Egypt: KV1, the Tomb of Ramesses VII in the Valley of the Kings

KV1, the Tomb of Ramesses VII in the Valley of the Kings

by Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews

Distant view of KV1 Entrance

Like some of the other Ramesside tombs KV1 has been open since antiquity, at least since Greek and Roman times. It was mentioned in more recent times by Wilkinson, Lane, Hay and other 19th century travelers. Later still, Davis may have done some work in the tomb between 1905 and 1906, but there is no information on its actual clearing earlier in the 20th century. The tomb may have seen some clearing activity by the Egyptian Antiquities department after 1952.

Since 1984, Edwin Brock has worked the tomb intermittently, at first clearing the pit in the burial chamber floor. However, the tomb underwent some restoration and cleaning by the SCA in 1994, when a new path was put in place. They cleaned the tomb's walls and filled cracks in the walls and ceiling with plaster, covering up some ancient graffiti in the process. At that time, Brock cleared the area in front of the entrance down to the bedrock in an unsuccessful bid to find foundation deposits.

Close up of KV1 entrance

While the tomb appears to be open to the public, the walls and ceilings of the first corridor suffer from some cracks, though the plaster seems to be intact and is not damaged from cracks, vandalism or later graffiti. Edwin Brock tells us that:

"Until the recent work to prepare the tomb for access by tourists, the wadi in which it is located remained relatively untouched by past archaeological exploration and the site retained much the same appearance that it probably had since antiquity."

The tomb of Rameses VII Usermaatre Setepenre Meryamun (20th Dynasty) is a small tomb of typical late Ramesside plan, and can be found at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes), a little way back from the road.

KV1 Plan

A manuscript produced by Lane indicated that there were possibly terraced walls around the tomb, and Thomas believes they might have served as an ancient attempt to control flood waters.

Re-Horakhty leads Ramesses VII

Ramesses VII with Re-Horakhty

This tomb is a much smaller tomb than those of the king's recent ancestors, consisting of only one corridor and a burial chamber, with the addition of a possible unfinished room and niche beyond the burial chamber. It has been suggested that the finish of the masonry and the fine quality of the relief work indicate a planned and executed small scale tomb, perhaps dug with the realization that Ramesses VII would have little time to complete the structure.

While the decoration in KV1 are similar to those of Rameses VI's tomb (KV9), there are some significant variations. Here, we find an almost atavistic emphasis on Osiris, very traditional, with this gods iconographic presence perhaps more strongly emphasized than in any other Ramesside tomb.

Though some of the blue pigments have fallen away, the initial outer lintel was decorated with the traditional sun disc containing the scarab and flanked by Isis and Nephthys below the king's names. In the wide corridor, the fine quality relief decoration is unusual, with the Litany of Re replaced by two scenes. On the left-hand side, the king is seen before an altar offering to the falcon-headed solar god Re-Horakhty-Atum-Khepri, and on the right he stand before Ptah-Sokar-Osiris and there is a hymn to the gods of the Underworld.

Barque (boat) of Re being pulled through the underworld

Further along, we find the initial scene and first division from the 'Book of Gates' (the barque of Re being pulled through the Underworld, its cabin encircled by the coils of the mehen serpent which helps to protect the solar deity) on the left, with the first scenes from the 'Book of Caverns' (the divinities paying homage to the dying sun-god) on the right. On either side the king is depicted as Osiris, being purified by the Iun-Mutef priest. The ceiling of the corridor is decorated with vultures and the king's cartouches.

The corridor leads straight into a sarcophagus hall without a well-room or antechamber. On the outer lintel of this chamber is the usual winged disc. The entrance wall illustrates two goddesses. On the right is depicted a composite goddess Sekhmet-Bubastis-Wert-Hekau and on the left we find Wert-Hekau ('Great of Magic') each facing the doorway.

Re-Horakhty and Ramesses VII

On the walls of the sarcophagus hall are scenes from the 'Book of Aker' (the double-headed lion which symbolizes the horizon) and the 'Book of the Earth'. The selection of text is very similar to that found in the tomb of Ramesses VI. The north wall depicts Osiris as 'Chief of the Westerners'. An astronomical ceiling features a double scene of the goddess Nut stretching across the heavens and constellations, not unlike similar scenes found in the tombs of Seti I through Ramesses III.

Beyond the burial chamber is a small chamber with a niche. It's outer walls show the king facing the doorway on each side and making offering to aspects of Osiris on the inner walls. The wall above the niche illustrates the barque of the sun containing baboons from the 'Book of Gates' supported by djed-pillars on the sides of the niche.

The sarcophagus box cover

The sarcophagus was cut directly into the floor of the tomb and over this hollow was placed a massive stone covering, roughly shaped like a cartouche (actually a sarcophagus box), decorated with the usual lightly incised figures of Isis, Nephthys, Selkis and the Four Sons of Horus in green paint. This is still in place, with an opening at its foot where the body of the king was removed. Two circular pits cut into each of the long sides at floor level may have been intended for canopic jars.

Otherwise, little else has been found in this tomb. It has been reported that several ushabtis (funerary statuettes) made of wood, calcite and faience were discovered in the burial pit of the tomb. Other items include some 20th Dynasty amphora pottery fragments and ostraca, including sketches of the tomb decoration discovered by Brock. Brock also recovered similar material as that found in the burial pit near the tomb entrance, including basket fragments, a floral garland and fragments of an amphora with a five line hieratic text on one side and a caricature of a serving scene on the other. There have also been potsherds discovered from a period when the tomb was reused by Coptic Christians.

The mummy of Rameses VII has not yet been found. Four faience cups bearing the king's name were found near the DB320 mummy cache that may suggest his is one of the unidentified bodies of that find.

General Site Information

  • Structure: KV 1
  • Location: Valley of the Kings, East Valley, Thebes West Bank, Thebes
  • Owner: Rameses VII
  • Other designations: 1 [Hay], 1 [Lepsius], 7 [Champollion], A [Pococke], Ier Tombeau
    l'ouest [Description], O [Burton]
  • Site type: Tomb


  • Axis in degrees: 327.72
  • Axis orientation: Northwest

Site Location

  • Latitude: 25.44 N
  • Longitude: 32.36 E
  • Elevation: 171.219 msl
  • North: 99,803.743
  • East: 94,006.256
  • JOG map reference: NG 36-10
  • Modern governorate: Qena (Qina)
  • Ancient nome: 4th Upper Egyptian
  • Surveyed by TMP: Yes


  • Maximum height: 4.25 m
  • Minimum width: 2.74 m
  • Maximum width: 5.17 m
  • Total length: 44.3 m
  • Total area: 163.56 m
  • Total volume: 463.01 m

Additional Tomb Information

  • Entrance location: End of spur
  • Owner type: King
  • Entrance type: Ramp
  • Interior layout: Corridor and chambers
  • Axis type: Straight


  • Graffiti
  • Painting
  • Sunk relief

Categories of Objects Recovered

  • Architectural elements
  • Domestic equipment
  • Furniture
  • Tomb equipment
  • Vegetal remains
  • Vessel stands
  • Written documents


History of Exploration

  • Pococke, Richard (1737-1738): Mapping/planning
  • Napoleonic Expedition (1799): Mapping/planning (plan and section, and recording of
    decoration details)
  • Burton, James (1825): Mapping/planning
  • Wilkinson, John Gardner (1825-1828): Visit
  • Hay, Robert (1825-1835): Mapping/planning (drawings of tomb and sarcophagus)
  • Lane, Edward William (1826-1827): Visit
  • Franco-Tuscan Expedition (1828-1829): Epigraphy
  • Lepsius, Carl Richard (1844-1845): Epigraphy
  • Ayrton, Edward Russell (1906): Excavation (reopening of the tomb and removal of the
    coffin containing the mummy of Rameses VII to the Cairo Museum, filled in entrance
    to tomb, the location of which was then forgotten)
  • Service des Antiquits (1952 (or later)): Excavation
  • Piankoff, Alexandre (1958): Photography
  • Brock, Edwin C. (1983-1984, 1990, 1994): Excavation (search of burial pit, dump, and foundation deposit for the Royal Ontario Museum)






Reference Number

Chronicle of the Pharaohs (The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt)

Clayton, Peter A.


Thames and Hudson Ltd

ISBN 0-500-05074-0

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

Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian


Oxford University Press

ISBN 0-19-815034-2