The Valley of the Kings is a gorge with rocks. This Valley has two main divisions: Eastern Valley and the Western one. In the Eastern part, there are many tombs, the approximate number of which is 64; almost all are royal. However, in the western region, there are tombs, of which there are not so many.
Location of the Valley of the Kings
The Layout of Valley of the Kings
All the tombs there have a similar layout – after the entrance, there is a steep slope corridor that goes far into a depth of up to 100 meters, and at the aisle’s end, there are about three or four rooms. The ancient Egyptians decorated all the walls and ceilings with multi-coloured images depicting the life and deeds performed by the rulers. The drawings have still not lost their brightness and colour combination.
Today, of all the tombs discovered by archaeologists, the most significant are the tombs of Amenhotep II, Thutmose III, Tutankhamun and the four Ramses.
The Valley has been a research and excavation centre since the end of the 18th century. Initially, archaeologists worked there; then, they carried out Egyptological research. Even in our time, this place is of great interest to everyone. In 1969, archaeologists discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. Thanks to this discovery, the Valley of the Kings became very popular, and UNESCO included it in its list.
In ancient times, the ancient Egyptians called the Valley of the Kings the “Great Place.” Do Egyptologists suggest several reasons why the ancient Egyptians chose this rocky gorge for the Valley? The first reason, this place is isolated from the Theban necropolis, making it easier to protect this territory. The second reason is that the sun sets behind this location near the Nile River, on the western side. The third reason, the legendary mountain foot has a similar formation to a pyramid.
From generation to generation, the royal processions were sent from other memorial temples located in the Nile Valley and resembled the sunset with their movements. During the entire existence of the New Kingdom, the variety of the tombs of the pharaohs underwent many modifications.
Development of Tomb Plans
The tombs of the 18th-century had a corridor that turned at 90 degrees. Yet, in the 19th-century, builders made a straight corridor. In the centre of this corridor, there were substantial columned halls, a mine, a treasury, a burial chamber. These corridors went deep into the thickness of the wall. In the twentieth century, tombs were similar to the past. The ancient builders cut the burials in the uppermost layers of slate or lime.
Interiors of Tombs
The ancient builders of the 18th-century associated each room and corridor with the afterlife, and each had its name. For example, the “waiting room” was the name for the mine where the sewage passed through. However, the “golden house” was the name for the burial chamber.
The ancient Egyptians applied extraordinary paintings and decorated reliefs to every part of the wall and were present at most of the tombs of the kings. Each relief is striking in uniqueness, brightness and sophistication. They reproduce many areas of another world. Also, they showed the dead pharaoh in multiple scenes under the azure-blue ceiling, decorated with luminous stars. That way, when he stands before the deities, all this is mesmerising.
Robbery of the Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings, like the most ancient pyramids, could not resist the hands of robbers, even though special guards watched the “city of the dead” and its treasures day and night. There is information that the officials themselves were criminals, engaged in looting, and should have organised reliable security. By the end of the Twentieth Dynasty, Egypt was in decline. Therefore, the jewels of the pharaohs, which were among the first to be buried, were taken out. Then, they sent these jewels for processing to help the state with all possible forces and replenish the treasury.
Deir El Bahari Treasury
In 1871, in the Valley of the Kings, Howard Carter found a walled-up entrance at the foot of a stone slope in Deir el-Bahri, located directly opposite Thebes, on the western bank of the Nile River. The two brothers who discovered the entrance broke into it and began excavating. Having reached a depth of about 13 meters, they found a vast corridor that stretched for 70 meters and led into the very depths of the cliff. All along the corridor were large boxes containing mummies and a large number of burial utensils.
These two brothers tried to sell all the burial contents. After the Egyptian police services caught them in 1881, they went down with police to the tomb. There they found a large number of caskets in which the kings rested. The Sarcophagi spread all the way and lay on the floor. Many were leaning against the walls, the coffins were giant, and their weight was terrific. The ancient Egyptians plated them with gold and polished them in a high shine. In the very depths of the cache, archaeologists discovered mummies of pharaohs Amenhotep I, Ahmose I, Thutmose and many others. In total, archaeologists found 37 sarcophagi with perfectly preserved mummies of the kings.
Already in our time, at the very beginning of 2006, scientists found a tomb in the Valley, consisting of only one chamber, but which has been intact to this day, they found five mummies in it, which were in wooden coffins. The mummies were wearing masks with paintings intended for burial. They also found 20 massive vessels made of ceramics, on which the seal of the pharaoh was visible. It was the first burial that archaeologists found after the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922.
An expedition that worked there in the mid-1990s excavated 19th dynasty tombs. In 2005, the same mission discovered the huts of workers, of which there were 4. Also, the expedition found another burial under these huts.
In 2009, from January to March, the University of Basel expedition, which continued to work and conduct excavations, explored two tombs that had no signs. During further research, Egyptologists already discovered that the ancient Egyptians did not fully finish these tombs. Yet, this did not prevent the burial of the pharaoh. Only small fragments of sarcophagi and human remains have survived to our times. Also, Egyptologists determined that these two tombs belonged to the XVIII dynasty. In addition, they discovered that the first tomb robbers were in ancient times, in the 21st Dynasty.
Already in 2017, for DNA research, scientists took samples from the burials of the XVIII and XXII-XXV dynasties. Experienced scholars will try to identify the Nubian and Levantine people using various inscriptions to the pottery jugs.
Kings Mummies in Egyptian Museum
The Ministry of Antiquities exhibits all mummies in the Egyptian Museum, located in Cairo (Egypt). Yet, the mummy of Tutankhamun is the only one kept where it has lain for almost three and a half millennia.
The Valley of the Kings is a beautiful and mesmerising ancient Egyptian monument. Everyone who loves such places needs to visit the Valley of the Kings. It would take you back to ancient times and makes you astonished with its masterpieces.