The second stairway

Seen at its best from the bottom, the second stairway descends from the antechamber to the burial chamber, almost 3.0m below. The stairway of eighteen steps is 7.5m in length., with a slipway down the middle for the sarcophagus. The passage doesn't align with the axis of the upper or lower chambers, but is shifted towards the right (see plan).
The side walls, which form a rough parallelogram, are divided horizontally into two triangles, the dividing line being a continuation of the floor level of the upper chambers. Along the dividing line, on either side, is a shelf, approximately 0.5m wide and 4.5m in length, extending from the entrance.
The ceiling is approx. 3.0m above stair level at the top, but increasing slightly towards the bottom, and the passage widths are: approx 2.7m at stair level, and 3.7m across the upper level (across the shelves).
The scenes of the upper triangles are very similar in nature to those seen in the upper chambers; whilst below, they are explicitly funerary and relate to the netherworld.

[ At the southern end of both lower areas are twenty-nine columns (of ever increasing length) of hieroglyphic texts belonging to the figures of Anubis and the goddesses. I have been unable to obtain any images to create these in the 3D tour, so I apologise for the lack of detail. JJH ]


The entry has two widths: a narrow outer thickness (at the antechamber end) and a wider inner one. This formation is usually associated with an entrance design intended to be closed by a door, but, because both sides are fully decorated, it is reasonably certain that one was never attached.

The right outer thickness shows a rampant serpent facing the cartouche of Nefertari. The serpent, which is identified as Wadjet, wears the red crown of Lower Egypt. On the almost identical left outer thickness, the name is omitted. It can be assumed that this is Nekhebet, because this one wears the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. In both cases the serpent and cartouche rest on a wicker basket, which in turn stands on top of two djed pillars. Also, both cartouches are crowned with the double plume and solar disk headdress and stand on the hieroglyphic symbol for gold.
Both inner thicknesses have the same two serpents with their backs to the queen's cartouche, protecting it. Also, in both images, the serpents rest on a woven basket, but these baskets rest on different constructs on the two sides. On the right is a tub of papyrus, the heraldic plant of Lower Egypt, on the left is a tub of lilies, the heraldic plant of Upper Egypt (see west thickness detail).

The orientation of tomb is now established by these designs: to the left is Upper Egypt (the south), and on the right is Lower Egypt (the north); hence, west is down the stairway, the location of the burial chamber.


As already stated, the side walls of the descent are divided into an upper area and a lower one, along a line level with the floor of the upper chambers. On either side is a shelf, approximately 0.5m wide and 4.5m in length, extends from the entrance, ending in a vertical section with a height of approximately 1.0m. Nowhere in the texts is there any clue to its intended use.
Even though the vertical surfaces are irregular in shape, all the space has been decorated.
The decoration of both sides are near mirror images, and yet they are distinctly different in their content.

 The south wall 

Behind, having passed through the entry from the antechamber, the south wall has images of two goddesses, one on either side. They are Neith (left when facing her) and Selkis (right), already encountered at the entrance to the vestibule, and again easily identified by their unique symbols on top of their head. The texts are the usual greetings accompanied by the column of protective symbols.
The two goddesses face the entry, offering the deceased their protection. Neith and Selkis, together with Isis and Nephthys, watched over the sarcophagus of Osiris.

 The upper west wall 

Look forwards once more and to the left, on the upper triangular section of the west wall, Nefertari (dressed as usual) holds out two round nemset jars above an alter piled high with fruit, vegetables, cuts of meat, and loaves of bread; resting on top are two smoking braziers. The texts which surround her yet again provide her identity and end with the usual symbols of "protection, life, stability, dominion, all health, all joy, all protection like Ra". Facing Nefertari, ready to receive her offerings, are three goddesses: Isis; her sister, Nephthys; and Ma'at. The first two are seated on the now common chairs, whilst Ma'at kneels with outstretched wings, extended to shield the queen's cartouche, attached to which is a shen-sign.
All three goddesses have their distinctive emblems on their head, and the seated ones each hold a was-sceptre and ankh-sign.
Their usual style dresses alternate in colour, red, green and red, giving variety to the scene. Even though the wall becomes less in height at the northern end, the artist has managed to retain bodies of the same comparative size. The texts associated with each deity only provides her identity.
Behind Ma'at and separated by a vertical line, is a shortened identity of the deceased: "The king's great wife, Nefertari, beloved of Mut".

At the north end of the shelf is a small south facing wall. This contains a djed pillar with arms. In each hand it holds a was-sceptre. There is no accompanying text.

Still above the extended level of the floor of the upper chambers, but set out at the width of the lower wall section, in an even smaller triangle, is a winged uraeus cobra. This protects the queen's cartouche and a shen-sign with its wings, in the same way as Ma'at before it. The cartouche sits on a the hieroglyphic "nebu-sign" for gold, at the top is a large red solar disk (see north end image). The short text at the end gives, in the much abbreviated form, the wish of the winged cobra: "Giving all health and life"

 The upper east wall 

In a near mirror image, the east section does have its differences.
Again Nefertari faces three female deities across a similar table of offerings, this time there are no cuts of meat. The three goddesses are Hathor ("Mistress of the West"), Selkis and again the winged Ma'at.
The queen once again holds out two round nemset jars. The major difference with Nefertari is that this time she does not have the tall feathers and solar disk on top of the red mortar. This allows for a much fuller version of her titles to accompany her name.
The two seated goddesses again wear different coloured tight fitting dresses: Hathor wears green, Selkis wears red; but Ma'at again wears red. The artist has also made room for slightly longer texts for the deities. Again the short version of Nefetari's title and cartouche is located behind Ma'at.

The shelf once more ends with a djed figure, and beyond it, as on the west wall, there is the image of the winged uraeus, again protecting the queen's cartouche with its wings (see north end image).

 The lower west wall 

Below a line indicated by the level of the shelf, the triangular area is totally different to that which is displayed above. This is now the realm of the dead.

The area is subdivided by another line, the upper part belonging to Anubis, pictured on the right, and below to Isis, also pictured on the right. The left-hands sides of both of these two levels is filled with columns of hieroglyphic texts belonging to the respective images. They constitute the first of two texts (addresses to Nefertari) by each, the first text being written in slightly smaller hieroglyphs; the second starts in-line with the end of the shelf, appears in front and around the appropriate figure.

The black jackal Anubis reclines on a shrine, a red sash tied around his neck and a golden flail supported by his hind leg. The texts are long, and as already mentioned the actual hieroglyphic text is not available, so the translations are based on several other published sources: "Spoken by Anubis, the great god who resides in the sacred land. 'I have come before you, king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Osiris, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified before Osiris, the great god, who resides in the West. I have come before you, and I have given you a place which is in the sacred land, so that you may appear gloriously in heaven like your father Ra. Accept the ornaments upon your head. Isis and Nephthys have provided for you and have created your beauty like that of your father, so that you may appear gloriously in heaven like Ra' "; and so it continues.
The second text is much shorter: "Spoken by Anubis, the great god, lord of the necropolis. 'I have come before you, beloved daughter, king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified. I have given you the appearance of Ra in heaven so that you may sit upon the throne of Osiris. Approach your mother, Isis, and also Nephthys. The great assembly of gods is your protection forever and ever' ".

Isis kneels on a large and very detailed version of the hieroglyph for gold, the "nbw-sign". She stretches out her hands over another large hieroglyph, the "shen-sign". Like Anubis, she makes two addresses to Nefertari. The first being shorter than the second, and begins in a similar way: "Spoken by the great Isis, the god's mother, mistress of heaven, mistress of all the gods, who dwells in the sacred land. 'I have come before you, great royal wife, mistress of the two lands, mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Osiris, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified before Osiris who resides in the West, the great god, lord of eternity.' ", it ends: "I have given you a place in the sacred land in the presence of Wennefer. May you may appear gloriously like the Aten in heaven forever' ".
Her second address is very similar, but it ends: "I have given you a place in the necropolis so that you may appear gloriously in heaven like your father Ra. The realm of the dead is illumined by your radiance' ".

 The lower east wall 

The lower area of the east wall are again almost mirror images of those of the west wall. As before, there are differences, especially in the fact that on this wall it is the goddess Nephthys who kneels on the large gold hieroglyph. Anubis still reclines on a shrine above her.
Considerable damage has occurred to the large text areas, resulting in the loss of most of Nephthys' speech to Nefertari.

The two speeches by Anubis are very similar to those of the facing wall, there are difference. The following translation of the first section was provided by Prof. Leblanc (many thanks).
"Spoken by Anubis, the embalmer, the great god who resides in the sacred land: 'I have come before you, oh king's great wife, sovereign of the South and the North, the Osiris, the king's great wife, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified before Osiris, the great god, who resides in the West. I have come before you, I have given you a place among those that are in the sacred land. You will appear glorious in the sky, as your father Re. You will receive the ornaments on your head and will be joined with your mother Isis and with Nephthys. They will shape your perfection like that of your father Ra. You will appear radiant in the sky, like him. You will illuminate the realm of the dead with your radiance. You will have a place within the great divine Ennead which is in the sacred land. Nut, your mother, will receive you as she did for Ra-Horakhty; the souls of Pe and Nekhen will accomplish for you the ritual of jubilation, as your father who presides in the west. The great divine Ennead will assure also the protection of your body.'
'Approach your mother! You will reside on the throne of Osiris, while all the gods of the sacred land will receive you. Your heart will be happy for eternity, oh king's great wife, mistress of the Two Lands, sovereign of all countries, Nefertari, the beloved of Mut, justified by Osiris who presides in the west' "

As already mentioned, the first speech of Nephthys is badly damaged. However, her second speech, although very damaged at the beginning, is worth knowing: "[ Spoken by Nephthys, ............. ], mistress of the two lands, [mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt], the Osiris, [Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified before Osiris who resides in the West, the great god, lord of eternity]. 'I have given you a place in the necropolis so that you may appear gloriously in heaven like your father Re. The realm of the dead is illumined by your radiance. May your heart be forever joyous' ".

 The north wall 

The north wall, at the bottom of the stairway, marks the entry to the burial chamber itself, via a short passage. It is in the form of a door frame, with the door jambs decorated in large hieroglyphic texts, like those at the entry from the antechamber. The major difference being that here Nefertari is first identified as "the Osiris"; thus reading "The Osiris, the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified before Osiris". Strangely, the right-hand text ends with the hieroglyph which would normally start the phrase "who resides in the West".

The lintel contains a kneeling image of Ma'at, facing left with her arms outstretched supporting beautifully produced wings, reaching completely across the width between the two outer walls. The text above her, reading from right to left, states: "Spoken by Ma'at, the daughter of Ra". Here the text ceases to make sense, having only the words "protect" and "son" (although this should probably be daughter). This confusion could be resolved if Ma'at was introduced as part of the text, giving for the middle part: "I (Ma'at) protect (my) daughter,", then resuming with: "the king's great wife, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified".


The exit passageway to the burial chamber, like the entry to the stairway, has two widths, the one at the burial chamber end being the wider. The floor levels of the two sections are different, creating two more steps into the burial chamber.

The thicknesses at the stairs end are decorated almost identically, with yet more images of Ma'at. They are also almost identical to those at the entry into the first east annexe in the upper chambers. Wearing the now common red tight fitting dress and her feather of truth on her head, she welcomes (if that is the correct word) the deceased to the underworld.

The thicknesses of the burial chamber end, like the entry above, have the images of the serpents, representing the north and Lower Egypt (Wadjet) on the right, and the south and Upper Egypt (Nekhbet) on the left. This once more indicates that the west is directly ahead. Also as before, Wadjet wears the double crown, whilst Nekhbet wears the atef crown (based around the white crown). Again they rest in wicker baskets on top of double djed pillars, looking towards the oncoming Nefertari. The ceiling of this part of the entry is level with that of the burial chamber.