In 2008 the number of graves in the Valley of the Kings increased. The Valley of the Kings: now 65 royal graves of ancient Egypt.
It’s been five years, but the two graves still don’t have names. Others are named for their inhabitants – Tutankhamun or Ramesses II. But the two tombs found in 2008 are just numbered: KV64 and KV65.
KV64 has been opened. KV65 is still untouched.
The official reason is that the entrance is unstable; it could break and bury those entering the tomb.
The real reason that KV65 is still not opened is that the archeologists fear what they might find inside. More exactly: They fear that they might find an empty grave.
KV64 was opened twice, first two days after it was found and then again two days later. No official would admit either of those openings, and if you step through the sand past the large, well-known graves, search for the small metal plaque and look at the seemingly unbroken seal you might think that the mummy is still undisturbed as it has been for 3500 years.
But then you move closer, your courage overcomes your fear of the penalties written on the small metal plaque, you just want to touch it for a moment. Your finger moves and gently touches the rope – and right away you recognize the plastic. It is artfully recreated to look like the original seal, but the moment you touch it you know that the grave had recent visitors.
As said, those visitors came in 2008. And for all we know the mummy has been undisturbed since then.
But you might still wonder why KV65 has not been opened yet. The reason is simple:
When they opened KV64 there was no mummy.
A team of four men and two women went inside. A black tent covered the entrance to avoid sand and curious looks. Two guards stood outside.
They broke the seal and carefully pushed the large stone blocks aside. The team leader, Orin, a seasoned Egyptian archeologist in his 50s, went first. A bright flashlight in his hand he stepped forward through the narrow corridor, admired the murals. The others followed.
A second stone wall stood in their way. They took photographs, then three men pushed against it until it moved.
They found an untouched grave. The murals still shone bright, the golden offerings for the afterlife still stood on the floor. And the clay jugs that contained the mummy’s organs were still in their place. The sarcophagus, carefully sealed, stood in the middle of the room on a stone pedestal.
They took photos of it all, the murals, the burial objects, the clay jugs and the sarcophagus. Then they went to the most exciting task.
Orin gave the command, the women took photos, the other three men pushed the heavy lid. It took three attempts to move it at all – then it slid smoothly, nearly without friction off the lower half of the sarcophagus.
The held their breath. Everything was in place: The golden mask, the scepters and insignia, the bandages. Just one thing was missing: the mummy.
The bandages were carefully arranged, as if around a body. But they lay flat with no body between the white linen.
The research team was at the same time shocked and excited. Shocked because they had expected a mummy, they had expected fame and newspaper articles, maybe even the chance to write a book. But they were also excited because of the riddle, the mysterious arrangement of valuables in an empty grave.
One of the women carefully placed a clay jar in a cushioned box. They wanted to date the grave.
They took more photos, some just of the objects, some with proud postures.
Then they left the grave, sealed it with a metal gate and said goodbye to the guards.
They celebrated the night with seafood and wine. They debated wildly, curiously on how to solve the riddle and where the mummy might be hidden. They had found other graves, such with more mummies than expected – maybe one of them belonged to KV64?
They moved to a hotel room. They analyzed the photos of murals and symbols – but nothing made sense.
An hour before midnight they decided to sleep. Orin went home, the others, being only guests, stayed in the hotel.
In the morning they noticed that the clay jug was gone. The cushioned box was still there and still sealed – just the contents were missing.
Fingers were pointed; loud accusations made. They called Orin to mediate and solve the riddle. He had gone home. They were sure that he could not be at fault.
Orin didn’t pick up the phone. Only in the evening, when his wife got home, did they learn that Orin had not come home.
The five worried about the traitor. They thought he could have sold the jug already – with the right buyer it could have been worth a retirement.
But they were even more worried that Orin might have gone back; that he might have stolen more from the grave.
The next day they returned to the tomb. The guards were surprised – they had been told it would at least be a week until the return. But they assured the team that they had been on guard, that no one had come near the tomb.
They were relieved, still they pressed on. They opened the metal door they had placed above the original entrance – and were surprised to find the stones back in place.
The seal, too, was in its original state.
In disbelief they checked whether they were at the right grave. The maps and signs were identical. The guards assured them that they had been at the same grave before.
They pushed the stones aside.
They walked through the corridor. The murals seemed brighter than before.
They pushed the second stone door open.
The sarcophagus was closed. The clay jugs were all in their place.
One of the women picked the first clay jug up and placed it again in the cushioned box they had brought along. She told the others that the jug felt heavier than before.
They noted a sweet smell.
Again the three men pushed the sarcophagus open.
This time the women didn’t take photos.
And this time they found a mummy.
This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.