Tomb of Prince Khaemwaset (QV44)

The Dynasty XX pharaoh Rameses III issued an order in year 28 of his reign that five tombs were to be prepared for his sons in the Valley of the Queens, near to his Medinet Habu mortuary temple. It is not known whether his sons had already died then, or even how old they were at their time of death.

Prince Khaemwaset held the titles ‘Eldest son of the King’, ‘Sem-priest of Ptah’. His tomb was discovered in 1903 and it was clear that it had been reused in later times as many sarcophagi were piled up in the corridor.

The structure of the prince’s tomb is designed to be a wide linear corridor, with two lateral annexes and a long burial chamber. It is in my opinion the most beautiful tomb in the Queen’s Valley with delicately painted bas-reliefs and very good colour preservation mostly on a pale background.

Khaemwaset with his father rameses III

The entrance leads to the first corridor where the prince appears on the left-hand side with Rameses III and Ptah and is making offerings to Thoth, Anubis and Re-Horakhty. On the right-hand side Khaemwaset with his father stands before Ptah-Sokar, Geb, Shu and Atum. Looking back toward the entrance the prince is depicted on each side of the doorway as an Iun-mutef priest.

In the eastern annex, the prince is again depicted before various deities. Neith and Selkis appear on the left and Isis and Nephthys on the right. The side walls show Khaemwaset before Anubis, the four Sons of Horus and Osiris (or Sokar). The western annex shows similar scenes of the prince, this time before Hapi, Ptah, the four Sons of Horus and on the rear wall is a double scene of Isis before Osiris and Nephthys before Ptah-Sokar by a pool.

The second corridor is decorated with scenes from the ‘Book of Gates’, with the king and prince standing before the guardians and watchmen of various Gates (9th to 16th Gates).

At the end of the second corridor is a doorway with a winged solar disc on its lintel and the guardians of the 15th and 16th Gates on the sides of the entrance. The chamber beyond, perhaps intended to be the burial chamber or a rear annex, was decorated with a gold background with brightly coloured scenes of deities. On the left, moving clockwise, scenes depicted show jackal and lion guardians, and Rameses III offering to Thoth and Harsiesi. The rear wall shows a double scene of the king with Neith and Isis (on left) and Nephthys and Selkis (on right) worshipping a seated Osiris (note the four tiny figures of the Sons of Horus sitting in a lotus blossom in front of his throne). The right-hand wall depicts the king offering incense to two deities, Horus and Sheps, and the right-hand entrance wall shows two guardian genies, the lion-headed Neb-neru ‘Lord of Terror’, and Heri-maat ‘He who commands the Truth’ appearing as a young naked boy wearing a white khat-headdress.

It is interesting that in all the scenes in the burial chamber it is the king alone rather than his son who officiates in the offerings. In the rest of the tomb the king seems to be introducing the prince to the various mortuary deities.

The sarcophagus of Khaemwaset was found in a fragmentary condition and its lid was engraved with an inscription dating to the reign of Rameses IV. As Khaemwaset was the king’s eldest son, it is assumed that he must have died before he was able to take the throne and was buried by his brother.


The tomb of Khaemwaset is currently open to visitors. Tickets for the Queens Valley are available at the gate and cost EGP 35 for three tombs. Photography inside the tombs is strictly forbidden and can incur heavy fines.

~ by Su on February 6, 2009.