Tomb of Tuthmose III (KV34)
The tomb of Tuthmose III Menkheperre is in an almost inaccessible cleft in the southern end of the Kings Valley, its entrance reached by a steep climb up a modern staircase. Discovered in 1898 by the workmen of Victor Loret (antiquities inspector at the time), it is the earliest of the royal tombs which can be visited at present, built for the king in mid-Dynasty XVIII.
Two flights of steps and descending corridors lead to the first occurrence in the Valley of a deep well-shaft, its upper walls decorated in simple style with a khekher frieze and with a star ceiling. A vestibule at roughly 90 degrees to the corridor has two square pillars and wall decoration which lists 741 of the divinities who appear in the sacred texts of the Amduat depicted on the walls of the burial chamber below. These figures are drawn simply as stick-figures, with their names or titles in each box beside them.
A wooden staircase descends to the large cartouch-shaped burial chamber which is beautifully decorated with scenes from the Amduat. The Amduat or ‘That Which is in the Underworld’ is the oldest text (called by the Egyptians ‘Book of the Secret Room’) seen in the Kings Valley and depicts the sun’s journey through the 12 hours of night. It is shown in its complete form in the tomb of Tuthmose III. The simple stick-figure decoration in black paint on a pale yellow background is unrolled like a papyrus scroll around the walls of the burial chamber. Two square columns in the burial chamber are decorated with scenes from the ‘Litany of Re’, another first in tomb decoration, which shows the king’s union with the sun god. The face of one of the pillars depicts a unique scene of the king being suckled by a goddess named as Isis in the form of a tree.
There are four annexes cut into the sides of the burial chamber which were probably used as storage chambers. The tomb had been heavily plundered before Loret’s excavation but the beautiful cartouche-shaped yellow quartzite sarcophagus can still be seen standing on a limestone plinth at the far end of the burial chamber. When the tomb was discovered the lid of the sarcophagus was broken and the king’s mummy had been previously been discovered in one of his wooden coffins by Maspero in the Deir el-Bahri cache in 1881. The lid has been restored and depicts on its underside an incised relief of the sky-goddess Nut who is also shown on the base of the sarcophagus. The base is incised in red paint with other deities including Isis kneeling on a neb-sign.
The tomb of Tuthmose III is currently open to visitors. Tickets can be bought from the entrance to the Valley of the Kings. Tickets for three tombs cost EGP 80.