Constructed during Egypt’s New Kingdom (1539-1075 BC), the Valley of the Kings consists of a still unknown number of crypts within the barren hills west of Luxor. While the Old Kingdom royals were entombed in the Great Pyramids, New Kingdom pharaohs preferred to remain closer to their southern dynastic roots. Hence, the valley was born as a gateway to the afterlife for pharaohs, queens, high priests and other elites of the era.
Of course, the ancients had no name for ‘death’ but would often refer to this as a period of ‘westing.’ They believed that in a reality where there is no time, nor death that everything exists in constant state of transformation in the present. The elaborate nature of these sacred tombs support these strong beliefs by ensuring that the entombed became one with the gods and continued into their next life in royal fashion.
Preserving the Valley of the Kings
Out of the 60+ discovered tombs, approximately 18 are open for public viewing, and they are often not open at the same time. This is due to an effort by the authorities and Egyptologists to mitigate damages to the tombs due to tourism that increases carbon dioxide levels, humidity and friction. For this reason, authorities rotate open areas where dehumidifiers, glass screens and electric lighting help reduce the negative deteriorative impact of visitors. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, the valley enjoys greater protection and cautious efforts by archaeologists who still conduct explorations today.
After 9 Years of Restoration, King Tut’s Tomb Makes a Grand Re-Debut
The most popular and well known tomb in the Valley of the Kings is the young Tutankhamen’s. However, for almost a decade King Tut’s burial chambers have been limited to the public as experts have been revamping and restoring the area to ensure it’s preserved for centuries to come. Today, his mummy is displayed in an oxygen-free case and there are numerous original objects that were found in the original 1922 discovery. These treasures include King Tut’s quartzite sarcophagus, the wooden outermost coffin, and numerous elaborate paintings exhibiting the boy pharaoh’s life and death.
Discover the Historical Revelations Amid the Tomb of Ramses VI
The tomb of Ramses VI, also known as KV9, is by far one of the most sophisticated and grand-scale tombs in the valley. Beautifully decorated throughout, this tomb tells the story of the origins of the heaven and earth and the creation of light, sun and life itself. The astronomically designed ceilings feature adornments from the Book of the Day and the Book of the Night. Corridors 1-3 are painted with images from the Book of Caverns and the Book of Gates, while corridors four and five feature passages from the Book of the Secret Room. Within the vestibule are passages from the Book of the Dead and within the burial chamber are illustrations from the Book of the Earth.
The Divinely Inspired Tomb of Tuthmose III
Tuthmose III’s tomb is the oldest that is open to visitors and dates to around 1450 BC. The vestibule is simply captivating and features the depictions of over 740 Egyptian divinities of the Amduat. The burial chamber features a stunning red quartzite sarcophagus that still holds the damaged mummy of Tuthmose. The walls are adorned the Litany of Ra and all twelve parts of the Book of Amduat. The twelve parts represent the hours of the night, and these texts were believed to help the pharaoh navigate the perils of the Underworld to reach the Afterlife.
If you are looking for a spiritual place to soak in the magnificent energy of the ancients, the Valley of the Kings is a remarkable place to visit.