The Valley of the Kings is a grand, well-known historical destination. The incredible tourist site is strategically located around the old Thebes city. The Thebes city was the capital of ancient Egypt, but now it has been renamed to Luxor.
It is a long, narrow defile that was used as a burial site for almost the whole of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties pharaohs. The site is renowned for its rock-cut tombs, which were designed to house the remains of the pharaohs and their powerful nobles. The site is a symbol of the architectural ingenuity of the ancient Egyptians.
The tombs were constructed between 1539 and 1075 BC and were designed to protect the pharaohs’ bodies and worldly possessions.
The tombs contain complicated carvings and paintings. The drawings and cuttings display the pharaohs’ lives and beliefs about their journey to life after death. Tourists have the chance to discover a variety of tombs, and they can understand more about ancient Egypt.
The site is also essential for researchers and scholars interested in ancient Egyptian history and culture. The following lines shed light on the Valley of the Kings’ history, architecture, and cultural importance.
The magical historic spot is placed in Upper Egypt, near Luxor. The area is a long and narrow defile that stretches for about two miles. It is surrounded by cliffs and hills that rise to a height of up to 500 feet. The vital location of the Valley made it an ideal site for the pharaohs to build their tombs to be easily accessible from the city.
The Valley is also located near several other important ancient Egyptian sites, including the temples of Karnak, the Temple of Hatshepsut (at Deir el-Bahari), Valley of the Nobles (Tombs of the Nobles), Ramesseum (Mortuary Temple of Ramses II) etc. All those factors offer fame to the area with its rich history of ancient Egypt.
This location served as the esteemed burial ground for the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt and other elite figures from 1539 to 1075 BCE. Here, we will uncover the historical backdrop of the Valley of the Kings, including the pharaohs and their reigns and the archaeological discoveries made.
Pharaohs and Their Reign
The pharaohs of the New Kingdom period were powerful rulers considered divine beings. They built grand temples and monuments to honour the gods and to glorify their own reigns. The ancient Egyptians believed they would journey to the afterlife and continue their rule in the realm of the gods. Tutankhamun, Hatshepsut, Ramses II, etc., are famous pharaohs buried in the Valley.
The historical site contains several archaeological discoveries; we can mention some here:
- The first modern exploration of the Valley was conducted by Giovanni Belzoni in 1817. There are several tombs have been uncovered after that.
- One of the magical discoveries and globally well-known was the tomb of Tutankhamun. The tomb included treasures and carvings that displayed scenes of ancient Egypt’s life.
- Another critical discovery was the tomb of Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh who ruled during the 18th dynasty. It houses marvellous artefacts highlighting her life and victories.
- Recently, new technologies have allowed archaeologists to explore the Valley in new ways. Ground-penetrating radar and other non-invasive techniques have revealed the presence of previously unknown tombs and chambers. That suggests much is still to be discovered in this ancient burial ground.
The tombs in the Valley are known for their unique architectural features that have stood the test of time. In this section, we will explore the architectural features of the tombs and the art and hieroglyphs that adorn them.
According to the ancient Egyptian faith, the tombs on the site were the final place for the Pharaohs. The tombs were carved out of the limestone cliffs in the Valley. They were adorned with intricate portraits and reliefs. Afterlife journey was the purpose of building the tombs to preserve the pharaohs’ bodies and treasures.
The tombs in the Valley of the Kings are divided into two main types: rock-cut tombs and pit tombs. The rock-cut tombs were carved directly into the limestone cliffs, while the pit tombs were dug into the ground and then covered with a layer of limestone. The rock-cut tombs are more elaborate and decorated than the pit tombs.
Art and Hieroglyphs
The burial chambers, with their artistic artefacts, are symbols of the art of the ancient Egyptians. They were designed to help the pharaohs in their second life after death.
The art and hieroglyphs in the tombs are also crucial for historians and archaeologists. They provide valuable information about the pharaohs and their lives. The paintings and reliefs illustrate other scenes like battles and religious ceremonies.
The Valley of the Kings attracts many visitors each year, causing overcrowding and long queues at the entrance.
In addition to the significant history of the site, the warm, welcoming people are another reason to provide a valuable visiting experience. Tourists will not feel they are strangers in Egypt. Egyptian people are such kind and welcoming tourists. They are so helpful that you will feel at home.
What Is the Importance of the Valley?
That unique site has several benefits and advantages, and we can mention some in the following lines.
Tourism has been vital in the Egyptian economy for over two hundred years, generating 10-15 % of revenues and providing employment for thousands.
While tourism has contributed significantly to the economy of Egypt, it has also caused significant impacts on the Valley of the Kings. It is essential to strike a balance between tourism and conservation to preserve this unique cultural heritage site for future generations.
The magnificent historic site has enormous cultural relevance for Egypt and the world. The tombs of the pharaohs and other top-level officials are evidence of the power society of the ancient Egyptian civilisation.
Influence on Art and Literature
The Valley of the Kings has inspired several artists and writers across history. The intricate carvings and paintings in the tombs have influenced Egyptian art for centuries. The distinctive golden mask of Tutankhamun, housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, stands as a testament to the ancient Egyptians’ exceptional artistry.
The site has also been the setting for many works of literature. Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile is set in the region, and the famous adventurer Indiana Jones explored the tombs in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Legacy and Symbolising
- The historical area represents an archaeological heritage of ancient Egypt. The tombs serve as a reminder of the power and wealth of the pharaohs, and the intricate carvings and paintings provide insight into the beliefs and customs of the time.
- The Valley of the Kings also holds symbolic significance. The journey of the pharaohs through the underworld, as depicted in the carvings and paintings, represents the soul’s journey after death.
- There were multiple findings made at the site. The discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun was a magical revelation worldwide. The tomb contained a treasure trove of artefacts.
- Another significant finding was the discovery of the tomb of Ramesses VI in 1905 by Theodore Davis. The tomb contained intricate wall paintings and has since been studied extensively by archaeologists.
- Researchers have made significant discoveries in recent years using non-invasive techniques such as ground-penetrating radar and 3D scanning. These techniques have allowed researchers to study the tombs and monuments without causing damage to the fragile structures.
Development in technology has allowed us to explore the Valley of the Kings in new and exciting ways. Ground-penetrating radar, LiDAR, and 3D scanning have all been used to map the Valley and identify potential areas of interest.
In addition, new techniques for preserving and restoring ancient artefacts have allowed us to learn more about the Valley’s history. We have been able to repair and study old paintings and hieroglyphics, giving us a better understanding of the lives and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.
The future of the fabulous spot is bright. With new technologies and a deeper understanding of the site, we are confident that we will continue to make new discoveries for this important historical site.
What was the importance of the Valley in ancient Egypt?
The Valley of the Kings has vital importance as a unique archaeological site in the world. It was the burial site of the pharaohs from the 18th to 20th dynasties of ancient Egypt. The tombs in the Valley are considered some of the most beautifully decorated and well-preserved tombs in the world.
How many graves were discovered on the site?
Over 60 graveyards have been uncovered in the Valley of the Kings since 2023. However, it is believed that there may be more tombs yet to be found.
What is the best time to explore the Valley?
The best time to tour the Valley of the Kings is throughout the winter season— between November and February. The weather is more relaxed and more comfortable for exploring the tombs. The temperatures can reach high levels throughout the summer months, making it challenging to explore the site.
What are the things visitors can do in the Valley?
Visitors can explore ancient Egyptian’s pharaohs tombs. The tombs are beautifully decorated with colourful hieroglyphics and stunning artwork. Tourists can also see the burial chambers of some of the most renowned pharaohs in ancient Egyptian history. In addition to that, there are numerous historical sites near the Valley, and tourists can discover them too.
Who were the famous pharaohs who rested on the site?
The Valley contains many popular buried bodies of ancient Egypt’s pharaohs. The numbers include the tombs of Tutankhamun, Ramses II, Seti I, etc.
What about the discovery of the Valley of the Kings?
The Valley of the Kings was not “discovered” in the traditional sense, as it has always been known to contain many royal tombs of the ancient Egyptians. However, particular burial chambers have been rediscovered as archaeological preference progressed.
The most popular one is the grave of Tutankhamun. The famous discovery was made by the Howard Carter in 1922.
Before Howard Carter’s famous discovery, Giovanni Battista Belzoni, working for Henry Salt, had discovered several tombs in the Valley of the Kings in the early 19th century. Notably, he found the tombs of Ay in the West Valley in 1816 and Seti I the following year.