Following three years of excavation inside the tomb of the 19th-Dynasty Pharaoh Seti I, archaeologists have found that a mysterious tunnel cut into the bedrock near the end of Seti's tomb is 174-metres long, much longer than was previously believed. They also found that it comes to an abrupt cut at a second staircase.
On reaching the end of a 136-metre section which was partially excavated in 1960 by workmen employed by Sheikh Ali Abdel-Rassoul, the excavation team led by Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), uncovered a descending passage measuring 25.6 metres in length and 2.6 metres in width.
The mission also discovered a 54-step descending staircase cut into the rock. At the beginning of this passage the team found a false door bearing a hieratic text that reads: "Move the door jamb up and make the passage wider."
"This written instruction must have been left by the architect to the workmen who were digging out the tunnel," Hawass says.
Al Ahram Weekly (Zahi Hawass)
The story goes back almost 40 years when as a young man I was working in the Valley of the Kings. There I met the late Sheikh Ali Abdel-Rassoul, then 70 years old, a member of the famous Abdel-Rassoul family who knew many secrets about the Valley of the Kings. This family found the cache of mummies at Deir Al-Bahari, which they kept secret from the authorities until 1881. Sheikh Ali took me by the hand and led me to the tomb of Seti I which, at about 100 metres, is the longest tomb in the Valley of the Kings. He showed me a tunnel that extends downwards from the king's burial chamber, and explained to me how he had explored it to a depth of about 130 metres, further than any archaeologist had gone up to that point.
A photo slideshow of photographs from inside the tomb.
A tunnel in the tomb of Seti I, a pharaoh who ruled Egypt about 3,300 years ago, has been discovered after a two-decade-long search in the Valley of the Kings, Culture Minister Faruq Hosni said.
Excavations in the tomb, which is one of the most highly decorated vaults in the ancient necropolis, uncovered a 174- meter-long (571-feet) tunnel cut into the bedrock, the ministry said in an e-mailed statement. Archaeologists led by the country’s Supreme Council of Antiquities believe the tunnel may be the unfinished beginnings of a secret tomb-within-a-tomb.
A team led by Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the antiquities council, discovered two descending staircases linked by passages. The tunnel was painted with preliminary sketches of decorations as well as painted messages from the architect to the workmen carving out the tunnel, the ministry cited Hawass as saying.
Google / Associated Press
Egyptian archaeologists who have completed excavations on an unfinished ancient tunnel believe it was meant to connect a 3,300-year-old pharaoh's tomb with a secret burial site, the antiquities department said Wednesday.
Egyptian chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass said it has taken three years to excavate the 570-foot (174 meter) long tunnel in Pharaoh Seti I's ornate tomb in southern Egypt's Valley of the Kings. The pharaoah died before the project was finished.
First discovered in 1960, the tunnel has only now been completely cleared and archaeologists discovered ancient figurines, shards of pottery and instructions left by the architect for the workmen.
"Move the door jamb up and make the passage wider," read an inscription on a decorative false door in the passage. It was written in hieratic, a simplified cursive version of hieroglyphics.