KV8 (Tomb of Merenptah)

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The tomb KV8, located in the Valley of the Kings, was used for the burial of Pharaoh Merenptah of Ancient Egypt's Nineteenth Dynasty.

See Subject Home > Middle East > Egypt > Valley of the Kings > Tombs > KV8 (Tomb of Merenptah)


Mereneptah was the 11th son of King Ramses II and Queen Isis-Nofret. He was an old man and he ascended the throne after the long rule of his father. He ruled for only about ten years, but his tomb was completed before his death and only the rearmost chambers beyond the burial chamber were left undecorated and roughly cut. The Tomb of Merneptah is the second largest one in the Valley of the Kings, exceeded only by Tomb KV5.

Merenptah’s tomb became model for royal tombs at the decline of dynasties XIX and XX. The tomb design, although large, is simpler than that of Merenptah’s father and grandfather.

The tomb KV8 is one of many tombs in the Valley of the Kings that has been damaged by flash floods. Most of the tomb has been excavated, but the side chambers off the burial chamber are still full of debris, as are parts of the side chambers. The paint and plaster that survived the floods are in good condition. It was not until 1903 that the rear half of the tomb was excavated; and the Burial Chamber was not excavated until 1987.

Tomb Layout

circa 1195 BCE

KV8 is large in size, but its design is simpler than the tombs of Merneptah’s grandfather and father. The tomb has a staircase and two descending corridors. Although most paintings decorating the corridors have been damaged by flooding, the ones that were remaining in the reliefs are very beautiful.

circa 1195 BCE

Corridor D
The walls are decorated but have been flood damaged. The ceiling is painted blue with yellow stars to represent the night sky. Along the sides of Corridor D, on the left wall, there is the fourth hour of the Imyduat and on the right, there is the fifth hour.

circa 1195 BCE

Well Chamber E
A number of figures are depicted on the upper parts of the well shaft walls. Entering in the chamber, on the the front wall of the chamber, Pharaoh Merneptah stands on the left of the door, Osiris on the right. On the rear wall, Anubis is on the left, the King as Iwnmute on the right. On the left wall, there are finely painted standing figures (inspect) of Imsety, Duamutef, Anubis, Khery-Baqef, Isis, and Neith. On the right, god Hapy is followed by Qebehesnuef, Anubis, Nephthys, and Serqet.

circa 1195 BCE

Pillared Chamber F
Two pillars flank the central descent, and short flights of steps lead up from either side of the descent to the level floor of this pillared hall. Traces on the ceiling indicate the original presence of another pair of pillars that flanked the descent. The remains of painted plaster on the ceiling still covering the traces of one of these missing pillars indicates that they were removed before the decoration was completed.

This chamber is decorated with scenes from the ‘Book of Gates’ with a winged Ma’at on the lintel above. On a pillar on the left-hand side the king wears a Nemes headdress and stands before Ptah – and between the figures Greek and Roman graffiti can be seen, left by early visitors to the tomb.

A side-chamber opens to the right of the hall with depictions of the Four Sons of Horus with Isis and Nephthys, and two serpent goddesses on the rear wall.

circa 1195 BCE

Burial Chamber J
The sunken floor of the central portion of the burial chamber is flanked on the front (east) and rear (west) by a row of four pillars set in the upper level. Six steps lead down from the entrance to a sunken floor in the middle of the chamber and recesses and magical brick niches are spaced along the front and rear walls of the granite sarcophagus lid, surmounted by a mummiform effigy of Merneptah.

There are two rows of four pillars each stands before and after the lowered central floor. The front wall of the chamber is decorated with the ninth hour of the Book of the Gates. On the right wall are scenes from the Book of Caverns and more of the Book of the Earth. On the left and rear walls are the twelfth hour of the Book of Gates and excerpts from the Book of the Earth. Only the barest traces remain of the elaborate astronomical vaulted ceiling.


circa 1195 BCE

At the time of burial the mummy of Merneptah was originally held by a set of four nested sarcophagi. The outer most sarcophagus was so voluminous that parts of the corridor had to have their doorjambs demolished and rebuilt to allow it to be brought in. These jambs were then rebuilt with the help of inscribed sandstone blocks which were then fixed into their place with dovetail cramps. The pillars in Chamber F were removed to allow passage of the sarcophagus, only two were replaced.

Tomb Decorations

circa 1195 BCE

Generally, the decoration of the Tomb of Merneptah is similar to that of the tombs of his father, Rameses II, and his grandfather, Sety I. The workmanship is of a good quality. Though damaged by floods, the paint still shows traces of fine, bright blue-green, yellow, and red pigments.

Originally only the access staircase and two descending corridors were decorated and although the paintings were badly damaged by flooding there are some very beautiful painted reliefs in the first corridor.

In the entrance on the outer lintel (inspect) a sun disc flanked by the goddesses Isis and Nephthys contain a ram-headed god and the Kheper beetle, and on the architrave the god Heh is seen kneeling with Isis and Hathor making ‘nini’.

The first corridor depicts inscribed passages from sacred burial texts, one with an interesting disc similar to that on the lintel, but with the crocodile, serpent and horned creature, enemies of the gods, around it. The walls of these corridors show scenes from the ‘Litany of Re’, the Amduat, the ‘Book of Gates’ and the ‘Book of the Dead’ and the ceilings depict astronomical scenes.


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