The Caches

Inside KV 57, the royal tomb of Horemheb, Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, Flickr

KV 57: The project seems to have started in KV 57, the royal tomb of Horemheb (who before he became king had had a smaller tomb built in Sakkara), as graffiti from a year 4 (likely of the Wḥm-Mswt) seems to reflect that Butehmaun and his father Dhutmose were both there to carry out an unnamed order in the tomb of the king.The project may have been undertaken after the tomb had been plundered.

Among several graffiti, presumably on one of the door posts at the entrance to this tomb, is:

’Written in year 4, 4 Akhet 22, by the scribe of the army Butehamun , after he came to cause the order to be carried out in the burial chamber (?) in the tomb of King Djoserkheper(u)re Setepenre l.p.h.’

This possibly refers to Year 4 of the Whm-Mswt.

The lower of two graffiti on the left side of the entrance door reads:

‘The scribe Butehamun; the king’s scribe Dhutmose.’

At least four mummies were found in the tomb when it was discovered. One of the mummies moved there may have been that of Horemheb’s predecessor Ay, originally buried in the West Valley, in WV 23, where Butehamun and a group of workmen left grafitti. Reeves speculates this might have been between Years 4-6 of the Whm-Mswt. As KV 57 was heavily plundered, ‘the mummy of Ay cannot now be recognized among the human debris discovered there’. Peden writes that it may have been in connection with work in the tomb of Ay that Butehamun and a group of workmen left graffiti next to the entrance of WV 23.

After this, the reburial project seems to have taken off, perhaps after Piankh’s commission to Butehamun reflected in LRL 28.

The “Elder Lady” (Queen Tiye), the “Younger Lady ” (mother of Tutankhamun), and another mummy found in KV 35

KV 35: Among the main mummy caches was KV 35, the tomb of Amenhotep II. That king was rewrapped and placed in a crude coffin in his own sarcophagus. He was joined by Thutmose IV, Amenhotep III, Merenptah, Seti II, Siptah, and Ramses IV, V, and VI, all carefully labelled. The earliest date for the restorations would be “the repetition of the burial” of Amenhotep III, which according to a docket took place within WV 22 in year 12 or 13 of Smendes.Amenhotep II’s coffin was found in KV 35, covered with the lid from the coffin of Seti II, and containing the mummy of Amenhotep III.

Five other mummies, without dockets (labels), including “The Elder Lady” (believed to be Queen Tiye, the Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep III) and “The Younger Lady” (daughter of Queen Tiye and Amenhotep III and the mother of Tutankhamun) were also found in the tomb, as well as another woman, boy, and a man (who may be Sethnakhte), were also found in the tomb. The earliest date for the restorations would be “the repetition of the burial” of Amenhotep III, which according to a docket took place in year 12 or 13 of Smendes within WV 22.

Among the mummies in this cache was Ramses III, whose original tomb was KV 11. Graffiti found on a pillar in the burial chamber of KV 11 includes the name of Butehamun. Butehamun is known to have been involved in the “Osirification” of Ramses III’s mummy, which seems to have been a rewrapping of the corpse in the form of Osiris.

A linen docket from year 13 of Smendes (year 2 of the the High Priest of Amun Pinedjem I) in the mummy of Ramses III reads:

‘Year 13, 2 Smw 27?: On this day the high priest of Amun-Re king of the gods Pinudjem son of the high priest of Amun-Re Piankh commanded the scribe of the place of truth Butehamun to clarify king Usermaatre-meriamun, he being made firm and enduring forever.’

The mummy of Ramses III ended up in the Royal Cache of TT 320, in a room with the mummy of Ahmose-Nefertari, and in her coffin. Reeves believes Ramses III was moved to ‘The High Place of Inhapi’ and later to TT 320, following a mass removal from ‘The High Place’ after the Year 11 of Shoshenq I.

The mummies of Ramses V and VI seem to have suffered similar fates, and it is unclear whether they were among those placed in KV 14 before being rewrapped and docketed and placed in KV 35.

KV 14: The tomb of Tausert, taken over by Setnakht. Reeves believes this was used as a cache, before all the mummies there were later moved to KV 35. Tausert was the Royal Wife of Seti II, regent during the reign of Siptah, and independent ruler at the end of the 19th Dynasty.

Merenptah was found in KV 35 in the coffin of Setnakht. Reeves says its presence might indicate it had earlier been in a cache in KV 14.

Seti II appears to have been reburied within his own tomb, KV 15, perhaps after an inspection visit (documented but not as by Butehamun) in Year 6 of the Whm-Mswt. The mummy was subsequently moved to KV 14, and then some time after Year 13 of Smendes, rewrapped, docketed, and moved to KV 35.

Reeves believes Ramses IV was moved from his KV 2 and his replacement coffin decorated in same workshop as those of Seti II and Siptah, and introduced with them into KV 14 at the same time, before rewrapping and docketing of the mummies and removal to KV 35.

The mummy of Siptah was moved from KV 47 to first KV 14, probably in Year 7 of the Whm-Mswt. Like the other members of the group this mummy was rewrapped, docketed, and moved to KV 35, sometime after Year 13 of Smendes.

KV 17: A temporary cache. The tomb of Seti I, it was discovered by Belzoni in 1817. Very little was found in the tomb, besides an outer coffin of calcite, whose cover had been taken outside the tomb and broken into pieces. Seti’s mummy was found in the restored outer wooden coffin in the ‘Royal Cache’ TT 320. According to dockets on the coffin the High Priest Herihor (Piankh’s successor) commanded a ‘repetition of burial’ in Year 6 of the Whm-Mswt. A second restoration seems to be recorded on the mummy, sometime after Year 10 of Smendes, when Seti’s mummy was rewrapped in dated linen of Pinedjem I. Reeves speculates this might have been in year 15 of Smendes, when the mummy of Ramses II was brought to KV 17. Then in Year 7 of Psusennes I Seti’s mummy was rewrapped again.

Besides his son Ramses II, Seti I was also joined in KV 17 by the mummy of his father Ramses I. Dockets on the mummies of all three document their move from KV 17 to ‘The High Place of Inhapi’, before they were later moved to TT 320.

Ramses II was originally buried in KV 7. The tomb appears to have been inspected in Year 10 of the Whm-Mswt, when a docket was inscribed on the king’s coffin recording a ‘a renewal of the burial’. A second docket, dated to Year 15 of Smendes, records the removal of Ramses II for reburial in KV 17, but Reeves says there is no evidence that Butehamun was involved in this work.

Reeves believes Ramses I was probably first moved to KV 17 about the same time as Ramses II. The single Type B docket located on the replacement coffin of Ramses I records the removal of his mummy from KV 17 to ‘The High Place of Inhapi’ in Year 10 of Siamun (978 BC long after the death of Butehamun).

WN A/KV 39?: Another cache seems to have been established for a time in the tomb of the 18th Dynasty queen Ahmose-Inhapi, which may have been WN A on a cliffside outside the Valley of the Kings, or KV 39. Dockets indicate that the mummy of Amenhotep I was moved there before year 10 of Siamun, the next to last king of the 21st Dynasty. The mummies of Ramses I, Seti I, and Ramses II were moved there, after being taken from KV 17. It’s unclear whether this cache was created before or just after the death of Butehamun.

‘The k3y of Inhapi’: The “High Place” of the 17th Dynasty Queen Ahmose-Inhapi. Several of the royal mummies found in TT 320 had dockets indicating they had previously been hidden in the tomb of Ahmose-Inhapi, approximately a century before they were transferred to TT 320.

Described as a ‘k3y’ or ‘high place’, it is believed to have been a cliff tomb. WN A, 750 meters from TT 320 in Deir el-Bahri, seems to best fill the description.

Queen Ahmose-Nefetari seems to have originally been buried in AN B, in Dra’ Abu el-Naga, closed to Deir el-Bahri. This tomb was later enlarged and is one of the places suspected of being the burial place of her son Amenhotep I. Reeves believes these two patrons of Deir el-Medina may have shared the same fate, rewrapped, with refurbished coffins, and reburied in the ‘k3y’ before Year 10 of Siamun.

The mummy of Ramses III also may have been in the ‘k3y’, before ending up in the Royal Cache of TT 320, in a room with the mummy of Ahmose-Nefertari, and in her coffin. Reeves believes Ramses III and Ahmose-Nefertari reached TT 320 together, following a mass removal from the ‘k3y’ after the Year 11 of Shoshenq I.

As the exact identification of ‘the high place’ is unknown, and because the mummies cached there were all ultimately moved to TT 320 anyway, it is impossible to determine a date when it began to be used as a cache. Thus, there is no way to know if Butehamun was involved in the removal of any mummies to ‘the high place’.

The rock shaft leading to TT 320, Photo: Keith Hazell, Creative Commons

TT 320: The “Royal Cache” in Deir el-Bahri. Possibly originally designed for a queen of the late 17th or early 18th Dynasty, this was taken over by the High Priest of Amun Pinedjem II as a family tomb. In later years the mummies of his family were joined by many others, many moved from the caches mentioned above. These included the kings Seqenenra, Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, Thutmose II and III, Seti I, Ramses II, Ramses III, Pinedjem I, and many queens and nobles and perhaps also Ramses I. Altogether more than 50 mummies were found in TT 320.

While this seems to have been first used as a cache after the period of Butehamun, he does seem to have been involved in inspecting the prospective site. Graffiti in the valley indicate the presence of Butehamun along with the scribe Amennakhte and two of Butehamun’s sons.

Only two dated graffiti have been found in the wadi leading to TT 320, and both carry the name of Butehamun. He is named in graffito no. 1311 (a+b) along with his father Dhutmose and five of his sons, in a Year 11, probably of Pinedjem I.

The other graffito (no. 994) is a short prayer to Amun, as well as a record of a visit by Butehamun in order ‘to see the mountains’ (a common expression to indicate an inspection), dated to a Year 14, probably of Pinedjem I.

Peden speculates that after its location had been lost for much of the New Kingdom, Butehamun or his father was responsible for finding this lost tomb, after a careful inspection of the royal necropolis.

But it was nearly 100 years later before it was used, first for the burial of Neskhons and later for her husband, the High Priest of Amun Pinedjem II (the grandson of Pinedjem I). Afterwards TT 320 became a cache, housing the mummies and burial equipment of more than 50 kings, queens, and various royals and nobility.

Other tombs associated with Butehamun:

KV 49: Some of the work in rewrapping the mummies seem to have been conducted by Butehamun in this tomb with an unknown owner. There are two graffiti in red ink written over the entrance, noting visits to the tomb by officials first under Ramses XI and then under Smendes I. They read:

‘1 Peret 25
Coming and bringing the royal linen, 20 (clothes?). Assorted bedspreads, 5; shawls, 15 total, 20. The Scribe Butehamun, Pakhoir, Pennesttawy song of Nesamenope, Hori, Takany, Amenhotep, Kaka, Nakhtamenwase, Amen(neb)nesttawynakhte.’


‘Finishing on the second occasion; bringing clothing, 3 Peret 5. The men who brought (it):
Pait, the Scribe Butehamun, Iyamennuef, Pakhoir, Tjauemdi…
Hori son of Kadjadja, Takairnayu, Nesamenope.
Royal linen, shawls, 45; long shawls, 5; total 50.’

This tomb may have been used as a storeroom by the reburial parties to repair the damaged royal mummies before they were deposited in one of the royal caches. This may have involved the mummy of Ramses III, which underwent Osirification in his nearby tomb of KV 11.

KV 42: Built for Hatshesut-Meryetre, the wife of Thutmose III, but not used by her. She may have been buried in the tomb of her son, Amenhotep II, KV 35. KV 42 may have been reused by a mayor of Thebes and his family, or as a cache for materials for their burial elsewhere. A graffito refers to the ‘completion of work in the tomb’, by workmen while Butehamun ‘crossed to town to seeing the coming northward of the general.’ The graffito may date to just a couple of months after the general ordered the workmen to ‘open an older tomb’, which Häggman says this could be in response to the mission referred to in LRL 28 (see above).

KV 19: Tomb of Prince Mentuherkhepshef of the 20th Dynasty. The names and titles of Dhutmose and Butehamun (and five of Butehamun’s sons) are etched into the plaster of the corridor of the tomb. Peden says they might have been in search of the prince’s (now lost) mummy and burial equipment.

TT 358: Outside the Valley of the Kings, the early 18th Dynasty Queen Ahmose- Meryatamun, sister and wife of Amenhotep I, was restored in her tomb in Deir el-Bahri, TT 358, in a year 19. The mummy was rewrapped during the reign of Pinedjem I, and ended up in TT 320.


The Reburial Project  The Letter to Ikhtay