(eTN) – Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni announced that a quartzite washabti figure and the cartouche of King Seti I, second king of the 19th Dynasty (1314-1304 BC), were found inside the corridor of the tomb of Seti I (KV 17) in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor’s on the West Bank.
Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that this discovery was made by the first ever Egyptian mission working in the King’s valley, after being ‘monopolized’ for the past two centuries by foreign missions. He added that a number of clay vessels were recovered along with fragments of the tomb’s wall paintings which may have fallen after the discovery.
In the process of cleaning up the tomb, the Egyptian excavators also noted the length of the corridor measuring 136 meters – not 100 meters as the tomb’s discoverer Giovanni Battista Belzoni originally mentioned in his report.
Perhaps the most impressive tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor is the tomb of Seti I, one of ancient Egypt’s most important in Dynasty XIX. Son of Ramses I, Seti was head of the archers and vizier in his father’s reign. He pushed back the Hittites and re-conquered Phoenicia for Egypt. The tomb was discovered in October 1817 by Belzoni whose name was associated with the tomb for years. However, Belzoni must have put his men on the wrong track, digging deeper through a 65-meter crack on the outer wall. He just widened the gaps to reveal the room the ancient builders, not Seti’s mummy, were kept. None of his digs unearthed the sarcophagus as he managed to excavate half-way through. Further work has revealed new corridors, new steps, new chambers and a tomb except the more important remains of the pharaoh.
Some 70 years later, Seti’s mummy was found however in the Deir El Bahari right by the temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Underneath the sarcophagus ran a mysterious gallery that the excavators dug for some 90 meters more before quitting due to lack of air and the delicate rock formations. A further 30 meters were hollowed out in the 1950s. Valley guards suggested the tunnel stretches through the length of the mountain and ends near Hatshepsut’s point.
Hawass told eTurboNews that in the Valley of the Kings some 37 years ago, he met a young man from Luxor’s Abdul Rasul family who told him he knew about the secrets of the valley. “The man, now in his 70s, took me to a secret path and led me to the mouth of a hidden tunnel. He said if I take this route further into the tomb of Seti, the tunnel will go down to another 300 feet where you will find a second chamber with the tomb of Seti,” Hawass said.
“I did not believe him until a few months later when I entered the shaft with only a flashlight, a rope and a meter stick. It was dangerous to go inside the shaft for more than 216 feet. Beyond that I could not go any further because the rubble was blocking my path and crumbling on my head.” Later, Hawass went in again and restored the shaft piece by piece. He’d gone deeper to 300 feet which Abdul Rasul suggested.
Seti’s tomb has been known to be the finest with schematic, symbolic illustrations covering every square inch and pixel of all exposed walls, columns, ceilings, paintings and bas-reliefs imaginable.
The Pharaoh’s tomb, once the most heavily visited tomb in the Valley, was closed to the public sometime in 2005, to guard it from the hazards of unchecked tourism. To carry on with its conservation and restoration project, the SCA attempted to collect as many scattered pieces of relief from the tomb as it possibly can, so that they can be returned to the original location.
Hawass also called on the University of Tübingen in Germany to surrender some pieces. Led by Dr. Christian Leitz, the university voluntarily agreed to return to Egypt five relief fragments from the royal tomb of the pharaoh. Tübingen’s generous decision was received with gratitude by the SCA.
Seti’s treasures are few of the most beautiful fragments that once decorated the walls of his tomb, plundered by thieves in the last century. Early travelers to Egypt hacked out of the walls precious pieces now placed in some private collections around the world unfortunately.