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Thebes Valley of the Kings

QUESTION: Thebes – The Valley of the Kings


The Valley of the Kings is probably the most famous and mysterious area of the Theban Necropolis just west of present-day Luxor in Egypt. In a desolate area of high cliffs and deep caverns, many pharaohs and powerful nobles were secretly laid to rest for a period of nearly 500 years.

Earlier pharaohs were buried in massive pyramids throughout Egypt. Of course, one dramatic example of pyramid construction comes to us from the Old Kingdom on the Giza Plateau. However, while these pyramids were huge testimonials to the dead rulers, they were also simple targets for grave robbers. In the later dynasties, the pharaohs shifted their strategy and started hiding their tombs in cliffs, caverns and caves, using elaborate chamber systems with false passageways and hidden entrances.

If you look to the highest point above the Valley of the Kings, you will see a natural, pyramid-looking peak. Tradition says that this was a “sign” of the gods, marking the new location for elaborate, yet hidden, tombs for the 18th dynasty and beyond.

Thebes – The Great Field
The Valley of the Kings near ancient Thebes was generally known to the Egyptians as “The Great Field.” In hieroglyphics, the official name of the area was “The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes.”

The Valley of the Kings was the final resting place for important pharaohs such as Thutmose II, III, and IV, Hatshepsut, Amenhotep II and III, Seti I, Ramses II, and Merenptah. The Valley of the Kings is also where Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922. Also known as King Tut -- the boy king -- the extraordinary artifacts and treasures of this young pharaoh have toured the world in the most successful traveling exhibit of all time.

Today, the Valley of the Kings is known to contain 63 tombs and multiple chambers, with new chambers and entrances being discovered and excavated almost every year.

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