Egypt: KV20, The Tomb of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis I In the Valley of the Kings

KV20, The Tomb of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis I

In the Valley of the Kings

Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews

KV20, The Tomb of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis I

Tomb KV20 in the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) is believed by many Egyptologists to have been the original Tomb of Tuthmosis I, thought it seems that his famous daughter, Hatshepsut was also interred there as well. The tomb has been known for well over a century. It was at least noted by both the early French Expedition to Egypt and by Belzoni, the strong man of Egyptology. In 1824, James Burton attempted to clear the tomb, but was only able to advance as for as the second staircase before the hardness of the fill, the poor structural condition of the tomb, and the bad air forced him to stop his work. Afterwards, the discoverer of Tutankhamun's tomb, Howard Carter, also attempted a clearance, and succeeded in discovering a range of inscribed fragments, as well as a foundation deposit. Specifically, the foundation deposits were inscribed with the name of Hatshepsut suggesting that she was the tomb owner.

KV20, The Tomb of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis I

From this, and the double sarcophagi found within, he concluded that the queen regent had the tomb built for herself as well as her father, Tuthmosis I, who she had transferred from his original tomb thought to be KV38. Not until some 70 years later did John Romer's study of the Tuthmosid royal tombs in 1974 prove Carter wrong. Based on his study, it was demonstrated that the design of KV38 was most likely several years newer than KV20, and that KV38 probably dated to the reign of Tuthmosis III. Hence, it was probably a secondary burial for the first of the Tuthmosid kings.

KV20, The Tomb of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis I

K20 was most likely quarried by Ineni, the fairly well known architect of Tuthmosis I, but was probably not finished as of the time of the king's death, only extending to the first large chamber. The remainder of this winding, deep tomb with its pillared hall and annexes seems to have been finished by Hatshepsut to allow her burial there as well. In fact, the additions of the new chambers' architecture and design are considerably different than the earlier construction, with even some similarities to her mortuary temple at nearby Deir el-Bahri. Later, Hatshepsut's stepson, Tuthmosis III, who Egyptologists traditionally believe hated her for stealing his kingship of Egypt, had his grandfather moved to KV38.

KV20, The Tomb of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis I

The tomb winds for over 213 meters (699 feet) from its entrance, east, until reaching the double burial chamber at a level of about 97 meters (318 feet) below the Valley's surface. The corridors in general form a wide U shape, finally taking a turn back towards the direction of the entrance (west) facing the bay of Deir el-Bahri. Along the way, two stairwell chambers about equidistantly spaced have an irregular shape but are not unlike those found in KV38. Even the lower antechamber is similar in many was to the later tomb, and may have originally been intended as the main burial chamber. However, a short stairway corridor, very different architecturally from those preceding it, continues out of this room from about the halfway point of the right hand wall, which then communicates with the final burial hall.

This burial hall was cut around three centrally aligned pillars with two low roofed annexes extending out from it more or less in a northern direction, and a final storage annex to the west. Within the burial chamber, the shale walls are not suitable for decorations, but blocks inscribed in black and red depicting somewhat crude, stick figures scenes from the Amduat were probably meant to line the chamber's walls. They are not unlike the blocks found in Tuthmosis III's tomb.

KV20, The Tomb of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis I

Howard Carter seems to have harvested most of the artifacts associated with the tomb. Other than his finds, only a fragmentary shabti figure now in The Hague may have come from the tomb, and if so, it would represent the only such artifact known from Hetshepsut. Other than the single foundation deposit of Hatshepsut that Carter found at the entrance to the tomb, most of his other finds, which were numerous, were fragmentary. They included parts of funerary furniture, broken stone vessels inscribed with the name of Ahmose-Nofretri, Tuthmosis I, Queen Ahmose and Hatshepsut. Other items included potsherds, bits of faience, small pieces of inlay work and burnt pieces of the face and foot of a large wooden statue that was covered in bitmen. Most of these items were discovered in the burial chamber itself. Of course, he also discovered the sarcophagus of Tuthmosis I, originally built and inscribed for Hatshepsut (now in Boston), a second sarcophagus intended for Hatshepsut herself, as well as a canopic chest also inscribed for her.

Neither Tuthmosis I or Hatshepsut's body was found within the tomb. In fact, unless a fairly recently removed from KV60 ends up being that of Hatshepsut, hers remains missing. Tuthmosis I's body, on the other hand, was discovered in the Royal Cache of mummies found at Deir el-Bahri.

Notation: Regardless of the above referenced article, entrance to this tomb is generally not granted to visitors.

General Site Information

  • Structure: KV 20

  • Location: Valley of the Kings, East Valley, Thebes West Bank, Thebes

  • Owner: Tuthmosis I and Hatshepsut

  • Other designations: 20 [Lepsius], 7 [Hay], Commencement de grotte taille circulairement dans le rocher [Description], R [Burton]

  • Site type: Tomb


  • Axis in degrees: 94.04

  • Axis orientation: East

Site Location

  • Latitude: 25.44 N

  • Longitude: 32.36 E

  • Elevation: 197.51 msl

  • North: 99,556.847

  • East: 94,314.712

  • JOG map reference: NG 36-10

  • Modern governorate: Qena (Qina)

  • Ancient nome: 4th Upper Egypt

  • Surveyed by TMP: Yes


  • Maximum height: 4.53 m

  • Minimum width: 0.69 m

  • Maximum width: 7.17 m

  • Total length: 210.32 m

  • Total area: 513.29 m

  • Total volume: 1094.63 m

Additional Tomb Information

  • Entrance location: Base of sheer cliff

  • Owner type: King

  • Entrance type: Staircase

  • Interior layout: Corridors and chambers

  • Axis type: Bent


  • Painting

Categories of Objects Recovered
  • Architectural elements

  • Jewelry

  • Sculpture

  • Tomb equipment

  • Vessels


History of Exploration

  • Napoleonic Expedition (1799): Mapping/planning

  • Belzoni, Giovanni Battista (1817): Mapping/planning

  • Burton, James (1825): Excavation (clearance into corridor D1)

  • Burton, James (1825): Mapping/planning

  • Lepsius, Carl Richard (1844-1845): Mapping/planning

  • Carter, Howard (1903-1904): Excavation (conducted for Theodore M. Davis)

See Also:

The Lost Feeling, Or was it a Mummy?






Reference Number

Complete Valley of the Kings, The (Tombs and Treasures of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs)

Reeves, Nicholas; Wilkinson, Richard H.


Thames and Hudson Ltd

IBSN 0-500-05080-5

History of Ancient Egypt, A

Grimal, Nicolas



None Stated

Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian


Oxford University Press

ISBN 0-19-815034-2