In Upper Egypt, west of the Nile and in the heart of the desert, lies a valley filled with the tombs of royals of the Egyptian New Kingdom – the Valley of the Kings.
If you’re planning on visiting this intriguing area, there are a few things you should know first.
For around 500 years, between 1539 BCE and 1075 BCE, the tombs were excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom.
There are believed to be 63 tombs in total. The Valley not only contains tombs of pharaohs, but also the tombs of nobles, along with wives and children of pharaohs and nobles. It’s thought that only around 20 of these tombs were actually built for kings.
The exploration of the tombs commenced at the end of the 1700s, with the latest findings being a tomb entrance and chambers discovered in 2005 and 2008.
The tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology, giving viewers an idea of the beliefs of the kings of the period. There are symbols and illustrations that show the life and times of the royal family member who was buried there. If it was a king, the markings also include personal messages from those he ruled over.
The first king known to have been buried there was Thutmose I in 1493 BCE. The last was Ramses X in 1107 BCE.
Many of the tombs were raided centuries ago, with corrupt guards accepting huge bribes from robbers who wanted to get their hands on the gold and other artifacts. This relentless robbery was the reason the valley was eventually abandoned.
The tombs weren’t rediscovered until the late 1700s.
Excavation and conservation are still taking place in the area today.
One of the most famous discoveries is the tomb of King Tutankhamun. The tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in the 1920s and had the royal seal on the door still intact, with the first three chambers bare. Another chamber was filled with funerary objects and there were four gilded wooden shrines which held the stone sarcophagus, three mummiform coffins and the mummy of the 19-year-old King. Some of the major finds in the tomb were the solid gold burial mask and gold coffin.
Located about 400 miles south of Cairo, you can visit the Valley of the Kings on your own or with a tour group. Book your accommodation in Luxor and plan to spend at least a day and 2 nights here so you can spend a full day at the Valley. There are plenty of options for hotels and tours available for travelers on any budget.