7 Wonders of the Mormon World

5. Pit Tomb 33

7 Wonders of the Mormon World: Pit Tomb 33
Photo courtesy of Jamie Armstrong

If you happen to take an LDS tour of the Holy Land, there is a good chance you will make a stop at Pit Tomb 33 in Egypt's Valley of the Nobles. Tourists are often told that this tomb is where the scrolls came from that Joseph Smith translated into the Book of Abraham.

While this tomb is a good candidate, we can't be sure which tomb contained the writings of Abraham. Here's what we do know:

1. The papyri came from the ancient city of Thebes (known as Luxor today) and were excavated by Antonio Lebolo.

2. After Lebolo's death, 11 mummies and some papyri that he excavated were sent to New York. An entrepreneur name Michael Chandler obtained the artifacts, and in the summer of 1835, he arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, with four mummies and several scrolls of papyrus. Church members purchased the mummies and the papyri for about $2,400. 

3. After Joseph Smith examined the papyri and commenced “the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics,” his history recounts, “much to our joy [we] found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham."

7 Wonders of the Mormon World: Pit Tomb 33
Lebolo's name inscribed in ancient Egyptian ruins

4. Lebolo excavated a large number of tombs in Thebes, including the two tombs called Pit Tomb 32 and Pit Tomb 33. However, we can’t be sure which tomb the mummies or papyri came from, or if the papyri even came from the same tomb as the mummies. (Scholars believe there is a good chance the mummies and papyri came from the same tomb, though.)

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