The Tomb of Prince Montuherkhepeshef - KV19

Tomb KV19 of the Valley of the Kings dates from the end of Dynasty XX. This belongs to one of the sons of Ramesses IX, prince Montuherkhepeshef or Ramesses-Montuherkhepeshef ("Montu is above his powerful arm"), the prince and heir who died before he could reach the throne.
It was not originally intended for this burial, but initially planned for another prince, Ramesses-Setherkhepeshef, who would ascend to the throne under the name of Ramesses VIII; the tomb of this last has never been found.

The tomb was discovered in 1817 by Belzoni, and had an unspecified number of intrusive burials, probably dating up to Dynasty XXII. The prince's mummy has not been found.

KV19 is close to the end of a wadi of the east valley, clearly overhanging the base of the valley. It was dug in a rocky promontory situated between KV20 and KV43 (see ). Oriented according to a north-east/south-west axis, the monument consists of a sloping approach to the entrance, followed of a sloping first corridor and, after another doorway, by the rough beginnings of a second corridor or chamber. The floor of this second corridor is pierced by a funerary shaft which was probably intended to received the prince's remains. Work in the tomb had then been abandoned.
The total length of the monument, from the beginning of the downwards approach slope to the rear internal wall, is of 38.68m, with a height varying from 4.9m at the external overhang, to 3.4m at the entrance to the rear, uncompleted chamber/corridor. The width varies from 2.74 to 3.69m (see ).

The Service of Antiques inserted protective windows and a wooden floor a few years ago. This last replaced, in the ground level close to the entry, the metallic grid which closed the long time access to the tomb KV60 (see and ). This non decorated tomb, maybe belonged to a nurse of Hatshepsut. The security of KV19 gained from this, though not appreciated by the visitors (the tomb is often opened to the public).

The style of decoration of the tomb much recalls that of the burials of the sons of Ramesses III, which is in the Valley of the Queens (see the example opposite, thanks to Amy Calvert). The difference is that here it is without relief work, the wall decorations being just painted. There is a very limited degree of change in the themes and the large size of these representations decreases to an extent the number of these scenes. However, the decoration of KV19 amounts to just the entry corridor, and iconographic program intended for the next corridor/chamber, had it been complete, cannot be imagined. It is probable that it would have been a continuation of that of the previous one.
Even though the images are of a very beautiful quality, it is necessary not to be deceived by this: the golden age of Theban wall painting is well finished.
Besides, Ramesses III arranged in the Valley of the Kings a rather great tomb, KV3, for one his sons, who also carried the name of Montuherkhepeshef, but this has nothing to do with the one which is being dealt with here, as Hartwig Altenmüller showed. It is supposed that he had a special importance for his father to justify this choice. Edward Wente, who studied this very damaged monument, recalls judiciously, on this occasion, that the succession process in Ancient Egypt is always poorly understood.
Contrary to what is often believed, it was not Ramesses III who inaugurated the idea of the king's son being presented to the divinities by his father, but Ramesses II, as can be seen in the first antechamber of the gigantic tomb KV5 where the king is followed by some of his sons (see ). As found in the first antechamber, there is the representation of the king followed by one of his sons (see ).
Later, in tomb KV19, dealt with here, the king disappears and Montuherkhepeshef presents himself alone in front of the divinities. Maybe it should be considered that the prince and heir, an adult, didn't need an intercessor anymore. Indeed, he is represented as a man in the prime of life, but, strangely, he retained the side-lock "of youth". The sons of Ramesses III are constantly represented as young teenagers, whereas some nevertheless died in adult age.

The names given to Ramesses IX and his children suggest that Montuherkhepeshef, dealt with here, comes from another prince of the same name, the son of Ramesses III. Queen Titi, of whom the Ramesside tomb QV52 will one day be presented on OsirisNet, was probably a sister of Ramesses IX (therefore our character's aunt) and even as much as her (half) -sister and wife of Ramesses X. The intricacy and the complexity of the family links of the sons of Ramesses III (which are a reminder of the descendants of Ramesses II) are doubtless not foreign to the constant decline of the monarchy of this period.


The main entry is approached by a 15.7m downwards slope of just over 8 degrees, with the main section being about 3.7m wide. The entry pit to the tomb KV60 is located near the beginning of the approach slope. Just before the actual entrance to tomb KV19 is an overhang 4.9m above ground level and 3.0m deep, also sloping parallel to the ground. None of these areas are decorated but they do have a smooth finished surface.


The measurements of the entrance and corridors are truly royal, since only the tombs of Ramesses IV and VII have greater measurements in this domain.

The first doorway is clearly recessed, protected above and laterally by a undecorated rocky awning.
The actual entry passage is 2.8m wide, 0.8m in length, with a height of 3.8m at the rear. Although the latter half of the floor is horizontal, the first part of the slopes downwards, being only 3.7m from the horizontal ceiling (see and ).
At the bottom of the internal part of the doorposts, on each side, are two protective snakes spitting their venom (Isis and Nephthys on the left; Serket (Selkis) and Neith on the right), surmounted by three vertical columns of text taken from the Book of the Dead (see ).
Immediately behind, at the beginning of the sloping corridor (of about 7.8 degrees). The floor is level for approximately 1.5m, being 3.1m wide like the rest of the corridor. This area was designed for an inward opening set of two doors, with the ceiling also being horizontal, 5.3m above the floor. The presence of pivot holes, as well as the recessed ceiling, confirm that a wooden door with double flaps effectively closed this doorway.


With a length of 15.30m, width of 3.10m and a height of 3.75m, the corridor slopes downwards by 1.80m. The surfaces were completely finished, covered with a white distemper, and decorated. The ceiling, perfectly smoothed, remained white. The decoration of the walls is limited 2.75m from floor-level by the gigantic hieroglyphic sign () in blue dark, representative of the sky, extending the length of the corridor. Above this is a metre high whitish area which extends up to the ceiling, which itself is the same off-white colour. Below the decorated scenes are a series of superimposed thick coloured bands. The first, orange-brown punctuated with brown spots, represents the land. Next comes narrow bands of nearly equal thickness, each preceded by a white band: first black, dull red, then black. Finally, a thick dark grey area, again separated by a white band from the black line above it, extends down to the ground. The torrential rains of 1994 flooded the tomb, but the water level didn't pass the level of this multicoloured banner.

On each side wall, are found Montuherkhepeshef, represented seven times. Each time, the prince is turned towards the inside of the tomb and is shown carrying out a ritual in front of a divinity who faces him. The rituals include worship and the presentation of offerings, of vases and libation. Between these two principle characters stand one or two pedestals piled with offerings. Each scene is delimited on each side by a column of colourful hieroglyphs on a bright yellow background. In front of the prince's head are found one, two or three smaller hieroglyph columns of black text on a yellow base. In front of the divinity he or she is identified in the same way (black hieroglyphs on a yellow base), again in one or more columns, in the form "Words spoken by…", followed by his or her name.
The prince is designated as "the royal scribe" and "the royal son, descended of his body, whom he loves". From these texts it can also be found that he occupied function of general-in-chief in the army.
He is clothed in a long white flowing garment which is very wide at the top, flowing over his arms, and also very wide at the bottom, which reaches down to his ankles. The design varies slightly between the fourteen images, in some cases showing that it definitely consisted of several layers (the under one being knee-length), at least one (almost certainly the top one) being of a semi-transparent pleated material. This is secured at the waist by a double tie comprised of either both white or a mix of any two of the following: a white, a horizontally striped red-brown or a horizontally striped light and dark blue fabric belt. The double fabric is fastened using a small knot. His garment is certainly without the sophisticated belt found with the sons of Ramesses III. The top layer has been created into wide overflowing sleeves. It is possible that the artist forgot to make, in all cases, this outer layer in the form of the pleated semi-transparent form. The only way to see all the variations is to view all the fourteen images below.
Only once, in front of Osiris, is he clothed differently, with a large garment with a large overlying triangular front-piece. This is also the only time where he wears sandals, with a hooked tip (see ), elsewhere his feet are naked.

His hairstyle is very elaborate, with a curly wig, almost always with a headband, perhaps the only time that this is missing was an error of the artist. The sidelock of youth is always present, usually in a broad band of blue coloured hair, attached to the headband with a large circular clasp and extending down to his neck. This is further decorated with one or two broad gold bands and a gold fringe at the bottom. The sidelock is shown attached to the near side of his wig on both walls. Around his neck spreads a large necklace of gold, the design of which varies slightly from one representation to the other, which is also true for that of his bracelets. The decorative strands and loops of the fastenings of both the necklace and his headband are often represented at the rear.
The different divinities are for the most original. In particular, the divinities of the underworld in mummiform shape: Ptah and Amon-Re of Karnak, illustrating regeneration: Thoth and Khonsu (in his form of Khonsuemuaset neferhetep - "Khonsu who is in Thebes"), two lunar divinities; Tatenen and Banebdjedet, both very rarely represented. In fact, the only canonical funeral divinities are Osiris and the Children of Horus. Anubis is absent, as is also Isis and Nephthys. Hathor has been merged with with Meretseger. The arrangement of the scenes is not clear, and there is in fact a clear shift, which results in the Children of Horus are not facing each other. Neither are Ptah and (Ptah) -Tatenen, nor Bastet and Sekhmet, nor Thoth and Khonsu.
The god or the goddesses are always shown standing, their feet resting on a pedestal. This has been produced in an asymmetric form, thinner at the front, in order to preserve their vertical stance, by correcting for the slope of the corridor.
The pedestals supporting the offerings are represented as golden. The various foodstuffs are accompanied with vases, ewers and baskets, overlaid with a bunch of lotus blossoms. The frequent presence of vertical papyrus stems should also be noted; they are represented stand next to the upright stands and are surrounded systematically with bindweeds (see and also ).

The left-hand side

Starting at the end of the wall closest to the entry:

Scene 1 : the prince in front of Osiris (see and )
Osiris wears the atef crown, combining the white crown of Upper Egypt between two colourful plumes. At the base of this, laying horizontal, are a pair of twisted rams horns. The presence of these and the red disk forma combined solar symbol. Around the white part of the crown is bound a long legth of red fabric, which hangs behind him down to the floor. This new image of Osiris was current from Dynasty XIX, when the theologians made of Osiris the nocturnal form of the sun (Osiris is the ba (soul) of Re, and Re is the ba of Osiris). The god wears a very colourful and detailed tunic over his tight fitting white shroud. Over this he wears a necklace, the pendant is in the form of a shrine having in its detail a double horizon, with the solar disk between two hills. The artist also added on the tunic, above but behind the supporting ribbon, khepri the beetle scarab of rebirth, seen between wide open wings (see the ). With his two hands, Osiris grasps a large composite djed-was-ankh sceptre. Behind him, stands an 'imiut' fetish-symbol, comprised of a vase in which stands a pole, to which is attached an inflated animal skin.
Montuherkhepeshef is, as already mentioned, dressed slightly differently to the other scenes, wearing over his long flowing garment a large triangular front piece and on his feet he wears sandals with a hooked tip (see ). Between the prince and the god is the table of offerings supported by a single pillar, either side of which are the two papyrus stems bound by spiralling bindweeds (see ).

Scene 2 : the prince in front of Ptah-Tatenen (see )
Combined from Dynasty XIX, the entity Ptah-Tatenen results from the union of two Memphite gods, Ptah and Tatenen, who were then worshipped as a royal creator god. As usual he is depicted in human form wearing a crown consisting of a pair of ram's horns surmounted by a sun disk and two tall feathers.
The original form of Ptah, who raised from the primordial mound, was as a creator-god and maker of things, the patron of craftsmen, especially sculptors. He was thus not originally a funerary god, but a creator god, even when combined with Tatenen. He later acquired these functions in his association with Sokar and Osiris, making the combined Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, one of the main funeral entities of later times.
The other entity, Tatenen (meaning 'the land that rises up") is analogous with the primordial mound which emerged from the ocean (was this from where Ptah arose?), but also with the fertile alluvium deposit after the Nile flood and (by extension) entire Egypt.
Montuherkhepeshef makes, with the help of an ewer, a libation of water on the offerings placed on the table in front of him (see ).

Scene 3 : the prince in front of Khonsuemuaset neferhetep (("Khonsu who is in Thebes") (see and )
Montuherkhepeshef presents an offering of ointment to the form of 'Khonsu in Thebes', which was his main cult centre. Originally the autonomous lunar entity, Khonsu is found by the Theban clergy to be the god "son" (or rather a young form) of the god Amon within the triad Amon-Mut-Khonsu. The lunar, and therefore celestial god Khonsu can be associated, as here, with Horus (Horus the elder, great solar god, and not Horus the younger).
More often represented in the anthropoid form, his body is tightly bound in a shroud and with a long voluminous side lock, the god can also, as here, be represented with the head of a falcon, surmounted by the lunar disk and the crescent moon. On the opposite wall, Thot, the other lunar god, wears the same attributes on his head.
It should be remembered that it was Ramesses III who started the construction of a Khonsu temple within Karnak.

Scene 4 : the prince in front of the goddess Bastet
Originally from Bubastis, in the Delta, Bastet loses her lion-like character quickly to the benefit of that of a soft pussycat; however, this daughter of Re preserved her dangerous potential which, in certain conditions, brings her closer to that of Sekhmet. Her representation here deliberately brings the two entities closer.
The goddess has a human body, the head of lion (rather than that of a cat) with a long wig surmounted by a solar disk. This is surrounded by a raised snake, the uraeus of a Hathoric crown. She wears a red dress, tightly fastened under the breasts, normally expected of Sekhmet (but hers, as will be seen, is white) because she (Sekhmet) has the epithet "mistress of the red linen". In her hand she holds a papyriform sceptre, representing Lower Egypt, from where she originated.
The prince offers to her a length of red linen (perhaps he - or the artist - has the two goddesses confused) as well as a vase containing ointment.

Scene 5 : the prince in front of Amsit
Montuherkhepeshef pays homage in the tomb to each of the four children of Horus: Amsit, Qebehesenuef Hapi and Duamutef. On Osirisnet, a has been dedicated to these divinities giving fuller information about them. Amsit is the only one of the four represented here (and in most cases) with a human head. The divinity apparently wears a false beard (although this is actually lost through damage), the tie for it can be seen on his cheek. He is dressed in a golden knee-length tunic with a pleated kilt section, arm bands and necklace. In one hand he holds a was-sceptre, and a cross of life (the ankh) in the other.
Opposite him, the prince offers him a piece of red cloth and a stone vase containing an ointment or a perfume (see ).

 Scene 6 : the prince in front of Qebehsenuef (see )

This son of Horus also appears in his usual form, with the head of a falcon, although wearing a human hairstyle, and having a human body. Dressed similarly to the other son, in a golden knee-length tunic, arm bands and necklace, he also holds in one hand a was-sceptre and a cross of life (see ).
The prince makes the offering of balls of incense, only two of which can now be seen, on top of an offering vessel (see ).

Scene 7 : the prince in front of Amon-Re of Karnak
This is the last representation of the left-hand wall. The large image of the god is represented in the style of Osiris. This is so similar to the actual image of Osiris, in scene 1, that it confirms the complementarity of the two divinities at this time. Amon wears a white shroud decorated with a tight-fitting upper garment and a large necklace with a pendant. His two green hands, which match the skin tone of his face, protrude from out of the shroud, clutching a was-sceptre. His large beard has a hooked tip, characteristic of a dead god, completing this resemblance. Even if his name had not been given in front of him, his crown would have helped with his identity, leaving no doubt about who he is.
Montuherkhepeshef makes the offering of a small animal forelimb, which he presents between two leaves. Note should be made of the presence of a small piece of graffiti above the table of offerings (see ).

The right-hand side

Starting again at the end of the wall closest to the entry:

Scene 8 : the prince in front of Ptah
The great creator god of Memphis has already been discussed on the opposite wall, where he is associated with Tatenen. By becoming established in this Theban necropolis his personality, appropriately, fades in front of the pre-eminance of the local goddess, Meretseger. This is why this last, the lady of the Theban west is associated with Amon as god of the capital of the South, but is also associated with Ptah as master of the western cemeteries.
Ptah is represented in his usual form, green flesh, sheathed in a white shroud, wearing a dark blue cap. He holds in his hands a beautiful composite ankh-djed-was sceptre in a flexible sheath which adapts to the stature of the god's body. When he is standing, as here, the sceptres are straight, but if he was seated, they would follow the outline of the drawing of the thigh and abdomen. It is thus about showing the god's reviving transformations, which takes place in the divine chrysalis (the shroud), also spreading to his potentialities of life (ankh), of power (was) and stability (djed) which are contained there.
Opposite, the prince pays him homage by raising his two arms over a double table of offerings. The wall here presents many defects, as better seen in these views and .

Scene 9 : the prince in front of Thoth
Thoth is represented as a man with the head of an ibis. On his head he wears the same golden lunar emblems as seen previously on Khonsu, that of a combination of a full lunar disk and a crescent moon. He is also clothed in the golden tunic/kilt, with a golden necklace and bracelets. In his left hand he holds a was-sceptre and a cross of life (the ankh) in his right. He is designated as "The scribe of divine speech". Serving as the scribe of the gods, he is credited with the invention of writing (i.e. hieroglyphs) themselves.
Montuherkhepeshef makes an offering of the flame and a piece of white linen.

 Scene 10 : the prince in front of Banebdjedet
The god Banebdjedet ("Ba neb djedet", "soul of the Lord of Djedet" (Djedet was given the name Mendes by the Greeks) is a ram god, the major divinity of the city of Mendes, which is located in the north-east of the Delta, in the company of his consort, the fish (or dolphin) goddess Hatmehyt and of their offspring Harpocrates (the child of Horus). The word "ba" designating firstly the ram and then, for lack of anything better, as the "soul". The god came to embody the soul of Osiris then, in later times, the souls of Ra, Osiris, Shu and Geb, considerably widening his influence. Because of these associations, Banebdjedet is often represented with four heads, two facing towards the front and two towards the rear. In this image he has only one head, that of a ram and is sheathed in shroud of the same colour as his face. On his head, which is covered with human-style hair, he wears a composite crown.
The ram god Banebdjedet, symbol of sexual power, is found in the temple of millions of years of Ramesses III (Medinet Habu). It is there that the god Tatenen takes his form to copulate with the mother of Ramesses in order to generate the future king. He also plays an important role in the dispute between Horus and Seth by advising going to see Neith, who will resolve the conflict.
The prince makes a libation of water with the aid of a golden ewer which has the shape of an ankh sign, which is topped with a cover in the shape of a rams head (see ).

 Scene 11 : the prince in front of Hapi
Here is yet another child of Horus (this one is not to be confused with the god of the Nile, the flood and fertility). He is represented in his classical image, with the head of baboon (see ). He, like the previous two, is dressed in a golden knee-length tunic, arm bands and necklace, although the necklace would appear to made mainly of silver, unless the artist didn't complete the colouring of the rings. Also, like the two previous, he also holds in one hand a was-sceptre and a cross of life in the other.
The prince holds nothing in his hands but holds them in homage to the god in front of him.

Scene 12 : the prince in front of Duamutef
This represents the fourth and final son of Horus, recognisable by his black canine head which is a reminder of that of Anubis. Unlike the other three, who wear golden knee-length tunics, this one is sheathed in a gilt shroud. From the front of the shroud emerge two black hands with a gold bracelet on each wrist, clutching a was-sceptre. Despite having the canine head, he still wears human hair on his head, trimmed with gold.
Again, Montuherkhepeshef has empty hands raised in homage in front of the image of the divinity.

Scene 13 : the prince in front of the goddess Meretseger
Lady of the Theban summit, "the one who loves the silence, sovereign of the mountain of the west" holds under her protection the whole of the Theban necropolis. She is essentially worshipped in the village of Deir el Medineh, by the community of the workers in charge of the planning and the creation of the tombs of the Valley of the Kings (and of the Valley of the Queens). Usually represented in the form of a snake, often with a woman's head, the goddess is, like all reptilian deities, a divinity of the land, and more precisely of the underground world. She is the goddess nursemaid of the people living on the earth and the underground deceased.
Meretseger is represented here in her human aspect, wearing a diadem surmounted with a pair of cows horns enclosing a solar disk, which brings her image closer to that of Hathor. Her hair is fastened with a thin red band, the ends of which drape behind it. She wears a tight-fitting red dress, which reaches up just under exposed breasts, where it is fastened with a long blue sash. Her broad necklace and four bracelets are multicoloured, probably containing precious stones. In her left hand she grasps a papyriform sceptre (see ), whilst her other hand is empty.
In front of her, the prince raises his two hands in worship. On top of the table of offerings, on top of the lotus blooms, is a brazier on which burn small balls of resin (see ).

Scene 14 : the prince in front of the goddess Sekhmet (see )
Sekhmet (meaning "the powerful one") is the most important of the lion-headed divinities of the Egyptian pantheon. Sekhmet possesses a split personality. On the one hand she is considered as the daughter of Re, and in her main manifestation as the eye of the sun; she is therefore a dangerous and destructive goddess, whose breath burns the enemies, as the burning wind of the desert. She is also responsible for the release of epidemics through the intermediary of messengers who are the vectors of it. As many of the gods and goddess, Sekhmet is ambivalent and also appears as a healer of the curses even though she instigated them. She is associated with Hathor and Mut, but also with Bastet, this last one being sometimes considered as her pacified form.
The goddess's representation here is close in appearance to that of Bastet, on the middle of the facing wall, only differing by having a white dress fastened with a long red sash (Bastet's was red with a dark blue sash) and the fact that here, Sekhmet, has a red sun disc on her head (Bastet's is golden). Also, here, Sekhmet holds nothing in her hands, which hang gracefully by her side.
In front of her, the prince pours a libation of water on the offerings, from a golden vessel (see and ).


The doorway is not decorated. Work had been abandoned by the quarrymen who had dug the rock on four levels (see ). Two oblong lateral recesses has been made, presumably intended for assisting in the movement of the sarcophagus. In the small flat area of the floor, a funerary shaft of 1.25m in depth had been dug; it seems that it was originally covered by stone slabs (see ). Its occupant remains unknown, maybe it was for Montuherkhepeshef.