Mummies found just yards from Tutankhamun's tomb

More than 80 years after the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities has stunned the world of Egyptology by revealing that another tomb has been found, just four metres away from Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings.

For a long time it was thought that the valley, opposite the modern city of Luxor and the source of many of the most famous discoveries, had given up all of its secrets.

The discovery was the work of a team of American archaeologists from the University of Memphis led by Otto Schaden.

"It's very, very exciting," said Patricia Podvorzski, curator of Egyptian Art at the University of Memphis. "It was completely unexpected, so long after the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb. Many archaeologists said the valley was done 100 years ago." Dr Schaden's find is the 63rd tomb to be opened in the valley.

The newly discovered 18th-dynasty tomb contains five mummies in intact sarcophagi with coloured funerary masks, along with more than 20 large storage jars sealed with pharaonic seals, according to Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The sarcophagi are carved in human form, like Tutankhamun's. The tomb is rectangular, and the wooden sarcophagi are surrounded by the jars, which seem to have been placed haphazardly, suggesting that the burial had been completed quickly, according to Dr Hawass.

Dr Schaden has been working in the valley on the Amenmesse Tomb Project, a minor tomb of the 19th dynasty, for many years. "They had finished clearing up that tomb and had started to dig down to the bedrock in front of the entrance," said Dr Podvorzski. "They were looking for foundation deposits - the models of tools, vessels and other things that were put around the tomb of a king to assure the permanence of the structure. While doing that they found workmen's huts made of dry stone and dating from the 19th dynasty. I believe they were in the process of dismantling the huts when they found the new tomb."

It was a very similar chain of events that led to the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922. That, too, had been covered by ancient workmen's huts. "That was why the tombs didn't get robbed," added Dr Podvorzski. "The ancient Egyptian tomb robbers saw the huts and assumed there was nothing underneath them."

Although the discovery came as a huge surprise, there had been a suspicion that something else might be found. "Some time ago a British team did remote sensing around the tomb and said they thought there might be something down there," said Dr Podvorzski.

Details of the find are expected to be announced officially by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities today, including possibly the identities of the occupants.

Kent Weeks, an American archaeologist, said the tomb was a single chamber, probably intended for a single mummy. Some or all of the other sarcophagi could have been put in later. He added that photographs of the tomb suggested it did not belong to a king. "It could be the tomb of a king's wife or son, or of a priest or court official," he said. "It clearly proves that the Valley of the Kings is still not exhausted. There are probably many more tombs to be found in it."

Whatever the new tomb may contain, its fate is certain: Egypt's policy on undisturbed tombs is clear. "This stuff will stay in Egypt," said Dr Podvorzski.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power