19th April 06:10
A question about Akhenaten's tomb
On 23 Nov 2003 16:40:18 -0800, email@example.com (Mr. Peterborough)
Daressy in 1891 allegedly reported that in clearing the area around the
Royal Tomb burnt human remains of a mummy were found outside. Martin
reported in 1974 that the location of these remains were unknown, but
were probably destroyed. However, he also noted:
"Not in the Journal d'entree, Temporary Register or Fiche Cards of the
Cairo Museum. Nor is there any record of it in the Anatomy Museum of
Kasr el 'Aini Hospital in Cairo, where mummies were sent for examination
in the past. There is no mention of it in the papers of Dr. D. E. Derry,
now in the Department of Egyptology, University College London. It is
possible that the remains, being in poor condition, were left where they
were found. It is difficult, however, to believe that Daressy did not
speculate on their being the remains of Akhenaten or of another member
of the 'Amarna Royal Family. He did not record any details of the
discovery in his papers, now in the College de France, Paris (MS. Arch.
E. 27, 'Hagi-Qandil, tombeau et steles', a portfolio containing: i.
'Tombeau de Khu-n-aten, i janvier 1892' (notebook). 2. 'Cercueil de
Khu-n aten', evidently the coffin found in Theban Tomb 55. 3.
There are two tantalizing entries in the Temporary Register of the Cairo
Museum which conceivably may have a bearing on the matter. The first is
16/1//15/1, described as 'Skeleton of Akhenaten', with an accompanying
note initialled E.G. : 'The no. 16/1//15/1 occurs twice on the case, but
was not entered here.'
The other entry is 16/9//15/1, 'Skeleton of Akhenaten', with a note:
'In a rough box: was in the S.W. Mag. Shown me by Daressy.' Evidently
there had been a clearance of unregistered objects in the Museum in
1915, when these bones were registered. They may, however, be the bones
from the celebrated Theban Tomb 55, which have recently been re-examined
(R. G. Harrison, 'An anatomical examination of the Pharaonic remains
purported to be Akhenaten', JEA 52 (1966), 95-119). The skeleton is now
thought to be that of Smenkhkare'. The attribution to Akhenaten had been
made in 1912 by (Sir) Grafton Elliot Smith in the Cairo Catalogue of the
Royal Mummies (no. 61075). The bones mentioned above were registered in
1915, and it is perhaps difficult to believe that the Museum official
entering them would have called them the 'skeleton of Akhenaten' if they
had been other than the bones from Tomb 55.
Another possibility is that the bones were from an intrusive
Romano-Coptic burial in or outside the Royal Tomb. Pendlebury, in his
Field Notebook, mentions the presence of Roman sherds in the Royal Wadi
(see above, p. 8, n. 2). Some of the objects from the Royal Tomb are
perhaps to be associated with the Romano-Coptic period rather than with
the late Eigh****th Dynasty (Cat. 298-300. Cf. also 295)." (Martin
Pendlebury in the 1921-22 excavations at Tell el Amarna also found two
fragments of very thin skull bone in the Royal Wadi, in very poor
condition. As Martin noted in his book on the objects found in the
Royal Tomb and nearby, the inference that these bones were human.
Pendlebury says nothing more about them beyond this in his CoA [The City
of Akhenaten] I: Bones.
Frankfort, H., Pendlebury, J. D. S., et al. 1923. _The City of
Akhenaten_ (2 Vol.) Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Fund 38. London:
Egypt Exploration Society.
Martin, G. T. 1974. _The Rock Tombs of El-`Amarna. Pt.7: The Royal Tomb
at El-`Amarna 1: The objects._ Excavation memoir (Egypt Exploration
Society) 35. London: Egypt Exploration Society.
Katherine Griffis-Greenberg, MA (Lon)
Member, International Association of Egyptologists
American Research Center in Egypt, ASOR, EES, SSEA
Oriental Studies Doctoral Program [Egyptology]
Oxford, United Kingdom