QV66, rock grave of Nefertari, the Great Royal Wife of Ramesses II ( 19th dynasty ), is the most important grave in the Valley of the Queens. The grave is the first fully decorated plant in the Valley of the Queens and is the culmination in the development of Egyptian queens tomb. The importance of the tomb is particularly highlighted by the magnificent wall paintings. Some motifs were even taken directly from the imagery of royal tombs, making it far beyond the level of officials and elevates Prince graves.


The grave was discovered in 1904 by Ernesto Schiaparelli, who conducted the first systematic excavations in the Valley of the Queens 1903-1905. After the spilled entrance had been shoveled, he found the grave open before, with no remains of the ancient closure, so it was clear that grave robbers had preceded him. The few finds that he could recover, he led in the Langer's Museo Egizio in Turin, where they can still be seen today.

In the burial chamber Schiaparelli found as the most important object of looters busted the lid of the sarcophagus, its fragments could be put together for the most part again. Here he also found a djed pillar, which was located in one of four wall niches. Other finds include numerous shabtis, a pair of sandals from Palmbast, two curved box lid and a handle made ​​of blue faience, bearing the cartouche of Pharaoh Ay, Tutankhamun 's successor from the late 18th dynasty.


The conceptual basis of the rock-cut tomb forms a two- chamber system, but which has been extended through extensive enhancements to two axially aligned space complexes.

The main axis of the tomb from the entrance to the sarcophagus chamber is based ( according to the real - geographic directions ) from south to north, which is apparently in contradiction with the Egyptian ideology, according to which a sarcophagus chamber has to lie to the west. The scenes usually are based on the ideal-typical points of the compass, but there is also an integration of real - geographical direction in the design of the decoration program.

As in his own grave system ( KV7 ) Ramses II had also chosen at Nefertari a slightly " bent " shape in the design of the grave axis, which was common in the period before Akhenaten. This kink is a unique architectural element in the Valley of the Queens. Erik Hornung interprets this as follows:

Heike Schmidt sees this shift but also for purely practical reasons:

Another special feature of the tomb is that it has pillars. No earlier grave in the Valley of the Queens has pillars. In the Valley of the Kings are pillars, with few exceptions, only the royal tombs reserved.

Text and image program

When Queen Nefertari was allowed to use any royal funerary texts, but chose correspondences from the Book of the Dead, whose sayings and illustrations were available for anyone to use and have been used much farther in the tombs of the period. Several motifs are also taken directly from the imagery of royal tombs and lift them far above the level of officials and Prince graves beyond. This primarily involves the design of the ceiling as starry sky, what you find since the Old Kingdom only in royal tombs and embodies the idea of ​​a certain for the King Hereafter. The representations of the plant emblems of Upper and Lower Egypt ( lotus and papyrus and the goddess Maat ) actually belong only in a royal grave.

The murals of the tomb follow a certain iconographic program. It will be displayed as two axes, the journey of the deceased: The first axis is on the inside of the tomb oriented ( religious west), where it enters into the realm of Osiris; the second axis is directed outward ( religious east), where it regenerates and returns to the light of Re. With its move into the "house of eternity " thus Nefertari embarks on a long journey and arrives after it has successfully overcome all obstacles to the realm of the dead god Osiris. Her return to the light takes place in the reverse order in which takes place the transition from their condition as Osiris in the Re. The highlight of this trip will take place in the lobby, where the " Outing the day " the glorified and merged with the looming on the horizon Sonnenkönigin takes place.

Rescue of the wall paintings

The bad porous rock, in which the grave of Nefertari into beaten, but also effects of water and the dissolved salts have led to his image jewelry has been severely affected and most recently with colored decals to solve all the plaster panels of the walls threatened.

Since September 1985, the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation (EAO ) and the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI ) in Malibu tried to save the endangered paintings that were about 20 percent irretrievably destroyed already at this time. The large-scale action came to an end after seven years of research and five years of restoration work in the spring of 1992.


The Queen Nefertari at Senetspiel

The God Re - Harachte and the goddess Hathor

The Queen Nefertari in prayer position