New Discoveries at Egyptian Tomb

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Dr. Lorelei Corcoran discusses with Robert Siegel the recent findings from the archeological dig at Valley of the Kings in Egypt. The Egyptologist and the director of the Institute for Egyptian Art and Archeology was at the site today and is the academic sponsor of the dig.


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Here's the news today that took the longest in the making. A team of archaeologists from the University of Memphis has discovered a previously unknown tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. It's from more than 3,000 years ago. King Tut's neighborhood, near the modern city of Luxor, had been reckoned to consist of 62 tombs, now it's up to 63. Dr. Lorelei Corcoran is in Luxor, she's an Egyptologist and director of the University of Memphis's Institute for Egyptian Art and Archaeology. Welcome to the program.


SIEGEL: What does this new tomb look like, and what's inside of it?

CORCORAN: The new tomb is a shaft tomb, which means that the approach to the tomb is through a very deep pit, almost, that's carefully cut into the rock; and one wall of this pit is a doorway, which we found partially sealed. And beyond that is a burial chamber with what appears to be an intact burial. And it's going to be very hard to ever forget those first moments of peering into the chamber, just barely making out the objects in the darkness within. There are actually five coffins inside this chamber, and about 20 or so large pottery vessels that appear to be sealed.

The storage jars where the first objects that were visible. The second object was one of the coffins with its really precious, beautiful, yellow painted face. That will be a memory that I'll keep forever.

SIEGEL: Whose tomb do you thing this is?

CORCORAN: That's one of mysteries that we're trying to solve right now. We have not actually stepped into the burial chamber room. Our work has been limited to looking through a rather small hole and peering into this very tantalizing chamber.

SIEGEL: With five sarcophagi in the same chamber, would that suggest these are people of equal rank? Or perhaps one noble, and servants, or family? What kind of combination of five connote here?

CORCORAN: Well, it's hard to generalize about burials in ancient Egypt. They could be a collection of queens or princesses. The last important discovery that was made in the valley was the exploration of KV5, which obviously is a tomb from its KV number...

SIEGEL: King's Valley 5, you say?

CORCORAN: Yes. That had been known for a very long time. But it was explored and excavated recently. And it probably contained dozens of burials of the sons of Ramsey II. So we just don't know what we have until we are able to document further the evidence inside the chamber.

SIEGEL: Do you know for a fact now that the chamber that you've been peeking at through the peephole here, that that's it? Or is it conceivable that it might lead to another chamber?

CORCORAN: Well, that's another possibility. There may be another room around the corner. There may be another doorway in the shaft, if we dig deeper. So these are some of the issues that await us to be explored.

SIEGEL: Well, congratulations on your finding, Dr. Corcoran.

CORCORAN: Thank you. Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: This Dr. Lorelei Corcoran talking to us from Luxor, Egypt. She is an Egyptologist and director of the University of Memphis' Institute for Egyptian Art and Archeology.

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