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The burial chamber


Arriving at last in the main chamber of the tomb, the area of the chamber can be seen to be divided into three sections (see plan). The south and north ends are approximately 6.0m below the ground level at the main entrance, the middle area being another 0.6m below them. The chamber is 10.4m south-north and 8.2m east-west. The ceiling height at the two ends is approx. 3.0m. Nefertari's red granite sarcophagus originally stood in the lower centre section, however, only a part of the lid was found at the time of the discovery of the tomb.

Four square section pillars support the large ceiling, two each in the higher end sections, leaving the central area clear. Those on the east are separated from those on the west by two small flights of steps, leading into and out of the lower middle area.

The symbolic or ritual orientation of the tomb, and especially the burial chamber, is different to the actual geographical orientation.

Geographic north (the direction to which a magnetic compass points) is at the rear of the chamber, the entrance is at the south.

However, ritually the journey of the deceased queen is from east to west. She would therefore enter this chamber as if she was facing towards the west. To avoid confusion with the orientation given in the rest of the tomb, true (geographic) orientation will still be used. Although, her arrival at her meeting with Osiris, at the far end of the chamber, will be announced as her 'Western' destination.

At the south-west and south-east corners are the entrances to two side annexes. The entrance to another annexe is situated in the middle of the north wall, immediately in front of the steps leading from the lower central floor.

A solid bench is situated along the bottom of all four perimeter walls, broken only by the entrance to the main stairway, those of the three annexes and in the middle of the west side by a recess possibly intended for the canopic chest. The bench maintains a constant height, even across the lower central area. Originally the whole front surface of the bench was decorated with a series of djed pillars separated by Isis knots ('tiet' symbols). At the end of the south-east section, near the entry to the chamber, it was originally decorated with three columns of hieroglyphs, but only a small part has survived. This is however enough to know that it would have contained the name and titles of Nefertari. The other ends of the bench around the chamber almost certainly contained similar inscriptions.

A rectangular niche had been cut into each wall, towards the centre and just above the bench, at the four cardinal points of the tomb (north, east, south and west). These were for the placement of "magical bricks". During the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC), they were placed in tombs in order to protect the deceased from the enemies of the god Osiris. Each brick was inscribed with a portion of Chapter 151 of the Book of the Dead.

The general decoration of the burial chamber consists of a kekher frieze at the top of the walls and a dado area at the bottom, above the bench structures. The base (black) area of the dado is, however, very minimal; but the red and yellow bands, which separate it (and the bench) from the decoration above, are of the normal thickness.

The main decoration of the walls of the two sides of the chamber are independent of each other.
Those of the west (left on entry) show Nefertari's entry into the underworld through the seven gates (although only five are reproduced in QV66) described in Chapter 144 of the Book of the Dead.
The east side covers her passage through the twenty-one portals (although only nine are portrayed) of Chapter 146. At the north wall of the chamber (ritualistically, the "West") Nefertari completes her journey and faces Osiris.

 THE WESTERN WALLS - THE GATES 

Nefertari's passage through the gates of Chapter 144 of the Book of the Dead begins immediately on turning left when entering the burial chamber. It continues along the left side of the chamber until reaching the entry of annexe in the middle of the rear wall, her ritual western horizon, the place of Osiris. Although always called "gates", in Nefertari's tomb they are shown in all cases as a red rectangle surrounded by an ochre framing, by their colour convention they in fact represent a door (red representing wood) with a stone (ochre) framing; so "gate" is really perhaps "gateway" or "entry gate".

Starting on the south wall, Nefertari stands in regal splendour with her hands raised in adoration before the first gate and its three attendants. As elsewhere in the tomb, she is dressed in a full-length white semi-transparent dress, tied at the middle by the long red sash. On top of her tripartite wig, she wears the gold Nekhbet headdress with the red mortar mounted with two tall gold feathers and a small solar disc. Separating her from the stairway entry is a single column of protective symbols. The two columns of text (one being very short) in front of her, give her name and titles in reduced form .

Preceding each gate, the words spoken by Nefertari are given in several columns 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 here is the correct convention. However, with gates three and five (the text for gate four is lost through damage) the hieroglyphs face in the opposite direction, but the text should still be read from left to right.
The gate is immediately followed by the three named attendants, identified as male or female by the colour of the skin; the male is always red-brown and the female is a pale skin-tone. The grouping of male and female varies. Each group consists of, firstly, two animal-headed (the first is always ram-headed) then a human-headed attendants. They are: the doorkeeper, who holds a leafy branch in the right hand and a knife in the other; the guardian, who holds a knife in each hand; and the herald or announcer, who holds an ankh in each hand. Nefertari must speak the name of each gate and the name of each attendant, in order to be able to pass through.

 The first gate 

This scene (text, gate and attendants) was too large to fit onto the south wall and so it was concluded (the last two attendants) on the section of the west wall to the left of the entry to the western annexe. The second attendant is hippopotamus-headed.
The text, which starts immediately to the right of the columns of her name and titles, states: "Formula by which to know the gates of the place of Osiris in the west, and the divinities who are in their caverns. Words spoken by the Osiris, the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified by Osiris: "The first gate. The name of the doorkeeper is 'Downward of face, numerous of forms'; the name of the guardian is 'Eavesdropper' (literally: 'the burning of the ear'); the name of the herald is 'Loud of voice'. I am one of veritable character, who brightens the hereafter when I have come to you, Osiris who resides in the West, who praises you, who cleansed you from all your impurity and all your injuries. I will establish my name in Rasetau. Hail to you, Osiris, in your powers and your strength in Rasetau. As you rallied yourself by yourself, Osiris, by your power and your strength I am powerful in Rasetau and am strong in Abydos. You cross the heavens and you convey yourself towards Ra. You see mankind, sole lord who follows Ra through it. Behold, Osiris said 'I am a noble one' and I have said 'It may come about.' I shall not be hindered by the black walls of the passages of the gate of the "Sleeping face".

 The second gate 

This starts immediately to the right of the entry to the annexe. The text reads: "Gate two. The name of the doorkeeper is 'Opener of the forehead'; the name of the guardian is 'Virtuous of countenance' and the name of the herald is 'The burner'. Note that this time the guardian is female. The second attendant is lioness-headed, with two snakes appearing from the top of her head.
Here Nefertari states: "Do not be weary when the [dead?] present the mundane secrets in their years in truth. It is the Osiris, the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified before Osiris, who removes the difficulty in a moment, who prepares his way with a flame against the offenders of the Osiris, the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified. I have prepared the way, may you let me pass. May I always see that Ra surrounds them who are those who prepare offerings for the Osiris, the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified. I have prepared the way, may you let me pass. May I always see that Ra surrounds them". It should be noted the scribe has actually repeated the latter portion and that he also repeatedly used her name and titles.

 The third gate 

The whole of the content of this gate scene has been badly damaged, the third attendant and most of the second one is lost. However, the names of all three attendants have survived: the doorkeeper, "The one who eats the excrement of his hind parts"; the guardian, "Vigilant" and the herald, "He who curses".
Although the text is too damaged to repeat, it would still have followed the usual style. But, as already stated, the hieroglyphs face the wrong way.

 The fourth gate 

The text and gate, which would have been on the southern end of the west wall have been totally lost. However the three attendants have survived, though greatly damaged, on the western end of the south wall; enough has remained to conclude that they were all male. The second attendant is antelope-headed. Their names have been lost.

 The fifth gate 

Due to a lack of space the artist had to reduce this content of the last gate to just one attendant, the first who is as usual ram-headed. Nevertheless, the names of all three were supplied: the doorkeeper, "He who eats snakes"; the guardian, "The burner" and the herald, "Hippopotamus-faced, raging with power".

 THE WESTERN WALL - THE CANOPIC NICHE 

Cut into the bench of the west side of the chamber, in the central lower area, is a niche (or alcove) possibly intended for a canopic. The chest would have contained four vessels holding the embalmed internal organs of the deceased. Strangely, this niche is not cut in the exact centre of the bench, but towards the southern end (see west view). It is approximately one metre square, taking up the full height of the bench. all three internal sides had been decorated.
The style used is not the same as on all the other chamber surfaces. The images and text are of a monochrome nature, with red line-work and a yellow-ochre infill, on a plain white background. This would suggest that the decoration was done after the tomb was initially closed, possibly a generation later. A good example a tomb decorated in this style is that of Nebenmaat, TT219; view this scene from one of the walls.

At the back of the niche is an image of the winged goddess Nut, her name is written above her head. Her wings are held downwards at her sides, and in each hand she holds an ankh, the sign of life. The text to either side of her states: "Spoken by Nut, 'I come before you, the Osiris, the deceased (shown as a reclining sarcophagus) , the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified'. ".
The left side (south), which is damaged at the open end, contains three mummiform figures, preceded by a column of text (at the left-hand, open end). These are: Imsety, Anubis, and Qebehsenef. The last is shown with human head, though normally shown with a falcon head. The speech in the column is too damaged to read properly; each of the deities is introduced as "the great god".
The right side (north) is more badly damaged than the facing wall, but three mummiform figures can still be seen and with reasonable certainty identified. They are (right - outermost - to left): Hapy, Duamutef, and Anubis (probably falcon-headed). Each are again introduced as "the great god"
Imsety, Qebehsenef, Hapy and Duamutef are the four sons of Horus, whose principal role is to protect the queen's internal organs (the contents of the canopic jars).

 THE EASTERN WALLS - THE PORTALS 

The eastern walls, starting to the right of the entry from the stairway, portrays Chapter 146 of the Book of the Dead. This is Nefertari's passage through twenty-one portals (each guarded by a single keeper) of the domain of Osiris; however, as mentioned previously, only ten are actually portrayed in her burial chamber. As on the west side walls, in Chapter 144, it is necessary that she is able to name both the portal and the keeper.
Each of the portals is represented in the same way, a simple door frame topped with a uraeus frieze. Inside each is the keeper, sitting on a green dais in the form of a Ma'at sign, holding a knife to his knees, although not all can be seen because of the damage which has occurred to the walls. Being so armed, the keepers are equipped to stop any access. Behind each portal are several columns of text (either four or five) to be read from left to right, even though the hieroglyphs would indicate reading in the opposite direction. These texts, like the images, have also suffered damage.

As on the west side of the entry, Nefertari stands facing the first portal. She is dressed in the same attire, again with her hands raised in adoration. Once again symbols of protection separate her from the entrance. Nefertari's initial speech is much shorter than that at the start of her journey through the gates, the bottom part of which is largely missing. Despite the damage, it can still be understood that she confirms that she has done no wrong on her journey towards the west.

 The first portal 

The first portal, directly in front of Nefertari, is guarded by a vulture-headed keeper. The scene is very damage and of the text, only the upper part of the columns has survived.
The name of the portal is "Lady of fear, lofty of battlements, the destroyer, who wards off storms and who rescues the plundered". The doorkeeper's name is "Dread".

 The second portal 

The images is again badly destroyed, but the keeper can still be seen to have the head of a mouse. The text extends from the south wall to fill the space on the east wall before the entry to the eastern annexe. Once more there is an error produced by the scribe who outlined the columns of text for the artist to paint. The two columns located behind the gate (on the south wall) have been repeated as the right-hand pair on the east wall. There is always the possibility that with so much space to fill, and not enough room for a complete portal, that they were inserted purely to fill the space.
The name of the portal is "Mistress of Heaven, lady of the two lands, she who licks [her calves], mistress of all mankind, the one who distinguishes everyone". The doorkeeper's name is "The one who fashions".

 The third portal 

This gates starts immediately after the entry to the annexe, the keeper has the head of a crocodile. Although the text is damaged, enough survives for identification.
The name of the portal is "mistress of altars, great of offerings, the one who pleases every god, the one who sails upstream to Abydos". The doorkeeper's name is "The brightener, friend of the great god who sails to Abydos".

 The fourth portal 

Here the doorkeeper is a bull, both in appearance and by name.
The name of the portal is "Mighty of knives, lady of the two lands, destroyer of enemies of the weary of heart, who is wise and free of wrong-doing". The doorkeeper's name is "The long-horned bull", providing in this one instance a satisfying correspondence between the keeper's name and face.

 The fifth portal 

This is perhaps the one doorkeeper which everyone remembers. It is that of the strange figure of a naked child with a malformed head. Unlike the other keepers, she (the colour of her skin indicates this) does not hold a knife on her knees, but holds two (one in each hand) across her chest.
The name of the portal is "mistress of Lower Egypt, the joyful one, for whom one makes requests without swiftly casting a glance". The doorkeeper's name is "The one who commands the opponent".

 Portals six, seven, eight and nine 

These portals are all badly affected by damage to the wall.

The sixth keeper has the head of a serpent, but nothing has remained to identify either the name of the portal or the keeper.

Almost the whole of portal seven is missing, apart from some surviving text (which may have been misplaced from portal eight).
The name (in part) given for the portal is "The kindler of flames, who is hot, slayer of ....., grinder of those who do not .....". The doorkeeper's name is "He who protects his body".

Of portal eight, only the kheker frieze and a fraction of the keeper now exists. One word, mty: "engenderer" survives. But this should probably belong to portal nine, nothing indicates why this or the previous error exist.

No traces of the image or the text remain from portal nine, but the space shows that its once did exist.

 The tenth portal 

This, the tenth and also the last portal, is located on the north wall, at the junction with the previous one. This has survived almost intact. Its keeper has the head of a crocodile.
The name of the portal is "She who is loud of voice, who awakens with shouts, who laughs at danger, greatly fearful for those within". The doorkeeper's name is "The great embracer".

 THE MEETING WITH OSIRIS 

The wall space between the tenth portal and the entry to the rear annexe has a scene in which Nefertari pays homage to two seated gods and a goddess.

She has reached the ritual "WEST".

Facing left, she wears a long plain white dress, but without the long red sash tied round her waist. On her head she wears, as usual, the gold nekhbet headdress with the red mortar, but here it does not have the two tall gold feathers.
Immediately in front of her are two stands. The first one, which is golden and has a wide base, holds a large vessel. On top of the second, which resembles the standard pole used for holding the emblems of the nomes of Egypt, are four small mummiform statues of the sons of Horus.

The deities are seated on cuboid chairs, common in the scenes throughout the tomb. They have been shown artistically offset, one slightly behind the other. Osiris is shown closest to Nefertari, but slightly overlapped by Hathor, who is overlapped by Anubis who is shown in full.
Osiris wears his white mummiform garment with the long red sash tied around the waist. He holds a crook and flail in his hands, his symbols of power, and wears the atef crown on his head.
Hathor, dressed in the normal tight fitting red dress, rests her left hand on the shoulder of Osiris. She holds her right hand open, palm uppermost, above her knees. On her head, secured by a red sash, she wears the symbol of the "west".
Finally, Anubis, jackal-headed, wears his pleated gold kilt over a plain white one and a green tunic on his upper torso. In his right hand he holds a ankh sign, whilst he rests his left on the left shoulder of Hathor.

The text at the top of the scene identifies the four participants.

Nefertari has at last completed her journey and stands before Osiris, with two of his companions. She is also once again complete, because the four sons of Horus have protected her internal organs.

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