The burial chamber: pillars and annexes


For convenience the pillars are numbered as follows: 1 - south-west (left on entry), 2 - south-east (right on entry), 3 - north-west (far left) and 4 - north-east (far right): see also the aerial view above.

The pillars were cut in-situ, from the natural rock, before being plastered and decorated. A short flight of steps leads down between the first pair into the lower central area of the chamber; and another short flight leads upwards between the northern pair, to the northern annexe.
All four faces of each were decorated, and have survived the passage of time, with only a small amount of loss to the detail. Like the walls of the chamber, the scene on each face is framed at the top by a kheker frieze, the exceptions being the faces containing the djed pillars (discussed below). The base of each has a black dado with a yellow and red band separating it from the actual imagery. These images are further framed with the sky symbol at the top (under the kheker frieze) supported at either side by a was-sceptre.

 South faces of pillars 1 and 2 

These two faces each contain a priest with his right arm raised, as if to point the way to the rear of the chamber, the sacred "West".

On left (on entering the chamber) is the Iunmutef priest, dressed in a white kilt over which is a splendid leopard skin. This has been fashioned to fit over his shoulders, the front claws appearing on his upper arms, whilst in his left hand he holds one of the other claws. The head hangs on his chest in the form of a pendant. He is adorned with a broad necklace, arm bands and bracelets. On his head, attached to his wig (which has a side-lock) is a golden uraeus.
The long text in six columns is addressed to his father Osiris, who is located on the east face of the same pillar. The text reads: "Spoken by Horus, the 'pillar of his mother' (Iunmutef). I am your beloved son, my father Osiris, I have come to greet you. Four times forever have I beaten your enemies for you. May you cause your beloved daughter, the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified, to rest within the assembly of great gods who are in the entourage of Osiris, those whom all the lords of the sacred lands join". There is a slight error in the text, the hieroglyphic group at the bottom of column two is repeated at the top of the next column.

On the other pillar (right on entering), a similar scene occurs. This is another priest, Horendotes, identified as "the avenger of his father". Again his right arm is raised. He is dressed the same as the other priest, except this time the leopard skin can be seen from behind.
Once again, the text, in six columns, is addressed to Osiris located on the west side of this pillar. It says: "Spoken by Horendotes. I am your beloved son, who came from your loins. I have come to mend for you your limbs and I have brought you my heart, my father Osiris, who resides in the West. May you allow the king's great wife, mistress of the two lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, and the great divine assembly to be joined with those in the Necropolis".

 Outer faces of all pillars 

With the exception of the south facing surfaces of pillars 1 and 2, which have just been described, the six faces all contain images of Nefertari facing a god (once only, Anubis) or a goddess (Isis, three times, and Hathor, twice). On all the faces Nefertari wears the gold nekhbet headdress with the red mortar, but without the two tall gold feathers; the goddesses all wear the plain red, tight fitting dress. The texts, in each case, only identify the god or goddess and Nefertari; behind the deity is the column of protective symbols. The following lists them in clockwise order:

West facing:

Pillar 1, on the right, has Hathor: who wears the large solar disc within cows horns and a golden uraeus.

Pillar 3, on the left, has Isis: wearing the hieroglyphic symbol of a throne.

North facing:

Pillar 3, on the right, has Hathor: who this time wears the hieroglyphic emblems of the West on her head.

Pillar 4, on the left, has once again Isis: wearing the hieroglyphic symbol of the throne as before.

East facing:

Pillar 4, on the right, has Anubis, the only male deity of this group of six: who is jackal headed and wears a white kilt with a pleated golden overlay.

Pillar 2, on the left, Isis appears for the third time: but here she wears the large solar disc within cows horns and a golden uraeus, as worn by Hathor on west side of pillar 1.

 Inner west and east faces of all pillars - Osiris 

The sides of the pillars facing onto the axis from the entry stairway to the rear of the chamber, marking the deceased's journey from religious "east" to "west", are all decorated with mummiform images of Osiris. In each case he faces towards the entrance of the chamber, as if to welcome Nefertari.
He stands in a shrine with a high arched roof (as seen in the antechamber in the upper level), supported by two colourful poles. The inner surface of the shrine is a yellow-ochre colour, again in stark contrast to the rest of the chamber. Osiris holds a crook and flail, symbols of his authority. His skin is, as usual, 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 sash. On his head is the atef-crown, a composition of the white crown of Upper Egypt and two plumes; around his neck is a broad necklace. To either side of him, is an 'imuit' fetish-symbol, comprised of a vase in which stands a pole and to which is attached an inflated animal skin. These also accompanied Osiris in the similar image in the antechamber of the upper level of the tomb.
The texts on each of the four faces varies slightly, but all effectively state that he is: "Osiris, 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". He says, again with variations, to Nefertari: "I give you a place in the sacred land (i.e. the necropolis) or "I give you eternity like Ra, my father".

 Inner south and north faces of all pillars - Djeds 

These are the sides of the pillars which face into the lower part of the chamber, and hence the sarcophagus. Each has a large, un-animated image of a djed pillar. As mentioned above, this is the only face which does not contain at its top a kheker frieze. Instead, above the long sky hieroglyph, there is a shortened version of the name and titles of Nefertari.

A column of text is positioned on either side of the djed. This also gives, with variations, the name and titles of the deceased.
Two errors, or were they deliberate, can be found:
• All of the texts begin with either the full hieroglyphs for "The Osiris", or an abbreviated form of it; except on the left-hand text column of pillar 1 (right-hand pillar in the image above), where it has been omitted.
• On three out of the four faces, the sky symbol is supported by two was-sceptres. The exception being on pillar 2 (left-hand pillar in the image above), where the top of the sceptre doesn't reach the sky symbol; it only reaches to the top of the djed pillar.


Even though normally referred to as the "first western annexe", it is actually the only western annexe.

It is located at the far left of first upper level of the burial chamber, via a small flight of steps, its floor level being 0.4m above this level of the main chamber. The annexe is square in shape (2.3m x 2.3m) with a ceiling height of 1.7m. The entrance is just over a metre in width and has a height, like that of the chamber, of 1.7m. The ceiling of the entrance and chamber coincide with the bottom of the kekher frieze of the west wall, so the walls of the entrance and chamber have no kekher frieze, but do have the sky symbol. The level of the dado and its upper defining red and yellow bands is lower than those of the main chamber, but likewise have only a minimal black area under the bands.
The main outer thicknesses are decorated with the cobra goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt resting on a basket, on top of two djed pillars, as found at many of the other entries. The one on the left is, according to the text, Wadjet, but who is incorrectly wearing the double red and white crown. On the right, again wearing the wrong crown (she wears the red crown), is Nekhbet. These crowns should be interchanged.
After the two cobras, the width of the entry is enlarged as if to accept a door. These narrow areas are decorated with a column of text containing the titles and name of Nefertari.

The inner east wall, at either side of the entry, contains: on the left (when facing out) Osiris as a djed pillar. He holds a was-sceptre in each hand and has an ankh hanging from each wrist. On the right (when facing out) Nefertari is shown in red mummiform wrappings, but still wearing the Nekhbet headdress. She does not hold the was-sceptre which is placed in front of her. This representation is strange considering that in her other images throughout the tomb she is dressed regally. However, as will be discussed below, this is in character with the other contents of this chamber, her reconstitution and resurrection.

The rear (west) wall is decorated, though badly damaged, with a wide construction supported by five columns of hieroglyphs. The background is painted yellow ochre. At the top, in a pointed and angled roof, are two undulating winged serpents. In the spaces between the texts are (left to right): Thoth, Anubis, Amsety and Thoth (again). The texts are damaged but would have each contained the words spoken to Nefertari by each of the gods. From the apex of the roof appears a head. This indicates that the structure is, in fact, a canopic chest. A similar representation can be seen in the papyrus of the "Book of the Dead" belonging to Hunefer. Here the Sons of Horus are situated outside the chest; in this annexe they are on the walls to either side of this one.

On the right wall (when facing the rear), seated on the ground, are the figures of Hapy, Qebehsenuef and Nephthys (at the rear). Each hold a large ankh sign on their knees. They face the entry to welcome the queen. This wall is much better preserved that the one facing it. The texts are the words of welcome to the deceased.
On the facing wall (very badly damaged), again seated on the ground, are this time the figures of Imseti, Duamutef and Isis.

The contents and theme of this annexe represent the place of reconstitution and resurrection of Nefertari. It does however seem strange that this is placed here and not in the rear (the ritual 'West') annexe.


Although this is the only eastern annexe of the burial chamber, this is the second eastern one in the total tomb; the first being located with the upper chambers.

This annexe has the same dimensions as the one facing it, at the other side of the burial chamber. It is also accessed by a small flight of steps.

The main outer thicknesses are again decorated with the cobra goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt resting on a basket, on top of two djed pillars. This time the overall design is different, with the goddesses each having a small was-sceptre in front of her, resting on the basket. Attached to the sceptre is a shen-sign.
After the two cobras, the width of the entrance is enlarged and decorated with a column of text containing the titles and name of Nefertari.

The inner west wall, at either side of the entry, both contain djed pillars. The one on the left is a symbolic representation of Nefertari. [ This is not true in the screen capture from the 3D tour, because at the moment no photographs or images are available on which to base the correct image. JJH. ]. The djed pillar on the right is different in design to the one of the western annexe, here the Osiris pillar holds a crook and flail to his chest.

The damage to the other three walls is far greater than in the other annexe, however, the detail can still be recognised.

The rear east wall is missing its right-hand side and may have contained the figure of Nefertari. What remains shows an image of Ma'at, wings stretched and facing to the right. From the text she states the she has "given her the lifetime of Ra and a place in the house of Amun".

On the left wall (when facing the rear) stands Nefertari with her arms raised in adoration of Hathor, who is seated in front of her. Enough of the image of Hathor and her related text has survided to be certain of her identity as "Mistress of the West". Between the two are the remains of a small offering alter. The content of remainder of the wall, to the rear of the annexe, is lost.
On the right wall (of which more has survived), Nefertari stands in front of Anubis and Isis, both seated on the usual thrones. Directly in front of Nefertari is an offering alter laden with tall breads. The texts are damaged but the names of both Anubis and Isis can still be read.


This annexe is larger than the other two and is rectangular in shape, being 3.6m east-west and 2.1m in depth, the height is the same. It lies directly in line with the entry, so it is approached by passing through the pillars. As this is the "West", it is from here that Nefertari starts her daily journey to spend the day travelling with Ra and to descend once more at sunset.

The entry thicknesses are decorated with double serpents with their backs leaning against the cartouche of Nefertari. These images were previously seen at the entry to the second stairway. The difference being that this time the basket rests on large hieroglyphs for "gold" and not the vegetation as before.

Of the decoration of the annexe itself, nothing much remains. [ Currently no photographs or images were available on which to base images for the walls with their remaining fragments. JJH. ]
The information available states that "A solitary figure of Isis on the south wall is all that remains on the west side of the room, along with a small area of plaster bearing the queen's cartouche on the north wall. A vestigial procession of gods fills the right wall. Among them, is Serket preceded by two male deities. An image of the djed pillar between two tyet knots, reminiscent of the decorative border around the burial chamber, takes up the south wall, east section." ('House of Eternity' by J. K. McDonald).


The "Book of the Dead" is also called the "Book of Coming Forth by Day".

Nefertari, having completed her journey through the underworld successfully, is now regenerated and can begin her outward journey. She has been granted the ability to "go out and return" each day as she desires.
Her journey begins by passing through the lower chamber and ascends the stairs, into the antechamber. Here she turns left towards the annexe on ritual north. In this chamber, as already previously stated, she meets with the two gods on the facing rear wall. They offer her "The appearance of Ra in the heaven, all infinity (i.e. forever) with him, all eternity with him, and all joy with him.". To her right, is the scene with oars of the celestial barque, which help Nefertari manoeuvre among the stars, with Ra serving as the helmsman.
Returning now to the main upper chamber, she appears enjoying a game of senet, before she finally leaves by passing under the sloping soffit (the underside of the lintel), with its representation of the rising sun, Nefertari's exit into the day, with Ra.


This tomb represents a life-size copy of the Book of the Dead, in stone. A copy of the book, on a papyrus roll, was placed even in the tombs nobles, scribes and craftsmen. Some of these were extremely long, the well known Papyrus of Ani (a scribe) being approx. 23 metres in length. In Nefertari's tomb the walls have been substituted for the papyrus, its painted scenes being the vignettes.

Two other beautiful examples of the Book of the Dead exist on this site. One of which is a copy of the mysterious prince Maiherperi, dating in the days of Thutmosis IV, which was recovered with the character's intact mummy in a tomb of the Valley of the Kings, KV36.

Although not all of the chapters from the Book of the Dead are present, those which are fulfil their purpose of helping the queen successfully reach her goal; that of the realm of Osiris and being able (after her regeneration) to journey from the underworld and be assimilated with the solar disk (Ra). The successful end of her sometimes perilous journey, reaching the realm of Osiris, is portrayed on the rear wall of the burial chamber (the religious "West") where she stands before the triad of the gods who govern the destinies of the Westerners (the dead): Osiris, Hathor and Anubis. Her emergence at the eastern horizon, assimilated with Ra, appears on the soffit of the initial entry doorway, now the exit for her journey beyond the tomb.

• BARGUET, Paul : "Le livre des morts des anciens Égyptiens", Le cerf, 1967.
• BRITISH MUSEUM DATABASE, full photos and details of the Papyrus of Ani.
• CORZO, M.A. and AFSHAR, M. (edited by) : Art and Eternity; Getty Conservation Institute, 1993.
• DONADONI-ROVERI A.M. : "La Vallée des Reines", in Civilisation des Égyptiens, les croyances religieuses, p 146-161, Electa, 1988
• FAULKNER, R.O. : "The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead", British Museum Press, 1972.
• GETTY INSTITUTE : Saving the Queen Newsletter #7.3 (Fall 1992).
• GETTY INSTITUTE : Project Images, 1986-1992.
• GETTY INSTITUTE : "In the tomb of Nefertari. Conservation of the wall paintings", Paul Getty Trust, 1992
• GETTY INSTITUTE : " Art and Eternity: The Nefertari Wall Paintings Conservation Project" 1986-1992 (3 pdf à télécharger)
• LEBLANC, Christian : "Néfertari, 'l'aimée-de-Mout'", Le Rocher, collection Champollion, 1999
• McCARTHY Heather L. : "Queenship, Cosmography, and Regeneration: The Decorative Programs and Architecture of Ramesside Royal Women’s Tombs", Dissertation, New York University, 2011
• McDONALD, J.K. : "House of Eternity, The Tomb of Nefertari", Thames and Hudson, 1996.
• SWATHMORE INSTITUTE : Ankh, Snail, Blood, and Knot: On Nefertari’s Tomb, a site with some detail image views.
• TAHA, M.H. : "Nefertari, The Most Beautiful of Them", Prism Publication, Ministry of Culture, Egypt, 2001.
• WEEKS, Kent R. : "Valley of the Kings", Vercelli : White Star, 2001, pp.285-309.
• WILKINSON Richard :"Reading Egyptian art", a hieroglyphic guide to ancient Egyptian painting and sculpture", Thames and Hudson, 1992

Original pages created by Thierry Benderitter
Text by Thierry Benderitter and Jon Hirst
Images taken from the 3D tour created by Jon Hirst
© OsirisNet 2016