Valley of Kings

Valley of the Kings, also called Egyptian tombs, Tombs of Pharaohs, or Valley of the Kings Burials, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. It is part of Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis, along with Luxor, Karnak, and the Valley of the Queens. The Valley of the Kings is a long, shallow gorge in Upper Egypt, just west of the Nile River. It was part of Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis and was the Valley of the Kings Burials, or Tombs of Pharaohs, where almost all of the kings or Pharaohs of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties (1539–1075 BCE) were buried.

Valley of the Kings Facts

The Valley of the Kings is a long, shallow gorge in Upper Egypt directly west of the Nile River. It was part of Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis, and was the Valley of the Kings Burials, or Tombs of Pharaohs, of almost all the kings (pharaohs) of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties (1539–1075 BCE).

Egypt was ruled by a series of pharaohs, from Thutmose I to Ramses X. The 62 known tombs are in the hills behind Dayr al-Bahri. They are all different in how they are laid out and decorated. The leaders of the Fresh Kingdom (around 1539–1075 BCE) were worried about the safety of their valuable graves, so they came up with a new plan to bury them in a remote valley in the western highlands behind Dayr al-Bahri.

Tombs of Pharaohs

In tombs dug deep into the center of the mountain, the Pharaohs, many queens, a few high-ranking officials, and many of Ramses II’s sons were buried. The layouts of the tombs are very different, but they all have a descending hallway with deep holes and pillared rooms or vestibules to keep thieves out.

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At the end of the passageway is a burial room with a stone sarcophagus where the king’s mummy was placed and storage rooms where the king’s furniture and equipment were kept for use in the next world. On many of the walls were sculptures and paintings of the dead king with gods, especially gods of the underworld. There were also pictures of magical writings, like those found on funeral papyri, to help him on his journey through the underworld.

Valley of the Kings Burials

There were a few of these books, and they all had different, but not necessarily contradictory, ideas about the afterlife, where the monarch had to face trials and dangers and get through them. In the “Book of That Which Is Aboard the Underworld,” for example, he travels in the sun god’s boat through 12 sections that represent the 12 hours of the night.

In “Book of Gates,” strange demons help or hurt the boat’s journey through the portals that the sun must pass through. Other funeral works include the “Book of Day” and “Book of Night,” which show Nut, the sky goddess, spread out across the sky, and the “Book of the Heavenly Cow,” in which Nut is turned into a cow that Re rides to the firmament. There are astronomical designs on the ceilings of some of the burial rooms.

Valley of the Kings

In the past, almost all of the graves in the valley were cleared out. Some of them had been stolen in part during the New Kingdom, but the 21st dynasty took everything out of them. So that the royal mummies could be kept safe and the valuable funeral items sent back to the royal treasury.

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By the time of Strabo, in the 1st century BCE, Greek pilgrims could visit 40 of the tombs. Coptic monks used several graves for other things and wrote their names on the walls. Only Tutankhamun’s small tomb in the valley level has been found. He was king from 1333 to 1323 BCE. Because it was protected by a pile of broken rocks from a later Ramesside tomb that had not been stolen from.

Egyptian Tombs

The amazing jewels that were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 and are now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo show how extravagant a great pharaoh’s funeral must have been at the height of the empire. Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled from about 1472 to 1458, has the longest tomb. Her tomb is about 700 feet (215 meters) long, and the entrance is about 320 feet (100 meters) into the rock.

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Number 5 is the largest and most complicated tomb in the Valley of the Kings. It was built to hold the tombs of several of Ramses II’s sons. Ramses II was the greatest king of the 19th dynasty and ruled from 1279 to 1300. This tomb had been found before, but no one thought it was important. It was found again in the late 1980s, and most of it was dug up in the 1990s. On the top level of the tomb, there is a pillared hall in the middle and several hallways that lead to dozens of cells.

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Author: Amitava Ray
I'm a photographer (1979) and a blogger (2006). My future photography and blogging endeavors are contingent on the success of Whizzed Net.