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Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings is on the West Bank of Luxor. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. It is much more than what we refer to as the Valley of the Kings, though many have called the whole of the area by that name. The Valley of the Kings, in Thebes, is the burial place of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom, 18th, 19th, and 20th Dynasties. To date, more than 62 tombs have been identified.

Most of the tombs were cut into the limestone following a similar pattern. Three corridors, an antechamber and a sunken sarcophagus chamber. These catacombs were harder to rob and were more easily concealed. The switch to burying the pharaohs within the valley instead of pyramids, was intended to safeguard against tomb robbers.

Construction of a tomb usually lasted six years, beginning with each new reign. The design of each tomb varies throughout the period in which they were built and it is interesting to see the progression of shape and decoration from the earliest ones to the later Ramesside tombs.

The text in the tombs are from the Book of the Dead, Book of the Gates and Book of the Underworld.

Tomb of Ramses VI: The early excavation of this tomb forestalled the discovery of Tutankhamen much smaller, earlier tomb that lay below it. The tomb was actually begun for the ephemeral Ramses V (1147-1143 BC) and continued by Ramses VI (1143-1136 BC), with both pharaohs apparently buried here.

Its decoration has an emphasis on astronomical scenes and texts, which include the Book of Gates, Book of Caverns, Book of the Heavens and for the first time, Book of the Earth.

A superb double image of Nut decorates the ceiling of the burial chamber, where only part of the sarcophagi remain. Following the tomb ransacking a mere 20 years after burial, the mummies of both Ramses V and Ramses VI were moved to Amenhotep II’s tomb where they were found in 1898 and taken to Cairo.

The temples were meant to honor the dead king, perhaps through eternity. In fact, they might more resemble a modern foundation or trust. They were intended to keep the king cult alive, guaranteeing him eternal deification, and not simply through festivals.

Other Points of Interest in Luxor

Luxor Temple

Karnak Temples

Valley of the Queens

Hatshepsut Temple At El Deir El-Bahri

Colossi of Memnon

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