Also known as Wadi el-Muluk, the Valley of the Kings is Egypt is a rich valley that houses the burial tombs of the ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom Pharaohs as well as of their powerful nobles. Have you heard of the mummy? Well, that was discovered from this valley! Constructed for some 500 years during the period between 16th to 11th centuries BC, the valley is the final resting place of the kings of the 18th to 20th Dynasties. It was here that the pharoahs were buried in mysterious tombs and that too in such a way that nobody could spot them. However, today, most of them are plundered, but leaving a few ones in their original state.
The Egyptian belief of the afterlife led to the lifelong preparation for the dead and that the Valley of the Kings in the West Bank necropolis is voiceless evidence to this fascination. Situated on the Nile’s west bank off Thebes (Luxor), the valley is now a World Heritage Site. As per the excavations, around 63 tombs as well as 120 chambers have been found, all of which vary from a little ditch to a big complex. And that, there are still many to be excavated.
All of the royal tombs are decorated with the Egyptian mythology scenes, which offer a great insight to the funerary rituals as well as their religious beliefs. The excavated burial chambers are numbered not in the order of their placement, but in the order of their discovery such as KV1 – King Valley 1 that id for Ramesses VII and KV62 that is of Tutankhamun. Most of the tourists take the tour of the East Valley where most of the tombs reside as compared to the barren West. However, out of the total tombs, only 18 are opened for the visit and that too not all at a time because of the restoration work.
The Valley of the Kings across Luxor sits under the summit of the mountain Al-Qurn, a pyramid shaped wonder and is split into East and West Valleys. However, a majority of the vital tombs are in the East Valley, as the West Valley now is offering one open tomb: the tomb of Ay who was the successor of Tutankhamun. But, this does not mean the West Valley has only one burial tomb; there are still many to be excavated.
A majority of the tombs are open since olden days and that the graffiti on the walls seen in some chambers suggest that the valley was a big highlight during the old Greek as well as Roman times. Among all the tombs here, KV5 was just recently rediscovered and that it is the largest of all, which was constructed with a minimum of 67 chambers by the sons of Ramesses II. However, the most popular is the obvious KV62 – the Tomb of King Tutankhamun that was discovered in 1922, but got famous today because the famous ‘Curse of the Pharaohs’. In fact, this was the first tomb to be found and the surprising fact was that it was almost intact despite of the robbers making an entry within. Although his grave items were very luxurious, the king was actually a minor one indicating that the other tombs might have more valuable treasures.
Tombs of the East Valley range from KV1 to KV63. Those from KV1 to KV7 including KV11 and KV16 are of the different Ramesses including their sons. KV11 is of the Ramesses III whose mortuary temple is the famous Medinet Habu. KV12 is still shrouded in mystery, while KV15 is the Tomb of Seti II and that KV17 is the Tomb of Seti I also called the tomb of Apis. KV20 is dedicated to Hatshepsut and Thutmose I, while those from KV26 to 29 as well as 21 are still unknown.
In the West Valley, only four burials/pits are known: WV22 that is of the Amenhotep III – a great ruler, WV23 of the Ay, WV24 that is unknown, and WV25 as an incomplete one of Akhenaten. Also look for the Deir el-Bahri (DB320) that stored a stunning mummy cache in the cliffs dominating the temple of Hatshepsut.
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