Egypt: Tomb of Tausert and Setnakht, Valley of the Kings, Egypt

The Tomb of Tausert and Setnakht

by Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews

The tomb of Tausert (Tawosret) and Setnakht (Sethnakhte) (KV 14) is surely one of the most unusual tombs in the Valley of the Kings, as is the story behind this tomb. It is also one of the largest tombs in the Valley, encompassing two complete burial chambers. The tomb has been open and known since antiquity. Between 1983 and 1987, it was studied in detail by Hartwig Altenmiller.

This tomb was originally built by Tausert, a queen and wife of Sethos II who would later rule Egypt as Pharaoh. It shows four distinct phases of construction, beginning when Tausert was still simply the queen. The construction was thus originally ordered by Seti II. The second phase of construction occurred after the death of Seti II, under the reign of King Siptah, who allowed the construction to go on much as Seti II had instructed. During this period, a sarcophagus hall was created for the tomb, but was not of course designed as a king's burial chamber. Around 1190 BC, Tausert became the co-regent of Siptah, accepting the royal regalia and and began work on the second burial chamber with the proper dimensions for a king. In fact, the entrance to the tomb and the corridors had to be enlarged to accommodate the size of what was now to be a royal coffin. Around 1187 BC, Queen Tausert actually ascended to the thrown of Egypt as Pharaoh, and she ordered modifications to the tomb to reflect her exclusive royal status.

The Final Scene from the Book of Caverns

However, this is only part of the story. Setnakht, the father of Ramesses III had created his own tomb, KV 11 in the Valley of the Kings, as was the normal custom for kings of this period. While KV 11 was unfinished at the time of the king's death, there appears to have been plenty of time for it to be completed prior to the Kings burial. Yet, and apparently against the final wishes of his father, Ramesses III decided at the last minute to have his father interred in the tomb of Tausert, rather than his own. In fact, Ramesses III, against the current custom, would likewise not build his own tomb, but take his fathers original tomb as his own (KV 11). We know nothing about his reasoning on these sharp departures from custom. Almost all the other Pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings built their own tombs, which they then occupied upon their deaths. However, KV 14 is not really Setnakht's tomb at all, as it was almost exclusively built for Tausert.

Typically, the first part of the tomb includes an entrance and three corridors that lead to a ritual shaft and then a small hall with no pillars. A fourth corridor leads to a small antechamber and then to the first burial chamber with several annexes. Just past this burial chamber are several more annexes and then two more corridors that lead to the second burial chamber, which also has four annexes and a corridor leading off from its rear. Both the first and the second burial chambers have eight pillars. Interestingly, the axis of the tomb approximates an east-west alignment, but the various extensions constructed at different times shift slightly in their orientation.

In the first corridor, we find images of Tausert before deities, though some of these have been usurped to show a king rather than Tausert herself. These images appear to be about the only decorations which were changed for Setnakht. Most of the remaining decorative plan remained the same, with the exception that most of the places where the queens image or name appears, the area was plastered over and painted with king Setnakht's image and name.

Within the second and third corridors are passages from the Book of the Dead and in the ritual shaft are images of various deities. In the first small hall are again scenes from the Book of the Dead, and in the following antechamber are images of deities.Just prior to the antechamber to the first burial chamber, we find scenes from the Opening of the Mouth ritual. The first burial chamber has scenes from the Book of Gates and the closing scenes from the Book of Caverns, along with an astronomical ceiling.

After the first burial chamber, the corridors are decorated with scenes from the Amduat, and the second burial chamber has an astronomical ceiling, along with scenes from the Book of Gates on its walls. Very little in the way of funerary equipment was found in this tomb, other then a smashed sarcophagus.

General Site Information

  • Structure: KV 14
  • Location: Valley of the Kings, East Valley, Thebes West Bank, Thebes
  • Owner: Tausert and Setnakht
  • Other designations: 14 [Lepsius], 20, S [Hay], 9 [Champollion], C [Burton], H, plan G
    [Pococke], Ve Tombeau l'ouest [Description]
  • Site type: Tomb


  • Axis in degrees: 264
  • Axis orientation: West

Site Location

  • Latitude: 25.44 N
  • Longitude: 32.36 E
  • Elevation: 186.83 msl
  • North: 99,387.387
  • East: 93,982.717
  • JOG map reference: NG 36-10
  • Modern governorate: Qena (Qina)
  • Ancient nome: 4th Upper Egypt
  • Surveyed by TMP: Yes


  • Maximum height: 6.01 m
  • Minimum width: 0.89 m
  • Maximum width: 13.31 m
  • Total length: 158.41 m
  • Total area: 628.55 m
  • Total volume: 2128.83 m

Additional Tomb Information

  • Entrance location: Base of sheer cliff
  • Owner type: King
  • Entrance type: Ramp
  • Interior layout: Corridors and chambers
  • Axis type: Straight


  • Graffiti
  • Painting
  • Sunk relief
Categories of Objects Recovered
  • Tomb equipment


History of Exploration

  • Pococke, Richard (1737-1738): Mapping/planning
  • Napoleonic Expedition (1799): Epigraphy
  • Burton, James (1825): Mapping/planning
  • Franco-Tuscan Expedition (1828-1829): Epigraphy
  • Lepsius, Carl Richard (1844-1845): Epigraphy
  • Service des Antiquits (1893-1895): Excavation
  • Altenmller, Hartwig (1983-1987): Excavation (conducted for the University of Hamburg)


Title Author Date Publisher Reference Number
Complete Valley of the Kings, The (Tombs and Treasures of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs) Reeves, Nicholas; Wilkinson, Richard H. 1966 Thames and Hudson Ltd IBSN 0-500-05080-5
Valley of the Kings Weeks, Kent R. 2001 Friedman/Fairfax ISBN 1-5866-3295-7
Valley of the Kings Heyden, A. Van Der Al Ahram/Elsevier