The Valley of the Kings was a tourist attraction in antiquity (particularly Roman times) and is considered one of the greatest sites of Egyptology-related archaeological expeditions over the past two centuries. Everything has been fully documented, from the theft of antiquities and the looting of tombs to the scientific studies that uncovered the entire burial city of Thebes. Despite these expeditions, all details of the 11 tombs are known. There is ample evidence of scientific attempts to study the area over the centuries.
- The Greek writers Strabo (1st century BC) and Diodorus (1st century A.D.) gave the number of tombs in Thebes and estimated them at around 47.
- They were struck only by the fact that they could do well and that the rest of the tombs had been destroyed.
- Even the famous Greek geographer Pausanias (2nd century AD) made numerous observations on the Valley of the Kings and its “pipe pass”, describing the descent to the entrance of the tomb.
- In addition to the scholars and writers who come to the area, many tourists visit it, which explains why there are many inscriptions written in languages that people did not use when the graves were excavated.
- In addition to the few inscriptions in the valley of kings, there are Phoenician, Coptic and many other languages.
- Most of these inscriptions were found in Tomb 9, which contains about a thousand inscriptions, the oldest of which dates back to 278 BC.
The area studies went through many different stages and circumstances, starting before the 19th century.
Before The 19th Century
Before the 19th century, in particular, it was challenging and expensive. The city of Thebes has yet to be discovered. All available information about this city referred to its location on the banks of the Nile. It had always been confused with Memphis (Memphis), the capital of Egypt in the old kingdom, or any other city before the advent of adventurers.
- Danish artist Frederik Louis Norden first documented the sightings in Thebes, followed by King Richard Pocock of England, who published the first modern map of the valley of kings in 1743.
In 1799, scientists from a French expedition (notably Dominique Vivan) made a detailed map of every tomb ever discovered. The Valley west of the valley of kings was the first to be discovered. The researchers of the French expedition published a total of 24 books describing the history of Egypt and two complete volumes describing Thebes and its surroundings in the “Explanation of Egypt” encyclopedia.
As early as the turn of the nineteenth century, a series of European reconnaissance activities in the valley of kings succeeded in deciphering the hieroglyphs of Champollion. The reconnaissance campaign began under Belzoni, commanded by Henry Salt. In fact, Belzoni was able to find many graves.
In 1816, the tomb of Khabar Khapro-Ra in the western valley (tomb 23) was discovered, and the tomb of Seti I (tomb 17) was found the following year. After a visit to the area, Belzoni reported the findings. Due to the great value of the excavation, the Consul General of France Bernardino Drovetti (Grime Belzoni and Salt) would have worked alone in the same research area.
In 1827, John Gardner Wilkinson was commissioned to identify every tomb place of discovery: The valley of kings and to paint the front of each tomb’s entrance.
In 1830, Wilkinson published all these drawings and maps in his book, suitable topography and a complete survey of other Egypt. During this time, James Burton led expeditions in the valley of kings. James Burton was known to have entered the tombs of the sons of Ramesses II, but the result of his continued work had been aiming to protect the tombs of Seti I from flooding.
In 1829, Champollion visited the valley of kings as part of Franco’s campaign to explore Tuscany. Theologians Ippolito Rossellini and Nestor spent nearly two months in the valley of the kings examining the tombs, 16 of which were found. The total number of tombs and the inscriptions carved on the walls identified the original owners of the tombs. Several wall inscriptions and this patch from the tomb of Seti I, whose wall was badly damaged, are now on display at the Louvre in Paris.
1845 and 1846
In 1845 and 1846, Carl Richard Lepsius visited the valley with an expeditionary force and documented 25 tombs in the eastern valley of kings and four tombs in the western valley. For the remainder of this century’s second half, the former kings’ valley support began.
At the beginning of 1888, sixteen tombs were discovered during the first two years by Juli, George and Victor Loret. Meanwhile, George Darissi opened the common shells of Ramses V and Ramses VI. Gaston Maspero, the chief of the valley of kings and the leader of the ancient rulers of Egypt, was changed in the region when the method of excavation was changed.
The 20th Century
In the early 20th century, American lawyer Theodore Davis obtained permission from the Egyptian government to search and excavate the area. His team, led by British Egyptologist Edward Russell Ayrton, squatted many royal tombs and non-royal ones, including Tomb 43, tomb 46 and tomb 57. They also found evidence of the Amarna Cemetery in Tomb 55, after which they excavated Tutankhamun’s remains in two tombs, Tomb 54 and Tomb 58, declaring that exploration of the valley of kings was forever impossible to find other monuments or tombs.
In 1912, in a book by Davies entitled The Tombs of Harmhabi and Tuatankhamu, he added comments on his latest discoveries on the book’s last page. After Davies died in early 1915, George Herbert (5th Earl of Carnarvon) obtained exploration and excavation rights in the valley of the kings.
He appointed Howard Carter to lead his team of explorers, and the team really took off and discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, known as Tomb 62, in November 1922. A project planned in Thebes at the end of the 20th century could be based on the discovery of Tomb 5 of the sons of Ramesses II, the larger of the two districts of the valley of kings (with 120 rooms for funerals). Research is underway to determine if the tomb is empty or if the sons of Ramesses II are actually buried. The project also explored and restored many valley tombs to the east or west.
The Amarna Royal Cemeteries Project surveyed the area around both Tombs 55 and 62 to identify the burial sites of the Amarna-era kings.
The 21st Century
In the twenty-first century, many expeditions continued to excavate and explore the area until the arrival of the Thebes Planning Project in 2001. Many accompanying panels added a wealth of information and facts about the area, providing information and maps of the tombs found. Currently open to the public or closed for maintenance and restoration.
In a press release dated 8 February 2006, the supreme council of antiquities informed the public that a team of University of Memphis researchers would be travelling to Egypt to study the country and had managed to locate the first pharaoh’s tomb (Tomb 63) discovered at the valley of kings. After the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, the seven assembly machines placed a few metres away were covered by the handle area, decorated with seven large deposits, had a single launch space, and were not used as tombs.
In May 2008, Zahi Hawass announced that he had commissioned an Egyptian research team to search for the tomb of Pharaoh Ramesses VIII in the area around the tombs of Merneptah and Ramesses II. One of two important reasons is that most 61 people and one of the researchers should have written in detail or mentioned the results, where others focus on the earth or stairs made up of this set of graves arriving in a room without a suspension chamber.
This tomb had several purposes. Some are meant to bury the centre of Kingdom Loar, while others are prodigals, and others are completely empty. Some of these tombs have been preserved since ancient times. Most of the 19 archaeological excavations have become the most intense in the field.