Egypt: The Tomb of Ramesses I, Valley of the Kings, Egypt

The Tomb of Ramesses I, Valley of the Kings, Egypt

by Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews

The tomb of Ramesses I, founder of the great lineage of Ramessid rulers, is one of the smallest in the Valley of the Kings. Ramesses I was a soldier chosen by Horemheb, who also began his career as a soldier, to be his successor. Ramesses I is regarded as the first ruler of Egypt's 19th Dynasty, but only ruled for less than two years.

The tomb (KV 16) was discovered on or before October 11, 1817 by Giovanni Battista Belzoni just before his discovery of the much more significant tomb of Seti I. It is located in a small lateral valley perpendicular to the main Valley of the Kings Wadi. While small, the tomb has wall paintings of excellent workmanship. Belzoni tell us that:

"Having proceeded through a passage thirty-two feet long, and eight feed wide, I descended a staircase of twenty-eight feet, and reached a tolerably large and well-painted room...seventeen feet long, and twenty-one wide. The ceiling was in good preservation, but not in the best style. We found a sarcophagus of granite, with two mummies in it, and in a corner a statue standing erect, six feet six inches high, and beautifully cut out of sycamore-wood: it is nearly perfect except the nose. We found also a number of little images of wood, well carved, representing symbolical figures. Some had a lion's head, others a fox's, others a monkey's. One had a land-tortoise instead of a head. We found a calf with the head of a hippopotamus. At each side of this chamber is a smaller one, eight feed wide, and seven feet long; and at the end of it another chamber, ten feet long by seven wide. In the chamber on our right hand we found another statue like the first, but not perfect. No doubt they had been placed one on each side of the sarcophagus, holding a lamp or some offering in their hands, one hand being stretched out in the proper posture for this and the other hanging down. The sarcophagus was covered with hieroglyphics merely painted, or outlined: it faced south-east by east."

The Tomb of Ramesses I, Valley of the Kings, Egypt

The Tomb of Ramesses I, Valley of the Kings, Egypt

The tomb is rectilinear in structure with only a single corridor, unlike most the rest of the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The corridor is located between two descending sets of stairways, and is the shortest of any royal tomb in the valley. The second set of stars opens directly into the burial chamber. A large, granite sarcophagus dominates the burial chamber. The paintings on the sarcophagus are not finished, and were hurriedly done. The decorations of the tomb, like those of Horemheb, are related to the Book of Gates, and all have blue backgrounds. While the decorations are well done, their are no reliefs. In the burial chamber, Ramesses, presenting offerings to Atum-Re-Khepri, is led into the presence of Osiris by Horus, Atum and Neith. There is also an unusual depiction of the Pharaoh in a ceremony of jubilation between a hawk and jackal-headed figure representing the spirits of the cities of Nekhen and Pe. The burial chamber and left annex are the only rooms in the tomb that are decorated, and it is very likely that the same craftsman who worked on Horemheb's tomb also worked on this one.

The Tomb of Ramesses I, Valley of the Kings, Egypt

There are two annexes on either side of the burial chamber, along with a third annex at its rear.

The Tomb of Ramesses I, Valley of the Kings, Egypt

General Site Information

  • Structure: KV 16

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

  • Owner: Rameses I

  • Other designations: 11 [Hay], 16 [Lepsius], 2 [Champollion], 3 [Belzoni], X [Burton]

  • Site type: Tomb


  • Axis in degrees: 240.41

  • Axis orientation: Southwest

Site Location

  • Latitude: 25.44 N

  • Longitude: 32.36 E

  • Elevation: 178.032 msl

  • North: 99,564.947

  • East: 94,122.665

  • JOG map reference: NG 36-10

  • Modern governorate: Qena (Qina)

  • Ancient nome: 4th Upper Egypt

  • Surveyed by TMP: Yes


  • Maximum height: 4.96 m

  • Mininum width: 1.28 m

  • Maximum width: 6.26 m

  • Total length: 49.34 m

  • Total area: 147.94 m

  • Total volume: 283.83 m

Additional Tomb Information

  • Entrance location: Base of sloping hill

  • Owner type: King

  • Entrance type: Staircase

  • Interior layout: Corridors and chambers

  • Axis type: Straight


  • Painting

Categories of Objects Recovered

  • Human mummies

  • Sculpture

  • Tomb equipment


History of Exploration

  • Belzoni, Giovanni Battista (1817): Discovery

  • Belzoni, Giovanni Battista (1817): Excavation (conducted for Henry Salt)

  • Burton, James (1825): Mapping/planning

  • Lane, Edward William (1826-1827): Visit

  • Franco-Tuscan Expedition (1828-1829): Epigraphy

  • Lepsius, Carl Richard (1844-1845): Epigraphy

  • Piankoff, Alexandre (1957): Epigraphy






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

Guide to the Valley of the Kings

Siliotti, Alberto


Barnes & Noble Books

ISBN 0-7607-0483-x

Valley of the Kings

Weeks, Kent R.



ISBN 1-5866-3295-7

Valley of the Kings

Heyden, A. Van Der

Al Ahram/Elsevier


Last Updated: June 22nd, 2011