It would be possible to describe this tomb by following Nefertari's journey through the underworld, to her uniting with Osiris; then to continue outwards again, to her rising with Ra at the eastern horizon.
However, it is probably less confusing to describe the tomb in the standard fashion, that of explaining the artistic content of each chamber and stairway in turn. In this way full details will become available and nothing will be missed.
The entrance corridor now has a modern vaulted ceiling, which covers a flight of eighteen steps with a central slipway. This undecorated descent leads to the doorway to the first chamber of the tomb. The steps, without the slipway, continue into the chamber (). The outer door jambs and lintel identify the tomb as Nefertari's. A modern metal door and frame make it difficult to easily see these.
The text on the left jamb is now unreadable; but the right one can still be read:
"Hereditary noblewoman; great of favours; possessor of charm, sweetness and love; mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt; the Osiris; the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, revered before Osiris.". The lintel still shows faint traces of the setting sun flanked by two oudjat eyes and cartouches of the queen.
The door thickesses are both badly damaged, the one on the right more than the one on left. On the left, the figure and name of Nekhbet, the vulture goddess of Upper Egypt, is still visible. Her words can still just be read stating that she has given life to Nefertari. The right thickness shows fragmentary traces of Wadjet, the cobra goddess of Lower Egypt. The top of both sides, which slopes upwards towards the entrance, are filled with coiled and winged serpents, conferring life and dominion on the queen.
The sloping soffit (the underside of the lintel), has a representation of the sun behind a sand hill and flanked by the bird-forms of the goddesses Isis (her emblem has survived, on her head) and Nephthys ().
One interpretation is that this represents the setting sun and the entry to the kingdom of the dead.
Alternatively, it represents the rising sun, and represents Nefertari's exit into the day, with Ra.
Facing through the doorway, the brilliantly coloured scenes and hieroglyphs on their white background make it difficult to believe that they were produced more than 3000 years ago.
The chamber, which is almost square (5.2m north-south by 5.0m east-west and 3.2m in height), is approximately 3.0m below the ground level of the entrance. The fact that is excavated into the limestone hillside, means the roof of the chamber is well below the actual surface of the hill.
The ceiling of the antechamber, like all of the other ceilings in the tomb, was painted deep blue and spangled with yellow stars, evoking the heavenly sky. At the upper edge of all four walls is a frieze of three different rustic designs, the top one being separated from the two below by a narrow white stripe.
Along its north and west sides, at a height of just over 1 metre, is a rock-cut bench or long table, originally intended for offerings and possibly funerary equipment. The top is supported by rectangular section pillars, with wider spaces left between them, again possibly for storage. The bench top surface was left undecorated. The upper front edges have a cavetto cornice decorated with vertical coloured stripes. Beneath this runs a long hieroglyphic text, which declares Osiris' intent to provide for Nefertari a place in his realm and in the divine assembly, as well as to give her the appearance of her father, Ra.
The front of the supporting pillars each have a cartouche headed by the text:
"King's wife". The inner side surfaces have retained no design, assuming that one actually existed. The rear of each of the enclaves is decorated with three images of round-topped wooden shrines. On the left inner face of the right enclave of the west wall is an inscription recording a delivery of plaster to the 'left' and 'right' gangs of workmen who worked on the tomb. The upper front edges have a cavetto cornice decorated with vertical coloured stripes. The exposed end, near the entry to the second stairway, was originally decorated in three columns, but it is now almost totally lost. However, part of the cartouche of Nefertari survives in the middle.
At the level of the bench, on the wall next to the entry, are two djed pillars and the 'tiet' symbol (or Isis knot), these will be found used extensively beneath the benches of the burial chamber. The exact origin of the 'tiet' is unknown; in many respects it resembles an ankh, except that its arms curve down. It is also referred to as the "blood of Isis", possibly because it is often produced from red stones (as seen in the example above) such as carnelion and jasper, or from red glass.
The decoration of the west wall actually begins on the west side of the south (entry) wall. The area is divided into two registers, a picture register at the top and a totally text register below. The wall (including the portion of the south wall) has suffered much damage, the worst being at the side which adjoins the north wall.
All of the small scenes of the upper register relate to Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead. They start (on the south wall) by showing Nefertari under a canopy, constructed of reed matting, the same as used to cover the floor under her highly decorated chair.
With probably three exceptions, the queen is always represented in an identical way. She wears of a long tight-fitting semi-transparent white dress, over which hangs a wider pleated version. Around her waist is tied a long red sash, the ends of which hang down the front. Over her tripartite wig she wears a regal gold headdress called the Nekhbet (named after the vulture goddess). This is comprised of a tight fitting golden skull-cap in the shape of a vulture with outstretched wings and holding a golden shen-ring in its claws, on top of this is a red mortar (see ). The Nekhbet headdress is often considered as the crown of the "great royal wife". On this occasion it doesn't have the large golden feathers on top of the mortar. The queen wears rich jewelry: a broad necklace, bracelets, and throughout the tomb, a variety of earrings: a cobra, a fan, or a simple stud (although perhaps nothing). The most common is the silver (perhaps electrum) fan (see ). It is only in the first two images of Nefertari (both on this wall) that she wears sandals, elsewhere she is bare footed.
In her right hand she holds a sekhem-sceptre. She is engaged in playing a game of senet, often considered as a forerunner of the modern game of checkers. The game frees her spirit in the form of the human-headed ba-bird, to travel outside the tomb during the day. The text inside the canopy identifies her as:
"The Osiris, the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari beloved of Mut, justified with Osiris the great god" (see the ).
This is followed by the queen kneeling and worshipping a representation of the god Atum (at the left end of the west wall), shown as the sign of the akhet-horizon supported by two lions. This time she is identified the same as before, but at the end Osiris is additionally named as:
"Lord of the West". Next is an image of the benu-bird, representing the soul of Ra. Then there is Nefertari's mummified body flanked by the goddesses Nephthys and lsis; here they appear as kites protecting the queen. The figure of the genie of the Nile kneels in front of an oval containing a symbolic udjat-eye, the eye of Horus. Then the much destroyed figure of "the great green" stands in front of a flat topped shrine. On the other side of the shrine is a seated falcon god, again much destroyed. The scenes finish, at the northern end of the west wall, with a large udjat-eye, a powerful amulet providing protection.
Below the scenes, above the bench, the area is filled with vertical columns of text, written in retrograde hieroglyphs; that is, that although they look from the actual glyphs as though they should be read from right to left, they are in fact to be read from left to right. This is Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead. It start, like the scenes, at the west side of the entry. The first nine columns amply cover the intent of the text: "Beginning of the praises and recitations to come forth and go down into the Necropolis, to be transfigured in the Beautiful West, the coming forth by day in order to assume any form he [!] wishes, playing senet and sitting its the booth, coming forth, as a living ba by the Osiris, the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified after he [!] died. It is effective to do this on earth, so that it happens entirely according to the instructions.". The text contains an error when referring to Nefertari, by using the masculine pronoun; obviously a oversight. The text is too large to be given here in full.
Like the previous wall, this one is also divided into two registers; images at the top and columns of text below. These are a continuation of the Book of the Dead, Chapter 17. Again they are partially destroyed, mainly at the junction with the west wall. At the eastern end is the entrance to the stairway leading to the lower chambers, in particular, the burial chamber.
The image register extends above the entrance to the second stairway. All of the figures are dressed in mummy wrappings. The register is divided into two parts: the left-hand section looking left and the right-hand section looking to right.
The scenes start, on the left, with the remains of the reclining image of the celestial cow, from whose buttocks, according to Chapter 17, the sun-god was born. To the right of this are the four sons of Horus (see the on these), standing two on either side of a canopic chest, inside which appears to be an image of a reclining black jackal Anubis (the whip normally associated with it can still be seen, and also his tail), and the head which would have appeared on top of the chest has been lost. The badly damaged first two scenes can be better understood when compared with the same images as they appear in the . [There exists a query about the original sex of Amseti, whose name is sometimes represented ending in just the feminine terminal "T". However, be that as it may, this genie is considered as masculine, justifying the term "Son".] These four were responsible for the protection of the body's internal organs, which were placed inside canopic jars, the stoppers of which were usually in the shape of the heads of the four gods. Inside the chapel can still be seen, although damaged, the god Anubis in the shape of a dog. Anubis performed the embalming ceremony, conducted the "weighing of the heart" in the Hall of Judgement before Osiris and the forty-two gods, and guarded the tomb at night.
To the right of these are two figures seated on cuboid thrones. With no text to idenify hem, it must be assumed that the first one, who is falcon-headed, is Ra, and the second, human headed, is Shu.
On the right side of the register are the figures of Horus (left) and his four sons, all seated on the ground. The sons are each named; they are (from the left) Duamutef (canine-headed), Qebehsenuef (falcon-headed, like his father), Hapy (baboon-headed) and Imseti (human-headed). However the scribe has somehow exchanged the names of Duamutef and Qebehsenuef. The fact that these four sons have been placed above the entrance to the lower burial chamber is appropriate, and probably deliberate. The canopic jars, storing the viscera, was placed in the niche cut into the middle of the west bench of the burial chamber.
On either side of the entrance, a column of hieroglyphs proclaim the queen's formal name:
"The hereditary noblewoman, great of favour, the Osiris, the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified"; note that
"mistress of the two lands" is only found on the left-hand side.
The middle of the eastern wall of the antechamber is interrupted by a wide opening. The scene on the right begins on the eastern side of the south wall, up to the entry stairway; this represents Nefertari's entry and welcome to the afterlife by two divinities (Osiris and Anubis). On the left side of the wide entry to the next chamber is a representation of Osiris. The large opening leads to the vestibule, which in turn leads into the first eastern annexe. The architrave above the opening is decorated with eleven serpents (rampant uraei) alternating with nine blue ostrich plumes, facing outwards from the kneeling god or genie at the centre. The god, who is not named, spreads his hands over two ovals containing udjat-eyes.
Standing to the left of the entry doorway and facing the shrine, is the standing figure of Nefertari, her hands raised in a gesture of adoration. She is dressed in the style found throughout the tomb, but her Nekhbet headdress has two large feathers. Much of her upper body is damaged, losing most of its detail. Her name and titles have survived in front of her headdress.
On the right, and continuing onto the adjoining section of the south wall, the scene has a yellow-ochre background colour which is in complete contrast to the white of the previous walls. It is a very ornate shrine and has, at its top, a frieze of uraei with solar discs on top of their heads. This shrine, which extends across the corner, has two occupants, and between it and the entrance stairway (as already described) stands the figure of Nefertari.
On the south wall, sits Osiris, holding a crook and flail, symbols of his authority. His skin is painted green, to signify resurrection or the emergence of vegetative life. He wears a plain white shroud tied at the waist with a long red and ochre sash. He wears an atef-type crown, having at its centre not the usual white crown of Upper Egypt, but a tied bundle of vegetation (see ). Around his neck is a broad necklace. On a stand, situated in front of him, are small statues of the four sons of Horus.
Behind him, on the east wall stands the jackal-headed Anubis, holding in his hands a was-sceptre and the ankh-sign of life.
On the left-hand side of the wall is the mummiform Osiris, standing in a shrine with a high arched roof, supported by two colourful poles. The background is again yellow-ochre. Osiris again holds a crook and flail, his skin is again painted green. He is dressed as previously. On his head again the atef-crown, but based around the white crown of Upper Egypt and two plumes. Standing on the reed mat, to either side of him is an 'imuit' fetish-symbol, comprised of a vase in which stands a pole, to which is attached an inflated animal skin. This fetish is sometimes called "Son of the hesat-cow".
Osiris is described as:
"Dwelling in the West, Wennefer, king of the living, the great god, ruler of the assembly of the gods, Lord of Eternity, Ruler of Infinity, who resides in the Sacred Land". His words to Nefertari are:
"I give you eternity like Ra, my father".