Tombs of Egypt

Valley of the Kings – a journey through the necropolis of ancient Egypt

If you were lucky enough to be in Egypt, you will surely agree that here, not far from the city of Luxor, there is a grandiose necropolis – this is the Valley of the Kings. For five centuries, locals buried here the ancient Egyptian rulers. According to many tourists, the place is definitely worth seeing.

View of the Valley of the Kings

Photo: Valley of the Kings, Egypt.

General Information

Today, the Valley of the Kings in Egypt has about six dozen tombs, some carved into the rock, and some are a hundred meters deep. To get to the destination – the burial room – you have to walk through a tunnel 200 meters long. Extant ancient tombs confirm that the pharaohs prepared for their deaths thoroughly. Each tomb is a few rooms, the walls are decorated with images from the life of an Egyptian ruler. Not surprisingly, the Valley of the Kings is one of the most popular attractions in Egypt.

Burials were carried out here between the 16th and 11th centuries BC. Over five centuries, the City of the Dead appeared on the banks of the Nile. And today in this part of Egypt, excavations are underway, during which scientists find new burials.

Interesting fact! In some tombs are found two rulers – the predecessor, as well as his successor.

Valley of the Kings

The area near the city of Luxor in Egypt was chosen for burial. The desert is as if created by nature for such a place as the Valley of the Kings. Since Egyptian rulers were buried with all their wealth, looters often came to the City of the Dead; in fact, entire cities appeared in Egypt, whose inhabitants made it their business to steal from the tombs.

Historical background

The decision to organize the tomb not in the temple, but elsewhere belongs to Pharaoh Thutmose. Thus he wanted to protect the accumulated treasures from robbers. The valley of Thebes is located in a difficult place, so that it was not so easy for crooks to get here. Thutmose’s tomb was like a well, and the room where the pharaoh was directly buried was in the rock. To this room led steep stairs.

After Tutmosis I the other pharaohs were buried on the same pattern – underground or in the rock, in addition, the room with the mummy was confusing mazes, were installed cunning, dangerous traps.

Interesting fact! Around sarcophagus with mummy always stacked funerary gifts, which could be needed in the afterlife.

Good to know! Thutmose I had a daughter, Hatshepsut, who married her brother and after her father’s death began to rule Egypt. The temple dedicated to her is near Luxor. A reference to the site is provided on this page.

Tombs

Tomb in the Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings at Luxor is a branching canyon in Egypt, splitting into a “T” shape at the far end. Popular and visited tombs are Tutankhamun as well as Ramses II.

To visit the Egyptian landmark must buy a ticket, which gives the right to visit the three tombs. Do it better in winter, because in summer the air heats up to +50 degrees.

The internal layout of the tombs is about the same – the stairs leading downstairs, corridor, then back downstairs and directly to the burial place. Of course, there are no mummies in the tombs, you can only look at the paintings on the walls.

Important: Inside the tombs it is strictly forbidden to take pictures with flash, because the paint, used to the darkness for so many centuries, quickly deteriorates from the light.

The most interesting tombs for visitors are the following.

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This is the largest rock tomb, it was discovered in 1825, but archaeological excavations began only at the end of the 20th century. The tomb of Ramses II was one of the first to be looted as it is located at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings and was often flooded during the floods.

The Tomb of Ramses II

After the first inspection, scientists could not open the doors to the other rooms and used the tomb as a warehouse. The first significant archaeological finds were made in 1995 when the archaeologist Kent Weeks opened and cleared all the burial rooms, which turned out to be about seven dozen (the number of the main sons of Ramses I). Later scientists were able to determine that this is not just a tomb, as in 2006 about 130 more rooms were discovered. The work of clearing them is still underway.

On a side note: the majestic temple of Ramses II is also in Abu Simbel. Detailed information and curious facts about it are collected in this article.

It is believed that this tomb was intended to bury the son of Ramses III, however, archaeologists believe that the premises were not used for their intended purpose. This is evidenced by the unfinished state of some of the premises, as well as by the poorly decorated rooms. Ramses IV was supposed to be buried here, but while he was still alive he began to build his own tomb.

Interesting fact! During the Byzantine Empire, the room was used as a chapel.

Despite the fact that the tomb has been known for a long time, its study only began in the early 20th century. The excavations were funded by an American lawyer, Theodore Davies.

The Tomb of Ramses VI

This tomb is known as KV9, two rulers were buried here – Ramses V as well as Ramses VI. There is a collection of funerary literature written during the New Kingdom years. The Book of the Caves, the Book of the Heavenly Cow, the Book of the Earth, the Book of the Gate and the Amduat were discovered.

The first visitors appeared here in the period of antiquity, as evidenced by the rock paintings. The rubble was cleared away at the end of the 19th century.

Interesting fact! The years when this tomb was built are considered a period of decline in Egypt. This was reflected in the interior decoration – it is quite restrained in comparison with the tombs of other rulers.

The most significant discovery recognized the tomb of Tutankhamun, it was found in 1922. The head of the expedition was able to find the step of the stairs, the passage, which was sealed. When the lord who financed the excavations arrived in Egypt, he managed to open the passage and get into the first room. Fortunately, it had not been looted and was preserved in its original form. During the excavations, scientists found more than 5,000 items, they were carefully transcribed and then sent to a museum in Cairo. Among the items are a golden sarcophagus, jewelry, a death mask, utensils, and a chariot. The sarcophagus with the mummified body of Pharaoh was located in another room, where it was possible to get only three months later.

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Entrance to the tomb of Tutankhamun

An interesting fact! Scientists today can not agree on whether Tutankhamun was buried with special splendor, because many of the tombs at the time of discovery were looted.

For a long time it was believed that Tutankhamun’s tomb contained secret rooms. Scientists believed that Nefertiti, who was called the mother of Tutankhamun, was buried in one of them. Since 2017, however, the search has stopped, as scanning results showed that there are no secret rooms here. Nevertheless, archaeological research is still being conducted and new facts about the ancient Egyptian civilization are being discovered.

The studies revealed that Tutankhamun did not have a typical male figure, in addition, he moved with a cane, as he had a congenital trauma – a dislocation of the foot. Tutankhamun died, barely reaching adulthood (19 years old), the reason – malaria.

Interesting fact! 300 sticks were found in the tomb; they had been placed next to the pharaoh, so he would not have difficulty walking.

In addition, in the tomb next to the mummy of Tutankhamun were found two mummy embryos – presumably, the unborn daughters of the pharaoh.

Tomb of Tutankhamun

The sarcophagus where Tutankhamun was buried had the following dimensions:

  • Length – 5.11 m;
  • Width, 3.35 meters;
  • 2.75 meters high;
  • The weight of the lid was more than 1 ton.

From this room it was possible to get into another room filled with treasures. Almost three months were spent by archaeologists to dismantle the wall between the first room and the tomb; during the work, many valuable items and weapons were discovered.

Inside the sarcophagus was a portrait of Tutankhamun, covered with gold. In the first sarcophagus specialists discovered the second sarcophagus, which contained the mummy of the pharaoh. His face and chest were covered with a mask of gold. Near the sarcophagus scientists have found a small bouquet of dried flowers. According to one assumption, they were left by the wife of Tutankhamun.

Interesting fact! Scientists have discovered that some of the pharaohs appropriated the external appearance of Tutankhamun. They signed his images with their own names.

In 2019, the tomb was restored, a modern ventilation system was installed inside, scratches from the images on the walls were removed, and lighting was replaced.

Tomb of Thutmose III

It was built according to a typical Egyptian tomb plan, but there is one unusual nuance: the entrance is located at a height, right in the rock. Unfortunately it was ransacked and only at the end of the 19th century was it rediscovered.

The tomb begins with a gallery, followed by a shaft, then a hall with columns, there is a passage to the burial chamber, the walls are decorated with drawings, inscriptions, frescoes.

  • Length – 76,1 m;
  • The area is almost 311 sq.m;
  • volume – 792.7 m3.

Tomb of Seti I

It is the most exquisite and longest tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, its length is 137.19 m. Inside there are six staircases, columned halls and more than half a dozen other rooms where Egyptian architecture is on display in all its glory. Unfortunately by the time of the discovery the tomb had already been looted and there was no mummy in the sarcophagus, but in 1881 the remains of Seti I were found in a cache.

There are six columns in the burial room and another room adjoining this room, on the ceiling of which astronomical figures have been preserved. Adjacent are two more rooms with images on religious themes, constellations and planets.

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The tomb is one of the most important religious monuments, reflecting the ancient Egyptians’ view of death and the possible life after death.

Tomb robbers

For thousands of years many locals have plundered tombs, and for some this has been a family occupation. This is not surprising, for one tomb held so much treasure and wealth that several generations of the same family could live on it comfortably.

Of course, the local authorities tried in every way to stop and prevent the thefts, the Valley of the Kings was guarded by armed military, but numerous historical documents confirm that often the organizers of the crimes were the representatives of the authorities themselves.

An interesting fact! Among the locals there were many people who wanted to preserve the historical heritage, so they took the mummies, treasures and moved them to safe places. For example, in the second half of the 19th century, a dungeon was discovered in the mountains, where scientists found more than ten mummies, and concluded that they had been re-hidden.

The Curse of the Pharaohs

A tomb in the Valley of Kings

Exploration of the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun lasted five years, during which time many people tragically died. Since then, the curse of the tomb has been associated with the tomb. In all, more than ten people associated with the excavation and research have died. The first to pass away was Lord Carnarvon, who sponsored the excavations, the cause being pneumonia. There were many hypotheses about the cause of so many deaths – a dangerous fungus, radiation, poisons stored in the sarcophagus.

Interesting fact! Arthur Conan Doyle was also on the list of fans of the tomb curse version.

After Lord Carnarvon, the specialist who X-rayed the mummy died, then the archaeologist who opened the burial room died, some time later, Carnarvon’s own brother and the colonel who accompanied the excavations died. A prince was present during the excavations in Egypt, he was killed by his wife, and a year later the governor-general of Sudan was shot dead. Suddenly Carter’s archaeologist’s personal secretary and his father die. Last on the list of tragic deaths is Carnarvon’s half-brother.

There have been press reports of the deaths of other excavation participants, but their deaths are not attributed to the tomb curse, as they were all of advanced age and most likely died of natural causes. Remarkably, however, the curse did not affect the chief archaeologist, Carter. He lived another 16 years after the expedition.

Sarcophagus in the Valley of Kings

Until now, scientists have not come to a consensus – whether there is a curse of the tomb, because such a number of deaths – an uncommon phenomenon.

Good to know! Not far from the Valley of the Kings is the Valley of the Queens, where wives and other family members were buried. Their tombs were more modest and contained far fewer objects.

Excursions to the Valley of the Kings

The easiest way to visit the Valley of the Kings, preserved since the times of Ancient Egypt is to buy a tour in Hurghada from a tour operator or a hotel.

The tour program is as follows: a group of tourists are brought by bus to the City of the Dead, near the entrance is a bus stop. Walking through the Valley of the Kings on foot is difficult and tiring, so the guests ride a steam train.

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Another way to visit the attraction is to take a cab. Considering the rates for this type of transport, it is better to rent a car together.

Transfer in Egypt

The cost of the tour from Hurghada is 55 euros for adults, children under 10 years old are 25 euros. This price includes lunch, but you have to take your own drinks.

Good to know! Tourists usually also visit other interesting places, such as perfume oil factory or alabaster factory, as part of the tour.

Useful tips

Medinet Abu complex

  1. Filming is allowed, but only outside, inside the tombs you can’t use the equipment.
  2. Take with you a hat and plenty of water, because even in winter the temperature in the desert does not drop below +40 degrees.
  3. Choose comfortable shoes, as will have to walk in the tunnels.
  4. Small children and people with poor health should better abandon such an excursion.
  5. In the Valley of the Kings, there is a tourist area with cafes and souvenir shops.
  6. Be careful – in souvenir stores often deceive tourists – a person pays for a stone statue, and the seller packs clay statue, which costs much less.
  7. Near the city of Luxor are: the temple complex Medinet Abu with the palace, Karnak temple, which was built over 2 thousand years, Luxor temple with columns, sculptures, bas-reliefs. Medinet Abu
  8. Schedule of work of the Valley of the Kings: in warm seasons from 06-00 to 17-00, in winter months – from 6-00 to 16-00.
  9. The price of tickets for those who come on their own is 10 euros. If you want to visit the tomb of Tutankhamun, you will have to pay another 10 euros.

A useful archaeological find in the City of the Dead dates back to 2006 – archaeologists discovered a tomb with five sarcophagi. Nevertheless, the Valley of the Kings has not yet been thoroughly explored. Most likely there are still a lot of mysteries, mystical riddles that specialists will still be working on.

New discoveries in the tomb of Tutankhamun:

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Tombs of Egypt

Tombs of Egypt

Ancient tombs in Egypt were of great importance to an era already lost. The great interest that archaeologists and not only archaeologists have in such places is very justified. After all, such a burial holds a great history, many secrets, a bit of mysticism and even incredible techniques that were used by the Egyptians for such a process. Of course the common people did not build great tombs and they were intended for special persons, in particular the kings, and the hard work was not small. Besides you should have heard about the amazing things that the Egyptians could do with a minimum of knowledge and equipment. Just look at the pyramids, which remain a mystery even for modern man, let alone the sacred plans of this era.

Tombs of Egypt

The view of the Egyptian religion on the world on the one hand was very practical on the other hand it is completely mythological consciousness, which is difficult for us to understand now. And as for such large-scale burials, it is sheer irrationality in terms of the efforts made, although recall, they buried a noble person, who was almost a son of a great deity. The bodies were not burned and buried in the sands, for that was impossible. But tombs were a great solution, and since the world of the dead was in fact real, like other later peoples, the burial place was practically another home for the man, not only his personal belongings, but also the whole family was kept there.

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At different times the position and basis of the tomb varied, some built an underground burial, others created something like a temple, but the meaning and technology used amazing. As for what exactly should be in the tomb there was a clear plan, which most likely consisted of several basic sacred elements of the structure. So the Egyptian tomb classically always has a burial chamber for the sarcophagus, a separate room for ceremonies. The chamber rather resembles a crypt or an old burial chamber, where the deceased was escorted away and all important things for him were left behind. In the sanctuary, however, rites and important funeral procedures were carried out.

Tombs of Egypt

The tombs were found quite a lot, all of them are gradually being studied. Since it is difficult to make out the ancient writings, it is not always clear which tomb was discovered. But for convenience, they are all numbered, and after correlating all the historical records, you can roughly assign a place to some historical figure of Egypt.

KV1 is the tomb of Ramses VII. KV2 – tomb of Ramses IV. KV3 – tomb of an unnamed son of Ramses III. KV4 – tomb of Ramses XI. KV6 – tomb of Ramses IX. KV5 – tomb of some of the sons of Ramses II. KV7 – tomb of Ramses II. KV8 – tomb of Merneptah. KV9 – known as “Tomb of Memnon”. KV10 – the tomb of Amenmes. KV11-Tomb of Ramses III.

Description

Most of the tombs are located in the so-called Valley of the Kings, they are open to tourists and you can visit them and take a number of interesting excursions. Understanding the hierarchy of each place will be easier to understand when you know more about the history of Egypt. Since power was inherited, the history of each son is very interesting, the beginning of the reign and the end requires special attention in this matter. It must not be forgotten that each such place had great sacred significance and holds many secrets. It becomes especially entertaining when the story of the Pharaoh’s curse is told. This ancient tale walks among archaeologists and even became very popular for the subjects of various movies. But all the mysticism lies precisely in the power and labor that was put into such a structure.

In fact, the dwelling for the deceased has an impressive appearance, and even if you forget about the person who is buried here, you can still discern a lot of interesting things and get a lot of new impressions. Also, you may have already met more than once with the description of the sarcophagus or elements of the decoration of tombs in museums and so on, but to see such a thing in that very setting will be much more interesting. After all, such temples were built with all their might for many years and spent enormous sums of money. That is why they pay so much attention to the tombs, its walls hold much of the history of these places.

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