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Understanding Air Flow Patterns and Thermal Behaviour in “King Tutankhamen Tomb”

[+] Author Affiliations
Omar A. A. Abdel-Aziz, Essam E. Khalil

Cairo University

Paper No. IMECE2005-80465, pp. 115-121; 7 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Heat Transfer, Part A
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, November 5 – 11, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Heat Transfer Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4221-5 | eISBN: 0-7918-3769-6
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


The tombs of the Pharonic kings in “valley of the kings”, Thebes, Egypt are famous for their unique wall paintings and structure. KV62, King Tutankhamen tomb, is the most famous because of the treasures it held intact for over three thousand years. This tomb originally designed for a non-royal personage nevertheless was used for royal burial, and possessed a nearly intact set of burial equipment. The tomb was forgotten and a group of Rameside workmen’s huts were built over it later in antiquity. The walls of the tomb were smoother but, except for burial chamber, were left undecorated. The burial chamber is decorated with scenes from the Opening of the Mouth ritual, Book of the Dead, and representations of the king with various deities. The current status of the tomb is very critical as pink stain and black fungus spots have spread over decorated walls due to excessive moisture content in the air. Small portion of this moisture came from the ancient offerings placed in the tomb such as vegetation, and also from the gypsum plaster on which the decoration was painted, which may not have been fully dry when the tomb was sealed, visitors activities led to extra moisture production inside the tomb, this would naturally lead to an increase of those pink spots and fungus activities. For this purpose and in pursue of restoration operation it was suggested to design and install a special ventilation system that would reduce the relative humidity inside the tomb to normally acceptable environment for artifacts. Since this situation is novel and unique, the present work pursues a research plan to design and utilize a CFD model to numerically model the flow pattern, heat transfer and humidity in the tomb. A commercial CFD codes are also used in order to simulate the indoor air conditions, air flow velocities, temperatures and relative humidity patterns. In the present investigation, this technique is used in a parametric study to select the most suitable airside system design that doesn’t affect the archaeological theme of the tomb and that provides lower air velocities around the wall paintings as well as lower air humidity all over the tomb.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME
Topics: Air flow



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