillar
became a symbol of
the backbone of
Osiris. This one, in
Chamber M, is
equipped with two
human arms holding
was scepters and
with ankh signs
around the wrists.
52
Clad in a leopard skin
garment, Horus
appears on the south
face of Pillar I in the
form of Horendotes
ofciating as a priest.
The goddess Ma'at on
the east wall of the
descending corridor.
Divine. Cui dance
Akeru a lion-headed
earth god associated
with the eastern
horizon and the
morning sun
Amun the preemi­
nent god of Egypt
from the Middle
Kingdom onward,
whose home was
Karnak Temple in
Thebes
Aten the ancient
Egyptian designation
for the sun disk,
which, personified,
was worshiped as the
great deity of creation
by the pharaoh
Akhenaten
Atum originally a
sun god worshiped at
Heliopolis; regarded
as a protective deity
associated with the
rituals of kingship
Edjo the tutelary
goddess of Lower
Egypt, her cult center
was located in the
Delta city of Buto.
She was represented
as a cobra
Hathor a goddess of
many functions and
attributes who was
often shown either
with a cow head or as
a woman with cow's
ears and horns. Known
as the "Golden One,"
she was said to suckle
pharaohs and was
later identified by the
Greeks with Aphrodite
Horus a falcon deity
originally worshiped
as a sky god. Later
identified with the
reigning pharaoh and
regarded as the son of
Isis and Osiris
Isis the wife of Osiris
and mother of Horus.
The chief protector­
goddess, assimilating
to herself many of
the attributes of
Hathor and eventu­
ally becoming an
extremely popular
Egyptian deity during
the Roman imperial
period
Ma'at called the
daughter of Re'. A
goddess personifying
truth, justice, and the
divine order of the
universe and present
at the judgment of
the dead. Usually por­
trayed wearing a
feather atop her head
Mut the wife of the
state god Amun. Her
principal cult center
was the southernmost
of the three precincts
at Karnak. She was
represented either as a
vulture or as a woman
Neith a creator
goddess of antiquity;
symbolized with a
shield and arrows.
Often shown wearing
the red crown of Lower
Egypt
Nekhbet a goddess
who sometimes
appears as a vulture,
had her cult center at
Elkab, south of Luxor,
DIVINE GUIDANCE
where she was, from
very early times, wor­
shiped as the tutelary
deity of Upper Egypt
Nephthys the sister
of Isis, who came to
represent mourning in
general because of her
lamentations at the
death of the god Osiris
Nut the sky goddess
who was thought to
swallow the setting
sun Re' every evening,
and give birth to him
each morning
Osiris the husband of
Isis, dismembered by
Seth, his evil brother.
Osiris was reassem­
bled by his wife Isis
and posthumously
conceived his son and
successor, Horus. For
these reasons, he was
considered to be the
god of the underworld
and offered the hope
of resurrection
ptah the creator god
of Memphis, a site
located to the south­
west of modern Cairo.
Represented as a
mummy and later
equated by the Greeks
with their god
Hephaestus
Re' like Atum, a mani­
festation of the sun
god of Heliopolis.
Often linked to other
deities, such as Amun,
in cults aspiring to
universality
Re'-Horakhty a god
in the form of a falcon
whose name, Horus
of the Two Horizons,
represents the union of
Re' and Horus as a uni­
versal solar deity
Thoth the Egyptian
god of wisdom and
writing, often depicted
as an ibis-headed male
figure to whom scribes
traditionally addressed
a prayer before begin­
ning their work
Osiris, in mummifed
form, on the east face
of Pillar III in the
sarcophagus chamber.
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HOUSE OF ETERNITY
Previous spread:
The illustration of
Chapter 148 from the
Book of the Dead
occupies the entire
south wall of Chamber
G. In front of each
of the seven cows and
the bull are oferings
of vegetables, milk,
and bread.
The en tra nee to
the tomb at the time
of its discovery by
Schiaparelli in 1904.
Photo: Courtesy of the
Museo Egizio. Turit.
A WALK THROUGH THE
"
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
"
Descent and Entrance
A flight of eighteen steps with central
slipway leads down from the gate to the
tomb entrance. This frst stairway is
undecorated, but the door jambs and lintel
identify the tomb as Nefertari's.
The text on the left jamb is nearly
obliterated; but the one on the right may
still be read: "Hereditary noblewoman;
great of favors; possessor of charm, sweet­
ness, and love; mistress of Upper and
Lower Egypt; the Osiris; the king's great
wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari,
beloved of Mut, revered before Osiris."
The lintel bears faint traces of the setting
sun flanked by two oudjat eyes and car­
touches of the queen surmounted with the
double plume.
To the left, the door thickness is
badly damaged. But the fgure of Nekhbet,
the vulture goddess of Upper Egypt, can
be made out, together with her name.
Her utterance -that she has given life to
Nefertari -has all but vanished. On the
right reveal are equally fragmentary traces
of Edjo, the cobra goddess of Lower Egypt.
The pairing of these two deities expresses
the division of Egypt into northern and
southern kingdoms, united by King Menes
in the distant past. Although largely sym­
bolic, there may have been some historical
foundation to this separation.
The trapezoids formed between the
sloping roof and the upper margin of the
scenes are flled with coiled and winged
serpents who confer life and dominion on
the queen. The door soft carries a repre­
sentation of the sun setting behind a sand
hill and flanked by two kites, birds whose
shrill cries recall mourning women.
The left bird wears the emblem of
Isis, the right that of Nephthys. The setting
sun signals that we have entered the
nighttime realm of the dead, who are
accompanied by Isis and Nephthys, sisters
of Osiris, king of the netherworld.
THE TEXTS IN THE TOMB
Since Nefertari
was not a sov­
ereign, the
choice of texts
that could
appear in her
tomb was
restricted. The
architects and
priests who
determined the
decorative pro­
gram chose
selections from
chapters of the
Book of the
Dead.
Texts in the Book of
the Dead evolved from
utterances that first
appeared in the Sixth
Dynasty pyramids of the
Old Kingdom and were
further elaborated in
coffn texts during the
Middle Kingdom.
Called by the
Egyptians "The Book of
the Coming Forth by
Day," the Book of the
Dead consisted of nearly
two hundred utterances
intended to help guide
the dead on their jour­
neys into the beyond.
These texts, or "spells,"
expressed the aspirations
of ordinary Egyptians to
flourish in the nether­
world and join the com­
munity of imperishable
spirits. Not all the texts
in the book had to be
actually inscribed to be
effective.
Well-known chapters
of the Book of the Dead
included the canopic
formula for protection of
the viscera (Chapter 151);
the heart scarab text to
restrain the heart from
bearing witness against
the deceased (Chapter
30); a formula for the
servant fgurines, called
Llshabtis, who toiled in
place of the dead,
performing specific,
laborious tasks in the
hereafter (Chapter 6);
and the negative confes­
sion, in which the dead
professed to have done
no harm to widows,
children, or their fellow
men (Chapter 125).
Inscribed in the tomb
of Nefertari are portions
of Chapters 17,94,144,
146, and 148.
oudjat literally. the healthy
eye
cartouche on Egyptian
monuments, an oval or
oblong figure containing the
name of a ruler or deity
thickness the side of an
opening in a wall. such as a
door or window
reveal the jamb of a door
or window; the thickness of
the door frame
soffit the horizontal. lower
edge of a TOof or the under­
side of a molding that pro­
jects along the top of a wall;
the inside surface of a vault
or an arch
58
senet from the ancient
Egyptian verb meaning to
pass [someone or some­
thing j, the word is applied to
a board game consisting of
thirty squares with movable
gaming pieces anciently
termed the dancers. In
certain funerary contexts,
the deceased is represented
playing this game alone.
His/her unseen opponent
symbolizes Fate, who must be
defeated in order to gain
immortality in the hereafter
ba in Egyptian mythology,
the soul, symbolized by
a bird with a human head;
that part of the soul free to
leave the tomb temporarily
sekhem powerful, to have
power
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
Chamber C
Within the tomb itself, the frst chamber is
nearly square (5 x 5,2 meters), with a rock­
cut table along its west and north sides,
Scenes on the right-hand side of this room
relate to the recesses and chamber beyond,
On the lef, however, the inscription and
vignettes are drawn exclusively from
Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead.'
This chapter asserts the identity of
the gods Re' and Atum, a theological equa­
tion dating at least to the Old Kingdom,
On a deeper level, its theme is the transfor­
mation of the queen into an effective being
in the afterlife, one who will join the com­
pany of Osiris. Her ability to do so depends
less on any special knowledge that she
may possess than on the text itself, struc­
tured as a series of questions and responses.
Chapter 17 is one of the longest and oldest
spells in the Book of the Dead,2
In the illustrations on the south wall,
the queen is shown in three of her different
transformations: frst, playing senet; next,
as a ba; and fnally, adoring a composite,
A WALK THROUGH THE HOUSE OF ETERNITY
"
lion-headed god. The frst two transforma­
tions are explicitly mentioned in the open­
ing of Chapter 17. On the left, Nefertari
sits on a high-backed chair resting on a
reed mat, the gaming table before her. The
entire scene is framed within a shelter
made of reeds. The queen is dressed in a
sheer white gown reaching to her sandals
and wears a vulture-headed cap or head­
dress. In her right hand is a sekhem scepter,
and with her left she is just about to move a
senet piece. The rest of the space is flled
with her name and titles.
The next vignette shows the queen as
a ba bird perched atop a low shrine. The
ba, the mobile portion of Nefertari's soul,
is free to leave the tomb temporarily. The
fgure of the kneeling queen, her hands
raised in adoration, seems curiously placed
until we realize that it is meant to address
the twin-headed lion god, the earth god,
Akeru, on the west wall.
Akeru is actually a complex of
images: the sun rising above the horizon
and the sky above are integral to this
image. It is meant to invoke the morning
sun, a recurrent metaphor for rebirth in
Egyptian art. All three fgures on the south
wall are paying homage to this composite
fgure, Akeru.
The senet scene, the ba, and kneeling
fgure were frequently shown together in
contemporary funerary papyri. Here, how­
ever, the architecture of the tomb required
that this scene be folded at the corner.
Opposite:
The illllstratiol on the
south wall oJ Chamber
C shows NeJertari in
three transJormations:
playillg the board game
senet; as the human­
headed ba bird; kneel­
illg ill adoratioll.
Detail Jrom Chamber
C, south wall. The ba
bird, representing the
soul, was Jree to
travel outside the
tomb during the day.
1 In funerary papyri, text
� and illustration are inte-

Q grated in one long, con-

tinuous roll, but here the

H
artists separated image
0
0 and text, placing illustra-

tions in the upper regis-
0
0
ter and words in the
C
middle. The correspon-
dence between the two is
therefore interrupted
and, in a few instances,
not close at all.
2 The introductory
chapter heading is con-
tained in the frst nine
columns and succinctly
summarizes its overall
intent. It reads:
"Begill"i"g of the praises
and recitations to come
forth a"d go dOW/l into Ihe
Necropolis, to be spiritllal-
ized i" Ihe BeaulifllllVest,
Ihe cOlI/illg forth by dny ill
order to assume the forms
amoug any forms he (sic]
wishes, playillg senet and
sittillg ill the bOOlh, COII/-
illg forth as a liyillg ba by
tile Osiris, the killg's great
wife, miSlress of the two
lands, Nefertari, beloved
of Milt, jllstifed after he
(sic] died. II is efctive to
do tillS on earth, so Ihat it
happells eutirely accordillg
to instructions,"
The use of masculine
pronouns in reference to
the queen suggests the
copyist lost his concen-
tration from time to
time. a natural enough
response. given that the
funerary honors accorded
Nefertari were highly
unusual for a woman.
benu the heron. or ibis.
a wading bird indigenous to
the Nile. with long legs and
a long. slender. curved bill
rebus a composite of
letters. signs. objects. etc ..
that combine to suggest
phrases or words
shen a ring or a protective
enclosure such as the car­
touche surrounding a royal
name
cavetto a molding having
a concave curve of about
ninety degrees
A god, his hands
stretched over two
ovals containing
oudjat eyes, on the
lin tel over the en trance
to Recess D.
On the west wall are a half dozen
vignettes_ Next to the image of the earth
god, there is an especially effective image of
a heron or benu, a bird with phoenix-like
qualities, often labeled as the soul of Re'.
The central image of this register, a
kiosk sheltering a mummy on a lion­
headed bier, sounds a distinctly funerary
note. The white mummy shell is bound
with red linen bands, and a funeral mask
covers the mummy's head. A canopy of
bead work is stretched over it but appears
as a backdrop. The kites have taken up their
customary positions as sentinels: Nephthys
at the head, and Isis at the foot.
The kneeling god to the right is a
water god, shown dark-skinned, with pen­
dulous breasts. His left hand is poised
on an oval containing a stylized falcon eye.
This grouping is a rebus for shen and
oudjat, two hieroglyphic tokens for pro­
tection and health. With his right hand,
the water god holds a notched palm
rib, symbolizing abundance of years, pre­
sumably his gift to Nefertari.
The following two vignettes and text
are seriously degraded. Only traces survive
of a standing fgure, facing right. In the
funerary papyri, he is called "the great
green," possibly a reference to fecundity.
The fnal cluster of images on this
wall shows a fat-roofed shrine with cavetto
cornice and a scene involving a seated,
falcon-headed god. Beyond is a faint sug­
gestion of another oudjat eye. Textual
references to these images appear on the
north wall of the room.
From left to right, the text of Chapter
17 continues to scroll its way along the
north wall, ending at the left door jamb
that marks the descent to the burial cham­
ber. The vignettes in the upper register do
not correspond to the texts beneath.
Much-ravaged at the left hand is the
image of a reclining cow, the Celestial Cow.
She is followed by a symmetrical grouping
of the sons of Horus, in pairs on either side
of a wooden shrine. Within the shrine is an
image of Anubis, depicted as a recumbent
jackal.
Facing this cluster are two seated
mummiform fgures, one falcon-headed,
the other human. The frst is likely Re', the
second, Shu, the divine form of light and
air. All these illustrations coordinate with
portions of Chapter 17, but their position
in the funerary papyri can vary greatly.
The stone table that runs along the
north and west sections of Chamber C has
a semicircular molding and cavetto cornice
with alternating bands painted red-blue-
green-blue against a white background.
The table was probably designed to hold
funerary equipment destined for the cele­
bration of the cult of the dead queen.
Along the table's front, niches have been
hollowed out, three on the west and two on
the north, leaving what seem to be stout
piers to hold it up. These all carry the
queen's title: "king's great wife Nefertari,
beloved of Mut."
The backs of the niches are painted
to resemble three round-topped, wooden
shrines, not unlike a little coffer found in
the tomb clearance and now in Turin.
Possibly its place was under this table, in
one of the niches. On the left inner face of
the northern niche, west side, is a docket
recording a delivery of plaster to the
"right" and "left" gangs of workmen who
excavated this tomb. The text around the
edge of the table is Osiris' declaration
of his intent to provide Nefertari a place
in his realm and in the divine assembly, as
well as to give her the appearance of her
father, Re'.
In the middle of the north wall, the
decoration breaks. The orientation of
the fgures makes this clear. On the east side,
we see fve fgures facing right. The four
farthest to the east are the sons of Horus,
genii whose role is to guard the viscera of
The upper section
of the west wall of
Chamber C before
conservation illustrat­
ing sections of Chapter
17 of the Book of the
Dead. Careful exami­
nation of these
vignettes -especially
the heron and the
funeral bier-aford
an ideal chance to
observe the balance
maintained between
carving and painting.
the deceased. From the right, they are
Imsety, a human-headed guardian respon­
sible for the liver; the baboon-faced Hapy,
custodian of the lungs; Qebehsenef, the
falcon-headed keeper of the intestines; and
a canine, Duamutef, who has charge of the
stomach. The scribe mistakenly exchanged
the names of Qebehsenef and Duamutef.
Behind them sits an anonymous falcon­
headed god, perhaps Horus himself.
The prominent placement of these
fgures above the door leading to the lower
reaches of the tomb and the sarcophagus
is thoroughly appropriate, as the queen's
viscera were stored below, in the tiny niche
Opposite:
The north wall of
Chamber C including
the en tra nce to the
descending corridor.
The fve fgures over
the entryway are the
four sons of Horus
whose roles are to
guard the deceased's
viscera. The falcol-
headed fgure to their
left, though unspeci­
fed, is thought to be
Horus himself
cut in the west side of the burial chamber.
Each of these minor gods is assigned one of
the cardinal points of the compass, and
each associates with one of four goddesses
-Isis, Nephthys, Serket, and Neith -deities
who appear on the canopic vessels and the
exterior of many coffns.
Returning to the entrance to Chamber
C, on the eastern part of the south wall
(right of the entrance), we fnd a scene of
Nefertari as a supplicant before a seated
fgure of the mummiform Osiris. The queen
faces into the tomb and Osiris out, thus
establishing the fundamental orientation of
fgures. The gods are, in a sense, already
resident in the tomb, and so they face out,
like hosts greeting a most esteemed guest,
in this case, the queen herself.
Nefertari has her hands raised in
homage to Osiris. She is robed in a white
pleated garment with a red sash about her
waist. It is a luxurious garment, altogether
typical of the elaborate fashions of the
Ramesside court. It is also the dress of
Detail from north
wall of Chamber C
showing fgures illus­
trating Chapter 17 of
the Book of the Dead.
canopic chest in ancient
Egypt, a chest with four urns
containing the mummified
internal organs of the dead.
Named after Can opus, a sea­
port in the Nile Delta east of
Alexandria, where they were
first recognized
A WALK THROUGH THE
"
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
"
a human being, one who comes from the
perishable world. The queen wears her
characteristic headdress: a twin-plumed
vulture cap. She is identifed as "the Osiris,
king's great wife, and mistress of the two
lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justifed
before the great god."
The great god is, of course, Osiris,
who is seated in a kiosk to the left. The
kiosk is topped by a frieze of rampant ser­
pents (urei) with sun disks, resting
on a striped cavetto cornice. Osiris wears
an elaborate crown called the atef Made
of papyrus, it imitates the bulbous white
crown of Upper Egypt, but has ostrich
plumes affxed to each side. He is swathed
in mummy bandages and clasps the crook,
a token of kingship, and the flail. His hands
are crossed over his chest. The flesh of
the god is green, signifing his formidable
powers of rejuvenation. Between him and
the queen is a narrow table with mummi­
form fgures of the four sons of Horus.
Behind Osiris are am uletic devices signify­
ing protection (sa), life (ankh), stability
(djed), and dominion (was).
Opposite:
DetaiL from the
south waLL, east side,
of Chamber C.
Nefertari is standing
in adoration before
an enthroned Osiris.
The jackaL-headed
god, Anubis, on the
south side of the east
wall of Chamber C.
UTaeU$ via the ancient
Greek word for tail. this term
is generally applied to the
cobra. which the ancient
Egyptians associated with
Edjo. the tutelary goddess of
Lower Egypt. and which.
together with Nekhbet. often
decorated the brow of the
pharaoh. By extension. the
cobra might be employed as
a motif connoting protection
in a general sense
atef similar to the white
crown of Upper Egypt but
with ostrich plumes affixed
to each side
sa protection
ankh life; an ancient
Egyptian symbol of life.
consisting of a cross with a
loop at the top
djed stability. The djed
amulet was a hieroglyph rep­
resenting a bundle of stalks
tied together. reproduced in
various media as a symbol
connoting stability.
endurance. and the like
was dominion
i
I
66
Preparation for Recesses
and Side Chamber G
From the middle of Chamber C we can
look east through Recesses D, E, and F to
side Chamber G. The sides of the frame of
the frst recess are composed of a standing
fgure of Osiris on the left and, on the
right, the fgure of Anubis, Osiris' son by
Nephthys. Both fgures look toward
Nefertari, as if to coax her forward.
The lintel, the upper framing device,
links the two compositions. On it is a frieze
of rampant uraei, alternating with blue
feathers, facing outward from a central fig­
ure of a god whose hands are posed over
two ovals containing oudjat eyes. This
frieze is reminiscent of the shen and oudjat
rebus. The feathers symbolize Ma'at while
the cobra has generic protective properties.
The standing image of Osiris shows
him within a shrine with high-arched roof.
The god now wears a less-detailed version
of the ate! crown: feathers astride the white
crown of Upper Egypt. The customary
regalia are in his hands. The curious device
either side of Osiris is a leopard skin
twisted about a rod set in a mortar. It is the
fetish of Anubis and is profoundly linked
wi th th is god's role as the princi pal
embalmer of the dead. In fact, Anubis
appears on the right panel of the frame, a
jackal-headed god clutching a was scepter
in his left hand and ankh sign in his right.
The scenes in the recesses and beyond
do not form a unity. The architecture has
constrained the artists, requiring them to
mix scenes that have no clear connection.
The gods shown are those featured in the
Heliopolitan cycle of deities.
In decorating these recesses, the
artists have cleverly paired divine images
on left and right surfaces, thus defning
the processional axis. The climax will occur
in Chamber G, with the back-to-back
juxtaposition of Atum, the creator god,
and Osiris, qJ:ntessential god of salvation
and Atum's great-grandson.
Osiris al1d Al1l1bis
flank the entral1ceway
to the recesses and
Chamber C.
Detail of hieroglyphs
from the south wall
of Recess D.
Opposite:
The depiction of Neith
on the east side of the
south wall at the top
of the descending cor­
ridor is very similar to
that on the south wall
of Recess D. In both
instances the artist has
intentionally drawn
Neith's emblem so that
it bursts through the
picture frame, even
obscuring a portion of
the kheker frieze. This
is a small but remark­
able breach of the
artistic convention.
Recess D
Now we pass through Recess D, two oppos­
ing pilasters that defne the entryway to
Recess E. On the left (north), is the goddess
Serket (or Selkis), identifable by the scor­
pion on top of her head. She is framed
above by a kheker frieze, a common archi­
tectural ornament representing knotted
bunches of vegetal matter such as reeds or
grass. Beneath is a representation of the
nighttime sky or starry frmament. Serket
wears a richly beaded dress with thin
shoulder straps, a broad beaded collar,
armlets, and wristlets. She faces outward in
welcome. Behind are a series of protective
emblems that form a benediction of sorts:
"protection, life, stability, dominion, all
protection like Re', forever."3
A complementary welcoming scene
occurs on the right-hand (south) pilaster.
This time, the goddess is Neith, whose
signature emblem rests atop her head:
a greatly stylized image of two bows tied
together or possibly a shield and two
crossed arrows. She too is dressed in a
tight-ftting sheath of beadwork. Protective
emblems stand at the ready behind her.4
3 The text reads: "Saket,
� mistress of heavel alld
� lady of all the gods. I lIave
� come before YOII, {oh J
o kilg's great wife. mistress
o of the two lallds. lady of
� Upper alld Lower Egypt.
o
Nefertari. beloved of Milt.
< jllstifed before Osiris who
resides in Abydos. alld I
have accorded YOIl a place
ill the sacred land
.
so t/lat
YOIl may appear gloriollsly
in lIeaven like Re· .
.
.
As with all the gods
who now guide Nefertari
and welcome her to the
netherworld. Serket's
statement "I have come
before YOIl" indicates that
the goddess is ready to
aid the queen in the new
realm that now awaits
her. the hereafter. Thus
the queen can rest
assured that she is in
good hands.
4 Her utterance reads:
"Words spoken by Neitl.
the great royal mother.
mistress of heavell alld
lady of all the gods. I have
come before YOII, king's
great wife. mistress of the
two lallds. lady of Upper
ald Lower Egypt.
Nefertari. beloved of Mut.
justifed before Osiris
wllo resides ill tl.e West.
and lilave accorded you a
place within Igeret. so that
you may appear gloriously
il heaven like Re�"
70
fillet a thin strip of cloth or
other substance circling the
head and used to hold the
hair in place
imbricated ornamented
with an evenly spaced,
overlapping pattern, in the
manner of fish scales
Recess E
In Recess E, the pilasters both right and left
(behind you as you enter) are decorated
with images of the djed pillar, a talisman of
the god Osiris, The connection with Osiris
is manifestly evident in this instance;
indeed, the image is Osiris, as a djed pillar.
The exact components are diffcult to iden­
tif but seem to consist either of stacked
vertebrae or bound vegetal elements, Its
hieroglyphic meaning is "stability"; and as
the distinction between writing and art in
ancient Egypt was very vague, its use on
a supporting element in the tomb is witty.
This clever playing off of decor against
architectural function is used to even
greater effect in the burial chamber below.
As we enter fully into the recess
separating Chambers C and G, we come
upon two presentation scenes. On the left,
the queen is inducted by Isis into the
presence of Kheperi, the seated god with
the head of a beetle. On the right side of
the recess, Horus Son-of-Isis (Horsiese)
leads the queen before seated images of
Re'-Horakhty and the Theban Hathor.
Starting with the lef-hand scene
on the north wall, Isis wears bovine hors,
a solar disk between them, and a uraeus
draped over the solar disk. Her hair is
bound with a fllet. About her neck is a
broad collar whose weight is supported by
a menat, or counterpoise, visible under
her right arm. Isis wears the tight, red,
beadwork dress with which we are now
familiar. Arm bands and wristlets complete
her ensemble of jewelry. In her left hand
she holds a was scepter; and with her right,
she takes Nefertari's hand, gently drawing
her forward.
Urging her on, Isis says: "Come, [oh]
king's great wife, Nefertari, beloved of Mut.
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
11.
CL
, I
I have made a place for you in the necropo­
lis." Nefertari, again clothed in the whitest,
pleated linen, strides forward. Note that
she is shown with two left feet. Her name
and titles appear above her in three
columns, interrupted by the twin, high­
plumed crown we now expect.
The scene wraps at the wall juncture.
As we look straight forward (east), we see
whom Isis and Nefertari confront: an
anthropomorphic deity with the head of
a beetle. He is seated on an imbricated
throne base with the unification symbol in
the lower right quadrant. This is a heraldic
device made of the plants of Upper and
Lower Egypt, twisted about a stylized rep­
resentation of the lungs and windpipe,
the hieroglyph for unity.
The falcon-headed
god, Re'-Horakhty,
crowned with a sun
disk, on the east wall,
south side, of Recess E.
Opposite:
Nefertari being led by
the goddess Isis on the
north wall of Recess E.
t
.
I
- �'. �
The god is dressed in a heavy wig,
broad collar, green vest held up with shoul­
der straps, and short kilt (shendyet) with a
bull's tail, traditional ceremonial dress for
gods and kings. He holds the ankh sign in
his left hand and a was staff in his right.
Words above the god promise Nefertari
"everlastingness like Re', the appearance of
Re' in heaven, and a place in the necropolis."
This is Kheperi, the nascent sun god,
the morning light. The word "Kheper" is
related to the verb meaning "to change or
transform"; kheperu are forms that a god or
human can assume. Thus, Kheperi repre­
sents the possibility of Nefertari's transfor­
mation through death to a new existence.
The right-hand presentation scene is
analogous to the left, except that Horus
Son-of-Isis (Horsiese) conducts the queen.
He appears as a god with a falcon head,
wearing the double crown of united Egypt.
Called the pshent, this crown combined the
red and white crowns that signif Lower
and Upper Egypt. Its name means "the
double powers." He too wears the shendyet,
but with the bull's tail trailing behind.
Although the label in front of Horsiese
mentions his utterance, none is recorded.
The south side of the
east wall of Recess E.
The goddess Hathor
has her arm raised to
touch the headdress of
Re'-Horakhty seated
in front of her.
The pair approach two gods seated on
low imbricated thrones: the falcon-headed
god is Re' -Horakhty; behind him, Hathor,
who resides in Thebes. Re'-Horakhty is
dressed almost identically to Kheperi,
except for his characteristic solar disk and
looping uraeus. He utters three short
texts. These promise a place in the sacred
land, a lifetime as long as that of Re', and
eternity, with life, stability, and dominion.
Re' -Horakhty, whose name means Horus­
of-the-Twin-Horizons, represents the
mature sun at midday. Both throne bases
display the unifcation symbol.
The lintel that links these two scenes
is emblazoned with a vulture holding in
each talon a shen sign. The legend appear­
ing between the roof and forward edge
of the wings proclaims this to be the
vulture Nekhbet, patroness of EI-Kab and
Hieraconpolis, twin cities of Upper
Egypt. Her function is to protect those
who pass beneath.
Notice that this doorway is off axis,
shifted slightly left. It is possible this was
done to accommodate scenes of different
dimensions, but more likely the decoration
was adapted to suit the tomb's architecture.
Despite the axis shift, the primary scene
in the chamber ahead -back-to-back
fgures of Atum and Osiris-is exactly on
the axis of the door.
The lintel over the
doorway from Recess
E shows the vulture
Nekhbet with wings
outstretched and a
protective symbol in
each claw.
Recess F
This entrance to side Chamber G is an
ideal opportunity to observe the star­
spangled roof of the tomb: fve-pointed
yellow stars against a blue background.
Multiple associations signal not only night­
time but also the imperishable circumpolar
stars, astral sentinels who never sink
below the horizon and were thus equated
with the souls of gods and beings who
survived the perilous passage through
death to the beyond.
Each side of the doorway is decorated
with an identical panel: beneath a kheker
frieze and sky sign is the fgure of Ma'at,
the goddess of truth and daughter of Re',
gazing out toward Nefertari. Ma'at is
dressed not in a bead-net dress but a cling­
ing red shift. Her distinguishing feature is
the feather on her head.
The protective talismans behind
Ma'at are more varied than those we
have encountered previously. From top to
bottom, they offer "protection, life, stabil­
ity, dominion, all health, all joy, and all
her protection, like (the protection of) Re'."
Locating Ma'at so prominently is probably
signifcant. In most funerary papyri,
one of the crucial rites of passage is the
judgment of Osiris, in which the heart of
the deceased is weighed against Ma'at's
Feather of Truth. Neither the judgment
scene, nor Chapter 125 of the Book of
the Dead, appears anywhere in Nefertari's
tomb. Instead, it is echoed in these
portraits of Ma'at.
The color of the ceil­
ing is achieved by
painting blue over a
layer of black. The
superimposed
yellow stars were laid
out along parallel
guidelines snapped
onto the ceiling from
taut cords dipped in
white paint.
The goddess Ma'at,
with the identifying
feather in her head­
band, on the north
side of Recess F The
decoration on the
opposite side of the
doorway is identical.
75
cerements burial gar­
ments; a shroud made of
cloth treated with wax and
used to wrap the body of
the deceased
Detail of the god Ptah
on the west wall, north
side, of Chamber G. In
this vignette, Nefertari
is giving linen to Ptah
to ensure a reciprocal
and ample supply for
her corpse. This is typ­
ical of the contractual
arrangements between
devout Egyptians and
their gods.
Chamber G
Chamber G is about 3 meters deep and 5
meters wide. The ratio of width to depth is
1.66, remarkably close to the ratio of the
depression in the queen's burial chamber
(1.65) and the northern annex (1.66). This
fraction, not far off the "golden" propor­
tion of 1.61, recurs in Egyptian architecture.
This chamber also provides the best view
of the rock floor of the tomb.
On the left-hand (west) interior wall,
behind us, is a single scene framed by the
customary sky hieroglyph resting atop two
was scepters. Nefertari presents cloth to
Ptah, one of the principal creator gods.
The queen holds her hands up, palms flat,
to support a tray bearing four forked
supports, the hieroglyph for cloth. On the
table in front of her is yet more fabric,
labeled linen.
Nefertari offers this to Ptah, the god
of ancient Memphis, Egypt's frst capital.
Swathed in his cerements, Ptah stands in a
wickerwork booth with arched roof; he
peers out at the queen through a small
grill, open in front of him. Ptah clutches a
staff made of the was and djed emblems
bound together. Above is an assortment of
amulets offering "protection, life, stability,
dominion, all health, all joy, all his protec­
tion, like Re'." This scene bears no apparent
relation to any other in the room and is
not an illustration from the Book of the
Dead. It is likely an example of the concept
called in Latin do ut des: "I give in order
that you might give."
The entire north wall of Chamber G
is covered by a single presentation scene to
the ibis-headed Thoth, god of writing.
Thoth sits on an imbricated throne set on
a low plinth; he regards the queen across
a stand that holds a writer's palette, a
water bowl, and a frog amulet. This frog
may be what is called a sportive writing
for whm-'nh, "repeating life," a wish
for longevity.
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
Standing in the very middle of the
wall, the queen occupies center stage.
Bracketed by text behind and Thoth in
front, Nefertari is identifed as "king's great
wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari,
beloved of Mut, justifed before the great
god (Osiris)."
In eight columns of text behind the
queen is the entirety of Chapter 94 of the
Book of the Dead. The columns appear
in standard order, facing right and reading
from right to lef.5
Thoth is the patron of writing and
functions in judgment scenes as the
recorder. With Thoth, Ma'at at the entry­
way, and Osiris on the back wall, the
principal players in the standard judgment
scene have all been assembled. As the
queen is repeatedly referred to as "the
Osiris," it is certain that she has success­
fully completed this essential rite of
passage, even though it is not shown.
o 5 The frst two columns
: provide the chapter
o heading and subject:
= "Utterance for reqlesting
� the water bowl and writing
o palette from Thoth in the
� Necropolis by the king's
� great wife, mistress of the
< two Iallds, Nefertari,
� beloved of Milt, justifed."
The queen's recitation
is next: "Oh great OIle
who sees his father, keeper
of the writings of Thoth.
Behold, I am come spiritu­
alized, with a soul, mighty,
and equipped with the
writings of Thoth. Bring
me the messenger of Akem
(the lior-headed earth
god) who is with Seth.
Bring me the bowl, brirlg
me the palette from that of
Thoth. their secrets within
them. [Oh] Gods. Behold,
I am a scribe. Bring me
the excrement of Osiris
[for] my writirgs, that I
may perform the instruc­
tions of Osiris, the great
god, perfectly every day,
cOrlsisting of the good
which you have decreed
me. [Oh] Re'-Horakhty,
I shall act the truth and
shall attain the truth."

.,
� •• .:
A WALK THROUGH THE
"
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
"
On the long east wall of Chamber G
is the climactic scene of the complex
of rooms formed by the recesses and side
chamber, the very reason for their exis­
tence. The religious philosophy it embodies
is also signifcant. Two presentation scenes
are juxtaposed back-to-back: on the
left, Nefertari before Osiris; on the right,
the queen before Atum. Functioning as a
scene divider, a huge flabellum, or fan,
mounted in an oval stand, separates Osiris
and Atum.
In both scenes, the queen is attired in
a white pleated gown. On her head is the
familiar crown. In both, her left hand is by
her side. In her extended right hand, she
holds a sekhem staff, signifying her power
to make offerings. Some asymmetries of
posture result; but from a ritual point of
view, this was the best solution. The right
hand should hold the staff.
Lighted, smoking braziers rest atop
bountiful offerings prepared for the gods.
The lef altar supports a towering pile of
food stuffs heaped onto three mats.
Recognizable are cuts of meat, loaves of
bread, and vegetables. Receiving these is
Osiris, shrouded in his white cerements
and seated upon an imbricated throne with
unifcation symbol, a reed mat, beneath. He
holds his customary regalia and wears the
atef crown, this time made of rushwork.
Small images of the four sons of Horus rest
on a stand before him, and just beneath
may be seen the fetish of Anubis.6
Opposite:
In this part of the
long scene occupying
the entire east wall of
Chamber G, Nefertari
is standing before a
pile of offerings of
meat, bread, and
vegetables.
The companion scene shows the
queen presenting her burnt offering to
"tum. The god is portrayed in the double
crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. He
wears a false beard held in place by a chin
strap. In his hands are an ankh sign and
a was staff. Protective devices are arranged
vertically behind him. We learn that he
is "Atum, lord of the two lands, the
Heliopolitan, the great god and lord of
the sacred land."
As it captures the frst instance that
Nefertari makes a formal presentation to
Osiris, paramount lord of the dead, this
scene in Chamber G marks a crucial
moment in the queen's spiritual journey.
Although the sepulchral overtones of the
encounter are minimized, funerary associa­
tions are always present where Osiris is
concerned. Thus Atum, the creator god, is
here communing with his great-grandson,
Osiris, the savior god, who survived death
and dismemberment. Osiris' triumphant
metamorphosis to eternal life was a feat
that all deceased hoped to duplicate.
6 A four-column inscrip­
� tion above the queen
� describes "the presenta-
� tion of oferings (iabet I to
� her father, Osiris, the great
o god, by his daughter, king's
� great wife, mistress of the
� two lands, Nefertari,
beloved of Mut, justifed.»
Nine columns of text
over the altar and facing
away from Osiris sum­
marize his intention of
giving Nefertari "the
appearance of Re' in
heaven, all infnity with
him, all eternity with
him, and all joy with him.
Osiris, who resides in
the West, Wen-neier, king
of the living, the great
god, ruler of the sacred
land, lord of eternity, ruler
of infnity.·
79
The south and part of
the west walls of
Chamber G. The seven
cows and the bull are
addressing Nefertari
on the adjacent wall.
The next scene occupies the entire
south wall and, for lack of space, continues
onto the southern portion of the west wall.
It is an evocation of Chapter 148 of the
Book of the Dead. Beneath a sky sign and
framed by was scepters at either end are
four cows in the upper register, three cows
and one bull in the middle. In front of each
is a small altar with offerings of vegetables,
milk, and bread.
The animals are meant to address
Nefertari, who has been placed on the
adjoining wall for lack of space. Each cow
is distinguished by its hide and a particular
legend above. The text of Chapter 148
reveals that these seven cows have the
power to provide the spirit of the dead
queen with the necessities we see displayed:
milk, bread, and vegetables.
In the same spell, there are references
to steering oars that help the deceased
maneuver among the stars. With Re' serv­
ing as the queen's helmsman and the oars
guiding her pilgrimage, none of Nefertari's
enemies will know or even recognize her­
so the text promises. Each oar is named
and linked with a compass direction.
(

I
I
..
The cow and oar images exist for
the beneft of Nefertari who has been rele­
gated to the adjacent wall, where she
stands with arms raised in adoration.
Her lotus-bud earring is particularly
splendid, and the modeling of the flesh of
her neck with three painted strokes is
remarkable. No words are actually ascribed
to the queen; but presumably she utters
the invocation that is an integral part
of Chapter 148, a request that the cows
provide her sustenance.
Like an enormous punctuation mark,
a broad, raised band of relief severs the
previous scene from the one immediately
south of the doorway. This is a curious but
theologically important grouping of a ram­
headed mummiform fgure standing on a
small plinth.
Between the ram's horns is a solar
disk. The fgure wears a broad collar and
red sash. Ministering to him are Nephthys,
to the left, and Isis, to the right. Each wears
a bag wig (afnet) with long queue, kept in
place by a red fillet, and a tight, red sheath
dress. The dresses are held in place with
shoulder straps that expose the goddesses'
breasts. The scene takes place beneath
the sky sign and is framed by the vertical
band to the left and a was scepter along
the door jamb.
The ram-headed god is identifed
as Re'. Between the goddesses and his
mummiform fgure are two bands of text.
The left avers: "It is Osiris who sets as Re'."
The right: "It is Re' who sets as Osiris."
Egyptian theologians are here de­
claring that Re' and Osiris are profoundly
intertwined. Yet this is not an obvious
alliance, since Osiris represents the chthon­
ian, earth-bound cults that seem to stand
in opposition to solar imagery. The polar­
ity can be expressed in countless ways:
night versus day, earth versus sun, and so
forth. Such fusing of the qualities and traits
of Egyptian gods -a practice known as
"syncretism" -occurs often. Re' represents
the expiring sun ready to begin once more
the nighttime journey into the realm of
the dead, Osiris' kingdom, so thrusting the
two gods into partnership.
The scene is well preserved and a
superb example of balanced draftsmanship
and excellent execution. Over the door is
the tutelary image of Nekhbet with shen
signs in her talons.
81
82
Looking down the
descel1dil1g corridor to
the burial chamber
from Chamber C, 1904.
Photo: Courtesy of the
Mllseo Egizio, Turi1l.
7 Here, Ncfertari is
� called "tire hereditary
� lIoblewomall, great of
X favor, tire Osiris, killg's
.. great wife, mistress of tire
o two lauds, Nefcrtari,
� be/olcd of Milt, jllstifed."
o
'
Doorway to the
Descending Corridor
The descent leading from Chamber C is
off axis, shifted appreciably right. In the
absence of any obvious structural reason
for this, perhaps the architects were
trying to introduce an unexpected twist,
in imitation of the "crookedness of the
beyond." This impression is further height­
ened by a skewing to the right of the
descent passage itself.
The door jamb marking the entryway
to the descent proclaims the queen's formal
name in outsized hieroglyphs. The passage­
way has two widths: a narrow, outer thick­
ness and a wide, inner one.!
The right outer thickness shows a
rampant serpent facing the queen's car­
touche, which is surmounted by double
plumes and a solar disk and rests on
the hieroglyph for gold. The serpent wears
the red crown of Lower Egypt and is identi­
fed as Edjo, the cobra goddess. A kheker
frieze and sky sign defne the upper bound­
ary of the composition and a fancy woven
basket the lower. Twin djed pillars support
the entire scene beneath. Considerable
paint and plaster have been lost along the
right-hand edge.
The corresponding left-hand scene is
almost identical. Omitted is the serpent's
name; but since it wears the double crown
of united Egypt, we assume it is Nekhbet.
The inner thickness at the head of
the stairs is exceptionally interesting.
Opposed serpents representing Nekhbet
and Edjo shield the queen's cartouche.
The whole design is balanced on a woven
basket. Underneath, on the left, is a tub
of lilies, heraldic plant of Upper Egypt; on
the right, a tub of papyrus, heraldic plant
of Lower Egypt. This pairing symbolically
establishes the mythic orientation of
the tomb: south (Upper Egypt) is to our
left, and north (Lower Egypt) to our
right. Straight ahead, therefore, is the
"west," the domain of the dead.
Ma'at, Serket, and
Hathor on the east
side of the descending
corridor. Ma'at
encircles Nefertari's
cartouche with her
outstretched wings.
The Descending Corridor
The second descent leads to the sarcopha­
gus hall. The stairway is 7.5 meters long
and drops nearly 3 meters over the course
of eighteen steps. Down the midline runs a
slip way for the sarcophagus.
The walls of this corridor form a
parallelogram divided into two triangles
whose long sides are actually a continua­
tion of the foor level in Chamber C.
Despite the awkward surfaces produced,
not even the smallest area has been left
undecorated. On each side is a narrow shelf
about 4.5 meters in length and at the same
level as the foor of Chamber C. Although
the text and decoration offer no clue to its
use, it could have served to hold ritual
material or funerary furnishings.
The decoration in the upper triangles,
those areas that lie above an imaginary
plane extending out from the floor level of
A WALK THROUGH THE "HOUSE OF ETERNITY"
Chamber C, is very much in keeping with
what we have already seen. On the left, the
queen presents two globular jars (nemset
jars) held above an altar charged with fruit,
vegetables, cuts of meat, and loaves of
bread. Two smoking braziers perch on top.
Beneath this cornucopia are a water jug
and what may be a lettuce, an obscure ref­
erence to the god Amun. Wedged in are
protective symbols denoting "protection,
life, stability, dominion, all health, all joy,
all protection like Re'."
There to receive the queen's offerings
are three goddesses: Isis; her sister,
Nephthys; and Ma'at, squatting with out­
stretched wings. The sisters are seated on
imbricated throne bases, but only Isis wears
a beaded dress. Nephthys is clothed far
more simply in a green ankle-length shift.
Ma'at is shown in a red dress, her green
wings extended to shield the queen's car­
touche. Next to it, a shen ring reminds us
that the cartouche derives from a modifed
shen sign. Behind Ma'at and set apart from
the scene by a narrow painted band is a
partial titulary of the queen: "king's great
wife, Nefertari, beloved of Mut."
Turning to the right, we fnd a nearly
identical composition. Again, the queen
presents two nemset jars, while two braziers
blaze on an altar well laden with produce
and bread but no meats. A more extensive
version of Nefertari's name and titles is
supplied in four columns of text just above
her head. In the interest of presenting
a more complete titulary, the artist had
to forego Nefertari's tall, plumed orna­
ment. A selection of amuletic devices flls
out the composition.s
The recipients of Nefertari's largesse
are a local form of Hathor, "she who is
chief in Thebes," Serket, the scorpion god­
dess, and Ma'at. Both Hathor and Serket
wear tight-ftting, ankle-length dresses with
shoulder straps that expose their breasts.
o 8 Here, the queen is
� called "killg's great wife,
o mistress of llle two lallds,
� possessor of charm, sweet­
� ness, ald love, lady of
o Upper alld Lower Egypt,
� tie Osiris, Neferlar;,
g beloved of Milt, justifed
before Osiris who resides
;n tile West."
But Hathor's green costume pales beside
Serket's red, beaded dress.
Here, the cartouche behind Ma'at
integrates well into the body of the text and
does not seem an afterthought. All in all,
the right-hand panel seems more carefully
conceived and executed than the left. At the
very least, the rhythmic alteration of color
in the dresses introduces welcome varia­
tion. It is tempting to think that these
differences reflect the work styles of two
distinct artisan crews, the "right" crew
a bit sharper aesthetically than their fellows
across the corridor.
At the near end of each shelf (south
thickness) is a representation of Serket
(left) and Neith (right), similar to the door
thicknesses of the recess upstairs. Only
minor differences occur in dress and text.
Amulets fll the space behind Serket. On
the right thickness stands Neith, wearing
Detail of Serket,
crowned with a
scorpion, in the
descending corridor.
85
nemset a globular jar used
in rituals
A WALK THROUGH THE "HOUSE OF ETERNITY"
anklets in this instance. A row of amulets
stands behind her.
At the far end of each shelf (north
thickness) is a diminutive version of a djed
pillar with two arms, each holding a was
scepter. With the roof shelving rapidly
downward, these djed pillars take on the
aspect of squat, powerful braces supporting
the roof.
The decoration on the lower portion
of the descent contrasts starkly with what
we have just seen. It is explicitly funerary
and abounds with references to the nether­
world. This is quite intentional, as we
are for the frst time literally passing below
the floor level of the upper tomb. Hence­
forth, our progress is below ground in the
fgurative sense as well.
Except for minor variations, prompted
mostly by spatial considerations, the decor
on righ t and left walls is symmetrical.
The left wall shows Anubis reclining on a
shrine and Isis kneeling on the hieroglyph
for gold. They make lengthy addresses
to Nefertari. The black jackal god Anubis
has a sash around his neck and a flail
tucked behind his right haunch. The shrine
is topped with a cavetto cornice and has a
single door on its broad face.
Anubis makes two addresses, distin­
guishable by the different sizes of the
hieroglyphs used. The frst consists of
twenty-nine vertical columns of increasing
length that read from lef to right.
Immediately following, in slightly larger
script, is a second address to the queen.
9110
A horizontal line at the base of each
column separates these texts from those of
Looking back up the
descending corridor
toward Chamber C.
The goddess Neith is
on the south wall.
9 The frst statement:
� "Words spa kerr by Allubis
� Imy-wt {he who is ill (his)
� cerecloth!, the great god
! who resides ill the sacred
C land. I have come before
� tlee, {oh! king's great
� wife, mistress of the two
lallds, lady of Upper and
Lower Egypt, the Osiris,
killg's great wife,
Nefertari, beloved of Mut,
justifed before Osiris,
the great god who resides
in the West. I have come
before thee, alld I have
given thee a place that is
in the sacred land, that
thou mayest appear glori­
ously in heaven like thy
father Re'. Accept thou the
oraments UpOIl thy head.
Isis and Nephthys have
endowed thee alld have
created thy beauty like thy
father, that thou mayest
appear gloriously in
heaven like Re', alld so
that thou mayest illumine
Igeret with thy beams. The
great assembly of gods on
earth makes a place for
thee. Nut, thy mother,
greets thee just as she did
Re'-Horakhty. May tile
souls of Pe alld Buto make
jubilation as {they did! for
thy father who resides in
tile West. The great assem­
bly of gods who are on
{earth!, they shall be the
protection of thy limbs.
Approach thy mother, that
thou mayest sit upon the
throne of Osiris. May the
lords of the sacred land
receive thee. May tly heart
be forever joyous, {oh!
killg's great wife, mistress
of the two lands, lady of
all lands, Nefertari,
beloved of Mut, justifed
before Osiris who resides
in the West."
10 The second statement:
"Words spoken by Atfubis
Imy-wt, the great god, lord
of Ra-Stau {the necropo­
lis!. I have come before
thee, beloved daughter,
king's great wife, mistress
of the two lands, Nefertari,
beloved of Mut, justifed,
and I have given {thee!
the appearance of Re' in
heaven that thou mayest
sit upon the throne of
Osiris. Approach thy
mother, Isis, and also
Nephthys. The great
assembly of gods is I thy!
protection forever and
ever."
11 The frst speech:
"Words spokell by the
great Isis, the god's
mother, lady of heavell,
mistress of all gods, who
dwells ill the sacred lalld.
I hllve collie Ilefore thee,
killg's great wife, lIIistress
of tIle two lands, lady of
Upper alld Lower Egypt,
the Osiris, mistress of the
two lallds, Nefertari,
beloved of Milt, jllstifed
before Osiris, the great
god, the lord of etemity.
I lrave given thee a place
ill tl,e sacred lalld ill the
presellce of Wel-llefer.
May tholl appear glori­
o"sly like the Aten ill
hClIven forever."
Mention of the Aten
at this time might have
been fraught with mean­
ing since the term was
deeply implicated in the
religious innovations of
Akhenaten. But it is also
the standard word for the
sun's radiant disk and so
occurs very early in
Egyptian religious texts.
In the context of a tomb
already rich in solar
imagery, its appearance
here is not surprising.
12 The second speech:
"Words spokell with Isis,
great mother, mistress of
heavell, lady of all the
gods. lirave cOllie before
thee, great royal wife,
mistress of the two lallds,
lady of Upper a 1111 lower
Egypt, Osiris, Nefertari,
beloved of Milt, justified
before Osiris who resides
ill the West, tl,e great god,
lord of etemity. I have
givell thee a place ill the
lIecropolis so that thol
mayes/appear gloriously
ill heavCII like thy father
Re'. Igeret is illllmilled by
thy beollls."
The lower west side of
the descendillg corri­
dor. Anubis is
depicted as a jackal
recumbent on a
shrine. Above him, a
winged cobra protects
the cartouche of
Nefertari.
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
Isis, whom we see at the right. She is
clothed in a red dress with shoulder straps
and a white bag wig secured by a red fllet.
Her iconographic signature is frmly atop
her head. As she kneels forward, she places
her hands above a shen sign. An outsize,
highly detailed version of the hieroglyph
for gold buoys her up. Beginning at the far
left, in thirteen columns, Isis delivers the
frst of two speeches. In larger script, the
second speech continues in ten columns.
"/12
These scenes are duplicated on the
right-hand wall of the descending corridor,
except for minor adjustments in layout
and text. The principal change is that, in
place of Isis, it is now her sister, Nephthys,
who kneels beneath Anubis. Considerable
surface losses have obliterated much of
Nephthys' speech.
Just beyond this, in the small triangle
formed by the descending roof line and the
scenes below, is a winged, coiled serpent
with a shen sign around its stippled body
and another just in front of the queen's car­
touche. This elaborate monograph serves to
defend the queen's person by vigorously
protecting her name. The legend near the
serpent's tail confrms: "She confers all life,
stability, dominion like Re'."
At the very base of the stair and
marking the passageway to the sarcopha­
gus hall is a monumental door frame. Its
jambs are decorated in outsize hieroglyphs
presenting the name and titles of the
queen. Although superficially similar to
the upper door jambs, here, signifcantly,
the queen is identified frst and foremost as
"the Osiris," an acknowledgement of her
transformed state.
A WALK THROUGH THE
"
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
The generous proportions and clarity
of these hieroglyphs are exceptionally
beautiful. Above them is a striking fgure of
Ma'at, who faces left with her left knee
drawn up for support. The lintel text reads
"words spoken by Ma'at, daughter of Re'
(I) protect (my) daughter, the king's great
wife, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified."
In this scene, it is easy to appreciate
how deeply intertwined are Egyptian writ­
ing and art. Note that the head of Ma'at
intrudes into the writing field precisely
where Egyptian grammar requires a frst
person pronoun. Yet no such pronoun
has been written; rather, Ma'at herself
performs the task. This door frame is a
masterpiece of calligraphy.
Isis, kneeling on the
symbol for gold, rolls
the sun disk, near the
bottom of the west
side of the descending
corridor.
90
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
Door Reveal to the
Sarcophagus Chamber
The little passageway to the burial cham­
ber, like the one above, is waisted; it has a
narrow outer dimension and wider inner
dimension. The outer thicknesses are deco­
rated identically, or nearly so. Figures of
Ma'at, with the feather of truth tucked into
her headband, welcome the queen.
The inner thicknesses reassert the
mythic orientation of the tomb by featur­
ing Nekhbet, the serpent of Upper Egypt
(south), on the left and Edjo of Lower
Egypt (north) on the right. Nekhbet wears
an ate! crown and Edjo the double crown.
We proceed "west," into the netherworld.
Nekhbet, wearing the
two-feathered atef
crown, on the west side
of the passageway to
the burial chamber.
Opposite:
The entrance to the
sarcophagus chamber.
Ma'at with wings
outstretched welcomes
Nefertari from the
lintel.
92
Chamber K
The dimensions of the sarcophagus cham­
ber (Chamber K) are 10.4 meters deep by
8.2 meters wide. A low bench, probably
another place to put funerary equipment,
runs along the chamber's perimeter. From
the scanty bits of inscription still adhering
to the ends of the bench, we can discern
mention of the queen as an Osiris.
Above the bench, the walls of the
chamber are decorated with long scenes
forming, with one exception, an integrated
composition. The left side of the chamber
provides illustrations and texts from
Chapter 144 of the Book of the Dead; the
right side, illustrations and texts from
Chapter 146. Each is a description of the
domain of Osiris.
The queen here demonstrates her
profound knowledge of this secret realm
by naming the doors and their attendants,
so documenting her ftness to reside
with the immortals. Chapter 144 describes
the gates and Chapter 146 the portals of
this world. Framing the compositions are a
stippled band, kheker frieze and sky sign
above, alternating bands of red and yellow
ochre below.
View looking north­
east into Chamber K.
On the west face of
Pillar I, Neferta ri is
welcomed by Hathor
of Thebes.
A WALK THROUGH THE
"
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
"
Left/West Side of Chamber K
The composition begins on the south wall,
west section, with a magisterial full-length
view of the queen, who lifts her hands in
adoration before a trio of formidable demi­
urges. She is dressed in a white full-length
pleated robe and her crown of choice. Her
name and titles fill two columns immedi­
ately in front of her. A broad expanse of
variegated hieroglyphs separates the queen
from the frst gate and its attending genii.
There are seven gates in Osiris' realm;
five of which are here described and illus­
trated. Throughout the composition, the
order remains constant: text first, gate sec­
ond, attendants third. Each gate is com­
posed of an ochre surround and a red door.
By Egyptian color conventions, this is
shorthand for wood. The three attendants
at any single gate are its keeper, guardian,
and announcer. This trio is invariably
composed of three anthropomorphic gods,
the first ram-headed, the second animal­
headed, the third human-headed. The
first fgure is always male. Each carries par­
ticular attributes: a leafy sprig, a knife, an
ankh sign. Yet there is no obvious corre­
spondence between their names and their
representations.
By enunciating their names, the
queen demonstrates her power over these
potential adversaries. She may then
approach the gate, recite a prayer, and pass
on to the next.'3
The first gate scene forms too large
a composition to fit entirely on the south
wall, and so portions of it had to be
carried over onto the west. The balance of
the scene, the door and guardians, ends
precisely at the left door jamb of the small
annex (Chamber M).
With the right jamb begins the text
for the second gate, the best preserved of
the five. Its seventeen lines-in reverse
order as they are in the frst gate -are well
preserved and thoroughly legible.14
Opposite:
Nefertari with her
hands raised in prayer
on the west side of
the south wall of
Chamber K.
13 At the frst gate,
� Nefertari intones:
� "The frst gate. The name
� of its keeper [is/ 'down-
.. ward of face, numerous of
� forms'; the name of its
� guard is 'the burtli/lg of
g ear' [eavesdropper/, and
the name of its announcer
is 'penetrating of voice'
[loud}."
14 At the second:
"Second gate. The name
of its keeper [is} 'he who
opens their foreheads.'
The /lame of its guardian,
'virtuous of countenance.'
The name of its announcer
is 'Imsus' [the burner?/.
After appropriate
identifcation is provided,
Nefertari speaks: "Do not
be weary when the old
ones justif the living
secrets anew in their years.
The Osiris, the king's great
wife, mistress of the two
lands, Nefertari, justifed
before Osiris, rich in ofer­
ings of the momellt, who
makes his [sic} way with a
flame, who defeats foes.
The Osiris, the ki/lg's great
95
demiurge a lesser god. sub­
ordinate to greater divine
beings or to a supreme deity
wife, mistress of the two
lands, Nefertari, beloved
ofMut.
I have prepared a
path. May you permit me
to pass. Protect me that
I may see Re' traverse it
among those who make
offerings to the Osiris, the
king's great wife, mistress
of the two lands, Nefertari,
beloved of Mut, justifed.
I have prepared a path
that you might let me pass.
Protect me, in order that
I may see Re' traverse it."
Again, improper
use of masculine parts of
speech in reference to
the queen is simply a
grammatical lapse by
the copyist.
The meaning of the text is opaque;
but its vignette, one of the best preserved
in the sarcophagus chamber, is clear.
A male god with ram's head is the keeper,
a lioness with twin snakes sprouting
from her head is the guardian, and the
announcer is a male deity. The males wear
green vests held in place with shoulder
straps and a knot of Isis at the navel.
They have ruddy skin while the female god
has a light complexion. This distinction
between male and female skin tones is a
common convention.
The text and vignette of the third
gate have suffered quite substantial losses
but from vestiges of text and outside
sources, the names of the three attending
gods are recoverable.15
Note that the texts of Gate Three and
subsequent gates appear in normal order.
They are no longer reversed. This reorien­
tation of hieroglyphs is not observable on
the opposite side of the burial chamber.
It may be signifcant that we have just
reached the mid-point of the chamber,
directly above the niche for the canopic
chest, where the queen's embalmed viscera
were stored and where the foot of her
sarcophagus once rested. This point is the
architectural and religious focus of the
tomb; so the hieroglyphs have been
adjusted to focus our attention on this
central verity: the queen's sarcophagus.
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
The entire text and doorway
constituting the fourth gate is obliterated,
up to the northwest corner of the room.
Its triad of gods appears on the north
wall, facing our left. They are damaged;
but enough remains to verify that these
were male deities: ram-, antelope-, and
human-headed.
The ffth gate's text and illustration
follow. For want of space, however, the
artist had to reduce the usual complement
of door attendants to the ram-headed
keeper alone. Nonetheless, the names of all
three are preserved.16
Opposite:
The keeper, guardian.
and announcer for the
second gate on the
west waLL, Chamber K
15 At Gate Three. the
� doorkeeper is "the one
� who eats the excrement of
� his hinderparts"; the
.. Guardian is "vigilant";
� the announcer is "he who
� curses."
o
o 16 At Gate Five. the
keeper is "he who eats
snakes"; the guardian
is "the burner"; the
announcer is "Hippo­
potamus-faced, raging
with power."
A WALK THROUGH THE "HOUSE OF ETERNITY"
Right/East side of Chamber K
Chapter 146 of the Book of the Dead pro­
vides Nefertari with the means to pass suc­
cessfully through the twenty-one portals of
the domain of Osiris. As in Chapter 144,
it is crucial that she possess knowledge and
be able to name the portal and its keeper,
who blocks her passage.
Of the twenty-one portals, only ten
are mentioned in the tomb. Text and
vignette are fully integrated, as they would
have been in a funerary papyrus. Each sec­
tion shows a stylized portal consisting of
door jamb and uraeus frieze, within which
squats the figure of the keeper. Though
we cannot be sure, it is likely that all the
keepers held knives; they are quite prepared
to bar the queen's way if necessary. The
texts accompanying these illustrations are
short, usually comprising only four or five
vertical columns. They appear in reverse
order throughout and always follow the
illustration, the opposite of Chapter 144,
on the facing wall.
The east wall of the chamber has
endured considerable damage. Some sec­
tions are diffcult to read and some have
disappeared entirely. As before, the initial
scene appears on the south wall.
Above the rock bench, the queen
appears in a pleated white gown. Her hands
are raised before the first portal and its vul­
ture-headed keeper. Substantial loss of
wall surface has reduced the text to frag­
ments. Nefertari asserts that she has made
no transgression along the path to the
"west," so justifing her arrival at this point
in her journey.17
Opposite:
The knife-wielding
doorkeeper for the
fft
h portal on the
east wall of the burial
chamber.
o
17 From various sources,
. we can restore the first
"
o portal text. Its name is
� "Lady of fear, lofty of bat­
� tlements, tile destroyer,
o who wards of storms alld
� who rescues the plllll-
g dered." The name of the
keeper is "Dread."
At the wall juncture is the second
portal, whose keeper has the head of a
mouse. The two columns of text behind
belong to the inscription on the adjacent
wall, between the entryway to the eastern
annex and the wall juncture.ls Curiously,
the artist has immediately duplicated the
second portal text to fill the corner junc­
ture and the small space behind the mouse­
headed doorkeeper. Such replications-
or dittographies-are not uncommon and
seem to act as space fillers.
Stepping across the annex opening,
we approach the third portal and its
keeper, a crocodile clutching a large knife.
The vestigial text identifes the portal as
"mistress of altars, great of offerings,
who pleases every god on the day of faring
upstream to Abydos." This reference
encapsulates the wish of every Egyptian
to make-either in fact or symbolically-
a waterborne journey to Abydos, the tradi­
tional home of Osiris. The name of the
doorkeeper is "the brightener, friend of the
great god who sails to Abydos."
18 The frst three
columns, from left to
right, provide the second
portal's name and its
keeper: "Mistress of
Heavell, lady of the two
lands, she who licks [her
calvesJ, mistress of all
mallkilld, who numbers
[men / The doorkeeper
is "who fashioll {the
end}."
The keepers for the
third,fourth, and fth
portals on the east
wall of Chamber K.
The text pertaining to
each of the portals
follows the
representation.
Following page:
The north wall of
Chamber K Anubis,
the god of embalming,
Hathor, the funerary
goddess, and Osiris,
mummi
f
ed, receive
adoration from
Nefertari.
A WALK THROUGH THE
"
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
"
The fourth portal has a bull as its
keeper. The name of the keeper is "the
long-horned bull," providing in this one
instance a satisfying correspondence
between the keeper's name and face.'9
Perhaps the oddest fgure in this
panorama of the inhabitants of Osiris'
realm is the doorkeeper for the ffh portal:
a nude, squatting child with distended
cranium. He wields two knives, which he
carries crossed in front of him. The
artist, perhaps feeling a need to expand
the interval between this portal and the
following, has duplicated the last one-and­
a-half columns of text, another instance
of dittography.
20
Portals Six through Eight occupy the
north half of the east wall and are badly
defaced. We can discern the serpent­
headed keeper of the sixth portal, but both
its name and the keeper's have vanished.
Portal Seven is all but obliterated.2I
Only the kheker frieze and a band of
rampant uraei remain from the eighth
portal. Of its text, only two words remain.
One word is, however, diagnostic (mty:
"engenderer"), suggesting that the artist
placed the ninth portal text with the eighth
portal, so compounding his earlier mistake.
Perhaps the copy book was defective at
th is point. Of the ninth portal, its keeper,
or identifying legend, no trace remains.
The tenth and fnal portal appears on
the north wall of the sarcophagus hall.
Rather better preserved than the previous
three, this portal is clearly guarded by a
crocodile-headed keeper.22
Following immediately, a large com­
position occupies the rest of the north wall
and ends at the doorway to the northern
annex. It shows the queen rendering
homage to three seated gods. The queen
faces to our lef, while the three seated
gods face right. They are Osiris, Hathor,
and Anubis.
A
19 The fourth portal's
- name is "mighty of kllives.
� lady of the two lands.
� destroyer of the elemies of
.. the weary of heart. who is
� wise ard free of wrollg-
� doing."
o
"
20 The fifth portal is
identifed as "mistress of
lower Egypt, the joyful. for
whom ore makes requests
without ellterillg in
agaillst her." The door­
keeper is "wllo commalllis
the opponent."
21 The text associated
with Portal Seven is mis­
takenly drawn from
Portal Eight. Nearly half
of it survives. permitting
us to reconstruct a part
of its name as "the kindler
of fames. who is hot.
slayer of . .• grinder of
those who do not ... " The
doorkeeper is "who pro­
tects his body."
Osiris is shown mummiform, wearing
the ate! crown and carrying his usual regalia.
Seated behind him, Hathor has on her head
the symbol for the "west," to signif her
association with the necropolis. Following
her is the jackal-headed Anubis, god of
embalming and Osiris' son by Nephthys.
101
22 The tenth portal is
called "Loud of voice. who
awakes with shouts. who
lauglls at dread {?J. greatly
esteemed, fearful for those
withill it." The name of
the doorkeeper is "the
great embracer."
The crocodile-headed
keeper of the third
portal. Chamber K,
east wall.
102
tyet a kind of knot. a
variation on the ankh sym­
bol. The tyet knot is a sandal
strap seen with the loops
turned downward
The Canopic Niche
Descending a fight of four steps, we find
ourselves in a depression that once held the
queen's granite sarcophagus. From this
vantage, the sides of the stone bench are
readily visible. The plaster decoration has
peeled off in most places, but enough
remains to reconstruct in the mind's eye a
decorative band of alternating pairs of djed
pillars and tyet amulets, respectively evok­
ing the memories of Osiris and of Isis.
Along the west wall, in the middle of
the bench, a small niche has been cut.
About one meter square, it probably held
the canopic chest, a small coffer containing
the queen's embalmed viscera. The niche
is decorated on its three inner surfaces.
On the south (left) side, the decora­
tion shows three mummiform figures:
Imsety, Anubis, and Qebehsenef. The latter
is shown with human head, even though he
customarily was given a falcon head. Each
is called "the great god."
At the back of the niche is an image
of the winged goddess Nut, mother of
Osiris and Isis. Her wings are at her sides,
and in each hand she holds an ankh sign.
ut directs her words to the queen.
Less well preserved is the right side
of the niche. It shows faint traces of three
mummiform figures. Respectively, they
bear baboon, jackal, and perhaps falcon
heads. Also designated great gods, these are
Hapy (baboon), Duamutef (jackal), and
Anubis (falcon). The four genii in the niche
are the sons of Horus, whose principal role
in the funerary cult is to protect the
queen's organs.
Note that the subdued treatment of
these scenes contrasts sharply with the bril­
liant polychromy in the rest of the tomb.
Instead of colorful sculpted plaster, here
we find simple line drawings executed in
yellow. The details of costume, done in yet
darker yellow, stand out against the light
yellow of the body.
The small niche cut
into the west wall of
the burial chamber
probably held the
canopic chest contain­
ing Nefertari's
embalmed viscera.
The style of the scenes
in the niche suggest
that the decoration
was executed a gener­
ation after the tomb
was closed.
dado a decorative band
running around the base of
a wall distinct from any
scene above
The east face of
Pillar 11 in Chamber K.
The goddess Isis
extends the ankh to
the nose of Nefertari,
giving her the breath
of life.
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
The Pillars and Burial Depression
The placement of the actual sarcophagus
in a shallow depression has architectural
and religious signifcance. It focuses the eye
and symbolizes the ground-based reality of
death. The depth of the cutting is some 40
centimeters below the pavement.
The space is defned by four pillars,
hewn from the living rock. Their inner
faces are fush with the cutting and extend
to the foor of the depression, so reinforc­
ing their function as roof supports.
They also serve as metaphors for the four
supports holding aloft the canopy of
the heavens.
The sixteen faces of these pillars form
a body of work that is among the fnest in
the tomb. Their decoration is highly pro­
grammatic and sets out in detail certain
key ideas. Each of the sixteen compositions
on the pillar faces is framed by kheker
friezes above a sky sign. Was scepters mark
the edges, and a dado of red and yellow
ochre marks the bottom.
The tomb's major and minor axes
intersect between the pillars and are rigor­
ously defned by the decoration. On the
inner column faces of the minor axis (west­
east) are djed pillars. On the inner column
faces of the major axis (north-south) are
fgures of Osiris facing south, toward the
tomb entrance. He is thus looking from the
"west," waiting to welcome Nefertari into
his sacred abode.
On the southern pillars, as if pointing
the way to the central corridor between
them, are images of the Iunmutef Priest
(left) and Horendotes, the "avenger of his
father" (right). The Iunmutef Priest is
dressed in a splendid white kilt, broad col­
lar, arm bands, and wristlets. His wig is
kept in place by a fillet with golden uraeus.
A WALK THROUGH THE
"
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
"
But the most sumptuous item of his
apparel is the leopard skin slung over his
right shoulder, the leopard's head resting
upon his breast. This is the dress of an offi­
ciating priest. With his lef hand, he holds
the animal's left rear paw. With his right
arm raised, he gestures to the avenue
between the columns, urging that Osiris act
on behalf of Nefertari. The priest's words,
in six columns reading from right to left,
are addressed to his father Osiris, who faces
him on the adjacent pillar face.23
One sign group occurs twice, at the
bottom of Column Two and again, redun­
dantly, at the top of Column Three.
Amuletic devices behind the priest signify
protection, life, stability, and dominion.
The Iunmutef Priest, literally "the pillar of
his mother," represents the young Horus,
who protected his mother Isis in her
hour of need, so fulfilling the role of a
dutiful son.
Looking northwest
through the burial
chamber. Horus
appears on the south
face of Pillar 1 in the
form of Horendotes
ofciating as a priest.
23 "Words spokell by
� Hams, tire pillar of his
O
105
Q mother (/1111 11111 tef). I alii
E
thy beloved son, /ohJ Ily
'
fatller Osiris, Ilrave cOllie
o to greet tlee. Four tillles
� forever Iave I beatell tilY
� enemies for tlree. Mayest
tlrOI calise tlry beloved
dallgllter, killg's great wife,
mistress of tie two Imlds,
Nefertari, beloved of Mut,
jllstifed, to rest within tire
assembly of great gods wlro
are ill tie ental/rage of
Osiris, wholll all the lords
of the sacred land joill."
106
Chamber K, the east
face of Pillar IV.
Allubis, depicted as a
stalldillg mall with a
jackal head, has aile
halld 011 Nefertari's
shollider.
A similar chord is struck by the
analogous composition on the southeast
(right) pillar. The offciant, another priest,
similarly dressed, his right hand raised in a
gesture to mark his utterance, faces to our
left. This priest is identifed as Horendotes,
"the avenger of his father," who redressed
the wrongs suffered by Osiris at the hands
of his evil brother, Seth.
Horendotes' words, also directed to
a fgure of Osiris on the adjacent pillar
face, read in six columns from left to right.
Behind this figure are the amuletic devices
for protection, life, stability, dominion, all
health, all his guarding. 24
Passing between the pillars, we
encounter two of the four images of Osiris
in the vicinity of the sarcophagus. The
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
compositions are nearly identical. Sheltered
by a yellow kiosk with arched top, the
mummiform Osiris stands on a low dais.
Atop his head, the ate! crown; in his
crossed arms, the regalia of crook and fail.
His skin is green. A red sash wraps around
his waist. Either side of the dais is the
Anubis fetish: a staff with leopard skin
stuck in a mortar.
In both scenes, Osiris is identifed
as ruler of the assembly of gods. In a single
column of text before each fgure are
Osiris' promises to the queen. On the left,
he gives her the appearance of Re'; on
the right, he assures her a place in the
sacred land.
Moving to the intersection of the
avenues between the pillars, we see at a
glance that the column faces all bear repre­
sentations of the djed pillar, symbol of
Osiris. But this figurative motif also serves
to underscore the stone pillars as the literal
supports of the roof above our heads. The
djed columns are sized to ft exactly within
the rectangle of the column face, their tops
and margins defned by versions of the
queen's titulary. But for minor variations in
spelling, these inscriptions are the same.
The edge texts always point outward; while
the upper text always faces inward, toward
the sarcophagus.
Proceeding farther northward, we
meet the second pair of Osiris fgures,
again facing the entrance of the tomb. Like
the earlier two, these Osiris figures stand
in yellow kiosks. Both are dressed as before
and flanked by the Anubis fetish. On the
left, Osiris is identifed as King of Eternity;
while on the right, he is called Lord of the
Necropolis. Since death, like eternity,
endures forever, these formulations are
equivalent. Before Osiris, in a single col­
umn of text, is his promise to efertari:
assurance of a place in the sacred land for­
ever and ever.
A WALK THROUGH THE
"
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
"
Once outside the area bounded by the
pillars, we find that the decorations of their
outer faces exhibit more variety. On each,
the queen is welcomed by a protective god
or goddess: thrice by Isis, twice by Hathor
of Thebes, and once by Anubis. As ever, the
queen wears her pleated white gown and
broad golden collar. Her vulture cap head­
dress is common to all images of Nefertari;
but here it lacks the high, twin plumes,
which could not be accommodated while
still displaying the queen's titulary.
The north face of
Pillar III in Chamber
K, showing Nefertari
with Hathor.
24 "Words spoken by
� Horeldotes. I am thy
� beloved SOli, who iss lies
� forth from thy loins. I have
H come to kllit for thee thy
� limbs and I have bra lght
� thee thy heart, {oh} Illy
o father Osiris who resides
.
in the West. Mayest thou
allow the kilg's great wife,
mistress of tl,e two laI,ds,
Nefertari, beloved of Milt,
and the great divine
assembly to be joined with
those ill the Necropolis."
107
108
The Annexes
(Not Open to the Public)
Three small rooms issue from the sarcoph­
agus chamber: one to the west (Chamber
M), another to the east (Chamber 0), and
a third to the north (Chamber Q). Their
decoration has suffered badly. The east and
west chambers are square, about the same
size: 2.3 meters to the side. The northern
annex is a rectangle of 3.6 x 2.1 meters.
Of the three, the decoration in
Chamber M is best preserved and of real
interest. The doorway is marked by images
of the cobra goddesses of Upper and Lower
Egypt. On the right is a serpent coiled
upon a basket resting on twin djed pillars.
She is identifed as Nekhbet, yet wears the
red crown of Lower Egypt. On the left,
a similar scene; but of Edjo, wearing the
double crown, red and white, of United
Egypt. As Edjo should be wearing the red
crown and Nekhbet the double, there is
clearly some confusion here. On the door's
inner thickness is space for a single column
of text with the queen's titulary.25
The inner face of the door frame has
two scenes. On the left, to the north, Osiris,
as the djed pillar, holds was scepters and
has ankh signs on his wrists. The right
scene, to the south, is much narrower and
is the sole representation of the queen as a
mummy. She is swathed in red, with wig,
broad collar, and vulture cap.
The scenes on the left and right walls
form a pair: the four sons of Horus,
together with Isis and Nephthys, welcome
the queen. In squatting posture, Imsety,
Duamutef, and Isis are on the left. Hapi,
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
Qebehsenef, and Nephthys are on the right.
The queen passes through this protective
defle to reach the principal scene in
Chamber M, on the back (west) wall, a
curious depiction of the mythic home of
Osiris in Abydos.
Enough of the scene survives to read
it clearly: a wide booth or temporary struc­
ture erected on fve supports, each bearing
a column of text. In the shallow, gabled
pediment above are opposed, undulating
serpents whose protective wings meet
in the center. In the intervals between the
supports, from left to right, are Thoth,
Anubis, Imsety, and again Thoth. In front
of each, on a standard, is a symbol of the
night sky. Each column of text is the utter­
ance of one of these gods on Nefertari's
behalf.
The eastern annex (Chamber 0) is
framed by a doorway decorated exactly like
the one of Chamber M, except that the
artist has now correctly linked Edjo with
the red crown. The inner thickness also
mentions the queen's titles. The panels
either side of the inner door frame have
djed pillars; but the left (south) panel is a
symbolic representation of the queen, a
complement to the image of her mummy
in Chamber M.
The scenes in this chamber are
less well preserved, but the queen is twice
shown in adoration. On the left, she raises
her arms in praise of Hathor, whose frag­
mentary image shows her in the aspect of a
cow, mistress of the "west" and patron of
the Necropolis. An altar graced with flow­
ers separates the queen from the goddess.
A WALK THROUGH THE
"
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
"
On the right, the queen stands before
enthroned images of Anubis and Isis.
Another altar, this time laden with stylized
loaves of bread, stands before the queen.
On the rear wall is a much-damaged
image of Ma'at with outstretched wings,
facing to our right. Enough remains of her
utterance to the queen to proclaim that
she has given Nefertari the lifetime of Re'
and a place in the House of Amun, in other
words, Karnak Temple. Perhaps a statue
was erected there to the queen's memory.
The decoration in the north annex is
largely obliterated. Paired serpents guard
the door thicknesses. A solitary fgure
of Isis on the south wall is all that remains
on the west side of the room, along with
a small area of plaster bearing the queen's
cartouche on the north wall. A vestigial
procession of gods flls the right wall.
Among them, we recognize Serket preceded
by two male deities. An image of the djed
pillar between two tyet knots, reminiscent
of the decorative border around the sar­
cophagus chamber, takes up the south wall,
east section.
25 The righl is
� destroyed, but Ihe left
� reads: "the Osiris, tile
� kil/g's great lVife, mistress
of the tlVO lands, lady of
� Upper al/d LOlVer Egypt,
� Nefertari, beloved of
o Milt, jllstified before the
" great god."
Nefertari in mum­
mified form in the
southeast corner of
Chamber M.
Close-up view show­
ing salt crystals capa­
ble of prying the paint
layer away from the
plaster.
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
in conservation
and preservation
of our common
cultural heritage
throughout the
world.
In an age of ever increasing, ever less
nourishing distractions, the world's cul­
tural heritage provides spiritual sustenance
for all humanity. Heritage links us to cul­
tures of the past and enriches the times in
which we live.
A world without a cultural memory,
without the capacity to experience the
authentic, the genuine, is a world pro­
foundly deprived. Without our cultural
heritage, we are like people without mem­
ory: we have no way of knowing where we
came from, where we are going. We simply
live inexplicable, incomprehensible, iso­
lated moments.
The Getty Conservation Institute
strives to preserve this heritage by under­
taking collaborative conservation projects
in countries as diverse as China, Ecuador,
Tanzania, and the United States, always in
partnership with host authorities. In the
conservation of the tomb of Nefertari, the
Gel worked with the Egyptian Antiquities
Organization, since renamed the Supreme
Council of Antiquities. The Council is
responsible for some of the richest and
most ancient cultural heritage sites in the
world. In terms of sophistication, power,
and enduring glory, the heritage of very
few other nations can rival, much less sur­
pass the splendor of Egyptian culture,
CONCLUSION
reflected in these majestic monuments.
Moreover, in Egypt, further magnificent
discoveries are even today being made.
The Council is committed to conserv­
ing and preserving this inestimably valu­
able cultural heritage on behalf of all the
peoples of the world. That is one reason
why the GCI frst undertook the joint effort
at the tomb of Nefertari. In all of its
projects, the GCI seeks sustainability, where
the collaborative conservation ach ieved
will be maintained by its partners in the
host country.
The issues of conservation of cultural
heritage are complex, multifaceted ones
that seldom lend themselves to simple or
obvious solutions. Aside from the scientifc
and technical aspects of conservation in
the management of heritage, multiple
values must be weighed: cultural, spiritual,
educational, interpretive, economic. For
example, the revenue gained by admission
of tourists to the tomb of Nefertari may
accrue to the beneft of countless other
Egyptian sites in need of conservation,
maintenance, and management.
Yet, visitors pose a risk to the paint­
ings in the tomb. After all, however lofty
an aesthetic and cultural achievement, the
tomb is basically a cave. A blind hole,
with only one entrance/exit. Without
sophisticated climate-control equipment,
conditions inside the tomb are subject to
extreme, abrupt alterations when visitors
enter. Thus, a balance must be struck
between the number of visitors allowed
to enter the tomb and the economic bene­
ft resulting from their entry, as well as
the educational and aesthetic benefts
derived by those who personally experi­
ence its splendor.
An exact replica of the tomb, a "vir­
tual experience" museum in close proximity
Chamber K east side
of the south wall,
showing the deteriora­
tion that occurred
between 1904 (oppo­
site) and 1989.
Photo opposite: COlrtesy of
the Museo Egizio. Turin.
Visitors waiting to
enter the tomb after it
was opened to the pub­
lic in November 1995.
Photo: Shill Maeknwa.
Detail from the east
wall of Chamber K
circa 1920 and 1989.
Top photo: COllrtesy of the
Museo Egizio, Turifl.
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
to the actual tomb, could provide an alter­
native if tourist pressure becomes too
great. Such a solution has met with great
success at the site of fragile, paleolithic cave
paintings in Lascaux, France.
Critical to finding the balance is con­
tinued monitoring of the environment
within the tomb itself. The current system
for climate control at the tomb of Nefertari
-a tube and fan that serve to pump humid
air out of the tomb and suck in external
air -is rudimentary. The air introduced is
unfltered and from time to time may be
laden with microscopic dust particles
borne on the desert winds. These particles
settle on the foor of the tomb, but also,
over time, adhere to the walls, obscuring
the brilliance of the painting.
The Gel is employing solar-powered
sensors to ensure constant measurements.
Without such constant and precise moni­
toring to direct decision-making, the risk
of deterioration will not only remain, it
will increase. Irreversible damage will cer­
tainly occur.
Damage by moisture, particularly the
activation of salt leached from the lime­
stone mother-rock and plaster of the tomb,
is cumulative. At a certain point, such
cumulative damage to the paintings reaches
a point of no return. At that time, the only
remaining option might be restoration.
And restoration is fake.
By contrast, conservation deals with
the authentic creation that yet remains.
The conservators' art and science apply to
these precious artifacts of our common
cultural heritage only those methodologies
that take the "patient" as it is. No one can
rejuvenate it, re-create it, restore it. Even to
try is sheer artifce.
Thus, to make successful use of all
the potential values and (sometimes con­
flicting) benefts of a cultural heritage as
CONCLUSION
vast and rich as that of Egypt, it is essential
that attention be concentrated also on
management and custodianship. Only in
this way can we be certain that a site is
neither destroyed nor degraded in its
authenticity.
Conservation of such treasures can
be more than cost effective, provided that
the management is properly undertaken
and wisely administered. For example,
display in the Egyptian Museum of
pharaonic mummies, using GCI-designed,
nitrogen-filled cases, has proven excep­
tionally successful. Today, the necessary
mechanisms, techniques, site-management
plans, and methodologies are available.
Sometimes lacking are administrative and
political will.
All these are aspects of the present
and future that concern the GCI, as well as
the Egyptian authorities. The past traumas
of the tomb have been arrested. Together,
we have managed to halt previously in­
exorable processes of destruction. Now the
challenge is to maintain a healthy equilib­
rium, both in the tomb's environment and
its visitor management. With the help of
an informed and appreciative public, we
pledge our best efforts to that task.
May the tomb of Nefertari yet endure
for all eternity.
Neville Agnew
Associate Director, Programs
The Getty Conservation Institute
Nefertari on the west
wall, south side of
Chamber G.
116
Acknowledgments
This publication is the result of an exceptional team effort by
the staffs of the Getty Conservation Institute, the J. Paul Getty
Museum, and our consultants. The conservation of the wall paint­
ings in the tomb took over six years. When the Supreme Council
of Antiquities of Egypt decided to open to tomb to visitors, we felt
it very important to contribute to a wider understanding of the
signifcance of the tomb by those able to visit it as well as those who
do not have the opportunity but still are interested in the subject.
John McDonald wrote the text, based on his extensive knowl­
edge of ancient Egypt and of the tomb itself after a memorable
visit with Getty staff. John Farrell edited the manuscript, structur­
ing many parts to suit both the images and the organization of
the book, and making the scholarly language of the text accessible
to all readers. Neville Agnew, of the Getty Conservation Institute,
supervised the book from start to fnish and contributed his knowl­
edge of conservation and of the tomb through invaluable sugges­
tions. Chris Hudson, of the J. Paul Getty Museum, undertook this
project with exceptional enthusiasm and superb professional skills.
We are indebted to Mr. Hudson for his tenacity, vision, and focus.
Everyone will be able to better appreciate the beauty of the
tomb thanks to the images produced mostly by Guillermo Aldana
over his many years as photographer with the conservation team.
The superb design comes from Vickie Karten who understands the
needs for visual impact, aesthetics, and harmony. The publication
would not have been at all possible were it not for Anita Keys who
has relentlessly seen to it that photos, copy, production, and a myr­
iad details all come together at the right time. Her perseverance
is equaled by her good humor under pressure, creativity, and
inventive management skills.
To all of them we are indebted.
Miguel Angel Corzo
Director
The Getty Conservation Institute
HOUSE OF ETERNITY
Conservation of the Wall Paintings
Project Members 1986-1992
Executive Body
Mohamed Ibrahim Bakr
Chairman
Egyptian Antiquities
Organization
Miguel Angel Corzo
Director
The Getty Conservation
Institute
The late Ahmed Kadry
Former Chairman
Egyptian Antiquities
Organization
Luis Monreal
Former Director
The Getty Conservation
Institute
Gamal Moukhtar
Former Chairman
Egyptian Antiquities
Organization
The late Sayed Tawfk
Former Chairman
Egyptian Antiquities
Organization
Conservation Team
Paolo Mora and
Laura Sbordoni Mora
Abd eI-Rady Abd el­
Moniem
Abd el-Nasser Ahmed
Giorgio Capriotti
Luigi de Cesaris
Lorenzo 0' Alessandro
Adamo Franco
Giuseppi Giordano
Ahmed-Ali Hussein
Lutf Khaled
Adriano Luzi
Gamal Mahgoub
Hussein Mohamed-Ali
Paolo Pastorello
Stephen Rickerby
Sayed A. el-Shahat
Christina Vazio
Scientific Team
Farrag Abd el­
Mouttaleb
Nabil Abd el-Samia
Neville Agnew
Mokhtar S. Ammar
Hideo Arai
Omar el-Arini
Motawe Balbouch
Kamal Barakat
Farouk eI-Baz
Asmaa A. el-Deeb
Eric Doehne
Michelle Derrick
Feisal A. H. Esmael
Gaballa A. Gaballa
Essam H. Ghanem
H. A. Hamroush
B.lssawi
Po-Ming Lin
Shin Maekawa
Modesto Montoto
Shawki Nakla
Antoni Palet
Eduardo Porta
Frank Preusser
Saleh A. Saleh
Michael Schilling
Wafa Seddia
Photographer
Guillermo Aldana
Research:
Art and History
Mahasti Afshar
Administration and
Management
Ahmed Abd el-Rady
Salah Bayoumy Basyoz
Sayed Hegazy
Mary Helmy
Romany Helmy
Talat Mohrem
Mohamed Nasr
Eduardo Porta
Mahmoud Sadeq
Laura Sanders
Inee Yang Slaughter
Mohamed eI-Sougayar
Ferryman
Farouk Fawey el-Daewy

THEGr
CONSERVATION
INSTITUTE
The '904 discovery ot Queen Netertari's tomb
revealed to the world the exquisite beauty of
its magnificent paintings, which rank among the
finest surviving masterpieces of ancient Egypt.
Resealed again because of the decay and disinte­
gration of its fragile images, the tomb remained
hidden from the public until 1995 when a nine­
year program of meticulous conservation and
monitoring was completed.
John McDonald presents a complete guide to this
"house of eternity," explaining the vignettes and
texts that tell the story of Nefertari's final journey
to immortality. He relates the meaning of the myths
and funeral rites, shows how the royal tombs were
built, and describes the life of Nefertari, whose
timeless beauty now speaks to us again across a
span of over three thousand years.
ISBN 0-89236-415-7
Printed in Singapore

-

-

OUSE OF ETERNITY

The Tomb of

Nefertari
K.

John

McDonald

The Getty Conservation Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles

p. John K. Queen. House of eternity: the tomb of Nefertari I John K. Egyptian. © 1996 The J. The Getty Conservation Institute works internationally to further the appreciation and preservation of the world's cultural heritage for the enrichment and use of present and future generations. King of Egypt-Tomb. ISBN cm. Valley of the Queens (Egypt) DT73· v34M35 932-dc20 1996 I. 4. which aims to provide in a popular format information about selected culturally significant sites throughout the world. Tombs-Egypt. Paul Getty Trust All rights reserved Printed in Singapore Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data McDonald. 0-89236-415-7 1. 96-24123 C1P .Cover/title page: Detail a/Queen Nefertari 0/'1 the north wall of Chamber G. Mural painting and decoration. McDonald. Nefertari. This is the first volume in the Conservation and Cultural Heritage series. Title. All photographs are by Guillermo Aldana unless credited otherwise. 2. consort of Rameses II. 3.

Contents Foreword 5 Introduction Dynasties of Ancient Egypt II Nefertari: Radiant Queen A Letter from Nefertari T he Queen's Titles and Epithets 19 The Valley of the Queens Ernesto Schiaparelli 25 Conveyance to Eternal Life: The Royal Tombs of Egypt Tomb Paints and Materials 33 37 41 47 The Tomb Builders' Village After Nefertari's Burial Resurrection and Recurrent Risks The King of the Dead and His Divine Family Divine Guidance 55 Among the Immortals: A Walk through the "House of Eternity" T he Texts in the Tomb III Conclusion Acknowledgments 116 .

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set off upon a voyage to the netherworld. its brilliant images vividly depicting her voyage to the hereafter. the art in Nefertari's tomb-among the most beautiful examples of pharaonic wall paintings ever found . between 1986 and 1992. Yet ever since its modern discovery in 1904. a centerpiece of cultural heri­ tage and a priceless patrimony of our time. The inscription.II HOUSE OF ETER ITY < > an honored and beloved queen. in quest of eternal life. which reads from right to left. for most of this time. . In Egypt. The tomb of efertari. Instead. On the left. is from Chapter 94 of the Book of the Dead. she makes offer­ ings of incense. Nefertari pays homage to Thoth. and cowhide. the The last four columns of text behind Nefertari on the north waLL of Chamber G. still in the prime of earthly existence. the god of writing. the tomb has been closed to the public. the art and culture of ancient Egypt have come to reflect the aesthetic imagination and spiritual aspira­ tions of peoples everywhere. enduring yet endangered monuments embody some of the finest craftsmanship that has ever graced the planet. Moreover. . Consequently. If the Nefertari paintings had contin­ ued to deteriorate.has been known to be in fragile and precarious con­ dition.. Previolls page: Sections of the north and east walls of Chamber G. ranks among the most precious and most fragile of Egyptian treasures. indeed of humanity. the world would have suffered an incalculable cultural loss. it repre­ sents perhaps the most exquisite gift to be passed down through more than a hundred generations. food. On the right. In our own time.

you are about to experience a unique and sublime example of human creativity. these marvelous paintings have a chance to survive for future generations. But only a chance. The exhibition. the tomb of Nefertari belongs to . Miguel Angel Corzo Director The Getty Conservation Institute . in spite of all the painstaking conservation work. in its aesthetic. Paradoxically. nature. The tomb has been open to the public since November 1995. The mutual mandate of the renamed Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Getty Conservation Institute will not be fulfilled until we succeed in gen­ erating broad awareness of the pressing problems facing endangered cultural prop­ erties worldwide.FOREWORD 3 Egyptian Antiquities Organization and the Getty Conservation Institute undertook an intensive collaborative effort to conserve the wall paintings in the queen's "house of eter­ nity. Tomorrow. and acknowledge that the tomb of Nefertari and similarly rare and delicate works of art comprise precarious treasures of humanity. but also the means for their perpetual existence. Consequently. In entering the tomb of Nefertari. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Conservation Institute organized an exhibition devoted to enhancing public awareness of the conservation problems and created a replica of one of the cham­ bers. and political elites. as they too embark on our collective journey to the beyond. Today. In 1986. I was both awed by the beauty of the paintings and appalled by the damage they had sustained. proved to be a great success. they need to be protected above all from the risks of unrestrained exposure to those who admire them most. the paintings' survival will depend largely on the vigilant protection they receive in the years that lie ahead. let us find equally creative ways to provide not only public access to the treasures housed within the tomb. In 1992 the J.and must be preserved by-all of us." This joint project proved exemplary in preserving for posterity one of the greatest treasures ever yet created by the human mind and hand. It is rightly a matter of general public con­ cern. We have already learned that the pub­ lic's interest in the tomb is remarkable. Ten years later. To preserve it is to pass that knowl­ edge on to future generations. and spiritual aspects. Cultural treasures provide a record of our human condition on both a spiritual and a material plane. I was privileged to see the tomb for the fi rst time. our­ selves. which subsequently traveled to Rome and Turin. the paintings remain vulnerable. As we marvel at this priceless heirloom. scientific. Like so many before me. more than ever before. The surviving paintings have been rescued from destruction. the ravages of time. In this sense. appreciate. we may both respect the original intent of the creators and inspire future generations. Solving these problems is not the exclusive privilege or responsibility of cultural. And so. our goal is to ensure that people every­ where come to recognize. material. Now. they stand as vibrant testimony to the creative genius of ancient Egyptian artists and as a celebration of art by an international community of policymakers and conservation professionals. with their his­ torical integrity and authenticity intact. and humankind have been arrested. In this way. To decipher this record is to know our past. At the Getty Conservation Institute.

.

.

like much of the rock in the Theban area. across the river NiLe from Luxor. but she could rely on these hieroglyphic texts and illustrations to be her beacons to the beyond. Nefertari's "house of eternity" is one of the finest tombs ever created by ancient Egypt's master craftsmen. especially the lighter ones. It would prove a long and perilous passage. . it is not well suited to painting or carving. build a suitable surface for the wall paint­ ings. Vignettes and texts were lightly carved into the plaster when dry. set off against the luxurious blacks and blue-whites. Previous page: The Valley of the Queens. members of the Italian Mission led by Ernesto SchiapareLLi in 1904. Indeed. Photo: Courtesy of the Museo Egizio. Turitl. Several layers of plaster had to be applied to the walls to Stereo view of the tomb entrance taken by Don MicheLe PizziolFrancesco BaLLerini. Opposite: DetaiL from the south face of Pillar I in the sarcophagus chamber before conservation. The multitude of colors in her tomb is exceptional. the limestone has been frac­ tured by earthquakes and is banded with veins of flint. some 520 square meters of exquisite wall paintings reveal a ritual process and illustrate Nefertari's journey of transfor­ mation into a blessed soul in the hereafter. The walls were then primed with a gypsum wash and painted in brilliant color. Emblazoned on its walls and corri­ dors. The Valley of the Queens is not renowned for the quality of its limestone.6 HOUSE OF ETERNITY Tunneled into the northern slope of the necropolis. As a result. The carved plaster in Nefertari's tomb is an early but sublimely successful instance of what was then a novel tech­ nique.

.

or perspiration and respiration from contemporary visitors eager to view its marvels. subsequent flooding. the inter­ national team of conservators assembled in 1986 by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the Egyptian Antiquities Organization ( EAO) undertook conserva­ tion of the tomb. have all served to mobilize the salt. The theme of the tomb is timeless­ ness: the decoration exclusively funerary. whether from the workmen who built it. Similarly incompatible is the salt­ laden nature of the limestone from which the tomb was hewn. No references are made to any specific his­ toric events or to anything that actually happened to Nefertari in her lifetime. migrated to the surface of the walls. the transient concerns of this life are considered to be incompatible with eternity. . To combat these dangers. Nowhere in this process has "restora­ tion" of the paintings been undertaken. The GCI is philosophically committed never to engage in restoration. Nor will it be. bringing it to the painted surfaces. Over time. seepage through fissures in the porous rock above. Both aesthetically and spiritually. fluctuations in humidity within the tomb. emergency stabi­ lization of detaching painted plaster. dormant in the rock and the plaster. where it crystallized to damage and in some cases irretrievably destroy the art within the tomb. then meticulous conservation to preserve the tomb for present and future generations. First.Conservators at work during final treat­ ment on the northeast corner of Chamber K. as well as the Nile River mud used to plaster its walls. In the presence of moisture. salt.

Systematic.IN TRODUCTION DYNASTIES OF ANCIENT EGYPT believing that to restore an ancient work by adding to it is inevitably to assault its authenticity.E.C.E.C.E.640 -'532 Rameses I '306-1290 Second Intermediate Period Sety I 1290-1224 (Dynasties XI V-XVII) New Kingdom • Rameses II (The Great) '224-'2'4 (Dynasty XVIII) '550-'525 Merneptah '214-'204 Ahmose '525 -'SOl. patches of blank plaster (made from local. Atlas of Ancient Egypt. Sety II 1204 1198 - Amenhotep I '504-'492 Siptah 1198-1196 Thutmoses I '492-'479 Twosre 1196-1070 Thutmoses" 1479-'425 (DYllasty xx) '070 -712 Thutmoses III 1473-1458 Third Intermediate Period Hatshepsut '427-'401 (DYIJasties XXI-XXIV) 7'2-332 Amenhotep II '40'-139' Late Period Thutmoses IV (Dynasties xXV-XXXI) 332-30 •.E. This is the daunting domain that Nefertari must traverse successfully in her search for everlasting life.such conserva­ tion work has much in common with the journey undertaken by Nefertari in her transition from this world to the next. 395 Roman Period • Dates givell Jor individuals represellt regllal period. OxJord: 1980. natural products) now cover the walls. devoted. and the skewing of the tomb's axis are all thought to allude to the tortuous topogra­ phy of the Egyptian netherworld. 139'-'353 Late Predynastic Period 2920 -2 575 Amenhotep III 1353-'335 Early Dynastic Period Amenhotep Ivl Akhenaten 1335-1333 (Dynasties 1-11) 2 575-2'34 Old Kingdom Smenkhkare '333-1323 (Dynasties III-VIII) 2'34-2040 Tutankhamun '323'3'9 First Intermediate Period Ay '3'9-'307 (Dynasties IX-XI/1) 2040-." descending stairways. laborious.d Jarom!r Malek. The paintings that remain are in every way authentic. Macedonian­ Ptolemaic Period 30 •. and respectful. They have been carefully and respectfully con­ served. Within her "house of eternity. In the tomb of Nefertari. all cleaning processes and materials used in the conservation were reversible. Where the original paintings have been lost. Similarly. not a single drop of new paint was added to the images. . aile oj two statlles oj Rameses II 011 the Jafade oj the Temple oj Hathor at Abll Simbel. C.-C. stabilized where in danger of detachment. asymmetries of design. entirely the work of the original artists and artisans. Adapted Jroll1 John Bailles at. and cleaned of dirt and salt to regain their original luster. circa 3000 B.640 Horemheb Middle Kingdom (DYllasty XIX) '307-'306 (DYllasties xI/2-XIII) . complex.

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.

If Nefertari's magnificent "house of eternity" had not survived. And the Eighteenth Dynasty King Hatshepsut was in fact a woman. south side. perhaps scholars of Egyptian history might still recognize her name. Her importance was amply confirmed by her titles and the multiplicity of her images on monuments throughout Egypt: at the temples of Karnak and Luxor. dazzling young woman. What can historians tell us about the actual woman behind this compelling portrait? Certainly. It is also prudent to recall that she was by no means the first Egyptian queen to wield such power. But could anyone even begin to imagine the elegant. The vignette differs from the corresponding west-side compo­ sition in that here the queel1's headdress is without the high plumes. in the history of the New Kingdom. It is impossible to judge how much Nefertari's prestige was due to her personal qualities. in her tomb. 0/ Luxor. in far-distant Nubia.12 HOUSE OF ETERNITY Why? Only because we have been blessed with brilliant images from her tomb in the Valley of the Queens. wife of Akhenaten-figured prominently Detail of the colossus of Nefertari at the Temple Previous page: On the west wall of Chamber G. . Two of her pre­ decessors-Ahmes-Nefertari and Nefertiti. the radiant being. Rameses the Great. a band of relief separates Nefertari from Nephthys and Isis who flank the ram-headed god representing a union of Re' and Osiris. Opposite: Nefertari on the east side of the upper descending corridor. no doubt remains that Nefertari was indeed the beautiful queen of one of history's most powerful and celebrated rulers. Nefertari played impor­ tant roles in state and religious affairs. where her impact was literally colossal. and at a sandstone temple built at Abu Simbel. we see so vividly portrayed throughout her tomb? With such evocative images enduring.

.

Rameses II. I have noted that you. The relief on the inner face of the First Pylon at the Temple of Luxor. my sister. May the sun god [of Egypt [ and the storm god [of Haiti] bring you joy and may the sun god cause the peace to be good. Behold. my sister. and with your country may all be well. my sister. The Hittites lYere the IlIdo­ Europeall illvaders oj the Allatoliall highlallds." NeJertari's letter to Padukhepn. expresses her wishes Jor lastillg peace.. shaking a sacred rattle.E. the great queen of Egypt to Padukhepa. the great king of Hatti.a/Jel/ged the supremacy oj Egypt ill the Middle East dllrillg the Eighteel1th alld Nilleteellth Dynasties. the Hi//ite queell. I in friend­ ship and sisterly relation with the great queen [of Haiti] now and forever.A LETTER FROM NEFERTARI "Says Naptera [NefertariJ. Nefertari. alld cI. is preceded by her husband. . With you. And you have written me about the matter of peace and brotherhood between the great king of Egypt and his brother.. They established all empire dllr­ illg the COllrse oj the secolld mi/Jellllillm B. thus.C.. the great queen of Hatti. have written me enquiring after my well being. may all be well.

NEFERTARI: RADIANT QUEEN

The outline of Nefertari's life can be sketched. Of noble birth and perhaps from the Theban area, she was married, when barely a teenager, to User-maat-re' Setep­ en-re', who was known to posterity as Rameses the Great. Their first-born child was a son, named Amenhirwenemefl Amenhirkhepeshef. Their eldest daughter was named Meryetamun. Early in Rameses' reign, Nefertari took an active role alongside her husband: at Abydos, in Thebes, and at Gebel el­ Silsila. Then came a long silence, unbroken until Year Twenty-one, when she suddenly reemerged at the signing of a peace treaty with Hatti, the other superpower of the times. Scarcely three years later, Nefertari died, was mourned, and was conveyed to her "house of eternity" in the Valley of the Queens. The year was 1255
B.C.E.

dress-a vulture surmounted by double plumes-was also the headdress favored by Ahmose-Nefertari. For Rameses to marry the daughter of a Theban nobleman would have been politically shrewd. The Ramesside clan was based in the Delta and had no blood ties with Egyptian royalty. Their rise to social prominence occurred through military ser­ vice under Pharaoh Horemheb. Horemheb had no heir and designated his chief general, Parameses, as successor. When the old king died in 1307
B.C.E.,

Throughout his sixty­ seven ycars of rule, Rameses took at least eight wives: efertari; [stnofret; Bintanath (his daughter by Istnofret); Meryetamun (his daughter by Nefertari); Nebtawy; Henetmire' (the king's own sister); Maat­ Hor-Neferure' (the first Hittite princess); and a sec­ ond Hittite princess. He fathered at least forty-five sons, perhaps as many as fifty·two, as well as some forty daughters. As Rameses' first and favorite queen, Nefertari must have expected to see a child of hers inherit the throne. She is, after all, called "king's mother" in the great temple of Abu Simbel. Given her enormous importance) it is doubly ironic that Nefertari's children figure not at all in the succession. In fact, they all died prior to their father. The enormous family catacomb that came to light in 1995 in the Valley of the Kings (KVS) may have been destined for the luckless, aging sons of Rameses 11. Scattered throughout its more than ninety rooms are short inscriptions, at least one mentioning Nefertari's firstborn son, Amenhirwenemefl Amenhirkhepeshef. The catacomb is thus the likely place of his burial, along with scores of his half-brothers.

Parameses

assumed the throne, and changed the fam­ ily name to Rameses, the name used by no less than eleven succeeding sovereigns. Although Rameses
I

ruled only a year,

he had time enough to inaugurate what Egyptian historians regard as a new era, the Nineteenth Dynasty. In a concerted effort to validate and legitimize Ramesside king­ ship, Rameses the Great, grandson of Rameses
1,

Images, inscriptions, and artifacts found in her tomb tell us more. Nefertari was of noble birth but not royal. Nowhere is she identified as king's daughter. Her family probably came from Thebes. Invariably, Nefertari's name was followed by "beloved of [the goddess] Mut." In the Theban area, Mut was an important deity. Together with her husband Amun-re' and their son Khonsu, she formed the sacred Theban triad of Karnak Temple. The con­ sistent affiliation of Nefertari with Mut may point to the queen's Theban origins. To her countrymen, Nefertari's name no doubt evoked a wealth of posi­ tive associations, above all with the memory of Ahmose-Nefertari, the founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. As wife and sis­ ter of Pharaoh Ahmose and mother of Amenhotep
I,

may well have sought a daughter

of Thebes as his queen. Her given name recalled a resplendent moment in Egypt's history and her sobriquet invoked the Temple of Karnak, home of Egypt's first divine family. In all likelihood, Nefertari married in her early teenage years and bore Rameses a son almost immediately. Together with his father, the boy was depicted as early as the first year of Rameses' reign, in the rock shrine of Beit el Wali in Nubia. Historians assume that Nefertari's firstborn child died young. The queen's youth proved no impedi­ ment to her participating in religious and state business. Another depiction from Year One shows her officiating with the king at the investiture of the new Chief Prophet of Amun, Nebwenenef. This investiture was such a signal honor that Nebwenenef had the event memorialized on the walls of his own tomb.

Ahmose-Nefertari lived

through the glorious days of Thebes' rise to power and her husband's expulsion of Asiatic invaders, the Hyksos, events occur­ ring about 1560
B.C.E.

It was probably

intentional that Nefertari's chosen head-

16

HOUSE OF ETERNITY

In Year Three of Rameses' reign, Nefertari was shown beside the king in monumental scale on the interior face of the new pylon of Luxor Temple. Yet for a long while after that, no datable reference to the queen can be found. In Year Twenty-one, however, Nefertari sent a letter to the distant capital of Hatti (modern Boghazkoy) in Anatolia. With words of warmth and friendship, the queen sent her wishes for lasting peace to the Hittite queen, Padukhepa, on the occasion of the signing of a treaty between Rameses and the Hittite king, Hattushilis III. The treaty ended two decades of uneasy relations between their two countries. At Abu Simbel in Nubia, on the Sudanese border, rises the great rock shrine of Rameses
T he fa�ade of the small Temple of Hathor at Abu Simbel. On either side a colossus of Nefertari is flanked by colossi of Rameses
I I. II.

Beside it is the small temple

More evidence of Nefertari's role as religious officiant comes from the rock shrine of Gebel el-Silsila, where she was depicted "appeasing the gods." This por­ trayal of the queen was extraordinary, for making such offerings was a responsibility of kings, in their capacity as Chief Priest of Egypt. On the walls of Rameses' own mor­ tuary temple in western Thebes, Nefertari was again shown taking part in an impor­ tant religious holiday, the annual festival of the god Min. Moreover, at Gebel el-Silsila, Nefertari was called "mistress of the two lands." Normal usage was for kings alone to be called lords of the two lands, a reference to the mythic union of the northern kingdom of Lower Egypt, the Delta where the Nile flows into the sea, with the southern kingdom of Upper Egypt, up river toward its headwaters. Applied to Nefertari, the phrase suggested that she exercised power in secular affairs.

of Hathor of Ibshak, dedicated to Nefertari. Here the queen is shown making offerings before a local form of the cow-goddess, Hathor, and Mut, Nefertari's patron. This in itself is impressive, but even more astonishing are the two enormous statues of the queen. On either side of the temple entrance stands a colossus of Nefertari, flanked by colossi of her husband. The two statues of the queen are every bit as large as those of Rameses. In the Egyptian artistic tradition, the scale of an image, whether in two or three dimensions, signifies its rela­ tive importance. Kings are made larger than their wives, children, courtiers, sub­ jects, or enemies. For the queen to warrant a statue as large as her husband was an unparalleled honor. The text on the temple fa<,:ade is similarly remarkable, for it declares: "Rameses
II

Nefertari is crowned with the cow horns and sun disk symbolic of Hathor.

has made a temple, excavated

in the mountain of eternal workmanship in Nubia ...for the king's great wife Nefertari, beloved of Mut, forever and ever, ... Nefertari ... for whom the sun does shine."

NEFERTARI: RADIANT QUE E N

THE QUEEN'S TITLES AND EPITHETS

T he great shrines at Abu Simbel were dedicated three years after the Hittite treaty, in the twenty-fourth year of Rameses' reign. Yet Nefertari, noticeably absent from memorials of these consecra­ tion ceremonies, had probably already died. A number of rock inscriptions set into the cliff face around the temples recorded the events. One of these inscrip­ tions, by the Viceroy Hekanakht, includes a picture of the royal entourage: Rameses was shown not with Nefertari but rather with his daughter Meryetamun, now iden­ tified as queen. We cannot say how Nefertari died. All that is known is that, sometime toward the end of her fourth decade, she began her journey to the hereafter. Transported to the netherworld by the magnificent tomb that Rameses had built for her, she would henceforth dwell in a new domain, a resplendent "house of eternity." For Rameses, it would be another forty years before he would pass through the portals of his own tomb, perhaps antici­ pating renewed union with the blessed spirit of his beauteous, beloved wife.
The titles and epithets of Nefertari define her vari­ ous roles as divine con­ sort, queen, and mother. The scope of her activi­ ties is consistent with the expanding importance of queenship in the New Kingdom generally.
"[The one] to whom beauty pertains" is one

"Mother of the king" is

"Who satisfies the gods"

the title held by the crown prince's mother, confirming that one of Nefertari's sons had already been picked to succeed Rameses.
"God's wife," a term first

is a phrase normally reserved for kings, in their role as Chief Ritualist.
"For whom the sun shines" (inscription from

the fa�ade of the Small Temple at Abu Simbel) is unique. In conjunction with the Great Temple of Abu Simbel, any invoca­ tion of the sun-either its disk (the Aten) or the sun god (Re') -is appro­ priate. The Great Temple of Abu Simbel was pur­ posely orientated so that rays from the rising sun would shine straight into the sanctuary on February
22

encountered early in the Eighteenth Dynasty but falling into disuse after the reign of Thutmoses
IV B.C.E.) .

(1401-1391

It is

revived in the Nineteenth Dynasty in association with the dynasty's first three queens: Sat-re, wife of Rameses wife of Sety
I; I;

of several translations of her name. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic script does not show vowels, so no one can be certain how the queen's name was spoken. Cuneiform script documents from the Hittite capital of Bogazkoy in Anatolia suggest the name was pronounced "Naptera" or something similar.
"Beloved of Mut" is a

Mut-tuy, and

Nefertari. The term was probably resurrected partly to strengthen the dynastic claims of the Ramesside kings, who were not of royal blood. It embodied a theological concept. Any child of a queen bearing this title was the issue not only of the king but also of the god Amun, the queen's mythical consort; and so, the child would be singu­ larly fit to serve as king of Egypt.
"Hereditary noble­ woman" is an honorific

and again October

22.

"Great of favors" possi­

bly carried a judicial implication, along the lines of intercessor. That is how the term was used much earlier, in the popu­ ular Egyptian tale of the wanderings of Sinuhe.
"Pleasant in the twin plumes" (on the great

standard component of Nefertari's full name and occurs even within her cartouche, the oval ring surrounding royal names. The goddess Mut, together with her hus­ band Amun and their son Khonsu, form the great Theban triad of gods residing within or near Karnak Temple.
"King's great wife"

seated statue of Rameses, now in the Museo Egizio, Turin) is a reference to the twin-plumed head­ dress favored by Nefertari. The god Amun wears a similar crown; one of his titles is "he of the high plumes." Nefertari's namesake, Ahmose­ Nefertari, is often shown wearing a double-plumed headdress.

designation signaling that Nefertari came from noble stock.
"Mistress of the two lands." The masculine

form is an epithet of Egyptian kings and pro­ claims their suzerainty over both Upper and Lower Egypt. It indicates that Nefertari exercised some role in state affairs.
"Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt." This term

identifies Nefertari as preeminent among Rameses the Great's eight known spouses.

may also hint at an active role in state affairs.

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the Tombs of the Nobles. The plateau is a vast desert region that extends westward from the Nile more than a thousand miles. L O W E R E G Y P T • Kadesh ME DITER R ANEAN SEA u P P E R E G Y P T VALLEY OF THE QUEENS ( Aswan High Dam . Such forces of nature broke down the rock still more into scree that now rings the bases of the cliffs. who localized the netherworld in the land of the setting sun.20 HOUSE OF ETERNITY beyond the broad swath of cultivation between the river and the Libyan plateau. Siliotti. view across the river Nile toward western Thebes. it stretches from magnificent cliffs formed over millennia by the mean­ derings of the river. Innumerable bays and canyons have been etched by wind. This association took on particular meaning in Thebes because Previous page: A ancient seas. Made of fossil-rich limestone laid down by incursions of and the thermal stress of hot days and cold nights. Photo: A. sand. In this desolate region lie the world-famous ceme­ teries of western Thebes: the Valley of the Kings. Placing their cemeteries to the west was instinctive for the ancient Egyptians. The main wadi in the Valley of the Queens showing some of the tombs of queens and royal children. Nefertari's tomb is indicated. and the Valiey of the Queens.

His most enduring achievements were in the vicinity of 135 glass plate negatives housed in the Turin Museum . Schiaparelli was director of the Egyptian Museum in Turin. Schiaparelli also explored numerous Egyptian sites. At its western limit is a gorge. It's unclear precisely why this area was selected for burials. an asphalt road follows an ancient track and wends its way back to the peak. Just behind this temple. a year before his death. . These (1856-1928) began his studies with Francesco Rossi at the University of Turin. Schiaparelli and his assistant Francesco Ballerini assigned num­ bers to all the tombs in the valley. In 1904. Along the edge of cultivation stands a row of mortuary temples. Though he spent only a year in the tomb. and continued them in Paris between 1877 and 1880 with the great French Egyptologist. a benchmark ever since. depicted in tombs and coffins giving birth to the sun god each morning. For many years. Suggestions of rude huts made from tabular limestone are all that remain of the shelters used by the workmen who excavated the tombs in the Valley of the Queens. and the ruins of a Coptic monastery. one can look down into the Valley of the Kings or east across the cultivation to the river. A second volume. on his explorations at Deir el-Medineh. provide a detailed picture of life among the workmen who dug and decorated Egyptian royal tombs. running near the workmen's village of Deir el-Medineh. brick portal that now protects the entrance to Nefertari's tomb was also built by the Italian mission. and pioneered site management by laying out pathways between the tombs. This is the Valley of the Queens. installed iron gates at their entrances. As head of the Italian Archaeological Mission to Egypt between 1903 and 1920. But certainly the looming mass of Qurna and its divine associations with the beyond would have appealed to the ancient Egyptians. Weathered chunks of limestone and flint litter the ground. and his wife Meryl. Signs of wind and water erosion abound. The arched. while work­ ing at Deir el-Medineh. by far the most prominent landmark around. Schiaparelli opened Nefertari's tomb. an overseer of works. Ernesto Schiaparelli published a volume on his work in the Valley of the Queens in 1924. Medinet Habu. In front of that are vestiges of an ancient dam that once diverted runoff from sudden cloudbursts. Beyond the Nile. The largest of these.THE VALLEY OF THE QUEENS Thebes . Schiaparelli discovered the undisturbed burial of Khai. Photo: Courtesy of the Museo Egizio. Schiaparelli compiled an important photographic record of its condition and decoration. the road peters out in a small valley directly beneath the peak of Qurna. another to the local goddess Meret-Seger. of the great western peak of Qurna.have served as Stereo view of Ernesto Schiaparelli (far right) at the entrance to the tomb of Nefertari after con­ struction of the brick portal. Though vulnera­ ble and hard to police. Turin. Finer material washed down to the valley floor has softened the contours. one of thirteen that he cleared or discovered in the Valley of the Queens. its chief virtue may have been convenience. barely visible through the haze. From its summit. ERNESTO SCHIAPARELLI Italian Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli In 1906. It is also possible that the gorge suggested to them the vulva of the sky goddess Nut. now on dis­ play in Turin. Gaston Maspero. After passing a rock-cut shrine to the god Ptah. was erected to the memory of Rameses III. The abundant household materials from their tomb. was pub­ lished in 1927.in the work­ men's village at Deir el­ Medineh and in the Valley of the Queens. are the pylons of Luxor Temple.

.

and (1845).-R. it became the fashion to bury queens and royal children in this lonely valley. Pilato: COllrtesy of t"e Museo Egizio. Wilkinson C. Most are little more than pit tombs. but missed locating the queen's. . Nefertari's eldest daughter. of course." But after the surge in royal inter­ ments . III then taken up by other Egyptologists. without decoration or inscription. Mut-tuy. Lepsius correctly identified the tomb of Meryetamun. Ippolito Rosellini (1834). just adjacent. Throughout the next two centuries. The designation "Valley of the Queens" was introduced by Jean Fran<. wife of Sety I. Along the northern flank of the valley are tombs of the queens and daughters of Rameses II. They include those of three very important queens from the early years of the Nineteenth Dynasty: Sat-re. many important members of the court found their final resting place here. 1904. who explored the valley between along the southern flank. The larger openings of the more substantial tombs probably suggested the common Arabic name for this site: "Biban el Malikat" or "the Portals of the Queens. There are eighty numbered tombs in the Valley of the Queens. the Ill. favorite consort of II. That honor fell to Ernesto Schiaparelli. Opposite: The calllp site of Emesto Schiaparelli's expedition in the foothills of the Valley of the Queens.:ois Champollion in the nineteenth century C.it became known as "the place of the beauteous ones. Why was this place reserved for queens? Several explanations come to mind. and the three foreign-born wives of Thutmoses were interred not far away. and. Most of the burials in this valley are royal. But early in the Nineteenth Dynasty.E.THE VALLEY OF THE QUEENS 23 An ephemeral stream surging down the gorge might have reinforced this image of sacred issue. Schiaparelli earned himself a last­ ing place in the annals of Egyptology. wife For this and his efforts at the workmen's village. Nefertari. Most likely is that Hatshepsut had a tomb prepared for herself in a neighboring canyon before she became pharaoh. of Rameses Rameses I. Champollion (1828-29). and children . The ancient Egyptians initially referred to this locale as simply "the Great Valley. sons of Rameses 1903 and 1904. dowager queens. The first Europeans to explore the site were J." The most ancient of these large tombs date from the Eighteenth Dynasty and were private or anonymous.. Only twenty are decorated." Archaeology has confirmed what the texts say. Turi".queens. Lepsius (1821-33). G.

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CONVEYANCE TO ETERNAL LIFE

27

royal tombs were probably drawn up by court archi­ tects, with the king's involvement. Yet no one
knows exactly how the sovereign expressed his wishes for the tomb's location, size, and decoration. During the Old and Middle Kingdoms, they took the form of pyramids. There are some seventy such pyramids in the Nile valley. During the New Kingdom, royal tombs underwent fundamental redesign ultimately evolving into a pencil­ thin shaft, sunk obliquely into the hillsides of the Valley of the Kings. Beginning with the pharaoh Thutmoses
J

(1504-1492 S.C.E.)

and for five centuries afterward, Egyptian sovereigns ordered their tombs excavated in this remote canyon. New Kingdom tomb design at first consisted of a series of descending corri­ dors, small waiting rooms, and then a sar­ cophagus hall with annexes. These elements were usually assembled in the repeating pattern of corridor followed by chamber, corridor followed by chamber: a rhythm of down-pause, down-pause. This design accomplished two aims. First, it reminded the Egyptians of the "crookedness of the beyond." For the tomb was meant to evoke the twisted topography of the netherworld. Turns and plunging stairways imitated the convoluted path that the deceased had to follow to become an effective, blessed soul. Second, the doubling of the basic unit - down-pause, down­ pause - may have alluded to the tradi­ tional division of Egypt into northern and southern kingdoms, or have suggested the duality of earthly versus timeless existence.
Previous spread: Looking into the burial chamber from the descending corridor. The goddess Ma'at, with out­ stretched wings, adorns the lintel. Opposite: The head of Nefertari on the west wall of the descending corridor showing carved relief work. Detail of Nefertari's face on the west wall of the descending corridor showing the painted correction to the relief work.

Detail from the north wall of Recess
E illustrating a

A simple, painted wall primed with

perimeter of the burial hall was a feature repeated from Nefertari's tomb. In strictly architectural terms, Rameses' tomb remains the most complex and interesting in the Valley of the Kings. From Rameses' death forward, Egyptian royal tombs underwent immense simplification, especially in their ground plans. The tomb of Merneptah, Rameses' immediate successor, stressed length over annexes and chambers, which began to diminish in size or vanish altogether. The descending stairway was replaced by a shallow, continuous ramp leading deep into the mountainside. The logical conclusion of these trends was the tomb of Rameses
VI:

whitewash had been the standard in the tombs of the early Eighteenth Dynasty. Carved limestone was not introduced until the reign of Horemheb

correction in the painting.

(1319-1307 B.C.E.),

but was then immediately adopted as the standard in royal tombs. Carved plaster imitating limestone made its appearance about this time - most sublimely in Nefertari's tomb - and remained a feature of Ramesside tomb decoration. The overall design of Nefertari's tomb borrows from the architecture of contemporary royal tombs. It also reflects the increasing religiosity that pervades Ramesside tomb decoration. For his own tomb, Rameses the Great reintroduced a sharp ninety-degree turn just before the burial chamber and increased the number of its supporting pillars around the sunken sarcophagus emplacement to eight. A shelf around the

long,

straight, spare. Its decoration also showed evolution characteristic of the later Rames­ side era: illustration and text were drawn in outline, with a minimum of modeling or internal detail. The many colors of

In some instances. Once construction had begun. heavy work preceding lighter. many steps in the work . They then removed the shattered pieces with chisels and adzes. Detail from the east side of the south wall of the upper corridor showing uncorrected overlapping paint. . This task proved increasingly difficult as the royal valleys became filled with burial sites.from cutting to smooth­ ing to decorating . siting their work where it eventually intersected older tombs and so had to be abandoned or modified.may have gone on simul­ taneously. Photo: ]. A royal tomb's design could not be turned over to the workmen until a site was selected. Quarrymen first opened the shaft by ham­ mering the porous rock with heavy mauls. All such heavy-duty tools were provided by the state and rigorously Hammers and chisels used in the construc­ tion of royal tombs. Hyde. architects chose unwisely.CONVEYANCE TO ETERNAL LIFE 29 Nefertari's tomb were replaced by predomi­ nantly golden hues to reinforce solar imagery.

the squads of workmen eventually finishing up back at the entrance where they began. a convenient but untidy practice. As work progressed into the selected hillside. carvers. exactly the reverse of the Western artistic custom. Had it not been. tomb. this custom had at least one happy conse­ quence. Yet when time was short . Masons rough-leveled the walls using a boning rod (a primitive sighting gauge consisting of two flat rods connected by twine) and ensured that walls were vertical by means of a plumb bob. but water was also required for painting and plastering.as it likely was in the case of Nefertari . Some tombs were constructed in distinct stages. each performing two four-hour shifts a day. parts of the tomb were com­ pleted from the inside out. eight days of labor and two days off back in the village. Critical lighting was provided by shallow pottery saucers that burned oil or animal fat mixed with salt to reduce smoke. T he completely self-assured brushwork of these artists has given a fresh and sponta­ neous effect to many scenes throughout the T heban necropolis. with long intervals between successive trades plying their crafts. Details too fine to execute in rock or . the boy king's tomb might have been found and looted long ago. The entrance to the tomb of Tutankhamun was buried beneath an avalanche of rock from the excavation of Rameses ' VI S plaster were liberally supplied in paint. Workers seem to have maintained "left" and "right" crews. Guided by these outlines. Their "weeks" lasted ten days. With the walls prepared. sometimes making inspired deviations that improved upon the composition. other materials and supplies had to be brought daily to the site. an army of artisans followed at the quarrymen's heels. on a ridge beneath the peak of Qurna. as the situa­ tion warranted. these wicks were strictly rationed. Under these conditions. sculptors then carved and scoured away the background so that the designs stood out in relief. and painters all worked at the same time. Like the tools. plasterers. were either left in place or removed. Imperfections. At night. carefully painting over the carved design. Tailings from the cutting were dumped right outside the tomb. Painters and varnishers came last.30 HOUSE OF ETERNITY accounted for. Any large holes or weak pockets of rock were plugged with mortar made of crushed limestone and gypsum. apprentice draftsmen could begin drawing both illus­ tration and text. such as flint nodules. the walls were primed with a gypsum wash. Smooth-leveling was probably achieved by abrasion. they outlined hieroglyphic text and images that were subsequently corrected and adjusted in black by master draftsmen. W icks for these lamps were made of twisted flax and were supplied by the state.there is reason to believe that quarrymen. Once this stage was complete. Food and water were essential to sustain the men. However. they camped out in huts midway between the tomb and their village. Working first in red. out­ line draftsmen. Besides the tools provided by the state.

Only a handful of words for these colors existed. when they were applied.Ceiling detail showing black underpainting. Occasionally." Surface coatings in the tomb consist of tree resin and egg white (albumen). while yellow was pre­ pared from a hydrated iron oxide or ochre. these ores were cooked with calcium and quartz or other forms of silica. derived from the local acacia tree. it could "Aow. It too could be eas­ ily brushed off. Unlike egg tempera. The black in Nefertari's tomb was powdered char­ coal. Shades of red resulted from trace amounts of manganese. and none cap­ tured the nuances between shades of the same hue. they enhance the brilliance of the color beneath. water to make the paint Aow. primary colors. cooked iron oxide. Whites were made of chalk (cal­ cium carbonate) or gyp­ sum (calcium sulphide) or some blend of the two. Employed chieAy as a glaze on red and yellow areas. tomb consisted of pig­ ment for color. if the paint in Nefertari's tomb were to become damp enough. Blues and greens were com­ pounded from natural copper ores: malachite or azurite.were Detail of impasto pail/t. gum arabic can redissolve under certain conditions and is dam­ aged by ultra violet radia­ tion. The binder was gum arabic. Earth colors­ reds and yellows . producing a glass that was then pulverized. if not. Thus. The Egyptian palette was limited to vivid. no one knows if these coatings are origi­ nal or. . Blue and green pig­ ments tended not to adhere well to the wall surface and consequently show more damage today. But since resin and albumen have always been readily available. and gum to bind it to the surface of the wall. TOMB PAINTS AND MATERIALS Paints used in efertari's made from burnt umber. which becomes insoluble over time. Egyptian pigments were mineraL not organic.

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'l. Previous page: The community of the pharaoh's tomb builders at Deir el-Medineh. which was often provided with a built-in sleeping couch. and leisure. could not have been a prosperous time for the village. Photo: Courtesy of the Museo Egizio. the paper of ancient Egypt. they were buried in tombs of their own making. tell us when the men were Workmen excavating in the Theban necropolis during the expedition of the Italian Archaeological Mission led by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1904. Some houses also had a tiny storage cellar beneath the living room floor. They chronicle the revictualing of the village. when the population peaked at about 120 families.HOUSE OF ETER lTV The community was founded early in the Eighteenth Dynasty by Thutmoses I. used for storage and sleeping in hot weather. The settlement grew. when the court was resident in middle Egypt. Their simple homes were made of lime­ stone and flint. and occasional days off. summarize impor­ tant matters such as law suits and divine oracles. This was the only piece of fixed furniture. But it was reinvigorated and reorganized during the reign of Horemheb. feast days. These. but not steadily. The Amarna period. We can even reconstruct the genealogies and fortunes of thirteen families and so form a picture of life in a community that enjoyed work. Much of what we know of the village comes from tens of thousands of inscribed limestone flakes on which the workmen recorded their daily affairs. with oven and silos beyond. Under Rameses " the community consisted of perhaps 48 men and their families. Behind were a tiny room and an unroofed kitchen. in the hillside just opposite the village. Photo: C. Stairs made of a notched palm trunk led to the roof. The workmen spent their entire careers as privileged state employees. But they are also filled with the mundane. speak of marital problems. When not digging in the necropolis they stayed in the community and when they died. Tur. Each house had an entryway leading to a living room. sick or shiftless. Two of these were discovered intact with their full complement of funerary equipment: the tomb of Sennedjem in 1885 and that of Khai in 1906. and hint at drunkenness. the first pharaoh to dig a sepulcher in the Valley of the Kings. prayer. who enclosed the settlement and organized the workmen into crews. but reached its zenith in the reign of Rameses IV. They describe what other jobs the workmen performed and what they did on holidays. Leblnllc. .

but everyone was paid in kind: grain. Recently restored dwellings of the work­ men in the Valley of the Queens. dynasties of scribes and foremen over five and six gen­ erations were not uncommon. all skills acquired from fathers and passed down to sons. these village captains were appointed by the vizier. Tombs might yet be constructed for the Theban priesthood. victualers. and provisioners of all sorts to supply many of their essen­ tial needs. the mortuary temple of Rameses In any event.E. (1070-945 ) The community of workmen was III. relocated to the safety of Medineh Habu. water. who resided in distant Tanis. and perhaps invested some free time in private projects not sanctioned by the state. recording workers' attendance and calcu­ lating their pay. but the kings of the Twenty-first Dynasty. vegeta­ bles. fuel porters. they had to rely on a staff of water carriers. the king's chief minister. Photo: f. and fuel." a reference to the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. . Estimates of the value of wages sug­ gest that the workmen had enough left over to barter for durable goods or luxury items not readily available inside their compound. followed closely by the scribes." modeled after a ship's crew.THE TOMB BUILDERS ' VILLAGE 35 The men of the community were known as "servitors in the place of truth. After repeated attacks by bandits sweeping down out of the western desert. Deir el-Medineh was abandoned in the early Twenty-first Dynasty B. Si/iotti. Wages varied according to rank. The scribe functioned as director of personnel. Hyde. They even undertook contract work on each other's tombs. carpenters. and beer drawn from state storehouses. Example of limestone flakes inscribed with daily events in the workmen's lives. preferred burial in the temple enclosure there rather than in Thebes with its hallowed valleys of the kings and queens. oil. But in the Ramesside age. With the workmen spending most of their time on state-funded projects or engaged in occasional "freelance" work. and painters. helped out on state projects outside the necropolis. Originally. the positions became hereditary. The most important members of the community were the foremen of the gangs. Photo: A. The men were organized into teams known as "gangs. pottery. not far away. The men were trained as stone masons. It is conceivable that some of these men worked on the Tombs of the Nobles. Supplementing these were disbursements of fish. The foreman functioned as chief of works and had a deputy to distribute tools and collect them again at the end of each shift. draftsmen.C. the industry of royal tomb construction was now all the more literally a dying business. . carvers.

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the mortuary temple of Rameses the Great.A piece of embossed gold foil bearing Nefertari's name and an epithet "true of voice" discovered in 1988 by one of the tomb's conservators. asso­ ciated with resurrec­ tion. Nefertari. Sit-down strikes by the necropolis workers in Thebes occurred in the twenty­ Previous page: The upper west wall of Chamber C.). the loss of the mines amounted to a financial catastrophe. ninth year of Rameses III (about 1165 Workmen laid down their tools and B. The disputed payments consisted mostly of grain and oil. one involving their wives and children. .E. several severe economic depres­ sions. mud-brick storehouses that today still stand behind the temple_ Despite assurances from government officials. Next to Nephthys is the benu bird. brought on in part by the loss of gold mines and deteriorating relations with allies in the ear East. the back wages did not materialize until the workmen called a second strike. marched to the Ramesseum. For an economy based on precious metal.C. seeking back wages. which the workmen had ample reason to believe were sequest­ ered in huge. Beside Isis is a water god symbolizing abundance of years. masked and mummi­ fied lies on a bier with the goddesses Nephthys and Isis in their kite form at her head and feet.

Schiaparelli discovered that the tomb still held pieces of the queen's rose granite . Court proceed­ ings preserve the testimony of people who knew about or had participated in the looting. Hyde. Considering the extreme vulnerability of the tombs in the Valley of the Queens. Although the exact origin of this jewelry is unknown. it seems likely that Nefertari's tomb was robbed as long ago as 1109 B. yet no one can know what took place inside the tomb for some three thousand years. All one had to do was muster the courage to break into a tomb and strip the mummies of their gold and jewels. a small plaque made of embossed sheet gold. there is every reason to suppose it was part of the queen's burial equipment.' AFTER NEFERTARI S BURIAL 39 Not surprisingly under such circum­ stances.C.E.).) were so alarmed that they gathered what­ ever royal mummies they could locate and secured them in places of safety. The situation became acute during the reign of Rameses IX sarcophagus. The ornament bore Nefertari's name and the epithet "true of voice. Photo:].E. there was a rash of tomb robberies. believed to be essential for the deceased to become an Osiris). Astonishingly. and an enamel knob bearing the name of King Ay. a gilded bronze pendant in the shape of a lily. and a second in an Eleventh­ Dynasty tomb belonging to a minor queen named In-hapy.E.C. some items of the queen's personal jewelry appeared on the antiqui­ ties market in Luxor and were purchased by the Museum of Fine Arts. and four servant figurines. a cottage industry in tomb robbery arose. A generation later. Two such caches have been discovered. (1070-945 B. one of the tomb's conservators discovered a piece of embossed gold foil. thirty-four servant figurines (ushabtis. in (1125-1107 B. one in the tomb of Amenhotep II Nefertari's sandals were among the few objects that escaped looting. while trying to reattach a section of wall plaster. in the Valley of the Kings.. the necropolis was a vast treasure trove of liquid wealth just waiting to be pillaged. Ill-addition to the mummy fragments. several large glazed earthenware vases." The title is a customary designation for a deceased person and a strong indica­ tor that the bracelet was made expressly for the great queen's burial. In the sixteenth year of his reign.C. These included a large plaque of gilded silver. Charges were hurled against local officials and even the mayor of western Thebes who were accused of conniving with workmen to rob tombs. The Theban priests of the Twenty-first Dynasty 1988. Boston. discovered by Schiaparelli in 1904. Neither sign nor mention of Nefertari's mummy has been found apart from some telltale fragments of her remains. the situation had grown even worse. Apart from its spiritual function. [n 1904.

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A joint established in 1986. and further deterioration arrested or at least slowed. this salt-laden moisture seeped to the surface of the wall. Thick layers of water-transported debris in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens have been dated from the Nineteenth Dynasty and testify to serious flooding in ancient times. as well as exhaustive testing of plaster. results confirmed suspicions that the pri­ mary culprit responsible for the deteriora­ tion was salt. Previous page: Removing ground dust during site preparation in 1988 in Chamber tomb's 520 square mE. the archaeological community has known of the perils facing the tomb and its matchless decoration. With this in mind. EAO-GCI project was . The ancient dam at the head of the valley gorge proves how seriously Necropolis officials took this threat. Since its discovery in 1904. and water vapor. as crystals either within the plaster or as a crust upon the paint. Smaller crystals within the plaster layers can split whole layers off the painted surface. seepage through the porous limestone. The basic problem has been too much moisture from four sources: water used in the original preparation of plaster and paint. north wall. Preliminary ing on the south wall of Recess E in 1988. showing a few of the nearly ten thousand Japanese mulberry bark paper bandages used to hold loose fragments in place during emergency conservation. Th� crust on the paint itself can all too easily be brushed away. Yet despite his and others' efforts to solve some of the tomb's most tenacious prob­ lems. in 1985. Even Schiaparelli had to per­ form emergency consolidation on sections of wall paintings during his initial survey. at least twenty percent has completely vanished. much of it the result of carelessness by visitors. the Egyptian Antiquities Organization Antiquities in 1994 Q. Flooding has been a constant risk. As a result. and microbial problems. pig­ ments. Salt crystals lodged between the lime­ stone and the plaster can detach entire sheets of plaster. and other materials. and with it a good deal of pignient.and the Getty ( GCI ) began discus­ Conservation Institute sions to see how the tomb's paintings might be consolidated and cleaned.42 HOUSE OF ETERNITY A conservator work­ Initial plans called for a full year's analysis of the tomb's geological. hydrologi­ ical. Any increase in moisture within the tomb or sustained high humidity will affect the plaster and painting adversely. The limestone of the tomb and the mud plaster coating with which the walls had been finished were affected by moisture. leaving the salt behind. introduced mainly by modern-day visitors. flooding via the tomb entrance.te�s of original paIntings and hieroglyphic decoration. Opposite: The goddess Isis in Recess E. the deterioration continued. There the mois­ ture evaporated. minute amounts of sodium chloride dormant in the lime­ stone and plaster were dissolving. climatic. ( EAO ) - renamed the Egyptian Supreme Council of . Once mobilized.

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Between the early 1970S and 1994. the tomb was closed to all but specialists and occasional VIPs. In 1914. an ancient earthquake fractured the roof of Nefertari's tomb. So every day between five and twenty liters of water are deposited in the tomb. presumably flushed in by storm water. In fact. In November 1995. Emergency conservation work under­ taken in 1987 required the temporary placement of nearly ten thousand small bandages of Japanese mulberry bark paper to secure loose bits of decoration. Guiding all their efforts was a determination to keep interventions to a minimum and to use only reversible methods and materials. With the 1992 completion of consolidation and cleaning. pressure to reopen Nefertari's tomb grew dramatically.44 HOUSE OF ETERNITY Schiaparelli's account of his opening the tomb mentions extensive debris on the chamber floors. the tomb paintings. apart from people inside the tomb. a modest shower in western Thebes became a torrent sweeping through the Valley of the Kings. major flooding in the Valley of the Kings damaged the tomb of Rameses II. opening tiny fissures that have since permitted the infiltration of surface water. Egyptian. each allowed to spend ten minutes inside the tomb. and English conservators led by Professors Paolo and Laura Mora. More than seven thousand images. between 1990 and 1992.was compiled between September 1986 and April 1992. As recently as November 1994. the principal historic mechanism for accumulation of water has been the slow seeping of moisture through these fis­ sures and the pores of the bedrock. This work took more than six years to complete. Working under difficult conditions. But three more years of scientific monitor­ ing of the tomb environment in an un­ disturbed state were needed to establish base levels for future monitoring. no in-painting took place. when humidity tends . Now some 150 visitors move through the site every day. The goal was to clean and stabilize. Since the tomb was opened to the public. A photographic record of all phases of the work .. the actual treatment program was carried out by a team of Italian. Photo: Shin Maekawa. Humidity within the tomb can climb to dangerous levels very rapidly. not restore. In addition to all this. Especially during the summer. it was more often shut than open.from analysis to consolidation to cleaning . the Moras and their team painstakingly consolidated flaking and chalking paint with acrylic solutions. the decision was made by the authorities to open the tomb to the public. The final stage of work. Monitoring has shown that a single indivi­ dual exhales and perspires between one­ half and two cups of water per hour as well as carbon dioxide. carried out 5 inch color transparencies. This moisture must go some­ where. What is not reabsorbed by people's clothing or extracted by the ventilation system is sucked up by the plaster and paint of the tomb. involved cleaning the paintings with solvents that did not affect the pigments or gum arabic binding material. and reattached loose and crumbling plaster by means of a special mortar made from local sand and gypsum. Current estimates predict serious flooding about once every three hundred years. some 150 visitors a day each spend ten minutes inside the tomb. provide a complete archival record of the tomb and are the principal resource for scholars wishing to study it. with more than four decades' experience in the conservation of wall paintings. consist­ ing of 35 millimeter and 4 x leaving it choked with rubble. Although the tomb became a favorite tourist destination almost as soon as it was discovered. Begin­ ning in 1988.

dust. relative humidity can easily exceed seventy percent. no simple equation exists for balancing the needs of tourists and the best interests of the tomb. especially in the narrow entranceways. This problem is hardly unique to Egypt. the tomb requires from three days in winter to twelve days in summer to regain its micro climatic equilibrium. temperature. Conservators working on the west wall of Chamber C. which illustrates Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead. Prolonged. There are other potentially adverse consequences of tourism. A solar-powered monitoring station measures relative humidity. there is the unknown long-term effect of artificial lighting on the wall paintings. Long-term solutions include offering visitors a virtual reality tour of the tomb at a nearby museum. Perhaps the number of visitors to the tomb might be adjusted as humidity levels cycle. and Egyptian scientists hope to verify if the deterioration within Nefertari's tomb has been halted. or if further measures may be required. Spot readings by colorime­ ters disclose any color shifts or alterations in the paintings. Yet Nefertari's tomb is a special case. The entrance to the tomb can be seen on the left. .RESURRECTION AND RECURRENT RISKS to be high and natural ventilation of the tomb is less efficient. and carbon dioxide levels inside the tomb. Short-term solutions have already been implemented. The large tour buses whose idling motors can be felt far away have been relocated still farther from the tombs. has been lost. Similar experiments are already underway at other sites. Gel Meanwhile. At such ele­ vated levels. as well as weather data externally. can occur easily. and increased growth of microbes and fungi on the tomb walls may simulta­ neously contribute to deterioration of the paint layer. The dangers are great. But. and initial results elsewhere are encouraging. By these means. thus lessening any possible risk from vibration and pollution. the remaining original paintings now confront perhaps the greatest threat of degradation and destruction they have ever faced. biological activity is trig­ gered at only fifty percent relative humid­ ity. The Valley of the Queens has been landscaped and diversion structures installed at key points to shunt flood water away from tomb entrances. both because of its fragility and its extraordinary beauty. and the risk increases with the number of visitors in the tomb at any one time. Physical damage to the fragile wall paint­ ings. Much of the decorated surface of this wall. Telltale strips have been placed within the tomb to register tectonic shifts. and materials from visitors' clothing. Having sur­ vived for thirty-two hundred years. and photographs provide a record of damage or change. slowed. salt recrystallization and biologi­ cal deterioration are not the only dangers. without creating too much frustration among a public eager to see one of Egypt's greatest sights. Apart from microorganisms. elevated humid­ ity may further imperil the images by softening the gum arabic that binds the paint to the wall. Moreover. Continuing photographic and climatic monitoring have taken place since the completion of work in 1992.

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the solar deity Re' was worshiped at Heliopolis. Implicit in the scheme were such fundamental oppositions as earth and sky. on the left. Opposite: Kheperi. while Osiris rep­ resented the inevitability of physical decay. the god Shu. Air/light was repre­ sented as male. Even the potential for intergenerational conflict existed: Atum represented self-renewing force drawn from the sun. These nine gods figured prominently in Nefertari's tomb. a composite deity sharing attributes of both. . good and evil. moisture as female. near modern Cairo. a beetle­ headed god often protrayed in royal tombs as a scarab beetle issuing at daybreak from the vulva of the goddess Nut. ten during the Ramesside period alone. The chief sun symbols were the phoenix bird or heron (the benu bird). and dispersed his body parts throughout Egypt. Their traditional home was Heliopolis. This tale tells how Seth killed Osiris. order and chaos. Re'-Horakhty. or another. the Greek biographer and historian. four divine off­ Another version of Re'. the ultimate model for their sal­ vation and a protection against Seth. again grouped into two pairs of sister-brother deities: Isis and Osiris. truth against falsehood. The institution of kingship was symbolized in the person of Osiris. the goddess Tefnut. Manifest in the late afternoon sun. The most influential and enduring of these stories related how Atum. While perched upon this eminence. and sky." The second and third generation of Heliopolitan gods symbolized the natural world and its basic constituents: earth. Osiris. who represented hostile. air. the City of the Sun. From this brother-sister pair sprang the next genera­ tion: earth. female and male. Human strife emerged in the conflict between him and his brother Seth. the beetle­ headed god of the morning sun. But the fourth generation related directly to human beings and human relations. At least as early as the Old Kingdom. the sun's disk (the aten). A huge fan separates him from the god Atum in human form and wearing the double crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. Nephthys and Seth. "for whom the sun shines. personified by the goddess Nut. either by drowning or by dis­ memberment. the creator god. on the east wall of Recess E. is in mummified form and wears the twin­ plumed crown. the original earthly king. the morning or nascent sun. by Plutarch. he engendered by masturbation both air/ light and moisture. and the obelisk (the benben stone). Re' -Atum was the mature or setting sun. Early on. Temples to all these forms of Re' existed at Heliopolis. These appear repeat­ edly in the tomb of Nefertari. This conflict plays out in funerary rites too. They in turn produced. The dead needed to identify with Osiris. eternal spirit. The most complete account of Osiris and the cycle of stories associated with him comes from De Isis et Osiris. chaotic forces that imperiled a soul' s transformation into an effective. The intense noonday sun was the falcon-headed god. Re' and Atum were fused into Re' -Atum. emerged from the receding waters of the primeval ocean (personified by the god Nun) to squat atop a small mound. was Kheperi. Their struggle was the subject of many Egyptian myths and was seen as the endless battle of good against evil. sky. spring. personified by the god Geb.HOUSE OF ETERNITY Previous page: The center section of two parallel scenes that occupy the east wall of Chamber C. This Heliopolitan divine family provided a theological basis for the creation of the physical world and em­ bodied truths about Egyptian society and attitudes toward life and death.

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The god­ desses Nephthys and Isis flank a ram­ headed mummified figure." thus impLying the union of the two gods. . The text on the left reads: "1t is Osiris who sets as Re'." whiLe the right-hand text declares: "1t is Re' who sets as Osiris.The west wall of Chamber G.

All Egyptians hoped to become an "Osirianized" being. the god­ dess of cosmic order and truth. his consort. Most often. Throughout her tomb. ." so confirming her successful completion of this crucial step in her quest for immortality.gauze frames in the outline of Osiris . Thoth.with seeds strewn on them to sprout in the darkness of the tomb. In time. He held a crook in his right hand and a flail in his left. Osiris was depicted as a mummy. ate!). these regal emblems rested on opposite shoulders. a fierce demon. As his hands were crossed. wearing either the white crown of Upper Egypt or an elaborate variation with twin plumes on either side (the The djed pillar became a symbol of the backbone of Osiris. in the other. elbows akimbo. Isis. the only exposed part of his body. a scene illustrated countless times in tombs and funerary papyri. During this time of exile. in Chamber M. Osiris' face. bandage-wrapped hands crossed over his breast. Horus acted as his mother's support and protector (Iunmutef: the pillar of his mother). Isis took sanctuary in the Nile Delta marshes with her infant son Horus. Osiris was reanimated. usually by Ma'at. chiefly from the New Kingdom. New Kingdom private tombs often had "Osiris beds" . In the center of the room looms an enormous balance beam. an explicit evocation of vegetal life and its annual renewal." is poised to devour the hearts of those who fail the test. eventually reassembled her brother/husband's body. preserving it from decay. In one pan is the heart of the deceased. Osiris sits in royal majesty accompanied by Isis. stands ready to record the result of this trial. Ma'at's Feather of Truth. the ibis­ headed god of writing. was often green.THE KING OF THE DEAD AND HIS DIVINE FAMILY 51 Fearing her wicked brother Seth. "the great swallower. Close by. The god was swathed in linen bandages. Nefertari is consistently referred to as "the Osiris. But that depended on passing the judgment of Osiris. is equipped with two human arms holding was scepters and with ankh signs around the wrists. This one. together with her sister Nephthys. The deceased is ushered into the judgment hall. a convincing demonstration of renewal and rebirth.

Later identified with the reigning pharaoh and regarded as the son of Isis and Osiris Neith a creator goddess of antiquity. south of Luxor. Horus a falcon deity to herself many of the attributes of Hathor and eventu­ ally becoming an extremely popular Egyptian deity during the Roman imperial period originally worshiped as a sky god. assimilating state god Amun. was worshiped as the great deity of creation by the pharaoh Akhenaten Hathor a goddess of many functions and attributes who was often shown either with a cow head or as a woman with cow's ears and horns.52 Divine. Ma'at called the Often shown wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt daughter of Re'. justice. whose home was Karnak Temple in Thebes Edjo the tutelary goddess of Lower Egypt. She was represented as a cobra Aten the ancient Egyptian designation for the sun disk. Cui dance Clad in a leopard skin garment. symbolized with a shield and arrows. She was represented either as a vulture or as a woman The goddess Ma'at on the east wall of the descending corridor." she was said to suckle pharaohs and was later identified by the Greeks with Aphrodite Isis the wife of Osiris Mut the wife of the and mother of Horus. had her cult center at Elkab. regarded as a protective deity associated with the rituals of kingship Amun the preemi­ nent god of Egypt from the Middle Kingdom onward. A goddess personifying truth. and the divine order of the universe and present at the judgment of the dead. her cult center was located in the Delta city of Buto. Horus appears on the south face of Pillar I in the form of Horendotes officiating as a priest. Known as the "Golden One. Akeru a lion-headed Atum originally a earth god associated with the eastern horizon and the morning sun sun god worshiped at Heliopolis. Usually por­ trayed wearing a feather atop her head Nekhbet a goddess who sometimes appears as a vulture. Her principal cult center was the southernmost of the three precincts at Karnak. personified. . which. The chief protector­ goddess.

he was considered to be the god of the underworld and offered the hope of resurrection as an ibis-headed male figure to whom scribes traditionally addressed a prayer before begin­ ning their work ptah the creator god of Memphis. a site located to the south­ west of modern Cairo.DIVINE GUIDANCE where she was. Osiris was reassem­ bled by his wife Isis and posthumously conceived his son and successor. wor­ shiped as the tutelary deity of Upper Egypt Re' like Atum. a mani­ festation of the sun god of Heliopolis. Often linked to other deities. dismembered by Seth. Horus of the Two Horizons. often depicted Osiris the husband of Isis. from very early times. . on the east face of Pillar III in the sarcophagus chamber. Nephthys the sister of Isis. such as Amun. in mummified form. who came to represent mourning in general because of her lamentations at the death of the god Osiris in cults aspiring to universality Re'-Horakhty a god in the form of a falcon whose name. For these reasons. Represented as a mummy and later equated by the Greeks with their god Hephaestus Osiris. his evil brother. and give birth to him each morning represents the union of Re' and Horus as a uni­ versal solar deity Thoth the Egyptian god of wisdom and writing. Horus. Nut the sky goddess who was thought to swallow the setting sun Re' every evening.

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... .__ __. _ ia.. .nntt. as........ ... _--'iiiiW A Walk throu h the "House ()f Eternity" � � .. ..· •.... JT('� " II) ( ' .�_IIiIiii_n g the Immortals.a�/'t' ...

The entranee to the tomb at the time of its discovery by Schiaparelli in 1904. milk.HOUSE OF ETERNITY Previous spread: The illustration of Chapter 148 from the Book of the Dead occupies the entire south wall of Chamber G. In front of each K of the seven cows and the bull are offerings of vegetables. and bread. Turitl. Photo: Courtesy of the Museo Egizio. .

possessor of charm. beloved of Mut. king of the netherworld. Her utterance . the choice of texts that could appear in her tomb was restricted. The architects and priests who determined the decorative pro­ gram chose selections from chapters of the Book of the Dead.has all but vanished. sisters of Osiris. lower edge of a TOof or the under­ side of a molding that pro­ jects along the top of a wall. together with her name. and 148. The left bird wears the emblem of Isis. of Edjo. the right that of Nephthys. mistress of the two lands.A WALK THROUGH THE "HOUSE OF ETERNITY" Descent and Entrance A flight of eighteen steps with central slipway leads down from the gate to the tomb entrance. These texts. the healthy cartouche on Egyptian monuments. reveal the jamb of a door or window. or their fellow men (Chapter 125). mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt. the cobra goddess of Lower Egypt. who toiled in place of the dead. The pairing of these two deities expresses the division of Egypt into northern and southern kingdoms. This first stairway is undecorated. but the door jambs and lintel identify the tomb as Nefertari's. children. and love. or "spells. the Osiris. The setting sun signals that we have entered the nighttime realm of the dead. who are accompanied by Isis and Nephthys. Well-known chapters of the Book of the Dead included the canopic formula for protection of the viscera (Chapter 151). On the right 30). and the negative confes­ sion. the door thickness is badly damaged. in which the dead professed to have done no harm to widows. the king's great wife. the heart scarab text to restrain the heart from bearing witness against the deceased (Chapter laborious tasks in the hereafter (Chapter 6). 146. But the figure of Nekhbet. oudjat eyes and car­ touches of the queen surmounted with the double plume. united by King Menes in the distant past. great of favors.144.94. The door oudjat eye literally. an oval or oblong figure containing the name of a ruler or deity thickness the side of an opening in a wall. the thickness of the door frame soffit the horizontal. revered before Osiris. Texts in the Book of the Dead evolved from utterances that first appeared in the Sixth Dynasty pyramids of the Old Kingdom and were further elaborated in coffin texts during the Middle Kingdom.that she has given life to Nefertari . performing specific. such as a door or window soffit carries a repre­ sentation of the sun setting behind a sand hill and flanked by two kites. Although largely sym­ bolic. birds whose shrill cries recall mourning women." expressed the aspirations of ordinary Egyptians to flourish in the nether­ world and join the com­ munity of imperishable spirits. called reveal are equally fragmentary traces Llshabtis. Inscribed in the tomb of Nefertari are portions of Chapters 17. Nefertari. Not all the texts in the book had to be actually inscribed to be effective. but the one on the right may still be read: "Hereditary noblewoman. To the left. sweet­ ness. The text on the left jamb is nearly obliterated." The lintel bears faint traces of the setting sun flanked by two THE TEXTS IN THE TOMB Since Nefertari was not a sov­ ereign. the vulture goddess of Upper Egypt. The trapezoids formed between the sloping roof and the upper margin of the scenes are filled with coiled and winged serpents who confer life and dominion on the queen." the Book of the Dead consisted of nearly two hundred utterances intended to help guide the dead on their jour­ neys into the beyond. the inside surface of a vault or an arch . a formula for the servant figurines. Called by the Egyptians "The Book of the Coming Forth by Day. there may have been some historical foundation to this separation. can be made out.

' This chapter asserts the identity of the gods Re' and Atum. the inscription and vignettes are drawn exclusively from senet from the ancient Egyptian verb meaning to pass [someone or some­ thing j. His/her unseen opponent symbolizes Fate. symbolized by a bird with a human head. however.58 HOUSE OF ETERNITY Chamber C Within the tomb itself. and finally. playing senet. Chapter 17 is one of the longest and oldest spells in the Book of the Dead. Her ability to do so depends less on any special knowledge that she may possess than on the text itself. its theme is the transfor­ mation of the queen into an effective being in the afterlife. . the queen is shown in three of her different transformations: first. with a rock­ cut table along its west and north sides. struc­ tured as a series of questions and responses. On the left. the soul.2 meters). the first chamber is nearly square (5 x 5. one who will join the com­ pany of Osiris. a theological equa­ tion dating at least to the Old Kingdom. to have power Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead. Scenes on the right-hand side of this room relate to the recesses and chamber beyond. as a ba. next. adoring a composite. On a deeper level. In certain funerary contexts.2 In the illustrations on the south wall. the deceased is represented playing this game alone. the word is applied to a board game consisting of thirty squares with movable gaming pieces anciently termed the dancers. who must be defeated in order to gain immortality in the hereafter ba in Egyptian mythology. that part of the soul free to leave the tomb temporarily sekhem powerful.

to be spiritllalized i" Ihe BeaulifllllVest. All three figures on the south wall are paying homage to this composite figure. beloved of Milt. placing illustra- � tions in the upper regis0 0 ter and words in the CQ middle. jllstified after he (sic] died. the killg's great wife. The ba bird. miSlress of the two lands. kneel­ illg ill adoratioll. Nefertari sits on a high-backed chair resting on a reed mat. and illustration are integrated in one long. was Jree to travel outside the tomb during the day. COII/illg forth as a liyillg ba by tile Osiris. and with her left she is just about to move a senet piece. is free to leave the tomb temporarily. south wall. in a few instances. her hands raised in adoration. On the left. In her right hand is a sekhem scepter. and kneeling figure were frequently shown together in contemporary funerary papyri. the mobile portion of Nefertari's soul. the gaming table before her. The queen is dressed in a sheer white gown reaching to her sandals and wears a vulture-headed cap or head­ dress. representing the soul. The ba. . II is effective to do tillS on earth. text Ihe cOlI/illg forth by dny ill order to assume the forms amoug any forms he (sic] wishes. the ba. The figure of the kneeling queen. not close at all. The rest of the space is filled with her name and titles. given that the funerary honors accorded Nefertari were highly unusual for a woman. the architecture of the tomb required that this scene be folded at the corner.A WALK THROUGH THE HOUSE OF ETERNITY " lion-headed god. continuous roll. Detail Jrom Chamber C. The senet scene. The next vignette shows the queen as a ba bird perched atop a low shrine. a natural enough response. Akeru. so Ihat it happells eutirely accordillg to instructions. Akeru. but here the artists separated image and text. a recurrent metaphor for rebirth in Egyptian art. Nefertari. Opposite: The illllstratioll on the south wall oJ Chamber C shows NeJertari in three transJormations: playillg the board game senet. on the west wall. the earth god. how­ ever. as the human­ headed ba bird. The entire scene is framed within a shelter made of reeds. It is meant to invoke the morning sun. seems curiously placed until we realize that it is meant to address the twin-headed lion god. 2 The introductory chapter heading is contained in the first nine columns and succinctly summarizes its overall intent. It reads: "Begill"i"g of the praises and recitations to come forth a"d go dOW/l into Ihe Necropolis. Here. The correspondence between the two is therefore interrupted and. Akeru is actually a complex of images: the sun rising above the horizon and the sky above are integral to this image. The first two transforma­ tions are explicitly mentioned in the open­ ing of Chapter 17. 1 � � Q � � H 0< 0 In funerary papyri. playillg senet and sittillg ill the bOOlh." The use of masculine pronouns in reference to the queen suggests the copyist lost his concentration from time to time.

slender. on the lintel over the en trance to Recess D. etc . facing right. In the funerary papyri. sounds a distinctly funerary note. with long legs and a long. The following two vignettes and text are seriously degraded. rebus a composite of letters. customary positions as sentinels: Nephthys at the head.. or ibis. he is called "the great green. shen a ring or a protective enclosure such as the car­ touche surrounding a royal name cavetto a molding having a concave curve of about ninety degrees . The kites have taken up their A god." possibly a reference to fecundity. symbolizing abundance of years. a kiosk sheltering a mummy on a lion­ headed bier. there is an especially effective image of a heron or benu. A canopy of bead work is stretched over it but appears as a backdrop. Only traces survive of a standing figure. The white mummy shell is bound with red linen bands. His left hand is poised on an oval containing a stylized falcon eye. that combine to suggest phrases or words oudjat. the water god holds a notched palm rib. a bird with phoenix-like qualities. This grouping is a rebus for shen and ovals containing a wading bird indigenous to the Nile. and Isis at the foot. curved bill oudjat eyes. The central image of this register. his hands stretched over two benu the heron. The kneeling god to the right is a water god.On the west wall are a half dozen vignettes_ Next to the image of the earth god. With his right hand. shown dark-skinned. often labeled as the soul of Re'. objects. pre­ sumably his gift to Nefertari. two hieroglyphic tokens for pro­ tection and health. with pen­ dulous breasts. signs. and a funeral mask covers the mummy's head.

From left to right. the Celestial Cow. in pairs on either side of a wooden shrine. The vignettes in the upper register do not correspond to the texts beneath. On the east side. The stone table that runs along the north and west sections of Chamber C has a semicircular molding and cavetto cornice with alternating bands painted red-blue- . the decoration breaks. Much-ravaged at the left hand is the image of a reclining cow. The orientation of the figures makes this clear. the divine form of light and air. ending at the left door jamb that marks the descent to the burial cham­ ber. is a docket recording a delivery of plaster to the "right" and "left" gangs of workmen who excavated this tomb. wooden shrines. not unlike a little coffer found in the tomb clearance and now in Turin. west side. genii whose role is to guard the viscera of The upper section of the west wall of Chamber C before conservation illustrat­ ing sections of Chapter 17 of the Book of the cavetto cornice and a scene involving a seated. falcon-headed god. in one of the niches. Shu. Re'. The table was probably designed to hold funerary equipment destined for the cele­ bration of the cult of the dead queen. niches have been hollowed out. as well as to give her the appearance of her father. The first is likely Re'. On the left inner face of the northern niche. Facing this cluster are two seated mummiform figures. The four farthest to the east are the sons of Horus. The text around the edge of the table is Osiris' declaration of his intent to provide Nefertari a place in his realm and in the divine assembly. Possibly its place was under this table. Careful exami­ nation of these vignettes-especially the heron and the funeral bier-afford an ideal chance to observe the balance maintained between carving and painting. north wall.The final cluster of images on this wall shows a flat-roofed shrine with green-blue against a white background. we see five figures facing right. the text of Chapter 17 continues to scroll its way along the Dead. In the middle of the north wall. one falcon-headed. Beyond is a faint sug­ gestion of another oudjat eye. the other human." The backs of the niches are painted to resemble three round-topped. She is followed by a symmetrical grouping of the sons of Horus. the second. All these illustrations coordinate with portions of Chapter 17. Within the shrine is an image of Anubis. T hese all carry the queen's title: "king's great wife Nefertari. three on the west and two on the north. beloved of Mut. Along the table's front. depicted as a recumbent jackal. leaving what seem to be stout piers to hold it up. Textual references to these images appear on the north wall of the room. but their position in the funerary papyri can vary greatly.

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She is robed in a white pleated garment with a red sash about her waist. Nefertari has her hands raised in homage to Osiris. perhaps Horus himself. we find a scene of Nefertari as a supplicant before a seated figure of the mummiform Osiris. The five figures over the entryway are the four sons of Horus whose roles are to guard the deceased's viscera. Returning to the entrance to Chamber C. the queen herself. they are Imsety. Qebehsenef. a chest with four urns containing the mummified internal organs of the dead. Behind them sits an anonymous falcon­ headed god. Nephthys.deities who appear on the canopic vessels and the exterior of many coffins. as the queen's viscera were stored below. the baboon-faced Hapy. The gods are. Duamutef. where they were first recognized . on the eastern part of the south wall (right of the entrance). The falcol1headed figure to their left. and each associates with one of four goddesses .Isis. The prominent placement of these figures above the door leading to the lower reaches of the tomb and the sarcophagus is thoroughly appropriate. custodian of the lungs. thus establishing the fundamental orientation of figures.the deceased. in a sense. and a canine. altogether typical of the elaborate fashions of the Ramesside court. the falcon-headed keeper of the intestines. though unspeci­ fied. and so they face out. is thought to be Horus himself cut in the west side of the burial chamber. a sea­ port in the Nile Delta east of Alexandria. already resident in the tomb. The queen faces into the tomb and Osiris out. like hosts greeting a most esteemed guest. and Neith . who has charge of the stomach. in the tiny niche Opposite: The north wall of Chamber C including the entrance to the descending corridor. It is a luxurious garment. Named after Canopus. Each of these minor gods is assigned one of the cardinal points of the compass. From the right. a human-headed guardian respon­ sible for the liver. canopic chest in ancient Egypt. in this case. The scribe mistakenly exchanged the names of Qebehsenef and Duamutef. It is also the dress of Detail from north wall of Chamber C showing figures illus­ trating Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead. Serket.

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the tutelary goddess of Lower Egypt. (was). The flesh of the god is green. together with Nekhbet. The djed amulet was a hieroglyph rep­ resenting a bundle of stalks tied together. Nefertari is standing in adoration before an enthroned Osiris. king's great wife. By extension. but has ostrich plumes affixed to each side. and mistress of the two lands. reproduced in various media as a symbol connoting stability. and dominion (sa). beloved of Mut. who is seated in a kiosk to the left. east side. it imitates the bulbous white crown of Upper Egypt. and which. an ancient Egyptian symbol of life. endurance. The kiosk is topped by a frieze of rampant ser­ pents UTaeU$ via the ancient Greek word for tail. The jackaL-headed god. life (ankh). He is swathed in mummy bandages and clasps the crook. Osiris wears an elaborate crown called the was dominion atef Made of papyrus. this term is generally applied to the cobra. Between him and the queen is a narrow table with mummi­ form figures of the four sons of Horus. The queen wears her characteristic headdress: a twin-plumed vulture cap. stability i' Opposite: DetaiL from the south waLL. His hands are crossed over his chest. a token of kingship. often decorated the brow of the pharaoh. justified before the great god. of Chamber C. resting atef similar to the white crown of Upper Egypt but with ostrich plumes affixed to each side on a striped cavetto cornice. Osiris. and the like (uraei) with sun disks. of course. the cobra might be employed as a motif connoting protection in a general sense sa protection ankh life. consisting of a cross with a loop at the top djed stability. Nefertari. and the flail. signifying his formidable powers of rejuvenation. Anubis. which the ancient Egyptians associated with Edjo. She is identified as "the Osiris. Behind Osiris are amuletic devices signify­ ing protection (djed).A WALK THROUGH THE " HOUSE OF ETERNITY " a human being. on the south side of the east wall of Chamber C." The great god is. I . one who comes from the perishable world.

and Osiris. The feathers symbolize Ma'at while the cobra has generic protective properties. requiring them to mix scenes that have no clear connection. as if to coax her forward. . The lintel. In fact. This frieze is reminiscent of the shen and oudjat rebus. Anubis appears on the right panel of the frame. On it is a frieze of rampant uraei. The curious device either side of Osiris is a leopard skin twisted about a rod set in a mortar. on the right. The architecture has constrained the artists. the upper framing device. The scenes in the recesses and beyond do not form a unity. with the back-to-back juxtaposition of Atum. Osiris al1d Al1l1bis flank the entral1ceway to the recesses and Chamber C. It is the fetish of Anubis and is profoundly linked with th is god's role as the principal embalmer of the dead. E.66 Preparation for Recesses and Side Chamber G From the middle of Chamber C we can look east through Recesses D. links the two compositions. qJ:ntessential god of salvation and Atum's great-grandson. The god now wears a less-detailed version of the ate! crown: feathers astride the white crown of Upper Egypt. thus defining the processional axis. the figure of Anubis. the creator god. Osiris' son by Nephthys. The gods shown are those featured in the Heliopolitan cycle of deities. a jackal-headed god clutching a was scepter in his left hand and ankh sign in his right. facing outward from a central fig­ ure of a god whose hands are posed over two ovals containing oudjat eyes. the artists have cleverly paired divine images on left and right surfaces. and F to side Chamber G. The climax will occur in Chamber G. The standing image of Osiris shows him within a shrine with high-arched roof. alternating with blue feathers. The customary regalia are in his hands. In decorating these recesses. The sides of the frame of the first recess are composed of a standing figure of Osiris on the left and. Both figures look toward Nefertari.

.

.

stability. Nefertari. mistress of the two lallds. jllstified before Osiris who resides in Abydos. the great royal mother. the goddess is Neith. two oppos­ ing pilasters that define the entryway to Recess E. This time. lady of Upper alld Lower Egypt. Detail of hieroglyphs from the south wall of Recess D. mistress of heavell alld lady of all the gods. forever. I lIave {ohJ killg's great wife. a common archi­ tectural ornament representing knotted bunches of vegetal matter such as reeds or grass. On the left (north). She is framed above by a kheker frieze. is the goddess Serket (or Selkis). beloved of Mut. dominion. Serket wears a richly beaded dress with thin shoulder straps. in lIeaven like Re·. identifiable by the scor­ pion on top of her head. justified before Osiris wllo resides ill tl. Protective emblems stand at the ready behind her. beloved of Milt. Behind are a series of protective emblems that form a benediction of sorts: "protection. She faces outward in welcome. and lilave accorded you a place within Igeret. so that you may appear gloriously ill heaven like Re�" "I have come before YOIl" indicates that the goddess is ready to aid the queen in the new realm that now awaits . Beneath is a representation of the nighttime sky or starry firmament. She too is dressed in a tight-fitting sheath of beadwork. Nefertari. As with all the gods who now guide Nefertari and welcome her to the netherworld. A complementary welcoming scene occurs on the right-hand (south) pilaster. Thus the queen can rest assured that she is in good hands. alld 4 Her utterance reads: � o <q "Words spoken by Neitll. I I have have accorded YOIl a place ill the sacred land. her. a broad beaded collar. come before YOII. and wristlets. life. lady of Upper alld Lower Egypt. so t/lat YOIl may appear gloriollsly . whose signature emblem rests atop her head: a greatly stylized image of two bows tied together or possibly a shield and two crossed arrows. the hereafter.Recess D Now we pass through Recess D. Serket's statement come before YOII. . all protection like Re'. mistress of the two lallds. even obscuring a portion of the kheker frieze.e West."3 Opposite: The depiction of Neith on the east side of the south wall at the top of the descending cor­ ridor is very similar to that on the south wall of Recess D. This is a small but remark­ able breach of the artistic convention. In both instances the artist has intentionally drawn Neith's emblem so that it bursts through the picture frame. � � � o o mistress of heavell alld lady of all the gods.4 3 The text reads: "Saket. armlets. king's great wife.

Isis wears bovine horns. pleated linen. The exact components are difficult to iden­ tify but seem to consist either of stacked vertebrae or bound vegetal elements. we come upon two presentation scenes. crowned with a sun disk. the image is Osiris. The scene wraps at the wall juncture. indeed. beloved of Mut. the pilasters both right and left (behind you as you enter) are decorated with images of the djed pillar. Arm bands and wristlets complete her ensemble of jewelry. Re'-Horakhty. twisted about a stylized rep­ resentation of the lungs and windpipe. the queen is inducted by Isis into the fillet a thin strip of cloth or CL: 11. I have made a place for you in the necropo­ lis. Urging her on. as a djed pillar. or counterpoise. again clothed in the whitest. we see whom Isis and Nefertari confront: an anthropomorphic deity with the head of a beetle.I presence of Kheperi. . visible under her right arm. of Recess E. and with her right. Opposite: Nefertari being led by the goddess Isis on the north wall of Recess E. Isis wears the tight. and a uraeus draped over the solar disk. Her hair is bound with a fillet. On the right side of the recess. its use on a supporting element in the tomb is witty. a talisman of the god Osiris. strides forward. a solar disk between them. Her name and titles appear above her in three columns. interrupted by the twin. on the east wall. in the manner of fish scales ." Nefertari. As we look straight forward (east). the seated god with the head of a beetle. beadwork dress with which we are now familiar. Starting with the left-hand scene on the north wall. Note that she is shown with two left feet. red.70 HOUSE OF ETERNITY Recess E In Recess E. gently drawing her forward. she takes Nefertari's hand. the hieroglyph for unity. The connection with Osiris is manifestly evident in this instance. [oh] king's great wife. overlapping pattern. Isis says: "Come. The falcon-headed god. Horus Son-of-Isis (Horsiese) leads the queen before seated images of Re'-Horakhty and the Theban Hathor. south side. Its hieroglyphic meaning is "stability". high­ plumed crown we now expect. This clever playing off of decor against architectural function is used to even greater effect in the burial chamber below. He is seated on an imbricated throne base with the unification symbol in the lower right quadrant. In her left hand she holds a was scepter. On the left. and as the distinction between writing and art in ancient Egypt was very vague. other substance circling the head and used to hold the hair in place imbricated ornamented with an evenly spaced. Nefertari. This is a heraldic device made of the plants of Upper and Lower Egypt. As we enter fully into the recess separating Chambers C and G. About her neck is a broad collar whose weight is supported by a menat.

.

�. If! �'. .t - .

and eternity. the morning light. with life. behind him. a lifetime as long as that of Re'. the appearance of Re' in heaven. broad collar. Re' -Horakhty. The pair approach two gods seated on low imbricated thrones: the falcon-headed god is Re' -Horakhty. Although the label in front of Horsiese mentions his utterance. Called the pshent. but with the bull's tail trailing behind. except for his characteristic solar disk and looping uraeus. These promise a place in the sacred land. this crown combined the red and white crowns that signify Lower and Upper Egypt. Thus. none is recorded. whose name means Horus­ of-the-Twin-Horizons. Despite the axis shift. Words above the god promise Nefertari "everlastingness like Re'.The god is dressed in a heavy wig. The south side of the east wall of Recess E. The lintel over the doorway from Recess E shows the vulture Nekhbet with wings outstretched and a protective symbol in each claw. patroness of EI-Kab and Hieraconpolis. the nascent sun god. kheperu are forms that a god or human can assume. Re'-Horakhty is dressed almost identically to Kheperi. Its name means "the double powers. The right-hand presentation scene is analogous to the left." He too wears the shendyet. The goddess Hathor has her arm raised to touch the headdress of Re'-Horakhty seated in front of her. and a place in the necropolis. Her function is to protect those who pass beneath. but more likely the decoration was adapted to suit the tomb's architecture. He appears as a god with a falcon head. shifted slightly left. The legend appear­ ing between the roof and forward edge of the wings proclaims this to be the vulture Nekhbet. He utters three short texts. Notice that this doorway is off axis. green vest held up with shoul­ der straps. the primary scene in the chamber ahead-back-to-back figures of Atum and Osiris-is exactly on the axis of the door. traditional ceremonial dress for gods and kings. who resides in Thebes. stability. The word "Kheper" is related to the verb meaning "to change or transform". except that Horus Son-of-Isis (Horsiese) conducts the queen. He holds the ankh sign in his left hand and a was staff in his right. and dominion. represents the mature sun at midday. and short kilt (shendyet) with a bull's tail. . wearing the double crown of united Egypt. The lintel that links these two scenes is emblazoned with a vulture holding in each talon a shen sign. Hathor. Kheperi repre­ sents the possibility of Nefertari's transfor­ mation through death to a new existence. It is possible this was done to accommodate scenes of different dimensions. Both throne bases display the unification symbol." This is Kheperi. twin cities of Upper Egypt.

.

The superimposed yellow stars were laid out along parallel guidelines snapped onto the ceiling from taut cords dipped in white paint. all health. like (the protection of) Re'.75 Recess F This entrance to side Chamber G is an ideal opportunity to observe the star­ spangled roof of the tomb: five-pointed yellow stars against a blue background. In most funerary papyri. The decoration on the opposite side of the doorway is identical. astral sentinels who never sink below the horizon and were thus equated with the souls of gods and beings who survived the perilous passage through death to the beyond. dominion. nor Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead. one of the crucial rites of passage is the judgment of Osiris. it is echoed in these portraits of Ma'at. gazing out toward Nefertari. they offer "protection." Locating Ma'at so prominently is probably significant. Multiple associations signal not only night­ time but also the imperishable circumpolar stars. The color of the ceil­ ing is achieved by painting blue over a layer of black. life. Neither the judgment scene. The protective talismans behind Ma'at are more varied than those we have encountered previously. appears anywhere in Nefertari's tomb. the goddess of truth and daughter of Re' . stabil­ ity. From top to bottom. and all her protection. on the north side of Recess F. in which the heart of the deceased is weighed against Ma'at's Feather of Truth. Her distinguishing feature is the feather on her head. The goddess Ma'at. . Ma'at is dressed not in a bead-net dress but a cling­ ing red shift. all joy. Each side of the doorway is decorated with an identical panel: beneath a kheker frieze and sky sign is the figure of Ma'at. Instead. with the identifying feather in her head­ band.

HOUSE OF ETERNITY

Chamber G
Chamber G is about 3 meters deep and 5 meters wide. The ratio of width to depth is Standing in the very middle of the wall, the queen occupies center stage. Bracketed by text behind and Thoth in front, Nefertari is identified as "king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified before the great god (Osiris)." In eight columns of text behind the queen is the entirety of Chapter 94 of the Book of the Dead. The columns appear in standard order, facing right and reading from right to left.5 Thoth is the patron of writing and functions in judgment scenes as the recorder. With Thoth, Ma'at at the entry­ way, and Osiris on the back wall, the principal players in the standard judgment scene have all been assembled. As the queen is repeatedly referred to as "the Osiris," it is certain that she has success­ fully completed this essential rite of passage, even though it is not shown.

1.66, remarkably close to the ratio of the
depression in the queen's burial chamber

(1.65) and the northern annex (1.66). This
fraction, not far off the "golden" propor­ tion of 1.61, recurs in Egyptian architecture. This chamber also provides the best view of the rock floor of the tomb. On the left-hand (west) interior wall, behind us, is a single scene framed by the customary sky hieroglyph resting atop two

was scepters.

Nefertari presents cloth to

Ptah, one of the principal creator gods. The queen holds her hands up, palms flat, to support a tray bearing four forked supports, the hieroglyph for cloth. On the table in front of her is yet more fabric, labeled linen. Nefertari offers this to Ptah, the god of ancient Memphis, Egypt's first capital. Swathed in his

cerements,

Ptah stands in a

wickerwork booth with arched roof; he peers out at the queen through a small grill, open in front of him. Ptah clutches a staff made of the
burial gar­ ments; a shroud made of cloth treated with wax and used to wrap the body of the deceased
cerements

was and djed emblems

:l

o

5 The first two columns
provide the chapter heading and subject:

me the palette from that of Thoth. their secrets within them. [Oh] Gods. Behold,

bound together. Above is an assortment of amulets offering "protection, life, stability, dominion, all health, all joy, all his protec­ tion, like Re'." This scene bears no apparent relation to any other in the room and is not an illustration from the Book of the Dead. It is likely an example of the concept

= �
o

o

"Utterance for reqllesting the water bowl and writing palette from Thoth in the Necropolis by the king's great wife, mistress of the two Iallds, Nefertari, beloved of Milt, justified."
The queen's recitation is next: "Oh great OIle

I am a scribe. Bring me
the excrement of Osiris [for] my writirlgs, that I may perform the instruc­ tions of Osiris, the great god, perfectly every day, cOrlsisting of the good which you have decreed me. [Oh] Re'-Horakhty,

� � �
<oj

Detail of the god Ptah on the west wall, north side, of Chamber G. In this vignette, Nefertari is giving linen to Ptah to ensure a reciprocal and ample supply for her corpse. This is typ­ ical of the contractual arrangements between devout Egyptians and their gods.

called in Latin

do ut des: "I give in order

that you might give." The entire north wall of Chamber G is covered by a single presentation scene to the ibis-headed Thoth, god of writing. Thoth sits on an imbricated throne set on a low plinth; he regards the queen across a stand that holds a writer's palette, a water bowl, and a frog amulet. This frog may be what is called a sportive writing for

who sees his father, keeper of the writings of Thoth. Behold, I am come spiritu­ alized, with a soul, mighty, and equipped with the writings of Thoth. Bring me the messenger of Akem (the liorl-headed earth god) who is with Seth. Bring me the bowl, brirlg

I shall act the truth and
shall attain the truth."

whm-'nh, "repeating life," a wish

for longevity.

� ••

.,

..c:

the savior god. or fan. all infinity with him. all eternity with him. smoking braziers rest atop bountiful offerings prepared for the gods. Nefertari. Receiving these is Osiris. Protective devices are arranged vertically behind him. ruler of the sacred land. He holds his customary regalia and wears the 6 A four-column inscrip­ � � � � o tion above the queen describes "the presenta- tion of offerings (iabet I to her father. a huge flabellum. the very reason for their exis­ tence. she holds a The companion scene shows the queen presenting her burnt offering to "-tum. Two presentation scenes are juxtaposed back-to-back: on the left. her left hand is by her side. king's great wife. ruler of infinity. this time made of rushwork. Small images of the four sons of Horus rest on a stand before him. We learn that he is "Atum. In her extended right hand. who resides in the West. He wears a false beard held in place by a chin strap. the great god and lord of the sacred land. Although the sepulchral overtones of the encounter are minimized. is here communing with his great-grandson. sekhem staff.6 Opposite: In this part of the long scene occupying the entire east wall of Chamber G. Wen-neier. by his daughter. and just beneath may be seen the fetish of Anubis. In both scenes. loaves of bread. paramount lord of the dead. Thus Atum. The right hand should hold the staff. bread. the great god. but from a ritual point of view.· . this scene in Chamber G marks a crucial moment in the queen's spiritual journey. funerary associa­ tions are always present where Osiris is concerned. mounted in an oval stand. beneath. lord of the two lands. � � appearance of Re' in heaven. separates Osiris and Atum. Nefertari before Osiris. Nefertari is standing before a pile of offerings of meat. Osiris. and vegetables. shrouded in his white cerements and seated upon an imbricated throne with unification symbol. beloved of Mut. On her head is the familiar crown. The left altar supports a towering pile of food stuffs heaped onto three mats. signifying her power to make offerings. Recognizable are cuts of meat. Osiris' triumphant metamorphosis to eternal life was a feat that all deceased hoped to duplicate. and vegetables. The religious philosophy it embodies is also significant. the great god. the Heliopolitan. on the right. Some asymmetries of posture result. king of the living. Osiris.» Nine columns of text over the altar and facing away from Osiris sum­ marize his intention of giving Nefertari "the atef crown.A WALK THROUGH THE " HOUSE OF ETERNITY " 79 On the long east wall of Chamber G is the climactic scene of the complex of rooms formed by the recesses and side chamber. Functioning as a scene divider. Osiris. a reed mat. The god is portrayed in the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. In both." As it captures the first instance that Nefertari makes a formal presentation to Osiris. the creator god. In his hands are an a ankh sign and was staff. justified. mistress of the two lands. the queen before Atum. Lighted. who survived death and dismemberment. this was the best solution. lord of eternity. and all joy with him. the queen is attired in a white pleated gown.

Each cow . there are references to steering oars that help the deceased maneuver among the stars. scepters at either end are four cows in the upper register. who has been placed on the adjoining wall for lack of space. With Re' serv­ ing as the queen's helmsman and the oars guiding her pilgrimage. Beneath a sky sign and framed by was is distinguished by its hide and a particular legend above. It is an evocation of Chapter 148 of the Book of the Dead. In the same spell. milk. The seven cows and the bull are addressing Nefertari on the adjacent wall. In front of each is a small altar with offerings of vegetables. and vegetables. The animals are meant to address Nefertari. The text of Chapter 148 reveals that these seven cows have the power to provide the spirit of the dead queen with the necessities we see displayed: milk. three cows and one bull in the middle. and bread.The south and part of the west walls of Chamber G. The next scene occupies the entire south wall and. for lack of space. Each oar is named and linked with a compass direction. none of Nefertari's enemies will know or even recognize her­ so the text promises. continues onto the southern portion of the west wall. bread.

Over the door is the tutelary image of Nekhbet with signs in her talons. to the left. earth-bound cults that seem to stand in opposition to solar imagery. and so forth. The left avers: "It is Osiris who sets as Re'. The scene is well preserved and a superb example of balanced draftsmanship and excellent execution. Such fusing of the qualities and traits The cow and oar images exist for the benefit of Nefertari who has been rele­ gated to the adjacent wall. Each wears a bag wig (afnet) with long queue. The scene takes place beneath the sky sign and is framed by the vertical band to the left and a the door jamb. chthon­ ian. where she stands with arms raised in adoration. The ram-headed god is identified as Re'. and the modeling of the flesh of her neck with three painted strokes is remarkable. Like an enormous punctuation mark. a broad.. Yet this is not an obvious alliance. The polar­ ity can be expressed in countless ways: night versus day. a request that the cows provide her sustenance. Her lotus-bud earring is particularly splendid. raised band of relief severs the of Egyptian gods . The dresses are held in place with shoulder straps that expose the goddesses' breasts. and Isis.81 previous scene from the one immediately south of the doorway. kept in ( place by a red fillet. Ministering to him are Nephthys." Egyptian theologians are here de­ claring that Re' and Osiris are profoundly intertwined. to the right. shen .a practice known as "syncretism" .occurs often. so thrusting the two gods into partnership. This is a curious but theologically important grouping of a ram­ headed mummiform figure standing on a small plinth. but presumably she utters the invocation that is an integral part of Chapter 148. Between the ram's horns is a solar disk. red sheath dress. The figure wears a broad collar and red sash. Between the goddesses and his mummiform figure are two bands of text. No words are actually ascribed to the queen. and a tight.. Re' represents the expiring sun ready to begin once more the nighttime journey into the realm of the dead. Osiris' kingdom. since Osiris represents the � I was scepter along I ." The right: "It is Re' who sets as Osiris. earth versus sun.

a tub of papyrus. on 7 Here. The whole design is balanced on a woven basket. is the " west. the cobra goddess.82 Doorway to the Descending Corridor The descent leading from Chamber C is off axis. great of favor. � X � called "tire hereditary lIoblewomall. great wife. Underneath. 1904. Ncfertari is the right. is a tub of lilies. tire Osiris. jllstified." This impression is further height­ ened by a skewing to the right of the descent passage itself. shifted appreciably right.. therefore. and north (Lower Egypt) to our right. Opposed serpents representing Nekhbet and Edjo shield the queen's cartouche. Twin djed pillars support the entire scene beneath. Considerable paint and plaster have been lost along the right-hand edge." .! The right outer thickness shows a rampant serpent facing the queen's car­ touche. Straight ahead. In the absence of any obvious structural reason for this.. we assume it is Nekhbet. Turi1l." the domain of the dead. The inner thickness at the head of the stairs is exceptionally interesting. heraldic plant of Upper Egypt. inner one. be/ol'cd of Milt. The passage­ way has two widths: a narrow. The door jamb marking the entryway to the descent proclaims the queen's formal name in outsized hieroglyphs. which is surmounted by double plumes and a solar disk and rests on the hieroglyph for gold. on the left. Photo: Courtesy of the Mllseo Egizio. A kheker frieze and sky sign define the upper bound­ ary of the composition and a fancy woven basket the lower. outer thick­ ness and a wide. of united Egypt. Nefcrtari. mistress of tire o � o '" . perhaps the architects were trying to introduce an unexpected twist. The corresponding left-hand scene is almost identical. in imitation of the "crookedness of the beyond. Omitted is the serpent's name. heraldic plant of Lower Egypt. but since it wears the double crown Looking down the descel1dil1g corridor to the burial chamber from Chamber C. This pairing symbolically establishes the mythic orientation of the tomb: south (Upper Egypt) is to our left. killg's two lauds. The serpent wears the red crown of Lower Egypt and is identi­ fied as Edjo.

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and Hathor on the east side of the descending corridor. Ma'at encircles Nefertari's cartouche with her outstretched wings. The decoration in the upper triangles.Ma'at. The stairway is 7. Although the text and decoration offer no clue to its use. Despite the awkward surfaces produced.5 meters long and drops nearly 3 meters over the course of eighteen steps. Serket. On each side is a narrow shelf about 4. Down the midline runs a slip way for the sarcophagus. those areas that lie above an imaginary plane extending out from the floor level of The Descending Corridor .5 meters in length and at the same level as the floor of Chamber C. The second descent leads to the sarcopha­ gus hall. it could have served to hold ritual material or funerary furnishings. not even the smallest area has been left undecorated. The walls of this corridor form a parallelogram divided into two triangles whose long sides are actually a continua­ tion of the floor level in Chamber C.

wearing nemset a globular jar used in rituals that the cartouche derives from a modified shen sign. Next to it. but only Isis wears a beaded dress. beloved of Milt. Two smoking braziers perch on top. the queen presents two globular jars (nemset jars) held above an altar charged with fruit. the queen presents two nemset jars. Neferlar. while two braziers blaze on an altar well laden with produce and bread but no meats. lady of tile Osiris. in the descending corridor. squatting with out­ stretched wings. all health. Here. the scorpion god­ dess. . the cartouche behind Ma'at integrates well into the body of the text and does not seem an afterthought. similar to the door thicknesses of the recess upstairs. A selection of amuletic devices fills out the composition. sweet­ � � � g o mistress of llle two lallds. the "right" crew a bit sharper aesthetically than their fellows across the corridor. Again. her sister. On the right thickness stands Neith. All in all." Serket. The sisters are seated on imbricated throne bases. life. possessor of charm. the artist had to forego Nefertari's tall..n tile West. Beneath this cornucopia are a water jug and what may be a lettuce." Turning to the right. At the near end of each shelf (south thickness) is a representation of Serket (left) and Neith (right). crowned with a scorpion. plumed orna­ ment. In the interest of presenting a more complete titulary. beaded dress. � o 8 Here. o Upper alld Lower Egypt. we find a nearly identical composition." There to receive the queen's offerings are three goddesses: Isis.s The recipients of Nefertari's largesse are a local form of Hathor. and Ma'at. a Detail of Serket. Both Hathor and Serket wear tight-fitting. Amulets fill the space behind Serket.A WALK THROUGH THE "HOUSE OF ETERNITY" 85 Chamber C. and loaves of bread. cuts of meat. her green wings extended to shield the queen's car­ touche. and Ma'at. the right-hand panel seems more carefully conceived and executed than the left. ankle-length dresses with shoulder straps that expose their breasts. stability. A more extensive version of Nefertari's name and titles is supplied in four columns of text just above her head. justified before Osiris who resides . Nefertari. dominion. Wedged in are protective symbols denoting "protection. alld love. It is tempting to think that these differences reflect the work styles of two distinct artisan crews. Behind Ma'at and set apart from the scene by a narrow painted band is a partial titulary of the queen: "king's great wife. On the left. beloved of Mut. "she who is chief in Thebes." shen ring reminds us But Hathor's green costume pales beside Serket's red. Nephthys. ness. At the very least. an obscure ref­ erence to the god Amun. vegetables. all joy. the queen is called "killg's great wife. Ma'at is shown in a red dress. Nephthys is clothed far more simply in a green ankle-length shift. the rhythmic alteration of color in the dresses introduces welcome varia­ tion. Only minor differences occur in dress and text. is very much in keeping with what we have already seen. all protection like Re'.

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that thou mayest appear gloriously in heaven like Re'. killg's great wife. beloved daughter. Nefertari. The first consists of twenty-nine vertical columns of increasing length that read from left to right. May tliy heart be forever joyous. The black jackal god Anubis has a sash around his neck and a flail tucked behind his right haunch. that thou mayest sit upon the throne of Osiris. alld I have given thee a place that is in the sacred land. they shall be the protection of thy limbs. Except for minor variations. the Osiris. The great assembly of gods is Ithy! protection forever and ever. The goddess Neith is on the south wall. With the roof shelving rapidly djed pillars take on the aspect of squat. the great god. Isis. Accept thou the ornaments UpOIl thy head. thy mother. The decoration on the lower portion of the descent contrasts starkly with what we have just seen. The shrine is topped with a cavetto cornice and has a single door on its broad face. I have come before thee. {oh! king's great wife. This is quite intentional. They make lengthy addresses to Nefertari. Approach thy mother. mistress of the two lands. Hence­ forth. I have come before tllee. king's great wife. prompted mostly by spatial considerations." . alld so that thou mayest illumine Igeret with thy beams. A row of amulets stands behind her. and also Nephthys. as we are for the first time literally passing below the floor level of the upper tomb. mistress of the two lallds. justified before Osiris who resides in the West. May tile souls of Pe alld Buto make jubilation as {they did! for thy father who resides in tile West. justified before Osiris. each holding a downward. lady of Upper and Lower Egypt.9110 A horizontal line at the base of each column separates these texts from those of Looking back up the descending corridor toward Chamber C. is a second address to the queen. these the roof. 9 djed was scepter. our progress is below ground in the figurative sense as well. Nefertari. the decor on righ t and left walls is symmetrical. Immediately following. lady of all lands. I have come before thee. and I have given {thee! the appearance of Re' in heaven that thou mayest sit upon the throne of Osiris. The great assem­ bly of gods who are on � � C. lord of Ra-Stau {the necropo­ lis!. The great assembly of gods on earth makes a place for thee. the great god who resides in the West. Nefertari. At the far end of each shelf (north thickness) is a diminutive version of a pillar with two arms. that thou mayest appear glori­ ously in heaven like thy father Re'. beloved of Mut. {oh! killg's great wife. distin­ guishable by the different sizes of the hieroglyphs used. powerful braces supporting The first statement: {earth!. justified. Nut. It is explicitly funerary and abounds with references to the nether­ world. in slightly larger script. Isis and Nephthys have endowed thee alld have created thy beauty like thy father. Approach thy mother. The second statement: "Words spoken by Atfubis Imy-wt. greets thee just as she did Re'-Horakhty. mistress of the two lands. The left wall shows Anubis reclining on a shrine and Isis kneeling on the hieroglyph for gold.A WALK THROUGH THE "HOUSE OF ETERNITY" anklets in this instance. the great god who resides ill the sacred land. May the lords of the sacred land receive thee." 10 � � � !-< "Words spa kerr by Allubis Imy-wt {he who is ill (his) cerecloth!. beloved of Mut. beloved of Mut. Anubis makes two addresses.

" an acknowledgement of her transformed state. the Osiris. the god's mother. stability." . I lrave given thee a place ill tl. Her iconographic signature is firmly atop her head. she places her hands above a shen sign. Igeret is illllmilled by thy beollls.e sacred lalld ill the presellce of Well-llefer. mistress of the two lallds. The second speech: The lower west side of the descendillg corri­ dor. Nefertari. coiled serpent with a shen sign around its stippled body and another just in front of the queen's car­ touche. Isis delivers the first of two speeches. great royal wife. killg's great wife. beloved of Milt. Considerable surface losses have obliterated much of Nephthys' speech. I hllve collie Ilefore thee. the queen is identified first and foremost as "the Osiris. lIIistress of tIle two lands. highly detailed version of the hieroglyph for gold buoys her up."/12 These scenes are duplicated on the right-hand wall of the descending corridor. Above him. Beginning at the far left. In larger script. Its jambs are decorated in outsize hieroglyphs presenting the name and titles of the queen. This elaborate monograph serves to defend the queen's person by vigorously protecting her name. lady of Upper alld Lower Egypt. lirave cOllie before thee. She is clothed in a red dress with shoulder straps and a white bag wig secured by a red fillet. In the context of a tomb already rich in solar imagery. Although superficially similar to the upper door jambs. in 11 The first speech: Mention of the Aten at this time might have been fraught with mean­ ing since the term was deeply implicated in the religious innovations of Akhenaten. Nephthys. I have givell thee a place ill the lIecropolis so that tholl mayes/appear gloriously ill heavCII like thy father Re'. significantly. The legend near the serpent's tail confirms: "She confers all life. As she kneels forward. beloved of Milt." At the very base of the stair and marking the passageway to the sarcopha­ gus hall is a monumental door frame. Nefertari. who dwells ill the sacred lalld. great mother. tl. mistress of all gods. Just beyond this. in the small triangle formed by the descending roof line and the scenes below. The principal change is that. jllstified before Osiris. it is now her sister. An outsize. "Words spokell by the great Isis." 12 "Words spokell with Isis. dominion like Re'. place of Isis. whom we see at the right. except for minor adjustments in layout and text. lady of Upper a 1111 lower Egypt. who kneels beneath Anubis. lady of heavell. May tholl appear glori­ o"sly like the Aten ill hClIven forever. its appearance here is not surprising. here. lord of etemity. the great god. is a winged. mistress of heavell. Anubis is depicted as a jackal recumbent on a shrine. But it is also the standard word for the sun's radiant disk and so occurs very early in Egyptian religious texts. lady of all the gods. the lord of etemity.e great god. a winged cobra protects the cartouche of Nefertari. in thirteen columns. mistress of the two lallds. justified before Osiris who resides ill the West. the second speech continues in ten columns. Osiris.HOUSE OF ETERNITY Isis.

Ma'at herself performs the task. who faces left with her left knee drawn up for support. The lintel text reads "words spoken by Ma'at. Note that the head of Ma'at intrudes into the writing field precisely . rolls the sun disk. beloved of Mut. rather. justified. the king's great wife. daughter of Re' where Egyptian grammar requires a first person pronoun.A WALK THROUGH THE " HOUSE OF ETERNITY The generous proportions and clarity of these hieroglyphs are exceptionally beautiful. Yet no such pronoun has been written. (I) protect (my) daughter. This door frame is a masterpiece of calligraphy. Nefertari. near the bottom of the west side of the descending corridor. kneeling on the symbol for gold. Isis. Above them is a striking figure of Ma'at. it is easy to appreciate how deeply intertwined are Egyptian writ­ ing and art." In this scene.

on the west side of the passageway to the burial chamber. wearing the two-feathered atef crown. like the one above." into the netherworld. Nekhbet. Ma'at with wings outstretched welcomes Nefertari from the lintel. . welcome the queen. We proceed "west. Nekhbet wears an ate! crown and Edjo the double crown. The inner thicknesses reassert the mythic orientation of the tomb by featur­ ing Nekhbet. with the feather of truth tucked into her headband. it has a narrow outer dimension and wider inner dimension.90 HOUSE OF ETERNITY Door Reveal to the Sarcophagus Chamber The little passageway to the burial cham­ ber. or nearly so. The outer thicknesses are deco­ rated identically. on the left and Edjo of Lower Egypt (north) on the right. Opposite: The entrance to the sarcophagus chamber. is waisted. the serpent of Upper Egypt (south). Figures of Ma'at.

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with one exception. Framing the compositions are a stippled band. Chapter 144 describes the gates and Chapter 146 the portals of this world. probably another place to put funerary equipment. the walls of the chamber are decorated with long scenes forming.2 meters wide. . From the scanty bits of inscription still adhering to the ends of the bench. we can discern mention of the queen as an Osiris. so documenting her fitness to reside with the immortals. Above the bench.92 Chamber K The dimensions of the sarcophagus cham­ ber (Chamber K) are 10. illustrations and texts from Chapter 146. The left side of the chamber provides illustrations and texts from Chapter 144 of the Book of the Dead. ochre below. On the west face of Pillar I. the right side. Each is a description of the domain of Osiris. Nefertari is welcomed by Hathor of Thebes. runs along the chamber's perimeter. The queen here demonstrates her profound knowledge of this secret realm by naming the doors and their attendants. kheker frieze and sky sign above. A low bench. alternating bands of red and yellow View looking north­ east into Chamber K.4 meters deep by 8. an integrated composition.

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The three attendants at any single gate are its keeper. Protect me that I may see Re' traverse it among those who make offerings to the Osiris. Each gate is com­ posed of an ochre surround and a red door. justified before Osiris. By enunciating their names. and so portions of it had to be carried over onto the west. Nefertari speaks: "Do not be weary when the old ones justify the living secrets anew in their years. This trio is invariably composed of three anthropomorphic gods. mistress of the two lands. the king's great wife.' The name of its announcer is 'Imsus' [the burner?/. I have prepared a path. attendants third. and the name of its announcer is 'penetrating of voice' [loud}. an ankh sign. mistress of the two lands. the best preserved of the five. who lifts her hands in adoration before a trio of formidable demi­ urges." Again. 'virtuous of countenance. Nefertari." spondence between their names and their representations. guardian. Each carries par­ ticular attributes: a leafy sprig. With the right jamb begins the text for the second gate. beloved ofMut. The name of its keeper [is} 'he who opens their foreheads. beloved ofMut. numerous of � forms'. five of which are here described and illus­ trated. . who defeats foes. the queen demonstrates her power over these potential adversaries. rich in offer­ ings of the momellt. the king's great wife. I have prepared a path that you might let me pass. who makes his [sic} way with a flame.'3 The first gate scene forms too large a composition to fit entirely on the south wall. Throughout the composition. Opposite: Nefertari with her hands raised in prayer on the west side of the south wall of Chamber K.14 . The Osiris. Nefertari intones: "The first gate. the order remains constant: text first. the first ram-headed. the third human-headed. After appropriate identification is provided. mistress of the two lands. The first figure is always male. justified. A broad expanse of variegated hieroglyphs separates the queen from the first gate and its attending genii. By Egyptian color conventions. ward of face. She may then approach the gate. sub­ ordinate to greater divine beings or to a supreme deity � � � 13 At the first gate. gate sec­ ond. Her name and titles fill two columns immedi­ ately in front of her. The Osiris. with a magisterial full-length view of the queen. There are seven gates in Osiris' realm. west section. the second animal­ headed. Protect me. a knife. Nefertari.. Its seventeen lines-in reverse order as they are in the first gate-are well preserved and thoroughly legible. Yet there is no obvious corre­ demiurge a lesser god. the door and guardians. the name of its � guard is 'the burtli/lg of g ear' [eavesdropper/. in order that I may see Re' traverse it.A WALK THROUGH THE " HOUSE OF ETERNITY " 95 Left/West Side of Chamber K The composition begins on the south wall. The balance of the scene. and announcer. the ki/lg's great M). May you permit me to pass. The name of its keeper [is/ 'down- wife.. ends precisely at the left door jamb of the small annex (Chamber 14 At the second: "Second gate. recite a prayer.' The /lame of its guardian. this is shorthand for wood. She is dressed in a white full-length pleated robe and her crown of choice. and pass on to the next. improper use of masculine parts of speech in reference to the queen is simply a grammatical lapse by the copyist. Nefertari.

15 Note that the texts of Gate Three and subsequent gates appear in normal order. so the hieroglyphs have been adjusted to focus our attention on this central verity: the queen's sarcophagus. guardian. but enough remains to verify that these were male deities: ram-. directly above the niche for the canopic chest. the announcer is "Hippo­ potamus-faced. This distinction between male and female skin tones is a common convention. however. but its vignette. one of the best preserved in the sarcophagus chamber. They are no longer reversed. .16 a lioness with twin snakes sprouting from her head is the guardian. Nonetheless. the keeper is "he who eats snakes". It may be significant that we have just reached the mid-point of the chamber. This reorien­ tation of hieroglyphs is not observable on the opposite side of the burial chamber. and the announcer is a male deity. This point is the architectural and religious focus of the tomb.. They are damaged. The males wear green vests held in place with shoulder straps and a knot of Isis at the navel. the doorkeeper is "the one who eats the excrement of his hinderparts". up to the northwest corner of the room. and announcer for the second gate on the west waLL. antelope-. � the announcer is "he who � � � � o 15 At Gate Three. Its triad of gods appears on the north wall. The text and vignette of the third gate have suffered quite substantial losses but from vestiges of text and outside sources. the curses." o:l 16 At Gate Five. The fifth gate's text and illustration follow. where the queen's embalmed viscera were stored and where the foot of her sarcophagus once rested. They have ruddy skin while the female god has a light complexion." Opposite: The keeper. raging with power. the artist had to reduce the usual complement of door attendants to the ram-headed keeper alone. facing our left. For want of space. Guardian is "vigilant". the names of all three are preserved. the guardian is "the burner". Chamber K. The entire text and doorway constituting the fourth gate is obliterated.HOUSE OF ETERNITY The meaning of the text is opaque. the names of the three attending gods are recoverable. A male god with ram's head is the keeper. is clear. . and human-headed..

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who blocks her passage. a crocodile clutching a large knife. who numbers [men/. whose keeper has the head of a mouse. tile destroyer. 18 The first three columns.ls Curiously. it is likely that all the keepers held knives. the opposite of Chapter 144.receive adoration from Nefertari. Hathor. she who licks [her calvesJ. Anubis.A WALK THROUGH THE "HOUSE OF ETERNITY" Right/East side of Chamber K Chapter 146 of the Book of the Dead pro­ vides Nefertari with the means to pass suc­ cessfully through the twenty-one portals of the domain of Osiris. provide the second portal's name and its keeper: � � o "Lady of fear. as they would have been in a funerary papyrus. only ten are mentioned in the tomb. Of the twenty-one portals." "Mistress of Heavell. from left to right. Nefertari asserts that she has made no transgression along the path to the "west. The texts accompanying these illustrations are short. Above the rock bench. The vestigial text identifies the portal as "mistress of altars.17 At the wall juncture is the second portal. who wards off storms alld who rescues the pllllldered." so justifying her arrival at this point in her journey. the tradi­ Opposite: The knife-wielding doorkeeper for the fifth portal on the east wall of the burial chamber. lady of the two lands. the queen appears in a pleated white gown. The keepers for the third." The doorkeeper is � g "who fashiollS {the frieze.fourth." The name of the keeper is "Dread. Though we cannot be sure." This reference encapsulates the wish of every Egyptian to make-either in fact or symbolicallya waterborne journey to Abydos. tional home of Osiris. The name of the doorkeeper is "the brightener. the god of embalming. As before. the initial scene appears on the south wall. The two columns of text behind belong to the inscription on the adjacent wall. Its name is . we approach the third portal and its keeper. friend of the great god who sails to Abydos. within which end}..and fifth portals on the east wall of Chamber K. the artist has immediately duplicated the second portal text to fill the corner junc­ ture and the small space behind the mouse­ headed doorkeeper. Substantial loss of wall surface has reduced the text to frag­ ments. The text pertaining to each of the portals follows the representation. lofty of bat­ tlements. usually comprising only four or five vertical columns. Following page: The north wall of Chamber K. Some sec­ tions are difficult to read and some have disappeared entirely. Such replicationsor dittographies-are not uncommon and seem to act as space fillers. Her hands are raised before the first portal and its vul­ ture-headed keeper.and Osiris. mummified. As in Chapter 144. who pleases every god on the day of faring upstream to Abydos. Each sec­ tion shows a stylized portal consisting of door jamb and uraeus "' o portal text. they are quite prepared to bar the queen's way if necessary. on the facing wall." squats the figure of the keeper. Text and vignette are fully integrated. They appear in reverse order throughout and always follow the illustration." . The east wall of the chamber has endured considerable damage. the funerary goddess. it is crucial that she possess knowledge and be able to name the portal and its keeper. Stepping across the annex opening. mistress of all mallkilld. between the entryway to the eastern annex and the wall juncture. great of offerings.: we can restore the first o 17 From various sources.

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. squatting child with distended cranium.." providing in this one instance a satisfying correspondence between the keeper's name and face. destroyer of the ellemies of the opponent. The queen faces to our left. and Anubis. Of its text. " The doorkeeper is "who pro­ tects his body. the weary of heart. They are Osiris. wearing the The crocodile-headed keeper of the third portal." identified as "mistress of lower Egypt. the joyful." 21 The text associated awakes with shouts." to signify her association with the necropolis. permitting us to reconstruct a part of its name as "the kindler � o "I great embracer." 20 The fifth portal is esteemed. has duplicated the last one-and­ a-half columns of text. fearful for those withill it. . Rather better preserved than the previous three. called "Loud of voice. diagnostic "engenderer")." The name of the doorkeeper is "the with Portal Seven is mis­ takenly drawn from Portal Eight. no trace remains. Nearly half of it survives. who is wise arid free of wrollgdoing. Chamber K. who portal. Seated behind him. suggesting that the artist placed the ninth portal text with the eighth portal. another instance of dittography. while the three seated gods face right. which he carries crossed in front of him. perhaps feeling a need to expand the interval between this portal and the following. however. for whom orle makes requests without ellterillg in of flames. this portal is clearly guarded by a crocodile-headed keeper. east wall. but both its name and the keeper's have vanished." The door­ keeper is "wllo commalllis kheker frieze and a band of uraei remain from the eighth (mty: A -< 19 The fourth portal's 22 The tenth portal is name is "mighty of kllives. Following her is the jackal-headed Anubis.A WALK THROUGH THE " " HOUSE OF ETERNITY 101 The fourth portal has a bull as its keeper." Osiris is shown mummiform. its keeper. He wields two knives. Portal Seven is all but obliterated. slayer of . Hathor. One word is.20 Portals Six through Eight occupy the north half of the east wall and are badly defaced.'9 Perhaps the oddest figure in this panorama of the inhabitants of Osiris' realm is the doorkeeper for the fifth portal: a nude. god of embalming and Osiris' son by Nephthys. greatly . It shows the queen rendering homage to three seated gods. who is hot.2I Only the rampant agaillst her.22 Following immediately. The tenth and final portal appears on the north wall of the sarcophagus hall. Hathor has on her head the symbol for the "west. We can discern the serpent­ headed keeper of the sixth portal. ate! crown and carrying his usual regalia. or identifying legend.• grinder of those who do not. a large com­ position occupies the rest of the north wall and ends at the doorway to the northern annex. The name of the keeper is "the long-horned bull. so compounding his earlier mistake. Perhaps the copy book was defective at this point.. who lauglls at dread {?J. Of the ninth portal. The artist. .. � � � lady of the two lands. only two words remain.

they bear baboon. About one meter square. The tyet knot is a sandal strap seen with the loops turned downward . Anubis. The plaster decoration has peeled off in most places. The four genii in the niche are the sons of Horus. Instead of colorful sculpted plaster. we find ourselves in a depression that once held the queen's granite sarcophagus. and Anubis (falcon). It shows faint traces of three mummiform figures." At the back of the niche is an image of the winged goddess Nut. respectively evok­ in the funerary cult is to protect the queen's organs. ut directs her words to the queen. Less well preserved is the right side of the niche. a djed tyet amulets. mother of Osiris and Isis. it probably held the canopic chest.102 The Canopic Niche Descending a flight of four steps. and perhaps falcon heads. and Qebehsenef. these are Hapy (baboon). The style of the scenes in the niche suggest that the decoration was executed a gener­ ation after the tomb was closed. Duamutef (jackal). Note that the subdued treatment of these scenes contrasts sharply with the bril­ liant polychromy in the rest of the tomb. even though he customarily was given a falcon head. in the middle of the bench. here we find simple line drawings executed in yellow. stand out against the light yellow of the body. The latter is shown with human head. Each is called "the great god. The niche is decorated on its three inner surfaces. From this vantage. Along the west wall. but enough remains to reconstruct in the mind's eye a decorative band of alternating pairs of pillars and ing the memories of Osiris and of Isis. done in yet darker yellow. the decora­ tion shows three mummiform figures: Imsety. whose principal role tyet a kind of knot. variation on the ankh sym­ bol. Respectively. Also designated great gods. On the south (left) side. a small niche has been cut. jackal. the sides of the stone bench are readily visible. and in each hand she holds an ankh sign. The small niche cut into the west wall of the burial chamber probably held the canopic chest contain­ ing Nefertari's embalmed viscera. Her wings are at her sides. a small coffer containing the queen's embalmed viscera. The details of costume.

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arm bands. The depth of the cutting is some 40 centimeters below the pavement. giving her the breath of life. On the southern pillars. The Iunmutef Priest is dressed in a splendid white kilt. are images of the Iunmutef Priest (left) and Horendotes. On the inner column faces of the major axis (north-south) are figures of Osiris facing south. hewn from the living rock. The tomb's major and minor axes intersect between the pillars and are rigor­ ously defined by the decoration. and a kheker friezes above a sky sign. so reinforc­ ing their function as roof supports. The goddess Isis extends the ankh to the nose of Nefertari. as if pointing the way to the central corridor between them. the "avenger of his father" (right). Was scepters mark dado of red and yellow ochre marks the bottom. on the pillar faces is framed by the edges. Their inner faces are flush with the cutting and extend to the floor of the depression. broad col­ lar. His wig is kept in place by a fillet with golden uraeus. The space is defined by four pillars. Each of the sixteen compositions dado a decorative band running around the base of a wall distinct from any scene above The east face of Pillar 11 in Chamber K.HOUSE OF ETERNITY The Pillars and Burial Depression The placement of the actual sarcophagus in a shallow depression has architectural and religious significance. The sixteen faces of these pillars form a body of work that is among the finest in the tomb. They also serve as metaphors for the four supports holding aloft the canopy of the heavens. and wristlets. On the inner column faces of the minor axis (west­ east) are djed pillars." waiting to welcome Nefertari into his sacred abode. . He is thus looking from the "west. Their decoration is highly pro­ grammatic and sets out in detail certain key ideas. It focuses the eye and symbolizes the ground-based reality of death. toward the tomb entrance.

With his left hand. at the bottom of Column Two and again.A WALK THROUGH THE " " HOUSE OF ETERNITY 105 But the most sumptuous item of his apparel is the leopard skin slung over his right shoulder. jllstified. in six columns reading from right to left. This is the dress of an offi­ ciating priest. Nefertari. so fulfilling the role of a dutiful son. who faces him on the adjacent pillar face." E o '" � � Looking northwest through the burial chamber. he holds the animal's left rear paw. The priest's words. literally "the pillar of his mother. the leopard's head resting upon his breast. redun­ dantly. who protected his mother Isis in her hour of need. Amuletic devices behind the priest signify protection. are addressed to his father Osiris. tire pillar of his mother (/111111111tef). Four tillles forever Irave I beatell tilY enemies for tlree. mistress of tire two Imlds. and dominion. I alii thy beloved son. killg's great wife. life. he gestures to the avenue between the columns. /ohJ Illy fatller Osiris. With his right arm raised. wholll all the lords of the sacred land joill. Ilrave cOllie to greet tlree. to rest within tire assembly of great gods wlro are ill tire ental/rage of Osiris. urging that Osiris act on behalf of Nefertari. beloved of Mut. Mayest tlrOIl calise tlry beloved dallgllter. stability. The Iunmutef Priest." represents the young Horus.23 One sign group occurs twice. at the top of Column Three. . Horus appears on the south face of Pillar 1 in the form of Horendotes officiating as a priest. � Ol Q 23 "Words spokell by Hams.

Either side of the dais is the Anubis fetish: a staff with leopard skin stuck in a mortar. Horendotes' words. endures forever. In a single column of text before each figure are Osiris' promises to the queen. djed pillar. like eternity. The officiant. we encounter two of the four images of Osiris in the vicinity of the sarcophagus. "the avenger of his father. read in six columns from left to right. also directed to a figure of Osiris on the adjacent pillar Chamber K. This priest is identified as Horendotes. these inscriptions are the same. in a single col­ umn of text. Like the earlier two. while on the right. Seth. 24 Allubis. he assures her a place in the sacred land. But for minor variations in spelling.106 HOUSE OF ETERNITY A similar chord is struck by the analogous composition on the southeast (right) pillar. his right hand raised in a gesture to mark his utterance. he is called Lord of the Necropolis. Behind this figure are the amuletic devices for protection. depicted as a stalldillg mall with a jackal head. has aile halld 011 Passing between the pillars. Since death. stability. In both scenes. compositions are nearly identical. while the upper text always faces inward. Osiris is identified as ruler of the assembly of gods. Sheltered by a yellow kiosk with arched top. he gives her the appearance of Re'. the east face of Pillar IV. on the right. their tops and margins defined by versions of the queen's titulary. His skin is green. Osiris is identified as King of Eternity. toward the sarcophagus. in his crossed arms. another priest. The djed columns are sized to fit exactly within the rectangle of the column face. symbol of Osiris. we see at a glance that the column faces all bear repre­ sentations of the face. the mummiform Osiris stands on a low dais. all his guarding." who redressed the wrongs suffered by Osiris at the hands of his evil brother. Before Osiris. the ate! crown. faces to our left. Atop his head. The Nefertari's shollider. these formulations are equivalent. these Osiris figures stand in yellow kiosks. is his promise to ever and ever. all health. again facing the entrance of the tomb. dominion. efertari: assurance of a place in the sacred land for­ . we meet the second pair of Osiris figures. similarly dressed. life. Both are dressed as before and flanked by the Anubis fetish. But this figurative motif also serves to underscore the stone pillars as the literal supports of the roof above our heads. Moving to the intersection of the avenues between the pillars. Proceeding farther northward. A red sash wraps around his waist. the regalia of crook and flail. The edge texts always point outward. On the left. On the left.

. the queen is welcomed by a protective god or goddess: thrice by Isis. and once by Anubis. but here it lacks the high." � o � . we find that the decorations of their outer faces exhibit more variety. which could not be accommodated while still displaying the queen's titulary. twice by Hathor of Thebes. On each. beloved of Milt. showing Nefertari with Hathor.A WALK THROUGH THE " HOUSE OF ETERNITY " 107 Once outside the area bounded by the pillars. Her vulture cap head­ dress is common to all images of Nefertari. the queen wears her pleated white gown and broad golden collar.ds. {oh} Illy father Osiris who resides in the West. who isslies forth from thy loins. 24 "Words spoken by Horelldotes. I have come to kllit for thee thy limbs and I have bra light thee thy heart. I am thy beloved SOli. twin plumes. . As ever. mistress of tl.e two laI. � � � H. and the great divine assembly to be joined with those ill the Necropolis. Mayest thou allow the killg's great wife. The north face of Pillar III in Chamber K. Nefertari.

holds was scepters and ankh signs on his wrists. to the south. An altar graced with flow­ ers separates the queen from the goddess. is much narrower and is the sole representation of the queen as a mummy. In squatting posture. The scenes on the left and right walls form a pair: the four sons of Horus. but of Edjo. broad collar. In the intervals between the supports. Each column of text is the utter­ ance of one of these gods on Nefertari's behalf. The right djed pillars. She is identified as Nekhbet. The doorway is marked by images of the cobra goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt. the decoration in M is best preserved and of real interest. Enough of the scene survives to read it clearly: a wide booth or temporary struc­ ture erected on five supports. from left to right. yet wears the red crown of Lower Egypt. Imsety. On the left. In front of each. welcome the queen. On the left. and again Thoth. Duamutef. The inner thickness also mentions the queen's titles. Anubis. On the right is a serpent coiled upon a basket resting on twin djed pillars. together with Isis and Nephthys. but the left (south) panel is a scene. is a symbol of the night sky. with wig. on the back (west) wall. On the door's inner thickness is space for a single column of text with the queen's titulary. The queen passes through this protective defile to reach the principal scene in Chamber M). she raises her arms in praise of Hathor. and vulture cap. As Edjo should be wearing the red crown and Nekhbet the double. about the same size: 2. on a standard. Their decoration has suffered badly. but the queen is twice shown in adoration.1 M. On the left. The eastern annex (Chamber the one of Chamber meters. red and white. each bearing a column of text. She is swathed in red. The east and west chambers are square. whose frag­ mentary image shows her in the aspect of a cow.6 Chamber x 2.25 The inner face of the door frame has two scenes. and Nephthys are on the right. The panels either side of the inner door frame have djed pillar. wearing the double crown. and a third to the north (Chamber Q). a curious depiction of the mythic home of Osiris in Abydos. symbolic representation of the queen. In the shallow. to the north. except that the artist has now correctly linked Edjo with the red crown. The scenes in this chamber are less well preserved. undulating serpents whose protective wings meet in the center. and Isis are on the left. there is clearly some confusion here. Osiris. Hapi. The northern annex is a rectangle of 3. as the has 0) is framed by a doorway decorated exactly like M.108 HOUSE OF ETERNITY The Annexes (Not Open to the Public) Three small rooms issue from the sarcoph­ agus chamber: one to the west (Chamber Qebehsenef. a similar scene. Imsety. . gabled pediment above are opposed. of United Egypt. Of the three. mistress of the "west" and patron of the Necropolis. a complement to the image of her mummy in Chamber M.3 meters to the side. are Thoth. another to the east (Chamber 0).

the queen stands before enthroned images of Anubis and Isis. Another altar. along with a small area of plaster bearing the queen's cartouche on the north wall. reminiscent of the decorative border around the sar­ cophagus chamber. facing to our right. Perhaps a statue was erected there to the queen's memory. this time laden with sty lized loaves of bread. T he decoration in the north annex is largely obliterated. A solitary figure of Isis on the south wall is all that remains on the west side of the room. jllstified before the "I great god. Among them. but Ihe left reads: "the Osiris. 25 � � � � The righl is destroyed. ." Nefertari in mum­ mified form in the southeast corner of Chamber M. Karnak Temple. in other words. stands before the queen. Enough remains of her utterance to the queen to proclaim that she has given Nefertari the lifetime of Re' and a place in the House of Amun.A WALK THROUGH THE " HOUSE OF ETERNITY " On the right. An image of the djed pillar between two tyet knots. tile kil/g's great lVife. beloved of � o Milt. takes up the south wall. east section. Paired serpents guard the door thicknesses. we recognize Serket preceded by two male deities. On the rear wall is a much-damaged image of Ma'at with outstretched wings. A vestigial procession of gods fills the right wall. mistress of the tlVO lands. Nefertari. lady of Upper al/d LOlVer Egypt.

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and the United States.HOUSE OF ETERNITY in conservation and preservation of our common cultural heritage throughout the world. In an age of ever increasing. ever less nourishing distractions. Gel worked with the Egyptian Antiquities Organization. A world without a cultural memory. Tanzania. . always in partnership with host authorities. power. where we are going. we are like people without mem­ ory: we have no way of knowing where we came from. In the conservation of the tomb of Nefertari. Without our cultural heritage. since renamed the Supreme Council of Antiquities. iso­ lated moments. The Council is responsible for some of the richest and most ancient cultural heritage sites in the world. Ecuador. the Close-up view show­ ing salt crystals capa­ ble of prying the paint layer away from the plaster. and enduring glory. the genuine. Heritage links us to cul­ tures of the past and enriches the times in which we live. much less sur­ pass the splendor of Egyptian culture. without the capacity to experience the authentic. We simply live inexplicable. T he Getty Conservation Institute strives to preserve this heritage by under­ taking collaborative conservation projects in countries as diverse as China. is a world pro­ foundly deprived. the world's cul­ tural heritage provides spiritual sustenance for all humanity. the heritage of very few other nations can rival. incomprehensible. In terms of sophistication.

A blind hole.CONCLUSION reflected in these majestic monuments. visitors pose a risk to the paint­ ings in the tomb. An exact replica of the tomb. That is one reason why the GCI first undertook the joint effort seeks sustainability. showing the deteriora­ tion that occurred between 1904 (oppo­ site) and 1989. a "vir­ tual experience" museum in close proximity Chamber K. with only one entrance/exit. further magnificent discoveries are even today being made. . as well as the educational and aesthetic benefits derived by those who personally experi­ ence its splendor. east side of the south wall. the GCI the collaborative conservation achieved will be maintained by its partners in the host country. Thus. After all. Moreover. conditions inside the tomb are subject to extreme. Yet. economic. educational. however lofty an aesthetic and cultural achievement. multifaceted ones that seldom lend themselves to simple or obvious solutions. Photo opposite: COllrtesy of the Museo Egizio. the tomb is basically a cave. Aside from the scientific and technical aspects of conservation in the management of heritage. spiritual. In all of its projects. interpretive. The issues of conservation of cultural heritage are complex. in Egypt. a balance must be struck between the number of visitors allowed to enter the tomb and the economic bene­ fit resulting from their entry. multiple values must be weighed: cultural. the revenue gained by admission of tourists to the tomb of Nefertari may accrue to the benefit of countless other Egy ptian sites in need of conservation. and management. Turin. The Council is committed to conserv­ ing and preserving this inestimably valu­ able cultural heritage on behalf of all the peoples of the world. where at the tomb of Nefertari. Without sophisticated climate-control equipment. For example. abrupt alterations when visitors enter. maintenance.

is cumulative. Turifl. adhere to the walls. re-create it. Damage by moisture. obscuring the brilliance of the painting. By contrast. These particles settle on the floor of the tomb. France. At a certain point. but also. restore it. over time. Without such constant and precise moni­ toring to direct decision-making. Detail from the east wall of Chamber K circa 1920 And restoration is fake. Irreversible damage will cer­ tainly occur. paleolithic cave paintings in Lascaux. At that time. to make successful use of all the potential values and (sometimes con­ flicting) benefits of a cultural heritage as and 1989. the only remaining option might be restoration.HOUSE OF ETERNITY to the actual tomb. could provide an alter­ native if tourist pressure becomes too great. conservation deals with the authentic creation that yet remains. the risk of deterioration will not only remain. . Top photo: COllrtesy of the Museo Egizio. it will increase. The conservators' art and science apply to these precious artifacts of our common cultural heritage only those methodologies that take the "patient" as it is. The Gel Photo: Shill Maeknwa. such cumulative damage to the paintings reaches a point of no return. Such a solution has met with great success at the site of fragile. No one can rejuvenate it. The air introduced is unfiltered and from time to time may be laden with microscopic dust particles borne on the desert winds. is employing solar-powered sensors to ensure constant measurements. Even to try is sheer artifice. air out of the tomb and suck in external air -is rudimentary. The current system for climate control at the tomb of Nefertari -a tube and fan that serve to pump humid Visitors waiting to enter the tomb after it was opened to the pub­ lic in November 1995. particularly the activation of salt leached from the lime­ stone mother-rock and plaster of the tomb. Critical to finding the balance is con­ tinued monitoring of the environment within the tomb itself. Thus.

Today. The past traumas of the tomb have been arrested. All these are aspects of the present and future that concern the GCI. Neville Agnew Associate Director. Programs T he Getty Conservation Institute Nefertari on the west wall. Together. both in the tomb's environment and its visitor management. nitrogen-filled cases. the necessary mechanisms. techniques. has proven excep­ tionally successful. Only in this way can we be certain that a site is neither destroyed nor degraded in its authenticity. site-management plans. and methodologies are available. it is essential that attention be concentrated also on management and custodianship. as well as the Egyptian authorities.CONCLUSION vast and rich as that of Egypt. south side of Chamber G. With the help of an informed and appreciative public. Conservation of such treasures can be more than cost effective. provided that the management is properly undertaken and wisely administered. display in the Egyptian Museum of pharaonic mummies. . using GCI-designed. For example. May the tomb of Nefertari yet endure for all eternity. Now the challenge is to maintain a healthy equilib­ rium. Sometimes lacking are administrative and political will. we have managed to halt previously in­ exorable processes of destruction. we pledge our best efforts to that task.

of the Getty Conservation Institute. We are indebted to Mr. and our consultants. based on his extensive knowl­ edge of ancient Egypt and of the tomb itself after a memorable visit with Getty staff. Paul Getty Museum. el-Deeb Eric Doehne Michelle Derrick Feisal A. Neville Agnew.116 HOUSE OF ETERNITY Acknowledgments This publication is the result of an exceptional team effort by the staffs of the Getty Conservation Institute. When the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt decided to open to tomb to visitors. The superb design comes from Vickie Karten who understands the needs for visual impact. Paul Getty Museum. the J. el-Shahat Christina Vazio The Getty Conservation Institute . John McDonald wrote the text. vision. undertook this project with exceptional enthusiasm and superb professional skills.lssawi Po-Ming Lin Shin Maekawa Modesto Montoto Shawki Nakla Antoni Palet Eduardo Porta Frank Preusser Saleh A. The conservation of the wall paint­ ings in the tomb took over six years. copy. Hamroush B. To all of them we are indebted. supervised the book from start to finish and contributed his knowl­ edge of conservation and of the tomb through invaluable sugges­ tions. A. production. Everyone will be able to better appreciate the beauty of the tomb thanks to the images produced mostly by Guillermo Aldana over his many years as photographer with the conservation team. of the J. John Farrell edited the manuscript. Ghanem H. and harmony. Ammar Hideo Arai Omar el-Arini Motawe Balbouch Kamal Barakat Farouk eI-Baz Asmaa A. Saleh Michael Schilling Wafa Seddia Photographer Chairman Egyptian Antiquities Organization Miguel Angel Corzo Director The Getty Conservation Institute The late Ahmed Kadry Former Chairman Egyptian Antiquities Organization Luis Monreal Former Director The Getty Conservation Institute Gamal Moukhtar Former Chairman Egyptian Antiquities Organization The late Sayed Tawfik Former Chairman Egyptian Antiquities Organization Conservation Team Paolo Mora and Laura Sbordoni Mora Abd eI-Rady Abd el­ Moniem Abd el-Nasser Ahmed Giorgio Capriotti Luigi de Cesaris Lorenzo Guillermo Aldana Research: Art and History Mahasti Afshar Administration and Management Ahmed Abd el-Rady Salah Bayoumy Basyoz Sayed Hegazy Mary Helmy Romany Helmy Talat Mohrem Mohamed Nasr Eduardo Porta Mahmoud Sadeq Laura Sanders Inee Yang Slaughter Mohamed eI-Sougayar Ferryman Farouk Fawey el-Daewy 0'Alessandro Adamo Franco Miguel Angel Corzo Director Giuseppi Giordano Ahmed-Ali Hussein Lutfi Khaled Adriano Luzi Gamal Mahgoub Hussein Mohamed-Ali Paolo Pastorello Stephen Rickerby Sayed A. Chris Hudson. Esmael Gaballa A. and focus. creativity.Gaballa Essam H. structur­ ing many parts to suit both the images and the organization of the book. Hudson for his tenacity. Conservation of the Wall Paintings Project Members 1986-1992 Executive Body Mohamed Ibrahim Bakr Scientific Team Farrag Abd el­ Mouttaleb Nabil Abd el-Samia Neville Agnew Mokhtar S. Her perseverance is equaled by her good humor under pressure. we felt it very important to contribute to a wider understanding of the significance of the tomb by those able to visit it as well as those who do not have the opportunity but still are interested in the subject. aesthetics. and inventive management skills. The publication would not have been at all possible were it not for Anita Keys who has relentlessly seen to it that photos. and a myr­ iad details all come together at the right time. H. and making the scholarly language of the text accessible to all readers.

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T he '904 discovery ot Queen Netertari's tomb revealed to the world the exquisite beauty of its magnificent paintings. shows how the royal tombs were built. Resealed again because of the decay and disinte­ gration of its fragile images. whose timeless beauty now speaks to us again across a span of over three thousand years. He relates the meaning of the myths and funeral rites. THEGrnY CONSERVATION INSTITUTE Printed in Singapore � ISBN 0-89236-415-7 . the tomb remained hidden from the public until 1995 when a nine­ year program of meticulous conservation and monitoring was completed. and describes the life of Nefertari." explaining the vignettes and texts that tell the story of Nefertari's final journey to immortality. John McDonald presents a complete guide to this "house of eternity. which rank among the finest surviving masterpieces of ancient Egypt.

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