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Kent Weeks and Tomb KV5

Recent archaeological work on the West Bank has concentrated on attempts by Dr. Kent Weeks to create a comprehensive database of tombs, temples, and archaeological sites across the Theban Necropolis. This venture, called the Theban Mapping Project (www.thebanmappingproject.com), was begun in 1978 and continues to this day. But something that happened in 1987 has overshadowed the progress of this worthy and necessary work.

While mapping the extant tombs in the Valley of the Kings, attention was turned to a small tomb at the very bottom of the valley, a tomb used as storage for the spoils unearthed by Howard Carter when he was excavating Tutankhamun's tomb. Kent and his team cleared this space and discovered a whole complex of tombs, the like of which had not been seen on the West Bank before. Long corridors leading off the initial antechamber revealed at least 150 separate carved rooms—a veritable underground palace. Weeks proposed that this tomb was built by Ramses II for his many children, and fragments of human bones found in one of the chambers proved to be those of Amun-her-khepeshef, eldest son of Ramses II, who died during his father's reign.

The tomb, called KV5, remains closed to the public as excavation work continues, partly because much of it lay under the old Valley of the Kings parking lot and the structure was weakened by the regular comings and goings of the tourist traffic above.

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