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Queen Tiyi, wife of Pharaoh Amenhotop III. Valley of the Kings

Walter Tyndale (1855-1943)



9 ½ x 6 inches

'Three Victorian Travellers', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, March-April 2024

Tyndale visited the tomb of Queen Tiyi a week after its discovery by Theodore Davis, and recorded it in Below the Cataracts:
'On peeping in my first impressions were those of surprise at the incongruity of the scene that I then beheld. An athletic and beflannelled young Englishman, with the aid of an electric burner and surrounded by tin cigarette boxes, was sorting precious stones; the light which caused the glitter on these fell also on a part of the whited walls of this sepulchre, and the grim shadow that our friend cast might have been that of a ghoul or a priest of Ammon.'
'Dazzled by the splendour of this sight I did not at first notice that the side of the coffin had fallen out, and that alongside this gorgeous effigy lay the real body of the queen. Her dried-up face, sunken cheeks, and thin, leathery-looking lips, exposing a few teeth, were in ghastly contrast to the golden diadem which encircled her head and the gold necklace that partially hid her shrunken throat. Her body was wrapped in thin gold plate, but this being broken and torn made it yet more horrible to look at. An uncomfortable feeling that it was un-chivalrous to stare at the poor creature when she was looking so far from her best brought me back to her effigy on the mummy-case with a mental apology that I regretted having taken her unawares, and in future would only think of her as she appeared in all her glory.'

The discovery of tomb KV55 and Queen Tiyi has since been and is still disputed. The mummy is now considered to be either Queen Tiyi (first wife of Amenhotep III), Akhenaten (their son) or Queen Kiyi (second wife). Sadly the amateur approaches of early Egyptologists, as Tyndale unintentionally described, and the historical defacement of the sarcophogus' face has made the identifications difficult.

Dier El-Bahri, Middle Kingdom Temple, Tomb of Pharoah Mentuhotep II a Relief (Today In Cairo Museum) from a Tomb of One of His Queens, Circa 2000 Bc

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