The royal tomb at Akhetaten stands as a silent monument both
to the destruction wrought in the Anti-Atenist backlash, and the
destruction caused in modern times by man's greed and ignorance.
The royal tomb layout
The tomb is yet another example of how the condition of ancient
monuments has deteriorated more in the last 100 years than in
the previous three millennia.
The tomb itself is of the 'rock cut' type, it is a tunnel which
descends into a rock face in the royal wadi at Amarna. The original
plan appears to have been modified at least three times during
Initially the tomb started as a fairly typical royal burial place.
It is unusual in that it was the first of it's type to have a
steep ramped entrance.There are two major modifications to the
main corridor, a suite of rooms used for the burial of Meketaten
was excavated off the main passage, and a long curved corridor
which may have been intended to lead to another burial area was
The archeological evidence shows that Akhenaten was originally
buried in the tomb. Fragments of his granite sarcophagus and his
canopic chest were found both inside the tomb and in an associated
dump. There is also evidence of a second sarcophagus, that of
Meketaten. Interestingly in view of the prominence of Nefertiti
at this time, there is insufficient space in the main burial chamber
for it to have been intended for two sarcophagi.
Another unusual feature of this tomb is that the pillared hall
contains only two pillars, instead of the usual four. It was originally
thought that two were removed after the tomb was completed, but
there is no evidence of this work on either the floor or the ceiling
of the chamber. It does appear that there were plans to extend
the tomb on and probably to situate the burial chamber further
down the corridor.
One interesting hypothesis was that the angle of descent of the
tomb passage would allow the light of the Aten to penetrate down
as far as the burial chamber, to where the Sarcophagus lay.
Side view of the tomb tunnel (Not
One possible hole in this theory is that in previous 18th dynasty
tombs a second passage would have descended from the pillared
hall to the burial chamber and this would not have been in line
with the first, so if the tomb had been completed the light of
the Aten would not have penetrated to where the sarcophagus lay.
The archaeologists who excavated the tomb described the damage
as 'systematic'. The shabti figures and sarcophagi were smashed
and broken to such an extent that few fragments remained more
than a few centimeters in size. Most of the cartouches in the
main corridor and burial chamber were hacked out in antiquity,
but the vast majority of the damage done to the 'Meketaten Annexe'
occurred in 1931, when locals removed the plasterwork from the
walls for sale on the antiquities market. It is unfortunate that
no detailed study of these reliefs was carried out prior to their
destruction as a great deal of information was lost.
||One famous find made at the tomb was a small cache of jewelry.
It is thought that this was removed when the tomb was officially
dismantled, perhaps by someone who intended to hide the gold
and collect it later.