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  • Karen Frost

Chapter 10: The Tomb of Ahmose I

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

As mentioned in a previous post, the tomb of Ahmose I has never been found. However, since he sat on the divide between the Second Intermediate Period and the New Kingdom, archaeologists believe that he was likely buried in Dra' Abu el-Naga' and not in the Valley of the Kings like the rest of the New Kingdom pharaohs. Ahmose I is classified as the first ruler of the 18th Dynasty, but his brother and father are classified in the 17th Dynasty, and since it is assumed that all the rulers of the 17th Dynasty were buried at Dra' Abu el-Naga' (although none of their tombs have been found either), it would make sense Ahmose I would have been buried there.

At least one person has speculated that Ahmose I was buried below a small, mud brick pyramid at Dra' Abu el-Naga' attributed to either himself or his brother Kamose (this pyramid was discovered in the 1930s, too late for the timeline of this book), but most of the tombs at Dra' Abu el-Naga' were rock-cut tombs, and the general consensus is that he was likely buried in one of those and his mummy later removed and added to the cache at Deir al-Bahri along with other 18th and 19th Dynasty mummies. (Although as an interesting research addendum, in 1980, Dr. James Harris, a professor of orthodontics, and Egyptologist Edward Wente concluded that the mummy of Ahmose I...actually wasn't Ahmose I. So, is the real Ahmose I in his undiscovered tomb somewhere? Something to ponder.)

The first New Kingdom pharaoh to have been buried in the Valley of the Kings was Hatshepsut, who built KV20 for herself and her father, Thutmose I. KV20 is a massively long tomb at 210 meters, but within this chapter, Anna references KV34--the shorter tomb of Hatshepsut's successor Thutmose III--when predicting what Ahmose I's tomb layout might be rather than KV20. I chose it because 1) we don't know what the royal tombs in Dra' Abu el-Naga' looked like, and 2) KV34's chambers were just a tiny bit bigger than those of KV20, meaning they could have held more funerary objects. Here's a cool 3D video of KV34 and an in-person walk-through.

Separately, when Anna mentions Howard Carter having previously excavated at Dra' Abu el-Naga' before moving on to the Valley and finding Tut, that's factually correct. Carter--financed by Canarvon--dug there from 1909 to 1911 (Canarvon apparently began digging there in 1907, and Carter is sometimes mentioned as having been digging there as early as 1906, proving that the Internet isn't actually sure of the exact dates the two dug there). Carter excavated Tomb ANB, which he attributed to the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep I and his mother Ahmose-Nefertari in 1914. Modern scholars, however, believe it was intended only for his mother and that his tomb was elsewhere in Dra' Abu el-Naga'.

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