Early Western Civilization

Egyptologists had lost interest in the site of tomb 5, which had been
explored and looted decades ago. Therefore, they wanted to give way to
a parking lot. However, no one would have ever known the treasure that
lay only 200 ft. from King Tut’s resting place which was beyond a few
rubble strewn rooms that previous excavators had used to hold their
debris.

Dr. Kent Weeks, an Egyptologist with the American University in Cairo,
wanted to be sure the new parking facility wouldn’t destroy anything
important. Thus, Dr. weeks embarked in 1988 on one final exploration of
the old dumping ground. Eventually he was able to pry open a door
blocked for thousands of years, and announced the discovery of a life
time. "We found ourselves in a corridor," he remembers. "On each side
were 10 doors and at end there was a statue of Osiris, the god of the
afterlife."

The tomb is mostly unexcavated and the chambers are choked with debris,
Weeks is convinced that there are more rooms on a lower level, bringing
the total number to more than 100. That would make tomb 5 the biggest
and most complex tomb ever found in Egypt, and quite conceivable the
resting place of up to 50 sons of Ramesses II, perhaps the best known of
all the pharaohs, the ruler believed to have been Moses’nemesis in the
book of Exodus.

The Valley of the Kings, in which Tomb 5 is located, is just across
the Nile River from Luxor, Egypt. It is never exactly been off the
beaten track. Tourism has been brisk in the valley for millenniums:
graffiti scrawled on tomb walls proves that Greek and Roman travelers
stopped here to gaze at the wall paintings and hieroglyphics that were
already old long before the birth of Christ. Archaeologists have been
coming for centuries too. Napoleon brought his own team of excavators
when he invaded in 1798, and a series of expeditions in 19th and early
20th centuries uncovered one tomb after another. A total of 61 burial
spots had been found by the time the British explorer Howard Carter
opened the treasure-laden tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922.

Britain’s James Burton had burrowed into the site of Tomb 5 in 1820,
and decided that there was nothing inside. A dismissive Carter used its
entryway as a place to dump the debris he was hauling out of Tut’s tomb.

In the late 1980s, came the proposed parking area and Weeks’ concern.
His 1988 foray made it clear that the tomb wasn’t dull as Burton said.
Elaborate carvings covered walls and referred to Ramesses II, whose
own tomb was just 100 ft. away. The wall inscriptions on the companion
crypt mentioned two of Ramesses’52 known sons, implying some of the
royal offspring might have been buried within. Then, came last month’s
astonishing announcement.

For treasure, the tomb probably won’t come to close to Tut’s because
robbers apparently plundered the chamber long time ago. No gold or fine
jewelry has been found so far, and Weeks does not expect to find any
riches to speak of. The carvings and inscriptions Weeks and his friends
have seen, along with thousands of artifacts such as beads, fragments of
jars that were used to store the organs of the deceased, and mummified
body parts which tell historians a great amount about ancient Egypt
during the reign of its most important king. "Egyptians do not call him
Ramesses II," Sabry Abd El Aziz, director of antiquities for the Qurna
region said. " We call him Ramesses al-Akbar which means Ramesses the
Great."

During his 67 years on the throne stretching from 1279 B.C. to 1212 B.
C., Ramesses could have filled an ancient edition of the Guinness Book
of Records all by himself: he built more temples, obelisks and
monuments; took more wives(eight, not counting concubines) and claimed
to have sired more children (as many as 162, by some accounts) than any
other pharaoh in history. He presided over an empire that stretched
from present-day Libya to Iraq in the east, as far north as Turkey and
southward into the Sudan.

Today, historians know a great deal about Ramesses and the customs of
his day. However, the newly explored tomb suddenly presents scholars
with all sort of puzzles to ponder. For one thing, many of the tombs in
the Valley of the Kings are syringe-like, plunging straight as a needle
into the steep hillsides. For reasons nobody yet knows, says Weeks,
this one "is more like an octopus, with a body surrounded by