Ancient Egypt Wiki
Location Valley of the Kings
Coordinates 25°44′25.3″N 32°36′06.0″E
Discovery 6 January 1907
Excavation Edward Ayrton (1907-1908)
Lyla Pinch Brock (1992-1993)
Status Closed to the public
Dynasty 18th Dynasty
Occupants Tiye (moved)
Younger Lady (moved)
KV55 Mummy
Type Rock-cut tomb
Layout Straight axis
Features Steps & corridor
Decoration Undecorated
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KV55 is a rock-cut tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The tomb is often referred to as the Amarna cache, since it contained many funerary objects that indicate a relocation of the tomb's occupants to the Theban valley from the Amarna Royal Wadi.

Panels of a gilded shrine that once protected a sarcophagus (much like in Tutankhamun's KV62) were inscribed for Queen Tiye, which indicates that she was once interred here. Upon the tomb's discovery in 1907, by Edward Ayrton while he was working in the Valley for Theodore Davis, a single skeletonized mummy was found within a gilded coffin and thus initially believed to belong to Queen Tiye because of the shrine panels.[1] But when anatomist Grafton Elliot Smith examined the skull and bones in Cairo a few months later he concluded that they were those of a young male.[1] Furthermore, they found four mud bricks within KV55 that had the name of Akhenaten inscribed. Other artifacts found include canopic jars, glass jars, vessels of stone, and pottery.

The tomb may have been a mummy cache, and originally held the possible burials of several Amarna Period royals; Tiye, The Younger Lady, Akhenaten and/or Smenkhkare. The tomb was re-entered at a later time, almost certainly during the Twentieth Dynasty. At that time, the female occupants were likely relocated to KV35, while the remaining mummy and some of the other artefacts were desecrated and left unidentifiable until the tomb's modern discovery.

The skeletonized mummy[]

Main article: KV55 Mummy


A single gilded coffin was found in the KV55 tomb. It was originally made for a woman and only later adapted to accommodate a king, through alterations to its inscriptions and the addition of a false beard, a uraeus and the royal scepters (crook and flail).[1] It is also recognized that the four canopic jars discovered near the coffin belonged to Akhenaten's secondary wife Kiya, and that the female heads on the stoppers of the jars portray her. Like the coffin, the canopic jars were altered for the burial of a king through the erasure of Kiya's titulary and the addition of a royal uraeus to each portrait head. It is now widely accepted that the coffin was originally intended for Kiya.[1]

All personal names inscribed on the coffin and the canopic jars were excised in antiquity, rendering the identity of the human remains inside the coffin a matter of long debate. Over the past century, the candidates for this unknown Amarna Pharaoh have been either Akhenaten or Smenkhkare.[1][2][3]


Evidence that the occupant of the coffin was Akhenaten is provided by the four magical bricks found inside the tomb. Whereas the age determination of the skeletonized mummy itself leads to suggest a young age at death and argues against such an identification,[4] favoring Smenkhkare as its identity despite that fact that his name is not attested in the tomb.

Further supporting an identification with Smenkhkare; the KV55 mummy does not seem to be the father of the female mummy KV21a. The latter has been identified as the mother of the two foetuses (very closely related) found in Tutankhamun's tomb, thus probably making her Ankhesenamun, the known daughter of Akhenaten and the only known wife of Tutankhamun.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Davis 1990.
  2. Aldred 1988, p. 205.
  3. Gabolde 2009, figs. 2-6.
  4. Strouhal 2010.


  • Aldred, C., 1988: Akhenaten, King of Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Davis, T.M., 1990: The Tomb of Queen Tiyi. KMT Communications.
  • Gabolde, M., 2009: Under a Deep Blue Starry Sky. Causing His Name to Live: Studies in Egyptian Epigraphy and History in Memory of William J. Murnane.
  • Strouhal, E., 2010: Biological Age of Skeletonized Mummy from Tomb KV 55 at Thebes. Anthropologie (1962-), Vol. 48 (2).

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