All in the Family Archaeologists Unearth Egyptian Tomb Containing 50 Sons of Pharaoh Ramses
Compiled From News Services, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Behind a debris-obscured door in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, an American-led archaeological team has uncovered a discovery that rivals that of King Tutankhamen's tomb: an immense royal mausoleum believed to hold the remains of 50 of Pharaoh Ramses II's 52 sons.
The 3,200-year-old tomb is possibly the biggest burial chamber ever discovered in Egypt.
American and Egyptian archaeologists found 67 chambers dating back to Ramses, who ruled during the zenith of Egyptian political and military influence from 1290 B.C. to 1224 B.C. Abdel-Halim Noureddin, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said Monday that more chambers probably were in the tomb.
The team, led by Kent Weeks, a professor at the American University in Cairo, found the tomb in 1987 but discovered its size only recently.
"If King Tut's tomb were the size of a matchbox, most royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings would be, in comparison, the size of about a telephone book, and our tomb is about the size of a coffee table you can put that matchbook and telephone book on top of," Weeks said.
No one is believed to have set foot inside the tomb for more than 3,000 years, Weeks said.
The tomb has a long passageway with 20 rooms. At the end is a statue of the god Osiris. Two other passageways then branch off, each with 20 rooms, and end in two stairways leading to other passages.
Weeks said the small rooms might be chapels to the pharaoh's sons, with their actual tombs on an unexcavated lower level. If so, 100 or more chambers may be present.
"There is no other tomb like this anywhere in Egypt - not in plan, not in size and not in function," Weeks said. …