You’d be forgiven for thinking that the KV5 level of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation was rather dull and forgettable. There are no real tombs to explore, no noteworthy treasures to find and you spend most of your time driving a jeep through sand dunes, dodging grenades, and avoiding deadly spike pits. Perhaps the level designers just didn’t realize that the real KV5 would turn out to be the largest tomb ever found in the Valley of the Kings.
KV5, which stands for “King’s Valley 5”, is a huge subterranean rock-cut tomb in the Valley of the Kings that was originally built for the many sons (and possibly also daughters) of Ramses II. It was first recorded by the British Egyptologist James Burton in 1825 and later visited by Howard Carter but since the outermost chambers were full of centuries’ worth of flood debris (some of which had been dumped there by Carter in the early 1900s), both men dismissed it out of hand, completely unaware of what lay beyond the rubble. The tomb’s true importance and scale were not known until 1995, when the Theban Mapping Project, led by Dr. Kent R. Weeks, cleared the outer chambers and discovered long corridors leading deep into the hillside. The team had unwittingly made one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in Egypt since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.
Since 1995, over 100 chambers have been mapped but only a small percentage of these have been cleared of debris and archaeologists expect that this work will continue for years to come. KV5 has proved to be an extremely expensive tomb to excavate due to its scale and its high maintenance and conservation costs (many of the chambers have been badly damaged by flooding) but it has yielded some spectacular finds, including painted reliefs of King Ramses’ sons and the Egyptian gods, a rock-cut image of the god Osiris, and a large 16-pillared hall thought to be the largest chamber in any of the tombs found in the valley to date. And who knows what archaeologists will discover when they’ve finally cleared the tomb of debris. Perhaps Ms Croft should have spent less time driving around the desert like a maniac and more time exploring KV5’s labyrinthine corridors…
Sources & Further Reading:
- Kent Weeks and the Theban Mapping Project (Tour Egypt)
- KV5 (Wikipedia)
- KV5 Excavation (Theban Mapping Project)
- KV5 Finds (Theban Mapping Project)
- KV5 History (Theban Mapping Project)
- KV5: Sons of Ramses II (Theban Mapping Project)
- The Tomb of Ramesses II’s Sons, Part I (Tour Egypt)
- The Tomb of Ramesses II’s Sons, Part II (Tour Egypt)
- Arte-Factual: The Times Exclusive Level: Anubis Shrine
- Arte-Factual: Tomb Raider I: Egyptian Cat Statue
- Lara’s Travels: Tomb of Semerkhet
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