Egypt has always been on my list of places to see… and finally like a dream come true was my trip to Egypt in July '09. The heat did not wither my spirit to see this magnificent and ancient place.
We arrived into Luxor, which is a city located in Upper Egypt. It was the ancient city of Thebes – the capital of ancient Egypt. In Arabic Luxor means ‘the palaces’ and the city truly lives its name!
Luxor is among the most famous & popular tourist destinations in Egypt. Hence any trip to Egypt is incomplete without a visit to Luxor. The weather here is fairly hot all year long. However in summer the temperatures reach upto 40 – 50 C.
Our first site seeing was to the ‘Valley of Kings’. This was the royal cemetery for around 65 Pharoahs. The valley is located on the west bank and has only one entrance. The tombs range from a simple pit (eg. KV 54) to a tomb with over 125 chambers & corridors (KV5)
The sad part is that some of the treasures have been robbed by robbers or workmen who accidentally discovered these tombs.
Here is a picture of the numbering system. This was first established by John Gardiner Wilkinson in 1827, initially to form part of a map of Thebes. However several explorers assigned numbers, letters & descriptive labelling to these tombs. Wilkinson’s chronological numbering system is what is currently in use.
A list of the KV's discovered (so far!)
The most recent discovery is KV 62 that of Tutankhamen. The earliest known tomb is that of Tuthmoses I. He started using the valley as a burial place. Some tombs here have been discovered with thousands of precious artefacts, eg. Yuya & Thuyu. Most tombs have been discovered in the past 200 years. Although most tombs have ancient Egyptian inscriptions / paintings on them, a few have also been found with Greek & Latin graffiti. Some beelive that a few tombs were used as dwellings and churches during the Greco-Roman & Byzantine Periods.
Some tombs are massive with stairs leading from one chamber to a corridor to another chamber that just doesn’t seem to end. Some Egyptologists believe that there is a connection from the Valley of the Kings to the Luxor Temple as well. KV5 is the largest tomb discovered till date. The Egyptologist Mr. Kent Weeks believed that this was built for the children of Ramses II. This tomb, including many others is not open for public viewing.
As at today, there are still several archaeological projects ongoing…. Still a million secrets to be revealed. The air here is eerie, but the trip well worth it.
A few travel tips –
- The entrance to the Valley of the Kings cost EGP 55. Don’t miss the magnificent miniature of the Valley of the Kings (donated by the Japanese government).
- Video cameras are not allowed into the Valley.
- Cameras are allowed but you are not allowed to use them inside the tombs.
- Guides are not allowed into the tombs, but they are of great help and it is highly recommended to use the services of a guide, who will give you the complete description outside each tomb.
- The Tomb of King Tutankhamon needs a separate ticket of EGP 70. You need to buy this well in advance at the ticket counter.
The best tombs to visit are the following (I was told by our guide – Youssef)
- Tomb of Ramses IX (KV6) – The ceilings & walls are elegantly painted with scenes of the Goddess of Nut – the Goddess of the sky
- Tomb of Ramses VI (KV9) – this was closed for refurbishment
- Tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35) – this was also closed for refurbishment
- Tomb of Mernpatah (KV8), the largest in the valley. Be prepared for a long walk.
- Tomb of Thutmose (KV34) – this tomb represents the standard form for the 18th Dynasty royal tombs. Also representing the book of the Dead.
- Tomb of Ramses I (KV16)
- Tomb of Ramses VII (KV 1)
Just a small note to say that the Tomb of Amonhotep II is considered the best completed tombs in the valley. It is full of religious scenes depicting life after death. This tomb was discovered in 1897 by Victor Loret. This tomb is beside the tomb of Tutankhamon. This tomb housed the mummy of the king intact in its sarcophagus. The mummy is today at the Museum in Cairo. Some items from these tombs were stolen & later sold on the internet.
Tomb of Seti I (KV17) is the longest tomb in the valley and it is believed to extend upto 120m into solid rock. The paintings here are amazing and depicts life after death. The tomb consists of seven corridors & ten chambers all painted and decorated with the Book of the Dead, astronomical scenes & the burial rituals.
In its burial chamber was found a magnificent sarcophagus made of the finest alabaster. I believe this is currently in a museum in London.
Sorry this post turned out to be longer than expected. Promise that the next few posts on Egypt will be shorter….. But at the Valley of the Kings, there are a million secrets still waiting to be unfolded.