Pharaoh Seti I's Tomb Bigger Than Thought

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During this process they rewrapped and reburied the royal dead in hidden cachette tombs, such as that of Amenhotep II, located near the tomb of Seti I.

They also filled in the deep shafts typically cut into the ground of the tomb after the second entry corridor. The shafts—known as wells—were filled in to make removing heavy objects from the tomb easier.

These shafts likely served the ceremonial purpose of establishing a direct connection with the underworld, but also had a practical advantage: flood protection.

"These shafts would catch the rainwater if it did get in the tomb," Johnson said.

"It would catch [rainwater] before it went to the burial chamber and divert it downward. But [many of] these [shafts] got filled in order to drag the sarcophagi out, and they didn't clear them out."

The filled-in shafts left tombs susceptible to flooding from rainwater. Other locations in the Valley of the Kings, such as KV5 and the tomb of Ramses II, show signs of such flooding, Johnson said.

(Related: Surprise Finds at Egypt Temple 'Change Everything'" [December 17, 2007].)

After torrential rains in 1994, the SCA built protective raised edges on the front of all the royal tombs as protection from rainfall.

An All-Egyptian Team

The objects found in the tomb of Seti I would have washed into the tunnel long before the side chamber to the tomb collapsed during excavations nearly 50 years ago by the Abdul Rasul family.

Until the current excavation, the tomb was deemed too dangerous to enter because a small section of the vaulted ceiling of the burial chamber had since collapsed.

The excavation is the first discovery by an all-Egyptian archaeological team in the Valley of Kings. Foreign archaeologists have traditionally led missions in the past two centuries.

The team of five archaeologists and one geologist is also looking for other tombs. They believe they could find the tomb of Ramses VIII (circa 1150 B.C.) near the tomb of Merenptah (1225-1215 B.C.) because ancient graffiti indicates a tomb in that location.

"The Valley of the Kings still has a lot of mysteries and a lot of tombs that need to be excavated," Boraik, of Luxor Antiquities, said. "All of the scholarship has not been exhausted."

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