KV 14

By any standards, KV 14 is an unusual tomb. When construction was started it was intended for the Great Wife of the King, Tausret the wife of Seti II, who would more usually have been buried in the Valley of the Queens rather than the Valley of the Kings. It was then amended to become the tomb of a king when Tausret became sole ruler of Egypt after the death of Siptah. Finally, it was usurped by Ramessess III for the burial of his father, Setnakhte – who may also have been responsible for stealing the throne from Tausret.

Construction began during the second year of the reign of Seti II. Although a few of the queens of the eighteenth dynasty were given tombs in the Valley of the Kings, Tausret was the only nineteenth dynasty queen afforded this honour. Furthermore, her tomb did not follow the traditional burial of an eighteenth or nineteenth dynasty queen. Rather, it was a smaller scale version of the tomb of a nineteenth dynasty king as established by Merenptah (i.e. ten corridors and chambers along a straight axis culminating in an eight-pillared burial chamber with a depression in the center and a vaulted ceiling).

KV 14, the tomb of Tusret, usurped for Setnakht

Construction paused during the parallel reign of Amenmesse, but started again in the second year of the reign of Siptah. At this point, she was clearly depicted as a regent, and work started on her granite sarcophagus. One interesting scene depicts Tausret following Siptah (depicted as a fit and healthy adult king) to make offerings to Geb. This scene is notable as it is entirely unique. Kings are not depicted in the tombs of their queens, nor do queens make an appearance in the tombs of their husbands.

Later in the nineteenth dynasty, we see princes depicted in a subordinate position to their royal fathers in tombs, but never the royal women. An offering scene depicting Siptah and Tausret is reminiscent of scenes from the Chapelle Rouge featuring Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III. Tausret is depicted in a secondary position to Siptah, but she is active rather than passive and a sidelock of hair may hint at her royal origins.

KV14 Gods
Marie Thérèse Hébert & Jean Robert Thibault CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At some point towards the end of the reign of Siptah, Tausret began work on a second burial chamber behind the first. It was not completed, in part because workers hit a fault line in the rock, but also because Siptah died and Tausret became the sole ruler. As king, she required a more lavish tomb. The new burial chamber was adapted to form a corridor, with two unfinished side chambers, leading to a new larger burial chamber. The corridor was decorated with the book of Amduat, the burial chamber with the Book of Gates, but the hastily completed decorations are not of a high standard. Another corridor leading out from the burial chamber was not finished. These changes made the tomb similar in size to the tombs of other kings.

She also made changes to the decoration of her tomb to make her promotion clear, adapting her figures to include the insignia of a king. The name of Siptah was replaced with that of Seti II. This is interesting because she had no need to reinforce her link to Seti in her tomb to confirm her legitimacy. She could instead have replaced Siptah with the form of a god.

KV 14, Francesco Gasparetti CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
KV 14, Francesco Gasparetti CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It has been suggested that she intended to have Seti buried with her in this expanded tomb, but he already had a tomb in the Valley of the Kings and is not depicted in the lower regions of the tomb. It is also interesting that she did not entirely replace the titles she held as a queen. Unlike Hatshepsut, whose daughter Neferure could represent the female principle, Tausret perhaps felt she had to represent the male and female elements, and so did not entirely give up her role as queen.

Setnakht's cartouche Marie Thérèse Hébert & Jean Robert Thibault CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Setnakht’s cartouche Marie Thérèse Hébert & Jean Robert Thibault CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After her death her tomb was usurped by Ramesses III for the burial of his father, Setnakht. It is notable that the damage to her name and images seems to have been at the point that her tomb was being adapted for Setnakht (whose original tomb KV 11 was not complete when he died) rather than before. At some point her sarcophagus was moved to KV13 (originally the tomb of Bay) where it was reused by Amenherkhepeshef (a son of Ramesses VI).

  • Dodson, Aiden (2016) The Royal Tombs of Ancient Egypt
  • Reves, N and Wilkinson, R.H. (1996) The Complete Valley of the Kings
  • Wilkinson, Richard H. Editor (2012) Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt
  • Ziegler, Christine Editor (2008) Queens of Egypt: From Hetepheres to Cleopatra

Copyright J Hill 2018