A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z

Abdel Rassul family

In the 1870s, the Abdel Rassul family of Qurna discovered and plundered the cache of royal mummies in TT 320 at Deir al Bahri until they were apprehended.

Ahmes I

Son of Seqenenra Ta’a, Ahmes became king at a young age after his father and brother, Kames, were killed in battles against the Hyksos. Ahmes was regarded by later generations as the ruler who defeated the Hyksos and established the Dynasty 18 Theban royal line. There is evidence that the king continued to be militarily active after the Hyksos defeat, leading his army deep into western Asia, and on at least two occasions, into Nubia. These activities meant that he left much of the day-to-day running of the country to local administrators whose loyalty he helped to assure with generous gifts of land. Ahmes was buried in Dira' Abu al Naja, but the exact location of his tomb is not known. His mummy was moved in Dynasty 21 to the Deir al Bahri cache (TT 320).


Aker was an earth god (and a god of the netherworld), often represented as a narrow strip of land flanked by a pair of lions or sphinxes or human heads facing the eastern and western gates of the netherworld. Aker could help or hinder the journey of the deceased into the netherworld. Aker played a role in the Book of Caves and Book of the Earth.

Altenmüller, Hartwig

Hartwig Altenmüller is a German Egyptologist who cleared and published reports on KV 13 (Bay), KV 14 (Tausert and Setnakht), and KV15 (Sety II).


Amenemipet, also known as Pairy, was the brother of Sennefer (owner of TT 96). He served as Vizier and Governor of the Town (Thebes) during the reign of Amenhetep II. Amenemipet is the owner of both KV 48 and TT 29 in Shaykh Abd al Qurnah.

Amenhetep I

A son of Ahmes and Ahmes-Nefertari, Amenhetep I ruled Egypt for twenty-one years. We know little about his reign except that he led a military campaign in Nubia, strengthened Egypt’s northeastern border, restored the country’s central bureaucracy and legal system, and turned back to Middle Kingdom models on which to base his religious, artistic and architectural activities. His building activities were extensive. He constructed monuments at Abydos, Al Kab, Saqqarah, Kawm Umbu, and elsewhere, but his major work was at Thebes. Amenhetep I was the first to construct his memorial temple away from his tomb, a decision probably made to satisfy the requirements of the Beautiful Festival of the Valley rather than for reasons of security. He constructed a temple in the Deir al Bahri cirque that was excavated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1920s. Statues from that building are now in the British Museum. Another temple, built with his mother and called the “Meni-set,” stood in Dira’ Abu an Naja. His tomb has not been identified with certainty, but there are several candidates. One is a site near Medinet Habu, another the royal cache (TT 320). KV 39 has also been proposed, and, more recently, so have K93.11 in Dira’ Abu an Naja, and an unknown site in the Deir al Bahri cirque. At Karnak, he built a remarkable Egyptian alabaster shrine, the “Menmenu,” now reconstructed in the Karnak Open-Air Museum, and added to the Middle Kingdom shrine that stood there. Amenhetep I’s work at Thebes helped to establish it as the most important city in Egypt and home to some of its most beautiful monuments. Not surprisingly, later generations revered him and his mother as the founders of the Theban Necropolis and considered them two of its guardian deities.

Amenhetep II

The son of Thutmosis III and the Great Royal Wife Hatshepsut Meryet-Ra, Amenhetep II proudly continued his father’s military tradition. During his twenty-three years of sole rule, he fought several campaigns in Syria and boastfully recounted them on the walls of many of his monuments. In one instance, he had seven Syrian princes taken as prisoners of war, killed them, and hung them upside down on the outer wall of a temple in Thebes. He frequently described his athletic talents, claiming that no one could equal his talents as an archer, horseman, runner or oarsman. Such boasts may have been a way of ensuring that he was seen as a strong, virile ruler. Amenhetep II built at Karnak and at Luxor as well as at other Egyptian and Nubian sites. He was buried in KV 35. Four or five centuries later, the tomb was plundered. Later still, it was used for the reburial of ten royal mummies, moved there for safekeeping by priests concerned about thefts in the Valley of the Kings.

Amenhetep III

For forty years, Amenhetep III ruled over a peaceful country. But while there was little military activity, Egypt experienced a burst of creativity that produced some of the largest and most aesthetically impressive monuments of the New Kingdom. There was extensive foreign trade during his reign, gold mines in Egypt and Nubia were intensively exploited, agriculture was booming, and much of the resulting wealth was directed to building activities and the arts. The memorial temple of Amenhetep III at Kawm al Hitan on the Theban West Bank was the largest building ever constructed in Egypt and covered over 350,000 square meters (eighty-six acres). Standing before it were two huge statues of the king, known as the Colossi of Memnon, each twenty meters (sixty-six feet) tall. South of his temple lay Malqata, the royal palace built for Amenhetep III at the time of his Heb-Sed festivals. Covering several hundred acres, this elaborate collection of buildings lay adjacent to a huge harbor, known today as Birkat Habu, dug for the celebration of the king’s Heb-Sed. The harbor measured 1 x 2.5 kilometers (0.5 x 1.5 miles) and required digging out 14.5 million cubic meters (512 million cubic feet) of silt from the Nile floodplain. This was a tremendous undertaking-doubly so, since a second such harbor was dug across the Nile on the East Bank. Also on the East Bank, Amenhetep III built the temple at Luxor and the long processional colonnade joining it to Karnak. At these and at many other sites, vast numbers of statues were erected. They include some of the most perfectly preserved statues ever found in Egypt, which were discovered buried in a cache at Luxor Temple in 1989. In his memorial temple alone it is estimated that Amenhetep III erected several thousand statues, ranging from life-sized to colossal, in a variety of materials. Amenhetep III was buried in KV 22, one of the earliest tombs to be cut in the West Valley of the Kings. The tomb, discovered by Howard Carter in 1915, was originally carved for Thutmosis IV. Amenhetep III’s wife, Tiy, may also have been buried in the West Valley.

Amenhetep IV/Akhenaten

Arguably the most-discussed and least-understood pharaoh of ancient Egypt, Amenhetep IV was a son of Amenhetep III and Queen Tiy. He spent his early years at Thebes, living in the royal palace at Malqata. He may have served for a time as his father’s co-regent. He married Nefertiti, the daughter of Ay, the king’s vizier. Amenhetep IV’s father had given considerable prominence in his religious practices to solar cults, perhaps in part to limit the rapidly growing power of the priesthood of Amen at Karnak. Amenhetep IV was even more zealous in his disdain for Amen, and instead gave special emphasis to an aspect of the sun god Ra-Horakhty called the Aten. He built a temple to the Aten directly east of the Temple of Amen at Karnak. Shortly thereafter, he, his family and court moved from Thebes to establish a new town that he named Akhetaten-“Horizon of the Aten”-at a site in Middle Egypt today called al Amarna. Here, he built huge temples to the Aten, and established a city filled with scribes, officials, artisans, and priests. The young king changed his name from Amenhetep to Akhenaten, “Glory of the Solar Disk,” and he and his growing family devoted themselves exclusively to their new god. The art of what Egyptologists call the Amarna Period has been described as naturalistic. There is considerable emphasis upon the natural world. But, in fact, the art-and especially its representation of the royal human form-seems grotesque. It deliberately distorts the human form, mixing male with female sexual characteristics, deforming the skull, creating stick-like figures with distended abdomens and gaunt faces. The temples at Amarna were unroofed, appropriate for the worship of a sun god, and were constructed in blindingly white limestone. Relief subjects, such as scenes of craftsmen and daily life, formerly found only in private tombs, now appeared in temple decoration. Great emphasis was given to representations of the king, shown with his wife and daughters in affectionate poses, adoring the Aten and receiving life, the ankh-sign, from him. Akhenaten was pharaoh for a total of eighteen years. We do not know where he was buried. The “royal tomb” at Amarna was never used, and no tomb at Thebes has been found with his name on it (although KV 55 has been suggested as a possible burial site). After his death, and especially during the reign of Ramses II, systematic attempts were made to deface and demolish his monuments and obliterate his name from the record. Later king lists make no mention of him. Worship of Aten vanished almost immediately after Akhenaten died. Temples to Amen and other gods, closed for most of Akhenaten’s reign, were reopened and their priests returned to their former positions of authority.

Amenhetep, Son of Hapu

Amenhetep, Son of Hapu was an architect born in Tall Atrib who enjoyed great influence during the reign of Amenhetep III, whose memorial temple was among the many monuments whose construction he supervised. Worshiped as a god in his own right, Amenhetep's own memorial temple is located north of the temple of Medinet Habu.


The successor to Merenptah, Amenmeses, was perhaps not the legitimate successor but one who usurped the throne from Seti II. This is suggested by several inscriptions at Thebes in which Seti II’s name was overwritten by Amenmeses’. We know little of the origins of this king, but the suggestion that he was the child of Takhat, who was a daughter and/or wife of Rameses II, is now doubted because the occurrence of her name in Amenmeses’s tomb, KV 10, probably dates to later in Dynasty 20. Most of Amenmeses’s monuments are at Thebes. They are few in number and, except for six quartzite statues at Karnak (later usurped by Seti II), they are unfinished or in poor condition.


Amun was the principal Egyptian state god in the New Kingdom whose main temple lay at Karnak. Amun's association with Thebes goes back at least to the Middle Kingdom, and he is known to have existed since at least the late Old Kingdom. Called The Hidden One, he is associated variously with wind, water and fertility and was represented as a human, a goose, a ram or a snake. He was often joined in the New Kingdom with the sun god Ra as Amun-Ra. Amun was a part of the Theban triad - Amun, his wife, Mut, and his son, Khonsu. In his form Amun-Kamutef, he was a member of the Hermopolitan ogdoad.       

Andraos, Boutros

Boutros Andraos was a Luxor resident who, with his neighbor Shenouda Macarios, received permission in 1900 from Howard Carter to excavate KV 42 (the tomb of Hatshepsut Meryet-Ra). They had been promised a share of the contents, but little was found.


The ankh was the hieroglyphic sign for "life," perhaps a drawing of a sandal strap or penis sheath, often shown being offered to the king by deities.


Anubis was a dog-like god of the dead, of the necropolis and of embalmers. He was a protective deity who conducted the ceremony of the judgement of the dead - the Weighing of the Heart - before Osiris and assembled deities. Entrances to tombs in the Valley of the Kings were stamped with a seal that contained an image of Anubis above a set of nine bound captives. This was meant to protect the tomb from thieves. In some areas, he was considered the son of Osiris and Isis-Sekhmet.

Ayrton, Edward Russell

Edward Russell Ayrton was an English archaeologist funded by Theodore Davis from 1905-1908 while he worked in the Valley of the Kings.


Both the primeval being and the creator god of Heliopolis, Atum was usually represented as a human being wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. His mythological origins placed him at the head of the Ennead of Heliopolis. His seed begot Shu (the air) and Tefnut (moisture). They in turn were the parents of Geb (earth) and Nut (sky) and grandparents of Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. Atum is sometimes joined with the sun god Ra as Ra-Atum. In later periods, he was worshiped as the evening manifestation of the sun god opposite Kheperi, the morning manifestation. He is sometimes associated with the setting sun, the primeval mound where life began, the scarab beetle and a serpent.


The immediate successor of Tutankhamen was his advisor Ay, a man apparently of non-royal birth who came to Thebes from Akhmim. Attempts to tie his genealogy to that of Yuya and Thuyu, the parents of Queen Tiy, or to Nefertiti, are not convincing. Under both Akhenaten and Tutankhamen, Ay held the title “God’s Father” and perhaps served as a senior counselor to the king. His wife, Tiy, was a nurse in the court of Amarna. No offspring are known. It was Ay who oversaw the move of the royal court from Akhetaten back to Thebes, and who also supervised the burials of Akhenaten and his family. Later, he also supervised the burial of Tutankhamen in KV 62. Ay became pharaoh at an advanced age and ruled Egypt for not more than four years. He continued the decorative programs of Tutankhamen at Karnak and constructed a small shrine at Akhmim. Ay had a tomb dug for himself at Amarna (southern tomb number 25) but it was left unfinished, although an elaborate copy of the “Hymn to the Aten” was carved on its walls. Ay was finally buried at Thebes in the West Valley tomb KV 23. His memorial temple, today a garbage-strewn patch of weeds and broken stone, lies near the later temple of Rameses III at Medinet Habu. It was usurped by Ay’s successor, Horemheb. Like Akhenaten, Tutankhamen, and Semenkhkara, Ay’s name is missing from later king lists, an indication that he, too, was considered a part of the hated Amarna heresy and therefore anathematized.


An aspect of the human personality, the ba was shown as a human or ram-headed bird with arms. It moved freely between the netherworld and the tomb.


A bark was a boat used to transport Egyptian deities from one shrine to another. Barks resembled Nile boats with their sterns decorated with a standard-like form of the god to whom they belonged. On the boat stood a shrine that held the cult image. Solar barks were also used by the sun on its journeys through the daytime and nighttime skies.


Bastet was a cat goddess associated with the town of Bubastis. She was considered the daughter of Atum and had associations with fertility. Represented as a woman with the head of a cat, she was sometimes shown holding the ankh sign and a scepter, or with a group of kittens.


Bay was a royal scribe of Seti II and later chancellor under Siptah. The privilege of being granted a tomb in the Valley of the Kings (KV 13) reflects his high status.

Beautiful Feast of the Valley

The Beautiful Feast of the Valley was an annual New Kingdom Theban festival in which statues of kings and the Theban triad proceeded from the east bank to the west, visiting several memorial temples there.

Belmore, Earl of (Lowry-Corry, Somerset)

An Irish traveler and collector, the Earl of Belmore visited Egypt between 1816 and 1818. KV 30 and 31 were excavated by Belzoni on behalf of the Earl of Belmore in 1817.

Belzoni, Giovanni Battista

Giovanni Battista Belzoni was born the son of a barber in Padua, Italy on 15 November 1778. He discovered his love for travel at the age 16 when he went to Rome on foot to study hydraulic engineering at a monastery. After gaining a substantial amount of knowledge about hydraulics, he set off for work in various European countries. His travels brought him to England where he became a strongman and performer in the circus, for he was an individual of immense strength. Wherever he performed, he would also have his hydraulic creations displayed. When he learned of the Egyptian Pasha Mohammed Ali's interest in Egypt's modernization and technological advancement, Belzoni decided to try his luck there. On 9 June 1815, he and his wife Sarah reached Alexandria and traveled to Cairo to meet the Pasha. The invention that Belzoni was to introduce to Egypt involved using only one ox to do the normal crop irrigation work of four by aid of hydraulic engineering equipment. When it came time to present the contraption, the trial failed, the Pasha was unimpressed, and Belzoni was stranded in Egypt without a job. Luckily, he had fallen in love with Egypt and its antiquities and the people he turned to for help had the perfect job for him. Belzoni went to the British Consulate seeking employment suited for a person with his hydraulic education and physical strength. John Lewis Burkhardt, an Arabic scholar, was looking for someone to move the head and shoulders of the broken colossal statue of Rameses II from this king's mortuary temple, the Ramesseum. The piece was to be moved to the bank of the Nile and made ready for transport to London as a gift to the British Museum. After completing this complicated task, Belzoni began to make important contributions to the new field of Egyptology. In the Valley of the Kings, he made valuable observations about the flood patterns that had affected the area for thousands of years. These evaluations led him to understand that many of the tombs were in locations where they would be covered by flood debris and, in turn, be protected from both looters and the elements. In his studies of the Valley, he discovered the tomb of Seti I, which was nicknamed "Belzoni's Tomb." Belzoni took note of everything he saw and even made drawings of the different chambers of the tomb. He was the first person ever to collect such information and we now have him to thank for the data he left behind; the decoration in the tomb of Seti I has deteriorated; without Belzoni's records, we would have never known what was on some walls. Belzoni also made a general map of the Valley of the Kings and the entrances known at the time. The tomb we now know as KV 5 was among the tombs noted on this map. He visited other sites and continued to document them on paper as well as making casts of what he saw. He journeyed to Abu Simbel where he and his workmen freed the temples from centuries of blowing sand, and penetrated the interior of the temple for the first time since antiquity. He discovered the entrance to the second of the great pyramids of Giza, belonging to Khafre. He entered the pyramid and even left his name on the wall of the burial chamber. After gaining the title of "The Celebrated Traveler,” Belzoni decided he should live up to the title by traveling extensively in Africa. He wanted to go to the most exotic places with the reputation of being dangerous to reach. He set off for Timbuktu, but not far into his trip he contracted severe dysentery and died in Gato on 3 December 1823.

Bénédite, Georges Aaron

Georges Aaron Bénédite was a French Egyptologist on the staff of the Louvre, who copied the decoration in several Theban nobles’ tombs.

Benu bird

The benu bird was a manifestation of Atum, the solar god of Heliopolis, and later, of Ra and Osiris.

Bonomi, Joseph

Joseph Bonomi was a British artist who worked at Thebes with Robert Hay, James Burton, John Gardner Wilkinson, Edward William Lane, and others. He served as curator of John Soanes Museum, London, from 1861.

Book of Caverns

The Book of Caverns was a book which describes the journey of the sun god Ra through the six caverns of the netherworld. The focus of this composition lays on the rewards and punishments in afterlife.

Book of Gates

The Book of Gates relates the journey of the sun god Ra through the twelve gates of the netherworld.

Book of the Dead

A Ramesside funerary text, the Book of the Dead was also known as the "Spell for Coming Forth by Day." It consisted of about two hundred spells written on papyrus or tomb walls. Its primary purpose was to provision and protect the deceased.

Book of the Night

The Book of the Night was a description of the sun god's journey through the heavens wherein he is swallowed by the sky goddess in the evening and reborn in the morning in the form of a scarab.

Breasted, James Henry

An American Egyptologist, James Henry Breasted founded the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and its Luxor headquarters, Chicago House. He was the author of Ancient Records of Egypt (1906-1907), a 5-volume translation of Egyptian historical inscriptions, and History of Ancient Egypt (1908), considered a classic of Egyptological literature.

Bruce, James

A British traveler who arrived in Egypt in 1768, James Bruce visited the Valley of the Kings and partly cleared KV 11, which is still sometimes known as "Bruce's Tomb."

Bucher, Paul

Paul Bucher was a French Egyptologist who copied and published texts from the walls of KV 34 (Thutmosis III) and KV 35 (Amenhetep II).

Burton, Harry

A British photographer, Harry Burton worked from 1914 onward for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Egyptian Expedition and for Howard Carter in 1922 as the photographer in KV 62.

Burton, James

Born in London in 1788 to James Haliburton (who changed his name to Burton) and Elizabeth Westly, James Burton was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he received his B.A. in 1810 and M.A. in 1815. Between 1815 and 1822 Burton worked for the architect Sir John Soane and traveled in Italy with his secretary, Charles Humphreys, where he met Egyptologists Sir John Gardner Wilkinson, Edward William Lane, and Sir William Gell. In 1822 Burton accepted an invitation from Pasha Mohammed Ali to work as a mineralogist in a search for coal with the Geological Survey of Egypt. Burton had absolutely no mineralogical knowledge, however, and left the Geological Survey in 1824. He turned his attention to the ancient monuments of Egypt. In 1825, he traveled south on the Nile making his way from Cairo to Abu Simbel. En route, Burton spent several months in ancient Thebes. He excavated at Medinet Habu and Karnak and in several of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. It was during these months that he first entered KV 5 and sketched a plan of its initial chambers. Between 1825 and 1828, Burton published a volume of hieroglyphic inscriptions. Little is known of Burton's whereabouts between 1825 and 1834, but on Christmas Day in 1835 he returned home to England with animals, servants and slaves, including his wife, Andreana, a Greek slave girl who had been purchased for him in his earlier years in Egypt. Shortly thereafter, his family disowned him. Burton is perhaps best known for his drawings and plans of ancient Egyptian monuments, which are valuable because they can be used to compare the condition of the archaeological sites in the early nineteenth century and today. In addition, throughout his years in Egypt, Burton collected Egyptian antiquities, most of which were auctioned off at Sotheby's in 1836 to repay his debts. The only item of his collection which was not auctioned was a mummy and coffin, now in the Liverpool Museum. James Burton died in Edinburgh in 1862, and was buried with the epitaph "a zealous investigator in Egypt of its language and antiquities."

Callendar, Arthur

A British architect, Arthur Callendar assisted Howard Carter in removing the shrines from the tomb of Tutankhamen and worked on the clearing of TT 55 (tomb of Ramose).

Canopic chest

A canopic chest was used to store canopic jars.

Canopic jars

Four stone or ceramic jars, called canopic jars, were used to store the viscera removed during the mummification process, and formed part of the burial equipment. The jar stoppers were either all human-headed or represented each of the four sons of Horus: Imsety (human-headed), Hapy (ape-headed), Duamutef (jackal-headed) and Qebehsenuef (falcon-headed).

Carnarvon, Fifth Earl of (Herbert, George Edward Stanhope Molyneux)

The Earl of Carnarvon was a British benefactor of Howard Carter’s work at Thebes, especially in the Valley of the Kings and more specifically KV 62 (Tutankhamun), from 1906 onward.

Carter, Howard

Howard Carter was born 9 May 1874 in Kensington, London, the youngest of eleven children of Samuel John Carter and Martha Joyce Sands. Because of poor health, he did not attend school and was educated privately at home. His father, a well-known painter and draughtsman, taught him to paint and draw. In 1891 Carter joined the Archaeological Survey of the Egypt Exploration Fund under Percy Newberry and traveled to Egypt for the first time. He received training from Flinders Petrie, Francis Llewellyn Griffith and Edouard Naville. In 1892, Carter joined Petrie excavating at Amarna, and between 1892 and 1893 he did drawings for the Egypt Exploration Fund's survey at Bani Hasan and El Bersheh. Between 1893 and 1899 Carter worked as a draughtsman in the Deir al Bahari expedition under Naville, and along with other artists, he copied all of the visible scenes and inscriptions on the temple of Hatshepsut; his drawings were published in six volumes. Howard Carter was appointed Chief Inspector of Antiquities of Upper Egypt in the Antiquities Service of the Egyptian Government in 1899, and he reorganized the administration of the Service under Sir William Garstin and Sir Gaston Maspero. One of his first accomplishments as Chief Inspector was to install lighting in the Tombs of the Kings and at Abu Simbel. In 1902 Carter began work in the Valley of the Kings supervising Theodore Davis's excavations, and two years later he was given the inspectorate of Lower Egypt. He served as Chief Inspector of Lower Egypt for only one year; after an incident with a group of rowdy tourists at Saqqara he was moved north to Tanta. Carter soon resigned from his office and decided to devote himself to painting, which occupied his time from 1905-1907. Howard Carter met Lord Carnarvon in 1907 and the two men began a long-lasting, close and successful working relationship and friendship. Between 1907 and 1917, Carter and Carnarvon conducted excavations in Thebes and at several sites in the Delta: at Dira’ Abu al Naja they discovered burials from the Middle Kingdom to the Ptolemaic period; in Thebes they conducted excavations at the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir al Bahari and a temple of Ramses IV; in the Delta they excavated at Sakha and Tall al Balamun. Carter discovered the tomb of Amenhetep I (tomb AN B in Dira’ Abu al Naja); he also excavated an unused tomb of Hatshepsut and the tomb of Amenhetep III (KV 22). Carter also researched and purchased antiquities for Carnarvon's collection from the antiquities market. In 1910 Carter, with financial assistance from Lord Carnarvon, built a new excavation house and residence for himself at ‘Ilwat al Diban at the northern end of Dira’ Abu an Naja. Between 1917 and 1922, Carter spent his time exploring the wadis of Western Thebes, making notes on the graffiti and the possible locations of lost tombs and searching for the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings. Carter's search ended after seven years of hard work on 4 November 1922. The discovery of the tomb with nearly all of its original tomb furnishings was called the most important archaeological discovery of the century, and it took Carter and his staff ten years to clear it. Carter meticulously cataloged the contents of the tomb, making copious notes on the locations of the objects, and saw to the necessary restoration work and the shipment of the objects to the Cairo Museum. The discovery drew international media attention. Dealing with the press was, at times, difficult for Carter, especially after the death of Lord Carnarvon in 1923. But Carter also reaped benefits from his international fame: he was given the honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Yale University, the only academic degree he ever received and one of which he was very proud. Carter was disappointed that he was never able to publish a full scientific report of the discovery, and only published a popular account of the discovery with Arthur Mace and Percy White. The discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen fulfilled Howard Carter's dreams, and after his work in the tomb was finished his life followed a steady decline. Carter spent the years after the clearing of the tomb alone at his home on the Theban west bank, and died in his London home on 2 March 1939 of Hodgkin's Disease. Howard Carter was buried in Putney Vale cemetery with the epitaph "Archaeologist and Egyptologist."


A cartouche was an oval shaped loop of rope enclosing the birth name and throne name of the king.

Cavetto cornice

Cavetto cornice is the term used to describe a form of concave molding commonly used above a doorway, above a window, or at the top of a wall.

Cerný, Jaroslav

Of Czech origins, Jaroslav Cerný was an Oxford University professor of Egyptology who worked at Deir al Medina and published important studies on its workmen, the Valley of the Kings, the hieratic graffiti in KV 62 (Tutankhamen), and the many dynastic graffiti on the Theban hillsides.

Champollion, Jean-François

Jean-François Champollion was a Frenchman credited with the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822, and led one of the first epigraphic expeditions to Egypt (1828-1829).

Champollion-Figeac, Jacques

Jacques Champollion-Figeac was the elder brother of Jean-François Champollion, and his close collaborator. He recorded the graffiti on the Colossi of Memnon at Kawm al Hitan in 1819.

Chassinat, Emile

Emile Chassnat was a French Egyptologist who worked briefly in the West Valley in the area of KV 23 and KV A.


A coffin is the anthropoid or rectangular chest in which the mummified body of the deceased was directly placed.


The cubit was an ancient Egyptian unit of length measurement. The Theban Mapping Project plans follow Howard Carter's definition: 1 royal cubit = 0.5231 m. A cubit is divided into seven palms or twenty-eight digits.

Daressy, Georges

A French Egyptologist, Georges Daressy cleared and published KV 6 (Rameses IX), KV 9 (Rameses V and VI), and KV 38 (Thutmosis I).

Davies, Norman de Garis

Norman de Garis Davies was a British artist, who along with his wife, Anna Macpherson (called Nina), drew and published many tombs at Thebes.

Davis, Theodore M.

Theodore M. Davis was born in New York in 1837. In the beginning of his career, he worked as a lawyer and financier in New York and Rhode Island. In 1889, Davis began taking annual vacations in Egypt. Wanting to do something productive during these vacations, he decided in 1903 to offer to fund exploration and excavation in the Valley of the Kings in exchange for permission to oversee the work. From 1903 through 1912, Davis funded and directed many excavations and contributed significantly to knowledge about the Valley of the Kings. Davis's decision to work in the Valley of the Kings was influenced by its Chief Inspector, Howard Carter. Carter seized the opportunity to inspire Davis with his plans to find the tomb of Thutmosis IV. Davis found the possibility of a major discovery appealing and built a field house close to the entrance of the royal wadi. But Carter did not get along well with Davis and left James Quibell in charge of the Valley. In 1905, Quibell made the important discovery of the tomb of Yuya and Thuya, but he, too, argued with Davis. Arthur Weigall was sent to take Quibell's place but he realized quickly that he did not want to spend his time as inspector in excavation and allowed Davis to hire Edward Russell Ayrton in 1906 and it was during his time in the Valley that the bulk of Davis's discoveries were made. Among the tombs he located were KV 47 (Siptah), KV 57 (Horemheb), KV 55, and many unfinished tombs and tomb entrances. Ayrton also became frustrated with Davis and he was briefly replaced by Harold Jones. Harry Burton took over after Jones's death. Burton was the last Chief Inspector with whom Davis worked. The many artifacts Davis discovered in the Valley and surrounding areas are today housed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the British Museum in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Davis published six volumes on his discoveries in the Valley of the Kings but much information remains unpublished and is in the British Museum. Davis died in Florida in 1915.


The night sky was divided into thirty-six groups of stars, known as decans, each of which rose at dawn for ten days each year.


Demotic was a popular cursive script commonly used in in later dynastic and Graeco-Roman times.

Denon, Vivant

Vivant Denon was a French scholar who accompanied Napoleon’s expedition and was responsible for recording many Theban monuments.

Derry, Douglas

A British anatomist, Douglas Derry was the first to examine the mummy of Tutankhamen.

Devilliers du Terrage, Réné Édouard

Réné Édouard Devilliers du Terrage was a French engineer who accompanied Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt and contributed significantly to its Description de l’Egypte.


The djed-pillar was a symbol of stability resembling a pillar with cross bars originally associated with the gods Sokar and Ptah, but later with Osiris. It was often used in decorative friezes and as an amulet.

Double crown

The double crown is a combination of the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt called "The Two Mighty Ones," symbolizing the unification of the two lands of Upper and Lower Egypt.


Duamutef was one of the four sons of Horus responsible for protecting the internal organs of the dead and assisting the deceased in his journey through the netherworld. He was shown as a human figure with a jackal's head and is associated with the canopic jar containing the stomach.


The Egyptian priest Manetho divided the history of ancient Egypt into thirty chronological divisions, which we now call dynasties, at the beginning of the third century B.C., based on various earlier king lists but often appearing arbitrary.

Egyptian alabaster

Egyptian alabaster is a white, sometimes translucent limestone used for funerary vessels, statues, and buildings.


An ennead is any group of nine deities who usually have a family connection. The most important ennead was that of Heliopolis, which included Atum as the divine father, his children Shu and Tefnut, their children Geb and Nut, and their children Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys.


Five epagomenal days were placed at the end of the Egyptian calendar of twelve thirty-day months, and were intended to complete the calendrical year. It was a time of many religious celebrations.

Eye panel

Eye of Horus or Wedjat that was depicted on the sides of a sarcophagus or coffin and that had a protective function.


Faience was produced from a mixture of crushed quartz or quartz sand, lime, ash or natron. It was fired and glazed to make figurines, amulets, vessels and inlays.

Franco-Tuscan Expedition

The Franco-Tuscan Expedition, led by Champollion and Rosellini, was conducted during 1828-1829. Its purpose was to make a systematic survey of the monuments of Egypt and their inscriptions.

Fields of Iaru

The Fields of Iaru were a field of reeds, ruled over by Osiris, into which the deceased traveled.

Foundation deposit

Foundation deposits consisted of ritual objects, often miniature tools buried at crucial points during construction of temples and tombs, and were meant to ensure their longevity.


Geb was the god of the earth, often shown as a reclining human figure, sometimes with a goose on his head. Responsible for vegetation, he was sometimes colored green with vegetation springing from him. His wife (and sister) was Nut, goddess of the sky, his parents Shu (air) and Tefnut (moisture) and his grandfather Atum. Geb and Nut were parents of Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. Geb was associated with earthquakes and death but also with fertility.

Germinating Osiris

A wooden or pottery frame in the form of the god Osiris, known as a germinating Osiris (also known sometimes as a corn Osiris) was filled with silts, and in which barley was allowed to germinate, symbolizing resurrection.

God's Father

The term god's father had a variety of meanings: a title for priests, an epithet of Osiris, and in certain cases, an epithet for non-royal fathers of kings.


Hapy was one of the four sons of Horus responsible for protecting the internal organs of the dead and assisting the deceased in his journey in the netherworld. He was shown as a human figure with a baboon's head and associated with the canopic jar containing the lungs. Hapy was also the name of the god of the Nile inundation, shown as a pot-bellied bearded man with pendulous breasts and a headdress of river plants. He was associated with fertility and fecundity and was particularly revered at Aswan and Jabal as Silsilah.

Harris, Arthur Charles

Arthur Charles Harris was a British antiquities collector who found Papyrus Harris of Ramses III (the largest papyrus known today) and Papyrus Abbott, (which records thefts that took place in Theban tombs).


Hathor was the Egyptian sky goddess, often represented as a cow or as a woman (sometimes with bovine ears), and once regarded as the mother of the sun god. She was the wife of Horus, wife or sister or daughter of Ra, and the pharaoh's divine mother (her name means "House of Horus," Horus representing the king). Especially popular in the New Kingdom and in Ptolemaic times, she was associated with music, dance and mortuary ritual. She was called "Mistress of the sycamore [tree]," "Lady of Turquoise," "Lady of the West," references to some of her many associations. Major cult centers of Hathor included Dandera and Memphis.


In the second year of Thutmosis III’s reign, while he was still a child, Hatshepsut usurped the title of pharaoh for herself and apparently ruled Egypt until her death twenty years later. In her temple at Deir al Bahri she justified her actions by claiming divine birth and stated that her father had instructed her to take the royal title. Because this is a poorly known period, her actions may have been less sinister than some historians have claimed. The fact that the Egyptian term for “king” and the kings’ costumes were masculine meant that Hatshepsut is sometimes shown with masculine features, sometimes with feminine, and she is referred to in texts with both masculine and feminine pronouns. Hatshepsut undertook numerous building projects at Thebes. Supervised by her architect Senenmut, these included major additions to the Temple of Amen at Karnak and construction of her own temple at Deir al Bahri. The former building was fronted by two huge obelisks while the latter building is considered one of the masterpieces of Egyptian architecture and its “Punt reliefs”-scenes of a trading expedition she sent to what may be modern Somalia-are among the most interesting of New Kingdom reliefs. It is not known how Hatshepsut died. But after her death, her names were erased from her monuments and she is deliberately omitted from ancient lists of Egyptian kings. Some scholars believe this is proof of a deliberate campaign to erase her memory. Hatshepsut’s tomb, KV 20, is an unusual, steeply-sloping series of curving corridors cut into the cliffs immediately west of her Deir al Bahri temple. The tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1903. No trace of her body was found there, but two sarcophagi, one for Thutmosis I, another for Hatshepsut, lay inside. A second tomb, cut high up in a cliff south of the Valley of the Kings in the Wadi Sikkat Taqa az-Zayid, may be a tomb cut for her before her accession to the throne.


Queen Hatshepsut-Meryet-Ra was the principal wife of Thutmosis III, and mother of Amenhetep II. KV 42 was built for this queen.

Hay, Robert

Robert Hay was born in Berwickshire, Scotland in 1799. Navy service brought him to Alexandria in 1818 and this visit, coupled with reading Belzoni's works, inspired him to return to Egypt and travel. For ten years beginning in 1824, Hay explored Egypt, making sketches and watercolors of sites. He often traveled with other artists, including Joseph Bonomi and Edward Lane. He sailed up the Nile to Abu Simbel, stopping at sites along the way to document them and make plaster casts of reliefs. The area that impressed Hay most was ancient Thebes and he spent time in the Valley of the Kings. During his stay there he lived in the tomb of Ramses IV (KV 2) while his artist friends stayed in the tomb of Ramses VI (KV 9). During this time, he made watercolors of tomb interiors. In 1828 Hay married Kalitza Psaraki, a former slave taken from her homeland of Crete to Egypt by the Turks. She accompanied Hay during the rest of his exploration in Egypt. The 1840 publication of his lithographs of Cairo was not popular, but the images are of great value to Egyptologists today. There is a 47-volume set of unpublished books at the British Museum Library of Hay's notes and drawings. He gave the artifacts and plaster casts he collected to the British Museum. Robert Hay died in East Lothian in 1863.

Hayes, William C.

An American Egyptologist, William C. Hayes served as curator in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He wrote a definitive study of Dynasty 18 royal sarcophagi and published objects from TT 71 (Senmut).

Heb-Sed Festival

The Heb-Sed Festival was a royal jubilee of rejuvenation and renewal celebrated (supposedly, but in fact, unusually) by a king in his thirtieth regnal year.


Hieratic was a cursive form of hieroglyphic writing, usually used on papyrus and in graffiti.

Hölscher, Uvo

A German Egyptologist, Uvo Hölscher directed the University of Chicago’s excavations at Medinet Habu from 1924 to 1934.


Horemheb is usually considered the last king of Dynasty 18, although Dynasty 19 rulers considered him the founder of their royal line. In later king lists, which ignored rulers associated with the hated Amarna Period, Horemheb was listed as the immediate successor of Amenhetep III, and the intervening years of Akhenaten, Tutankhamen, Semenkhkara, and Ay were added to his reign. The highest regnal year recorded in contemporary texts is 13, but many Egyptologists believe that he ruled for twenty-four, or even twenty-eight years. The first reference to Horemheb is from the reign of Tutankhamen, when he is mentioned as a high-ranking military officer. During Tutankhamen’s reign, he led several military campaigns into Nubia and Syria. We know little else of his activities during the Amarna Period, but at his accession as king a stela at Karnak referred to him as a reformer, a restorer of order, and a man who rid Egypt of corruption and abuse of power. Whether this is fact or hyperbole is unclear. Horemheb built extensively: at Karnak he constructed the second, ninth and tenth pylons using stone taken from the dismantled buildings of Akhenaten; at Luxor Temple, he usurped scenes carved for Tutankhamen; at Medinet Habu, he usurped the work of Ay; and he built at Jabal as Silsilah and at sites in Nubia. There are many examples of fine quality statuary from Horemheb’s reign. At Saqqarah, a tomb had been cut for him while he served Tutankhamen. That monument, discovered in 1975 by British Egyptologist Geoffrey Martin, resembles a typical Egyptian memorial temple. On its walls were many scenes and extensive lists of the twenty-four titles Horemheb then held.  After his coronation, work was begun on another tomb, this one in the Valley of the Kings, KV 57. Horemheb had no children, or at least none who survived him, and near the end of his reign he appointed a military colleague, Paramessu, as “Deputy of His Majesty in Upper and Lower Egypt.” At Horemheb’s death, Paramessu changed his name to Ramses I and became the first ruler of Dynasty 19.


Horus played several roles: he was falcon god of the sky, protector of the king, and symbol of kingship, especially associated with Hierakonpolis and Edfu. One of the oldest and most important gods of the Egyptian pantheon, he was the son of Isis and Osiris, and husband of Hathor. His sons were Imsety, Hapy, Duamutef and Qebehsenuef, together protectors of mummified human viscera. He had many forms: Harpocrates, Horsiese, Horakhty, Haroeris, Harendotes, Horbehdet. He sometimes was associated with the god Min.

Horus name

The Horus name was one of the five royal names of the king, written in a serekh and surmounted by a falcon.


Imsety was one of the four Sons of Horus, responsible for protecting the internal organs of the dead and assisting the deceased in his journey through the netherworld. He was shown as a human being and associated with the canopic jar containing the liver.


Imydwat is an ancient Egyptian term meaning "that which is in the netherworld." This funerary book was also known as The Book of the Secret Chamber and described the sun god Ra's journey through the twelve divisions (the twelve hours of night) of the netherworld. The text is found in most royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.


Imyut is an epithet of the god Anubis referring to the god as "He who is in the place of embalming." His emblem is represented as a headless animal skin attached to a pole.


Isis was sister and wife of Osiris, mother of Horus, and daughter of Geb and Nut. She was seen as the mother of the king and an important goddess in magic and medicine. In the New Kingdom she was closely connected with Hathor and sometimes is shown wearing a solar disk between cow horns. Many temples were dedicated to her, including those at Philae and Dandera in Upper Egypt, Bahbit al Hijarah in the Delta, and Memphis.


Meaning "Pillar of His Mother" in the ancient Egyptian language, Iwnmutef was a name of Horus.

Jones, Ernest Harold

Ernest Harold Jones was a British archaeologist and artist who succeeded Ayrton as Theodore Davis’ excavator in the Valley of the Kings. He helped to clear KV 3 (son of Ramses III), KV 46 (Yuya and Thuya) and KV 7 (Ramses II).

Jones, Owen

Owen Jones was a British architect who published several accounts of his travels in Egypt.


The ka was a person's creative life-force that came into existence when a person was born and lived on after death, accepting offerings made in the deceased's tomb.

Kheker frieze

The kheker frieze was a decorative way of topping walls, made of reed mats bundled, tied and daubed with mud and paint. It later served as a decorative element used in a frieze at the top of decorated tomb and temple walls.


This scarab beetle or scarab-headed man is important in the cycle of birth and rebirth and in cosmological views. The son of Nut, Kheperi was found in tomb paintings and funerary papyri.


An anthropomorphic form of the moon god, Khonsu was represented as a mummiform human figure (occasionally hawk-headed) holding a scepter and flail and wearing a sidelock of youth with a headdress consisting of a horizontal crescent moon surmounted by a full moon. He played an important role as a healing deity. As the son of Amen and Mut, he had a temple dedicated to him within the enclosure of the temple of Amen at Karnak.


KV is an abbreviation for the Valley of the Kings, followed by a number to designate individual tombs in the Valley.

Lane, Edward William

A British Arabist, Edward William Lane's Description of Egypt (written between 1825 and 1828, but published in 2000) covers Theban monuments in great detail.

Lefébure, Eugène

French Egyptologist Eugène Lefébure's Les hypogées royaux de Thèbes (1885-89) was the first epigraphic record of tombs in the Valley of the Kings, including those of KV 2 (Rameses IV) and KV 17 (Sety I).

Lepsius, Carl Richard

One of the pioneers in recording Egyptian monuments and inscriptions, Carl Richard Lepsius was born in Namburg-am-Sale in 1810, the son of Carl Peter Lepsius and Friedericke Gläser. Following university studies in archaeology, Greek and Sanskrit at Leipzig, Göttingen, and Berlin, where he received a doctoral degree in 1833, Lepsius continued with Egyptology in Paris. During this time he visited Egyptian collections in Italy, Holland and England and learned lithography and engraving, skills that were to prove useful in his future career. In 1842, the Prussian Expedition to Egypt and Nubia, under his leadership, began a four year project to clear, study and record monuments throughout the Nile Valley. Perhaps inspired by the Napoleonic Expedition's efforts nearly a half century earlier, as well as the Franco-Tuscan Expedition in 1828-29 led by Champollion and Rosellini, and by the work of Wilkinson, this expedition, sponsored by King Wilhelm IV of Prussia worked as far south in the Sudan as Khartoum and Sennar, and visited the Fayyum and the Sinai. Collecting was also a mandate of the Expedition, and with the enthusiastic approval of Muhammad Ali, some 15,000 objects were shipped back to augment the growing Egyptian collection in Berlin. In the winter months of 1844-1845, Lepsius and his team of architects and draughtsmen recorded scenes and inscriptions in the numerous tombs and temples at Thebes. Nearly every known tomb in the Valley of the Kings was explored and selected scenes copied. In some cases clearance was carried out, as in the tombs of Ramses II (KV 7), Merenptah (KV 8) and Hatshepsut (KV 20). Astronomical ceilings in many of the tombs caught their attention, and they made accurate copies of star clocks and the famous astronomical ceiling in the burial chamber of Sety I. A subsequent visit to Egypt in 1866 resulted in the discovery of the bilingual Canopus Decree at Tanis, which served as a check on the previous work achieved from the Rosetta Stone by Champollion and others. Lepsius received a professorial appointment in Berlin in 1846 and married that same year. Following appointment to the Egyptian Museum in Berlin in 1855, he rose to the position of keeper of the Egyptian Collection. The results of the Prussian Expedition's epigraphic work were published between 1849 and 1859 in twelve huge volumes of plates. Five volumes of accompanying text appeared posthumously. Lepsius's prodigious capacity for work resulted in 142 works to his credit, before his death in 1884.

L'Hôte, Nestor

Nestor L'Hôte was a French draftsman who accompanied Jean-François Champollion to Egypt and was responsible for many of the plates in the publications of Champollion and Rosellini.

Litany of Ra

A text found in New Kingdom royal tombs showing forms of the sun god, Ra, and his union with the king.

Loret, Victor

A French Egyptologist, Victor Loret copied and published many tombs in the Valley of the Kings, as well as other Theban tombs.


Ma'at was the Egyptian goddess representing truth, justice, order, and harmony in all aspects of the universe and human life. She was represented as a seated woman wearing a feather on her head, or as the feather alone. She was the daughter of Ra and was closely associated with the king in his role as maintainer of cosmic order. She was especially revered at Memphis, Karnak, and Deir al Medina.

Mace, Arthur

A British Egyptologist,  Arthur Mace worked with Howard Carter in clearing KV 62 (Tutankhamen).

Magical bricks

Four magic bricks were placed in niches in the burial chamber of tombs in the New Kingdom to protect the deceased from evil. The bricks were inscribed with texts from the Book of the Dead.


Maiherperi was Child of the Nursery and royal Fan-bearer, who died in his twenties. His tomb, KV 36, was found in an almost intact state by Loret in 1899. According to the style of objects recovered from the tomb, as well as his title, Maiherperi probably died during the reign of Thutmosis IV.


Manetho was an Egyptian historian and priest from Samannud who lived during the reigns of Ptolemy I and II at the beginning of the third century B.C. who was noted for his history of Egypt and the division of ancient Egyptian history into thirty dynasties.


A mastaba is a tomb superstructure, based originally on mounds of dirt over prehistoric graves and fully developed by the Early Dynastic Period. Used for both royal and private burials, it had sloping sides and a flat-topped mudbrick or stone superstructure containing offering chambers, all placed over the shaft leading to the subterranean burial chamber. In Arabic, the word mastaba means "bench."

Mehen serpent

The mehen serpent was a female snake whose name meant The Coiled One. She aided the sun god on his nightly journey through the netherworld and was represented as a many-coiled serpent above the bark on which he traveled.

Memorial Temple

In the New Kingdom at Thebes memorial temples were used for ceremonies for a deceased king, as an economic and administrative center, and as a focal point for the important "Beautiful Festival of the Valley." They used to be called "mortuary temples" in the past, but this term is falling out of favor among Egyptologists as their true function has become better known.


A menat was several strings of beads that could either be worn as a necklace or shaken as a musical accompaniment associated with the cult of Hathor.


Prince Ramses Mentuherkhepeshef was a son of Ramses IX, and owner of KV 19.


Because Ramses II lived into his eighties at a time when normal life expectancy in Egypt was only about forty, many of his sons predeceased him, and it was his thirteenth son, Merenptah, who finally succeeded him to the throne. Merenptah was by then already sixty, and his reign lasted only ten years. But during that time, he maintained peace in northeast Africa and western Asia, led expeditions into Nubia and Libya, and sent food to famine-stricken Hittites in Syria. His military exploits are recounted in three major inscriptions, one at Karnak, a second at Athribis in the Delta, and a third in his memorial temple at Thebes. This last text includes the first known reference to the people of Israel, which was said to be "wasted, bare of seed." Merenptah’s building activities included additions to the Osireion at Abydos, enlarging government offices at Memphis (and moving his administration from Piramesse to Memphis), and building at Dandera. In the Valley of the Kings, his tomb, KV 8, is one of the valley’s largest. His memorial temple, currently being made into an open-air museum by the Swiss Institute, lay immediately behind that of Amenhetep III and used the earlier temple as a source of building stone. Merenptah’s mummy was found in 1898 in the royal cache of mummies re-buried in KV 35, the tomb of Amenhetep II.

Meret chests

Meret chests, four in number, contained colored cloth, and were distinguished by a crossed pair of ostrich feathers over each chest. The cloth was supposed to represent the mummy wrappings of the god Osiris, with whom the king was identified.


Meretseger was a cobra-goddess. Considered the goddess of silence,  she was a resident of the Theban Necropolis, and was said to dwell on the mountain that rises above it (al Qurn).


As a member of the Theban triad, which also consisted of her husband Amen and son Khonsu, the vulture goddess Mut was seen as the divine mother of the king. She is usually represented as a woman wearing a long dress and a vulture headdress surmounted by the white crown of Upper Egypt or the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, and holding a papyrus scepter symbolizing Upper Egypt.

Napoleonic Expedition

The Napoleonic Expedition consisted of French scholars sent to Egypt by Napoleon with the objective of recording ancient and contemporary monuments, as well as fauna, flora and geology. This research resulted in the publication of the Description de l’Egypte.


Neit was an Egyptian goddess associated with creation, hunting and war. She served as protector of the king and was sometimes shown wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt. Her principal cult temple lay at Sa al Hajar.


The nemes was a royal headdress of striped cloth: covering the forehead, tied at the back, with the sides hanging down to the shoulders.


Goddess of the Heliopolitan ennead and protector of the dead, Nephthys was the wife of Seth and perhaps the mother of Anubis from an adulterous union with Osiris. She was usually represented alongside her sister, Isis, and they took the form of kites at either end of the funerary bier of the deceased.


The netherworld was the realm ruled over by Osiris, where the deceased went after death.


Nini was an Egyptian greeting made between the king and a deity.

Nisut Bity

Nisut Bity or "He Who belongs to the Sedge and the Bee" (King of Upper and Lower Egypt) was one of the five royal names of the king. It introduced his throne name or prenomen.


Ancient Egypt was divided into administrative districts, which numbered forty-two by Graeco-Roman times. Egyptologists call them nomes, from the Greek nomos, meaning "district."

Norden, Frederik Ludwig

Frederik Ludwig Norden was a Danish traveler and naval officer who visited Egypt in 1737 and wrote an account of his visit and produced drawings of many sites.


Nut was a sky goddess, usually human, but occasionally bovine in form, through whose body the sun traveled at night to be reborn each morning. In the Heliopolitan doctrine of the ennead she was considered to be the daughter of Shu, sister/wife of Geb, and mother of Isis, Osiris, Seth, and Nephthys. Because she represented rebirth, scenes are commonly found on the ceilings of the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings that show Nut swallowing the sun, or Ra, at night and giving birth to him every morning.


The eight deities, four represented as frogs, four as snakes, worshiped at Hermopolis as original gods of creation are known as the ogdoad.

Opening of the Mouth ritual

The Opening of the Mouth ritual was an elaborate ceremony of purification, anointing, and incantations, which served to revive the deceased.

Opet Festival

The annual Opet Festival took place at Thebes during the New Kingdom. Lasting up to four weeks, this major ceremony featured the ritual procession of divine images from Karnak to Luxor to celebrate the union of Amen and the mother of the reigning king, and the birth of the royal ka.


Osiris was an important mummiform god associated with fertility, death, and resurrection. Shown as a mummy, his arms crossed, holding the crook and flail, he wears the atef crown with two plumes and was identified with the dead king. Principal sites of his worship include Abydos, Busiris, Memphis, Heliopolis, Sais. He was the son of Geb and Nut, and brother of Seth and Isis.

Otto, Eberhard

Eberhard Otto was a German Egyptologist who published a detailed study of the topography of ancient Thebes.

Papyrus Abbott

Papyrus Abbott contains an account of the inspection of royal Theban tombs after tomb robbers pillaged them during the reign of Ramses IX.

Piankoff, Alexandre

Alexandre Piankoff was born in St. Petersburg in 1897. He became interested in Egyptology as a boy after seeing a museum collection from ancient Egypt. His academic work in classics, Egyptian philology, and languages was interrupted by World War I, but after the war he studied in Berlin, at the Sorbonne, and at the University of Paris. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Paris in 1930. After World War II, Piankoff traveled to Cairo where he worked for the French Institute, the Bollingen Foundation, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, specializing in Egyptian philology and religion. He translated many religious texts. His best-known work was at Thebes. He documented the tomb of Ramses V and VI (KV 9) and studied the wall reliefs in the tomb of Tutankhamen (KV 62). Piankoff died in Brussels in 1966.

Pococke, Richard

A British traveler, Richard Pococke recorded many Egyptian sites. He produced one of the first modern (albeit highly stylized) maps of the Valley of the Kings.

Prisse d’Avennes, Emile

A French Egyptologist, Emile Prisse d'Avennes published a volume of plates of Egyptian art and removed a king list, the Table of Kings, from Karnak for shipment to France.


The mummiform creator god of Memphis, Ptah was associated with crafts, and in later times joined with Sokar and Osiris. He is usually shown holding a staff combined with a djed-pillar, ankh sign, and was-scepter. His shaven head was covered by a tight-fitting cap, and, in later periods, he is shown wearing a straight beard.


Qebehsenuef was one of the four sons of Horus responsible for protecting the internal organs of the dead and assisting the deceased in his journey through the netherworld. Shown as a human figure with a falcon head, he was associated with the canopic jar containing the intestines.

Quibell, James Edward

British Egyptologist James Edward Quibell found KV 46 (Yuya and Thuyu) in 1905 during excavations funded by Theodore Davis.


QV is an abbreviation for the Valley of the Queens, followed by a number to designate individual tombs in the Valley.


Ra was a Heliopolitan sun god with whom many other gods were later joined. He was usually represented as a hawk-headed human figure wearing a sun disk headdress. In the netherworld he was a ram-headed figure and sailed in the solar bark. The Litany of Ra, which celebrates Ra's identification with Osiris, can be seen on the walls of royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

Ramses I

Paramessu, as Ramses I was called before being crowned pharaoh, was the son of a troop commander, Seti, from the eastern Delta town of Avaris. He rose rapidly through the ranks of the military and was eventually appointed vizier. After a brief period as “Deputy of His Majesty in Upper and Lower Egypt,” meaning that he was an informal co-regent with Horemhab, Paramessu was crowned king and changed his name to Ramses I. His reign was a short one, less than two years. But during that time, he added to the decoration of the Second Pylon at Karnak, built additions to the Nubian garrison at Buhen, re-opened long-closed turquoise mines in Sina, and led at least one military expedition into western Asia. Ramses I married Sitra, the daughter of an army officer, and she bore him a son whom they named after Ramses I’s father, Seti. Seti succeeded Ramses I as the pharaoh Seti I. Ramses I was buried in the Valley of the Kings in KV 16, a small tomb reminiscent in plan and layout of Dynasty 18 royal tombs.

Ramses II

One of Egypt’s most lauded kings, Ramses II ruled longer than any pharaoh except Pepy II (who is said to have reigned for ninety-four years). Ramses II ascended to the throne when he was twenty years old and ruled for the next sixty-seven years. Ramses II was one of the most prolific builders in ancient Egyptian history. He was active in erecting temples at Luxor and Karnak, completed his father’s temple at Abydos, built the great rock-cut temple at Abu Simbel, and constructed his own huge memorial temple, the Ramesseum, at Thebes. He also founded the eastern Delta city of Pi-Ramesse, and carved a huge tomb (KV 7) for himself in the Valley of the Kings. But Ramses II’s claims to greatness as a military genius are not justified. The late American Egyptologist John Wilson described him as “a stupid and culpably inefficient general.” For example, the most celebrated of his military campaigns was the battle of Kadesh. In regnal year 5 (1275 B.C.), Ramses II led his army of twenty thousand men against thirty-seven thousand troops of the Hittite king, Muwatallis. The results of the campaign were indecisive and the war ended in a stalemate. But Ramses II nevertheless devoted considerable space on temple walls boasting of what he claimed was a great and brilliant victory. (It should be kept in mind that many “historical” texts have a strong propagandistic nature.) Ramses II had several wives, but his principal one was Nefertari, whose tomb in the Valley of the Queens is one of the most beautiful in Egypt. The pharaoh was father to over one hundred children, by Nefertari and a large number of other principal wives. Most Egyptian pharaohs never acknowledged their offspring in their texts, and usually we know the names of only a few royal family members. By contrast, we have the names of nearly thirty sons and thirty daughters of Ramses II, all shown in processional scenes on the walls of over ten temples in Egypt and Nubia. Many of his sons were buried in a unique and complex tomb in the Valley of the Kings, KV 5, one of the largest ever found in Egypt. The mummy of Ramses II was found in the Deir al Bahri cache in 1881. Today, it is on display in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

Ramses III

Immediately after his father Setnakht died, Ramses III began a reign dedicated to slavishly copying the deeds of Ramses II. Obviously, Ramses III greatly admired almost everything about the reign of Ramses II. He adopted a similar titulary, gave his children the same names that Ramses II had given his, and modeled his memorial temple, Medinet Habu, on the Ramesseum. Ramses III was an ambitious builder, and erected or added to scores of temples in Nubia, Egypt, and even western Asia. In his fifth regnal year, Egypt was faced with attempted invasions by Libyans on its western border, and by an eastern Mediterranean group known as the “Sea Peoples” on its north and east. Ramses III described how he defeated these armies on the walls of his temple at Medinet Habu. The lengthy and self-aggrandizing inscriptions and the accompanying huge, elaborately-detailed battle scenes were very similar to those used three decades earlier by Ramses II, and may have been copied from them. The deeds of Ramses III were described in Papyrus Harris I, a contemporaneous account now in the British Museum. Papyrus Harris is over forty-one meters long, and its 117 columns of text detail the king’s donations to various Egyptian deities, lists the buildings, ships, estates and land he donated to Thebes, and inventories the taxes collected during his reign. It then goes on to describe the towns of Lower and Middle Egypt and surveys the recent history of Egypt. It is also a text filled with self-praise. In spite of great military and construction activity, or perhaps in part because of it, Egypt’s economy began to weaken during the reign of Ramses III. Documents found at Deir al Medina tell of the government’s inability to pay workmen’s salaries and even acknowledge that workmen on royal projects went on strike for back wages. Texts also tell of court intrigue. One of Ramses III’s secondary wives, Tiy, plotted with several court officials to assassinate her husband and elevate her son, Pentwere, to the throne, ignoring the rightful heir, Ramses IV. But the plot was discovered, the culprits arrested, and the participants either killed or forced to commit suicide. Ramses III buried the several children and wives who predeceased him in the Valley of the Queens. He himself was buried in KV 11, a tomb that had been begun by his father before he moved to KV 14. The remarkably well-preserved mummy of Ramses III was found in 1881 in the Deir al Bahri cache.

Ramses IV

Ramses IV, the son of Ramses III, ascended to the throne during a period when Egypt had fallen on hard times. There is no evidence that he attempted, or was able, to restore its wealth and international authority. Texts of his reign speak of social unrest, rising crime, and economic decline. However, Ramses IV did order extensive work in several stone and turquoise quarries, and he built additions to temples at Abydos, Heliopolis, and Thebes and erected many statues there. His own memorial temple lay near Deir al Medina, and his tomb, KV 2, was dug in the Valley of the Kings. Later, in Dynasty 21, his body was moved with several other royal mummies to KV 35 for safekeeping.

Ramses V

Ramses V is a little known pharaoh who ruled for only about two years. There are few references to him, but several of them are found on small objects from Sinai and western Asia, suggesting that Egypt continued to maintain at least a small role in foreign trade. Several papyri deal with economic affairs under Ramses V’s reign and suggest that there were several cases of corruption in the government. Ramses V may have begun the tomb later used by Ramses VI (KV 9), or started another (as yet unidentified) tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Ramses VI

Egypt was already in a seriously weakened state by the time Ramses VI ascended to the throne. Mining in Sinai had been abandoned, trade routes were closed, Egypt’s borders were shrinking, and the country’s central bureaucracy was nearing collapse. Even Ramses VI’s attempt to enhance his position by including his name in a list of sons of Ramses III at Medinet Habu seems a feeble attempt to bolster his authority. Ramses VI was buried in KV 9, a tomb he usurped from his predecessor, Ramses V, then enlarged. His mummy was later destroyed by thieves and attempts by later priests to repair the damage resulted in a hodge-podge of bones, including some from other bodies, carelessly stuffed into the linen wrappings.

Ramses VII

Nothing is known of this son of Ramses VI except that he ruled for seven years of economic hardship. Ramses VII was buried in KV 1 but no mummy has been found that can be identified as his.

Ramses VIII

Ramses VIII ruled for less than a year. He is represented only once, in a procession of princes in the memorial temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu, where his figure was recut with the royal uraeus and other royal regalia. Ramses VIII may have been a later son of one of the kings of Dynasty 20, but there seems little chance that he is to be identified as a son of Ramses III, also known by the name Sethherkhepeshef Mery-Amen, who was buried in the Valley of the Queens in QV 43.No tomb is known for Ramses VIII, but some Egyptologists believe that KV 19, used for the burial of Prince Mentuherkhepeshef, might have originally been intended for him.

Ramses IX

During his eighteen year reign, Ramses IX made a number of successful attempts to restore Egypt’s power and wealth. Texts of his reign refer to travels in Asia and Nubia. He also ordered extensive building activity at Heliopolis and Karnak. It was during Ramses IX’s reign that tomb robbing in the Valley of the Kings became so embarrassingly common that an inspection of the royal tombs was carried out. The result of the investigation was that a number of thieves were arrested and tried (in regnal years 9 and 16) and the mummies of several royal mummies were moved from their vandalized tombs to TT 320, a small tomb in the Deir al Bahri cirque. They remained there until they were discovered and robbed by thieves at the end of the nineteenth century. Ramses IX was buried in KV 6, located in the center of the Valley of the Kings. His mummy was removed from the tomb in the Dynasty 21 reign of Pinedjem II and added to the Deir al Bahri cache.

Ramses X

Almost nothing is known of Ramses X, who reigned for perhaps three years, save for a few brief references in texts at Karnak. It is possible that KV 18 was cut for this ruler.

Ramses XI

The last king of the Ramesside line and the final ruler of Dynasty 20, Ramses XI ruled over a seriously weakened country. Tomb robberies were rife, a series of low Nile inundations caused famine, and civil war erupted in Thebes. Ramses XI’s capital city was located at Tanis, in the central Delta, and power at Thebes seems to have been taken by the priests of the temple of Amen at Karnak. Ultimately, Ramses XI lost his already-weakened power (although he retained his royal titles) at the High Priest of Amen, Herihor, ruled southern Egypt and Smendes, perhaps his son, reigned in the north. KV 4 is attributed to Ramses XI, but the tomb was never finished and the king’s mummy has never been found.


Literally called "Repeating of Births," the renaissance was a new dating system introduced during the reign of Ramses XI when the Theban priests exercised almost-royal power.


This type of anthropoid coffin of cartonnage was painted with representations of wings and feathers (rishi is Arabic for "feathery"). It was associated with the goddess Isis, and used from the Middle Kingdom to the New Kingdom.

Roberts, David

David Roberts was a British artist whose volumes of watercolors are among the best and most famous copies of Egyptian monuments ever produced.

Rosellini, Ippolito

An Italian Egyptologist, Ippolito Rosellini jointly directed Champollion’s Egyptian expedition in 1828. His works are important collections of maps, plans, and drawings of Egyptian monuments.

Sa Ra

Sa Ra meant son of Ra, and was one of the five royal names of the pharaoh. Sa Ra introduces the birth name or nomen of the king.

Salt, Henry

Henry Salt is best known in the field of Egyptology for his efforts at collecting antiquities. He was born in Lichfield, England in 1780, the son of a local doctor, and trained as a painter of portraits, studying at the Royal Academy under Farington and Hoppner. A tour of the East between 1802 and 1806, accompanying the collector George Annesley, Viscount of Valentia, was his first introduction to Egypt. After a government mission to Abyssinia from 1809 to 1811, he was appointed British Consul-General to Egypt, arriving there in 1816 and serving in this post until his death from dysentery in 1827, three years after his wife’s demise from cholera. Salt was buried in the garden of his residence in Alexandria, which subsequently became a European cemetery. During his tenure as Consul-General, he sponsored many excavations in Egypt and Nubia, acquiring many valuable antiquities for the British Museum, as well as amassing his own collection. Through the services of Giovanni d’Athanasi and Giovanni Belzoni, he procured several important monuments from Thebes. At the urging of the Swiss Orientalist Burckhardt, Salt hired Belzoni to remove a colossal granite bust of Ramses II known as the Young Memnon from the Ramesseum in 1816, which Salt presented to the British Museum the following year. Over the next two decades, the British Museum purchased many artifacts from Salt’s collections, including some of the larger works of Egyptian sculpture in their galleries. Other museums benefited from his activities, including that of Sir John Soane which purchased the alabaster sarcophagus of Sety I, discovered by Belzoni. The Louvre acquired Salt’s second collection in 1826, including the sarcophagus box of Rameses III. Salt operated at a time when interest in Egypt and its antiquities was reaching a high level in Europe and when the desire to acquire objects for national collections as well as private ones was aided by a lax attitude towards antiquities on the part of Muhammad Ali’s government. Rivalry between the representatives of European colonial powers resulted in the unofficial division of the country into private zones for exploitation, especially so with the competition between Salt’s agents and those of the French consul-general Drovetti. On the heels of this wholesale frenzy of acquisition followed the efforts of scholarly expeditions such as a those of Champollion, Lepsius, Wilkinson, Hay and others in the 1820s through 1840s to record the monuments remaining in Egypt. In fairness, Salt also made use of his drafting skills to record monuments. His attempts at scholarly pursuits, however, were not taken seriously by his contemporaries. Few of his drawings have survived or have been published.


The sarcophagus was the stone box in which one or more coffins were placed.


The sun god Khepri was represented as the sacred scarab beetle (Scarabaeus sacer) on amulets, seals, and ring-bezels. Its underside was often inscribed with designs or text.

Schiaparelli, Ernesto

Italian Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli directed important excavations in the Valley of the Queens, including the opening QV 66 (Nefertari) and work at Deir al Medina. He also worked with Lefébure recording royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

Schweinfurth, Georg

German explorer and naturalist Georg Schweinfurth founded Egypt’s Royal Geographical Society, and collected botanical specimens throughout Egypt.


Sekhmet was a lion-headed goddess (perhaps from Awsim), later seen as a manifestation of Mut's aggressive character. Many statues of Sekhmet survive in the Temple of Mut at Karnak. She is the consort of Ptah and perhaps the mother of Nefertem in the Memphite triad.


The successor of Amenhetep IV/Akhenaten is an enigmatic figure. Semenkhkara (whose name means “He Whom the Spirit of Ra has Ennobled”) may have been a younger brother or a son of Akhenaten. He may have been married to one of Akhenaten’s daughters. Some have even suggested that he was actually Akhenaten’s wife, Nefertiti, using a different name and shown in masculine form. In any case, his reign was a short one, less than three years long, and there is evidence that he abandoned Amarna and the cult of the Aten and returned with his court to Thebes. Some believe that he was buried there, in KV 55, but the evidence is highly ambiguous.


A serekh was a hieroglyph representing a palace façade. It was used as outline for the king's Horus name and was surmounted by a falcon.


Perhaps originally a Delta goddess, Serqet carries a scorpion (against whose bite she offered protection) on her head. She was the protector of the hawk-headed canopic jar deity, Qebehsenuef, and guarded the royal coffin and canopic chest.


The reign of Setnakht's is poorly known, the principal sources being Papyrus Harris and the Elephantine Stela. Papyrus Harris describes the time of Setnakht’s accession as a period of trouble and confusion. Undoubtedly he was exaggerating, but Setnakht does claim to have “driven out the usurper” to the throne and, during a less than three year long reign, to have restored law and order to Egypt. When he died, he was interred in KV 14, the tomb used by Tausert, which Setnakht had enlarged.

Seti I

Seti I may have briefly served as co-regent with his father, Ramses I, and then ruled Egypt alone for fourteen years. Seti I actively campaigned in Asia early in his reign and depicted his battles in some of the most important military reliefs known from the New Kingdom-the reliefs on the outer face of the northeast wall of the hypostyle hall at Karnak. These scenes show in exquisite detail Egypt’s battles with the Shashu Bedouin, the capture of Gaza and Rafah, and the great battle at Qadesh. The texts include highly important lists of western Asiatic place-names that have allowed scholars to reconstruct much of the geography of what are now Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. Seti I called himself “Repeater of Births,” meaning that he considered himself the leader of a renaissance. Certainly, this was true not only militarily but in terms of Egypt’s art and architecture as well. For example, he devoted considerable time and energy to the Temple of Amen at Karnak. He began the great hypostyle hall, one of the largest religious structures ever built. The hall covers 5,406 square meters (1.3 acres) and contains 134 columns, the largest of them twenty-three meters (seventy-five feet) high. Seti also built extensively at Abydos, where he built both the Osireion, a cenotaph dedicated to Osiris, and an elegantly proportioned temple in which a “King List” was carved. That list gives the names of seventy-six rulers from the beginning of Dynasty 1 to Seti I himself. Seti I’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, KV 17, is one of the largest ever dug and by far the most extensively decorated. An enigmatic passageway leading steeply downward beyond the burial chamber may have been intended to join the king’s burial with groundwater, a connection perhaps also deliberately made in the Osireion. An alabaster sarcophagus found in the tomb’s burial chamber is now in Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. It was acquired from Giovanni Belzoni.  Seti I’s mummy, found in the Deir al Bahri cache in 1881, is now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Seti I and his principal wife Tuya lost their firstborn son. It was their second son, Ramses II, who succeeded his father as pharaoh.

Seti II

Seti II was the eldest son of Merenptah and held the position of Commander of the Army during his father’s reign. His accession to the throne was apparently delayed by the three or four year reign of Amenmeses. Once crowned, Seti II ruled for six years. His monuments are known from Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, where he cut his tomb, KV 15. His memorial temple has never been found. Inscriptions from his reign have been found at sites in Nubia and in Sinai.


A shabti was a small mummiform figurine usually made from faience, wood or stone and intended to perform the tasks for the deceased in the netherworld. Many were included in funerary equipment.

Sicard, Claude

A French priest, Claude Sicard recorded many monuments in Egypt while there as a missionary, and was the first European to describe Philae, Elephantine, and Kom Ombo.


Siptah was the seventh ruler of Dynasty 19, a son of Seti II and a secondary queen, Tia'a. Siptah became ruler after the official heir, Seti-Merenptah, predeceased his father. Because of Siptah's young age,  his step-mother Tausert became regent of the country. Siptah died during his sixth regnal year. He was buried, probably with his mother Tia'a, in the unfinished KV 47. In 1898, his mummy was found in KV 35, which was reused as a cache.


Sit-Ra (sometimes called In), was a royal wet nurse of Queen Hatshepsut. She is thought to have been buried in KV 60.


A hawk-headed god of Memphis, Sokar was the patron of craftsmen and of the funerary cult, sometimes syncretized with Ptah and Osiris. He was also venerated as an earth or fertility god. An elaborate festival was celebrated in his honor in the necropolis of western Thebes.

Sons of Horus

The four sons of Horus were four deities: Duamutef, Qebehsenuef, Imsety and Hapy, who were responsible for protecting the organs of the deceased contained inside canopic jars. The stoppers of the canopic jars were in the shape of the head of the deity who was associated with the vessel's contents.

Souls of Nekhen

The souls of Nekhen were jackal-headed (and sometimes falcon-headed) souls (ba) of former kings of Hierakonpolis from whom later Upper Egyptian rulers derived their power.

Souls of Pe

The souls of Pe were falcon-headed (and sometimes jackal-headed) souls (ba) of former kings of Buto from whom later Lower Egyptian rulers derived their power.

Steindorff, Georg

German Egyptologist Georg Steindorff excavated at several Egyptian sites, and extensively published Egyptian and Coptic texts.

Supreme Council of Antiquities

Formerly known as the Egyptian Antiquities Organization (before June 1994), the Supreme Council of Antiquities is a branch of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. It oversees all excavation work in Egypt and is responsible for administering Egyptian museums.


Ta-Tjenen was a primeval god of creation associated with the king's phallus in the Litany of Ra.


A talus slope is a stone-strewn slope at the base of a cliff.


In the absence of an acceptable male heir, Tausert, the principal wife of Seti II, was made regent for the youngster, Siptah, after the death of her husband. One of Tausert’s own sons had predeceased his parents, and Siptah, the second son of Seti II by another wife, Tia'a, was still very young. Tausert apparently shared regency duty with the chancellor, Bay. Tausert ruled independently for two years, then for another six with Siptah. Her tomb, KV 14, lay in the Valley of the Kings, and her memorial temple was built immediately south of the Ramesseum. Her name has been found on objects in western Asia, Sinai, and several sites in Upper and Lower Egypt. It also was inscribed on pieces of jewelry from KV 56, the so-called “gold tomb,” which may have been the burial-place of a child of Tausert and Seti II. Tausert’s mummy has not been identified, unless, as some suggest, she is the “unknown woman D” found in KV 35.


Thebes is the ancient Greek name for the modern Egyptian city of Luxor.

Thomas, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Thomas is an American Egyptologist whose "Royal Necropoleis of Thebes" remains the definitive study of those tombs.


Thoth was a god who took the form of a baboon or ibis and was a patron of writing, knowledge, and creation. By the end of the Old Kingdom he was usually shown as an ibis-headed man figure holding a scribal palette and pen. Thoth had cult centers at Khmun, Dakhla Oasis and Tell Baqliya.

Thutmosis I

A military commander under Amenhetep I, Thutmosis I was made king late in life when Amenhetep I died without an heir. His claim to the throne was apparently based on his marriage to the daughter of Ahmes I and Queen Ahmes Nefertari and, perhaps, on having served as co-regent with Amenhetep I. During his short six-year reign, he engaged in several major military campaigns in western Asia and Nubia, and made extensive additions to the temple of Amen at Karnak. This work was supervised by his chief architect, Ineni, who was also responsible for supervising the digging of the king’s tomb, KV 38 (although KV 20, later used by Hatshepsut, may originally have been intended for him).

Thutmosis II

The third son of Thutmosis I and a minor wife, the teen-aged Thutmosis II married his half-sister, Hatshepsut, perhaps to bolster his claim to the throne. He ruled for fourteen years, and during that time conducted several military campaigns in western Asia and led a major expedition into Nubia. Before he died, he appointed his only son, Thutmosis III, as his heir, an unusual act that some think was necessary to keep his ambitious wife Hatshepsut from usurping authority. If this was the reason, it failed. The tomb of Thutmosis II has not yet been identified with certainty. Suggested candidates include KV 42, WN A, and TT 358. But KV 42 is more likely to have been cut later in Dynasty 12, and WN A (also called Bab al Muallaq) is virtually unknown. TT 358, found by Herbert Winlock’s Metropolitan Museum of Art expedition in 1929, is thought by many to be the most likely choice. But it lies outside the Valley of the Kings, and its claim to being a royal tomb is based only upon the presence of a well shaft, a feature common to many royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings after the middle of Dynasty 18.

Thutmosis III

Son of Thutmosis II and a minor wife named Isis, Thutmosis III became king while still a child. His stepmother and aunt, Hatshepsut, served as regent until she usurped the title of king two years later. It is unclear if this was a palace coup engineered by an unscrupulous and power hungry woman or simply an attempt to maintain a strong royal authority. But Thutmosis III returned to power with the death of Hatshepsut in regnal year 22, and almost immediately began a systematic obliteration of her images and references to her on Egyptian monuments. After establishing his sole rule, Thutmosis III also began a series of military campaigns in western Asia and deep into Nubia, badly needed to maintain Egypt’s authority abroad. A substantial number of texts inscribed in temples throughout Egypt described his military activities. There was extensive building activity in Thutmosis III’s reign, and he erected scores of temples throughout Egypt and Nubia. At Thebes, he made extensive additions to the Temple of Amen at Karnak, built a superbly decorated processional temple at Deir al Bahri, and enlarged the Amen temple at Medinet Habu. His own tomb was dug in the Valley of the Kings (KV 34). He also ordered a tomb for his chief wife Hatshepsut-Meryetra (KV 42) and commissioned a new sarcophagus in KV 38 for the reburial of his grandfather, Thutmosis I. Officials at the court of Thutmosis III were buried in Theban tombs that displayed some of the New Kingdom’s finest and most informative scenes. The tomb of his vizier Rekhmira (TT 100), for example, has elegant scenes of daily life, craftsmen, and banquets, and lengthy texts that describe the duties of the vizier. The reign of Thutmosis III is considered one of ancient Egypt’s most active and successful and he became the subject of a long-lived religious cult in the New Kingdom.

Thutmosis IV

Son of Amenhetep II and the Royal Wife Tia'a, Thutmosis IV claimed in the so-called “Dream Stela” at Giza that he had been made pharaoh because he obeyed the wish of the god Horemakhet by clearing sand away from the body of the Great Sphinx (which represented that god). This is a fiction, of course, probably meant to satisfy religious aspects of New Kingdom kingship. Thutmosis IV was not active militarily and there are fewer military officials during his reign than in his predecessors’. There was, however, a very large civil and religious bureaucracy. His building activities mainly involved adding to existing temples, but he constructed a small mud-brick temple for himself on the West Bank at Thebes immediately south of the Ramesseum, and an Egyptian alabaster shrine at Karnak, now reconstructed in the Karnak Open-Air Museum. His tomb, KV 43, was unfinished at the time of his death.


Thuyu was the mother of the Tiy, herself wife of Amenhetep III. The queen’s mother bore the titles of “King’s Mother of the Great Royal Wife, “Chief of the Harim of Min," “Chief of the Harim of Amen," “Priestess of Amen," and “Singer of Hathor." Thuyu was buried with her husband Yuya in KV 46.


Queen Tia'a was the wife of Amenhetep II and mother of Thutmosis IV, and was recently identified as being the owner of KV 32.  Tia'a was also the name of the secondary wife of Seti II and mother of Siptah.


Daughter of Yuya and Thuyu, Tiye was of non-royal origin and bore the title of “Great Royal Wife." She was the principal wife of Amenhetep III and mother of Amenhetep IV/Akhenaten, on both of whom she exerted considerable influence. Amenhetep III built a temple in her honour at Sedeigna in the north of Sudan, where she was revered as a form of Hathor. After her husband passed away, Tiye lived in Akhetaten, the new capital of Egypt. It is believed that the mummy called the “Elder Lady” found in KV 35, is in fact Tiye, probably buried at first in KV 55, where funerary equipment bearing her name was found, and subsequently moved to KV 35.

Torus molding

Torus molding is a convex molding often used as part of bases of walls.

Total Station

A total station is a survey instrument used to measure azimuths (horizontal angles), zeniths (vertical angles) and slope (direct) distances.


Triad is a term used to refer to a group of three deities, who usually have a family connection. The Theban Triad, for example, is composed of the father, Amen, the mother, Mut, and their son, Khonsu.


TT is an abbreviation for Theban Tomb, followed by a number to designate the individual tombs of the Nobles.


There are many theories about the parentage of Egypt’s most famous pharaoh, Tutankhamen. Some say he was a son of Akhenaten, others that he was his brother or half-brother, still others that he was a distant and minor relative. We know that he was born into the royal family and that he was probably raised at Amarna. Originally named Tutankhaten (“Living Image of the Aten”), his name was changed to Tutankhamen (“Living Image of Amen”) after the death of Akhenaten and when he succeeded Semenkhara to the throne. He was crowned pharaoh when he was only nine years old and two principal royal advisors, Ay and Horemheb, apparently managed the affairs of state. Each of these advisors would succeed Tutankhamen in turn when the boy-king died eight years after his coronation. One of the first acts of Tutankhamen’s reign was to re-open the temples of Egypt’s traditional deities. Authority was restored to priesthoods that Akhenaten had ignored, especially the priesthood of Amen at Karnak. There, and at Luxor Temple, the young king’s advisors authorized major building campaigns. A stela at Karnak, called the “Restoration Stela,” tells of these activities. Tutankhamen died when he was only seventeen years old. The cause of death is not known, although a small fragment of bone in his skull (visible in x-rays) has led some to suggest that he was murdered. He was apparently to have been buried in KV 23, but that tomb was not finished at the time of his unexpected death, and he was therefore hastily interred in KV 62, buried with thousands of magnificent objects, but virtually devoid of the usual carved and painted walls. When his tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922, Tutankhamen became the most famous ruler of the ancient world.


Tyet knot or girdle. Often shown with the Ankh and the Djed pillar. Resembles an ankh sign with the horizontal bar bent down on each side.


The uraeus was a cobra whose head was worn on the crown or headdress of the king, representing the protective power of the snake and the goddess Wadjet, protective deity of Lower Egypt.


Userhat was the name of the owner of KV 45. He served as Overseer of the Fields of Amen during Dynasty 18, probably during the reign of Thutmosis IV.

Valley Temple

The Valley Temple was part of the pyramid complex in which several ceremonies took place (embalming, purification and Opening of the Mouth). The Valley Temple was connected to the pyramid temple and the pyramid itself through a causeway.


The vizier was a the highest official of the royal court, responsible for the day-to-day administration of Egypt.


Wadi is an Arabic term referring to a water-cut ravine or valley, now usually a dry watercourse.

Was scepter

A was scepter has a straight shaft, an animal's head at the top and a forked lower end, and was a symbol of royal power and protected the deceased. With an added piece of cloth and feather, it was the emblem of the Theban nome.

Weigall, Arthur E. P.

Arthur E. P. Weigall was a British Egyptologist who served as Inspector-General of Antiquities from 1905 to 1914. He worked with Theodore M. Davis on excavations in the Valley of the Kings and with Mond in the nobles' tombs at Thebes.

Wilkinson, John Gardner

John Gardner Wilkinson was a British Egyptologist and traveler who, as part of his topographical survey of Thebes, assigned the numbering sequence to the tombs in the Valley of the Kings that was later continued and is still in use today. He also copied and studied scenes and inscriptions of the Theban tombs and carried out limited excavations in 1824 and 1827-1828. Fifty-six volumes of Wilkinson’s work are preserved in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Winlock, Herbert

Herbert Winlock was the American Egyptologist who directed the very important excavations of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Thebes.


Yuya was the father of Tiy, the wife of Amenhetep III. The queen’s father was a military leader, probably from the area of Akhmim, who bore the titles of “God’s Father," “Master of the Horse," “His Majesty’s Lieutenant Commander of Chariotry," “Priest of Min," "Overseer of cattle of Min, Lord of Akhmim." Yuya was buried along with his wife Thuyu in KV 46.