King Ramses III was the second ruler of the Twentieth Dynasty, and the last of great pharaohs on the throne. Ramses III, son of Setnakht, ruled Egypt for 31 years. Shortly before his death, there was a conspiracy to kill him by several members of his household including one of his minor wives, Queen Tiy. It was essentially an attempt to ensure her son's ascending to the throne. The trial of this conspiracy is shown upon the walls of his mortuary temple at Madint Habu. The tomb was begun by Setnakht, who then abandoned it and turned to KV14 where he was buried. Setnakht's son, Ramses III, then resumed work on KV11. James Bruce was the first European traveler to enter this tomb in 1768. He was struck by the painted figures of the two blind harpists that he called it the Tomb of the Harpists. Nowadays, the Tomb of Ramses III is considered one of the most visited tombs in the Valley of the Kings as there are many impressive reliefs and paintings to be seen on this tomb.
- The Architecture of the Tomb of Ramses III (KV 11)
The Tomb of Ramses III consists of four corridors that open out into a double vestibule ended by the Burial Chamber, which has four small side chambers, one at each corner, and the ceiling of the burial chamber is supported by eight columns. The first plan of the tomb, from the entrance till Corridor D, was the work of Setnakht, but when workmen unexpectedly broke into the neighboring (KV 10), the Tomb of Amenmeses at about the same time Setnakht had died, work was abandoned, and the King was buried in Tomb KV 14 instead. After that, Ramses III resumed work on Tomb KV 11 as his own burial place. His workmen shifted the tomb's axis about 2 meters west in order to avoid KV 10 and continued digging through the mountain, and the result was one of the longest tombs in the Valley of the King: KV 11 extends 188 meters from entrance to end. The tomb has certain distinctive elements architecturally and decoratively, as Ramses III added a series of small side chambers, the walls of which were carved with sacred scenes, to the first two corridors of the tomb. They were used to house part of the funerary equipment. We found upon the walls representations of objects that were probably kept in these chambers (food offerings, the King's weapons, jars, and other vessels). Upon the walls of one of this side chambers are the representations of the two famous harpists who are singing the Pharaoh's praises before the god Atum.
- The Entrance of the Tomb of Ramses III (KV 11)
The Tomb of Ramses III is entered through an L-shaped pair of stairs. The lower ramp-step is original, but the upper stairs were added in 2003 to protect the tomb from flooding. A sun disc with a scarab and Ra-Horakhty ornament the tomb's gate. Above the gate on the side walls of the entrance, there is a very unique and beautiful carved cow-headed pilaster.
- Corridor B of the Tomb of Ramses III (KV 11)
The left (east) wall of Corridor B includes scenes that were done for Setnakht. Here, there is the figure of the King standing with God Ra-horakhty, beside some texts form the litany of Ra. After that, there are two low gates on each side of the corridor that leads into small chambers which were cut and decorated for Ramses III. One of these chambers (the left one) houses a very unique scene ever depicted in a royal tomb, the scene consists of two registers representing scenes of daily life such as brewers, bakers, butchers, cooks, and leather workers, ply their trades. On the side walls of the second side chamber, there are twelve sailboats, then, texts from the Litany of Ra on the front wall.
- Corridor C of the Tomb of Ramses III (KV 11)
On the walls of Corridor C of the Tomb of Ramses III (KV 11), the Litany of Ra continues and decorates the ceiling. On the top of the left and right walls are the 74 manifestations of the sun-god. After that, near the end of the walls, appear scenes from Chapter 151 of the Book of the Dead. Along the sides of the corridor, there are eight uniquely-decorated side chambers, many of which contain scenes from the Book of the Dead, while others have no religious significance.
- Corridor DI of the Tomb of Ramses III (KV 11)
Setnakht's quarrymen broke through into the Tomb of Amenmeses and abandoned their work at this point. King Ramses III turned Tomb KV 11 axis to the west before continuing to dig new corridors southward, when he decided to complete the tomb as his own burial place. The King stands wearing the crown of Lower Egypt offering incense to gods Atum and Ptah, on the left (east) wall. On the front wall, King Ramses III is shown standing and offering incense before a seated figure of Ptah, Sokar and Osiris.
- Corridor D2 of the Tomb of Ramses III (KV 11)
At Corridor D2 of the Tomb of Ramses III (KV 11), the floor rises and the corridor angles turn to the left, these are indications that the quarrymen were ignorant how close they might be to the Tomb of Amenmeses. Both the left and right walls of corridor D are decorated with texts, most of them are from the Imydwat; the fourth hour is on the left wall, the fifth on the right. Along the left wall, there is a huge snake with four legs and three heads. On the right wall, a boat bearing Ra-Horakhty and eight other figures is being towed through the underworld.
- Chamber E of the Tomb of Ramses III (KV 11)
The Well Chamber (Chamber E) houses representations of different deities along the upper part of its walls. In the right side stand Osiris, Hapy, Qebehsenuf, Nephthys, Serqet, and Iunmutef. In the left side stand Osiris, Imsety, Anubis, Duamutef, Isis, and Iunmutef.
- Chamber F of the Tomb of Ramses III (KV 11)
The walls of the four-pillared Chamber F of Tomb KV 11 are decorated with scenes from the Book of Gates. The fifth hour is in the left (east) side of the chamber and the sixth hour is in the right (west) side. On the rear wall, a double scene shows the King making offerings to Osiris. On each face of the four pillars, Ramses III is shown making offerings to different gods such as Ptah, Ra-Horakhty, Khepri, Atum, Thoth, Geb, and Shepsy.
- The Rest of Chambers in the Tomb of Ramses III (KV 11)
Corridor and Chambers G, H, I, and J, of KV 11 as well as Side Chambers JA, D, K, and L contain scenes and texts from the Opening of the Mouth ritual, the Book of the Heavenly Cow, Book of the Dead and the fifth hour of the Book of Gates.
- The Sarcophagus of Ramses III in KV 11
The large red granite sarcophagus of King Ramses III was retrieved by the British Consul, General Henry Salt and then sold to the Louvre Museum in 1823. The sarcophagus lid, with raised relief figure of the King was found in 1815 by Giovanni Belzoni and sold to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The mummy of Ramses III was found in the cachette KV 35 at Deir el Bahari in 1881.