Valley of the Kings in Luxor

The Valley of the Kings (Wadi al Muluk) has excited, intrigued and fuelled the imagination of the world. For more than 500 years this barren and secluded valley, also known as “The Place of Truth”, was the last abode of the mighty New Kingdom pharaohs. 

Luxor Tour & Day Trip From Sharm by Flight
Valley of the kings, Luxor

For about five hundred years, during the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BC.), most of Egypt's pharaoh's were buried at Thebas in rock-cut tombs in the valley of the Kings. Of the 32 rulers of dynasties 18, 19 and 20, at least 26 were interred there. There are 62 numbered tombs in Valley of the Kings, 21 of them numbered in geographical order by John Gardener Wilkinson in 1827, the remainder numbered in order of discovery since then. In addition, there are about two dozen "commencements", tomb shafts that were begun but almost immediately abandoned for unknown reasons. The non-royal toms in Valley of the Kings belonged to various officials, royal family members, and priests.

The Valley of the Kings lies about one kilometer (mile) west of the Nile floodplain at Thebas (modern Luxor). It is a small wadi that was cut by torrential rains and erosion during several pluvial periods in the Pleistocene into a thick layer of limestone that lies above a discontinuous stratum of Esna shale.

 

The selection of a Valley of the Kings site for a royal tomb was made by the vizer and the country's principal architect and later affirmed by pharaoh. Early in the New Kingdom, during the 18th dynasty, preference was often given to sites at the base of the sheer cliffs that surround the Valley of the Kings, ideally below gullys through which, in the rare event of rain, a "waterfall" would pour over the cliff and deposit debris over a tomb's entrance, burying it ever deeper over the centuries. In the late 18th and 19th dynasties, the preferred  location was in lower-lying talus slopes; in the 20th dynasty, it was one of the small spurs of bedrock that extended from the valley's sides in to the center of Valley of the Kings.

By the New Kingdom Valley of the Kings was filled with tombs and there were fewer and fewer sites available in which more tombs could be cut. This crowded posed problems.
We know a great deal about how Valley of the Kings tombs were cut and decorated in part because of thousands of objects and inscriptions found in the village of Dier el-Madina. Dier el-Madina lies about a kilometer (mile) south of Valley of the Kings and during the New Kingdom it served as the home and burial place of the artisans who carved and decorated the tombs of the Valley of the Kings. The remains of about 70 houses can be seen en the village proper, and during the New Kingdom about 400 people lived here in small stone dwellings built along a narrow street. Many different specialists lived at Dier el- Madina: quarrymen, plasterers, scribes, sculptors, architects, draftsmen- all the skills needed for the preparations of the royal tombs. They were paid for their labor in kind: bread, beer, dried, fish onion and other vegetables. The men worked eight hours a day for eight days, then took two-day week-end.

 

Top Tips

-Tickets are sold per three tombs, with a separate ticket for the tombs of Ay and Tutankhamun, from the ticket office at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings. Also here is the Visitor Centre where you can see a film about the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. A tuftuf train (inexpensive) takes visitors to the site, but you can also walk.

-Tomb openings are rotated to protect painting from human damage.

-To avoid the crowds head for the tombs farther away from entrance. 

-Early Tuesday morning is market day on the West Bank. The market is held at the start of the road to the Valley of the Kings, in an open space behind the modern cemetery and across from the temple of Set I.

Ones to miss Tutankhamun’s tomb is small and often disappointing because the treasure is in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

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