Tomb of Rameses I (KV16)

The tomb of the first Rameses is situated in a small branch off the main part of the King’s Valley and because of his short reign (less than two years) the structure is accordingly much smaller than that of Horemheb. Only two staircases and a descending corridor lead directly to the burial chamber, with no well-room or antechambers. There are two uncompleted niches at the sides of the second staircase.

Sarcophagus of Rameses I

Much of the burial chamber is taken up with the king’s huge red quartzite sarcophagus, still in situ, and is the only area of the tomb which was decorated. An annex was built on either side of the chamber plus another smaller annex at the rear which was probably the canopic chamber. Above the doorway to this annex Rameses is depicted in an unusual scene of a ‘ritual of jubilation’ between the souls of the falcon-headed Pe and jackal-headed Nekhen which represent Upper and Lower Egypt. Inside the niche on the rear wall a ram-headed god holds Osiris before the serpent-goddess Nesert with other scenes relating to the ‘Book of Gates’.

The quality of decoration in Rameses’ tomb makes up for its abbreviated size. Its style is similar to that of Horemheb’s tomb with brightly coloured figures painted on a blue-grey background. The goddess Ma’at flanks each side of the staircase doorway and beyond this the king is depicted before Ptah and a djed-pillar. Continuing on the south wall Rameses is welcomed into the Underworld by Anubis and Harsiesi, and scenes from the third division of the ‘Book of Gates’.

Rameses I welcomed by Anubis and Harsiesi

The west wall behind the sarcophagus shows the king led by an Iun-mutef priest to Osiris where he consecrates four boxes of coloured cloth (representing the funerary wrappings of Osiris) before Atum-Re-Khepri (the beetle-headed god who represents the transformation of the reborn sun).

There are more passages from the ‘Book of Gates’ on the north wall showing the solar-barques journey through the hours of the night and the god Atum fighting the evil serpent Apothis. On the right-hand side of the entry wall Rameses offers wine to Nefertem with an emblem.

Scene from the 'Book of Gates'

The king’s mummy was removed in antiquity although portions of his coffin were found in the Deir el-Bahri cache.


The tomb of Rameses I is currently open to visitors. Tickets for the King’s Valley cost EGP 80 for three tombs and can be bought at the gate. Photography inside the tombs is strictly forbidden and can incur heavy fines. There is a little train – the taftaf – that runs from the coach park to the entrance to the monument area and costs EGP 2.

~ by Su on February 5, 2009.