Information on The Valley of the Kings in Egypt.
Where is the greatest ancient graveyard for royal society? Without a doubt, the answer would have to be in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. For over 500 years, the Pharoahs of Egypt, their royal family members, and powerful nobles were buried in rock cut tombs in the Theban Hills on the West bank of the Nile River. The valley is located in the Southern part of Egypt and the city of Luxor lies directly across the Nile River from the tombs. Between the 16th and 11th centuries BC (time period referred to as the New Kingdom), at least 63 tombs were dug into the limestone cliffs ranging from simple pits to multi-chambered tombs that had over 100 rooms.
Most of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings that were constructed consist of a long corridor that slopes downward, passing through a set of chambers before ending in a room where the sarcophagus would be placed. Each tomb was decorated with hieroglyphics, murals and carvings that depicted ancient sacred texts and funeral traditions. During the entombment and funerary process, each tomb would have been filled with all of the objects that the pharoah would need in the afterlife such as clothing, food and of course, treasure. Immediately after the pharoah was placed in the tomb, it would be sealed and the entrance would be carefully camouflaged.
Towards the end of the New Kingdom, the pharoah's power was coming to an end and each tomb in the Valley was increasingly targeted by thieves. Many of the treasures that was sealed in these tombs were robbed and lost forever over this time period. It was because of these desecrations in the tombs that most of the royal bodies were moved from their own burial places to two other burial chambers in the area. The most famous one of these is Deir el-Bahri where a total of 40 mummies were found including Ramesses II body along with other pharoahs and royal family members.
Even though most of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings were robbed of their treasures more than 3000 years ago, there was one that still had a wealth of artifacts when found in 1922. This, of course, is the tomb of the infamous boy king Tutankhamen which was discovered by Howard Carter. Amazingly when Carter found the tomb, he discovered that it had already been robbed at least two times in the past but over 3500 artifacts remained along with the body of the pharoah. He was able to open the sarcophagus and came across one of the most beautiful finds ever in archaeology. Resting on top of the Pharoah's face was the gold funeral mask that now resides in Cairo's Egyptian Museum. It is easily one of the most known artifacts in all of archaeology.
The Valley of the Kings is visited by thousands of visitors each day and has actually been a tourist destination for hundreds of years. This can be seen in graffitti left by both ancient Greek and Roman visitors inside of several tombs. Even though the tombs no longer carry the massive treasures that each pharoah was buried with, the area still gives each visitor a sense of the grandeur of Ancient Egypt. Most archaeologists think that there very well could be more tombs to discover in the Valley of the Kings and who knows, maybe some treasure too.
Wonders of the World. Howard, Martin. 2010 by Igloo Books, China.
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