Valley of the Kings, Luxor

This is one of the most important sites in Luxor and should definitely be included in your holiday travel to Egypt. A great way to arrive in Luxor is by taking a Nile Cruise from Aswan to Luxor.

The Valley of the Kings is located on the west bank of the Nile and is at a 15-minute distance from the dock. 62 spectacular burial chambers for pharaohs are located here. The location was chosen as it was remote and could be guarded from looters and plunderers. Sentries and guards lined the entry to the burial sites. The burial chambers are on the west, where the sun sets, as the ancient Egyptians associated the setting sun with the afterlife.

It is best to start your tour of the Valley of the Kings early in the morning as your visit involves a lot of walking and the sun gets quite hot, even in winter. Carry plenty of water and a hat. Expect crowds, especially in winter, because this is a major historical site and the sun is scorching in summer. The tombs were built between 1550-1069 BC. Beginning with the first king, Tuthmoses I, each subsequent king added, modified and fortified the chambers. Some of the tombs are small and are nothing more than shallow pits while others are large with as many as 121 chambers and 10 corridors! Like the Pyramids in Cairo, the tombs had mummies of the kings, treasures and funerary objects. Most of the tombs were plundered centuries ago. Some of the tombs even have Roman and Latin graffiti, attesting to the Greco-Roman presence in Luxor. The majority of the tombs are located on the eastern side but the important ones of Amenhotep III and Ay are on the west.

Some tombs are closed in a rotation policy to limit damage to the chambers due to the heavy influx of tourists. So it’s possible that you may not be able to see the tomb that you wanted to see on your trip. Your ticket allows you entry to only three tombs so decide beforehand what you want to see and then plan your tour accordingly. A small train can take you from the entrance up to the tombs and, if you want to avoid a steep uphill climb, this option is recommended. Study the map of the valley which has the numbers of the tombs marked on them.

Here’s a list of the most important tombs:

Tomb of Horemheb (KV 57)

The paintings in this tomb are colourful and quite sophisticated with bas-reliefs. There’s also use of hieroglyphs. The King’s large sarcophagus in red granite can be found in the burial chamber.

Tomb of Seti I (KV 17)

This tomb has a length of 120 meters, making it the longest among all the tombs. The paintings on the walls and ceilings are simply outstanding. But this tomb is often closed to visitors because of the fragility of the paintings. The burial chamber is just a pit as the original sarcophagus lies in London’s Sir John Sloane Museum.

Tomb of Ramses III (KV 03)

This is one of the biggest tombs in the Valley of the Kings and is most noted for its paintings of two harpers playing to the gods. There are a total of ten chambers in this tomb.

Tomb of Mernpatah (KV 08)

This tomb is of interest because it contains an outer false burial chamber which was made to resemble a true burial chamber in every way in terms of a sarcophagus, paintings and precious objects. The reason was to foil looters from entering the real burial chamber where the inner sarcophagus of Mernpatah is placed.

Tomb of Ramses VI (KV 09)

This tomb has three main chambers plus a fourth one which was added later by Ramses VI. The uniqueness of this tomb is that the walls are covered with complete texts of the Book of Day and Night, The Book of Caverns and the Book of Gates. There are also other religious texts known at that time on the walls.

Tomb of Amenhotep (KV 35)

This is a really deep tomb which you access through a steep flight of steps and a long corridor. Apart from Amenhotep’s mummy, nine more mummies were found here.

Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV 62)

This was discovered in 1922 and was the only untouched tomb with the seal on its door intact. Tutankhamen was only 19 when he died and was a minor king so the tomb is not very impressive. However, the treasures inside were astounding even for a minor king, giving us an idea what the other bigger tombs must have contained before they were plundered. Most of the incredible funerary and precious objects found in this tomb, including the famous death mask, have been moved to the museums in Cairo and Luxor.
King Tut’s mummy was found in three coffins placed one inside the other. In his tomb, you will find his mummy in the innermost coffin made of solid gold. The other two coffins are in the museum in Cairo.

Best time to visit Valley of the Kings, Luxor

October to March when the weather is relatively cooler.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 at 8:56 am and is filed under Valley of the Kings. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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