ARCE

Ramesses VI (KV9) Sarcophagus Conservation

Timeline   clean copy

Project Director: Dr. Edwin C. Brock
Historic era: New Kingdom, 20th Dynasty 
Project Location: Luxor
Project Duration: 2001 – 2003

From the destruction of the sarcophagus in antiquity until its restoration beginning in the summer of 2001, the hundreds of fragments making up Ramesses VI’s inner sarcophagus remained scattered around the burial chamber of KV 9. Over the millennia they had been moved from the sarcophagus pit to the platforms at the north and south ends of the burial chamber. Project Director, Dr. Edwin Brock and his team’s goal was to finally reassemble the box and lid. This set, made of green conglomerate and mummiform in shape, is one of two sarcophagi found in the tomb. The other, outer sarcophagus was broken into two pieces and remains in the sarcophagus pit.


The second box is decorated with painted figures and texts. These were documented by the project’s archaeological illustrator, Lyla Pinch-Brock. The decoration is similar to that found on royal sarcophagi of the 19th Dynasty. The decoration was partially obscured by the remains of a resinous substance poured over the sarcophagus as part of the funeral ritual. Test cleaning was carried out but yielded varying results. Due to the inconsistent results and the coating’s ancient context, it was decided not to remove any more of the material.


The face on the lid of the second sarcophagus was missing; it had been taken to England by Giovanni Batista Belzoni who collected antiquities on behalf of the British Consul, Henry Salt. Installed in the British Museum in 1823, the project commissioned a fiberglass replica. This was matched up with the lid fragments and the assembly is now on display in the back of the tomb.


In the spirit of maximizing the informative potential of the artifact by preserving it in its original context, all the work on the sarcophagus was carried out within the tomb. This included conservation, restoration, and final display. Keeping the objects in situ also minimized handling and potential wear. As a result, a significant part of the pilot season was geared towards site preparation -- the installation of an air system to reduce the circulation of dust and other irritants, temporary platforms, an overhead winch, and ramps. All fragments, their surfaces, joins and conservation, were recorded before final assembly. The sarcophagus box was built with the floor laid first, then the sides. Fragments not included in the assembly were displayed nearby.
KV 9, with the restored sarcophagus of Ramesses VI, was re-opened to the public by the Egyptian Antiquities authority on March 21, 2004.


The online publication of this project is dedicated to the memory of Edwin C. Brock and conservator Dany Roy, without whom it could never have been completed.

Statement of Responsibility:

Located in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Ramesses VI’s tomb once held hundreds of stone sarcophagus fragments, the result of the demolition of its sarcophagi in antiquity. Decorated on the exterior with painted figures and text, the mummiform inner stone sarcophagus fragments were reassembled by project director Dr. Edwin C. Brock and his team under the auspices of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE). The face of the lid, taken from the tomb in the 19th century and currently in the British Museum, was replicated and incorporated into the sarcophagus reassembly, thereby ensuring its preservation within its original context.

Conservation work was made possible with the support of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (formerly the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities).

Funding:

Ramesses VI (KV9) Sarcophagus Conservation project was made possible with funding by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Grant No. 263-G-00-93-0089-00 (formerly 263-0000-G-00-3089-00) and administered by the Egyptian Antiquities Project (EAP) of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE).

See Tomb of Ramesses VI  on Google maps here

Additional Resources: