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Sightseein - Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings in Upper Egypt contains many of the tombs of pharaohs from the New Kingdom, including Tutankhamun and Ramesses the Great.

The Valley of the Kings actually has two components - the East Valley and the West Valley. It is the East Valley which most tourists visit and in which most of the tombs of the New Kingdom Pharaohs can be found.

(The West Valley has only one remote tomb open to the public, that of Ay who was Tutankhamun's successor.)

One of the dilemmas for the normal tourist is trying to decide which tombs to enter. The normal ticket permits three tombs and that will probably suffice for one visit. If you rush, you won't appreciate or remember the details of each tomb. The tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62) requires a separate ticket. Not all tombs are open and officials occasionally close particular tombs for restoration. The style of the tombs did undergo changes throughout the New Kingdom and one should try to see examples from the span of 500 years that the Valley was in use.

The tomb of Tuthmose III is at the far end of the East Valley and is one of the earliest in the Valley. Its burial chamber is in the shape of a cartouche (oval-shaped) and its inscriptions are interspersed with stick figures. The climb up the modern metal staircase outside and then the descent into the tomb will give you a very good physical workout - but it's worth it!

Horemheb's tomb shows a transition through to the Ramesside-style of tombs. Just a little further down the main path is the tomb of Ramesses III. While in a state of ruin deep within (the burial chamber is off limits), it is definitely worth a visit and one of the small side chambers contains the famous paintings of two blind harpists.

Ramesses VI's tomb has a magnificent burial chamber in which lie the broken remains of the large stone sarcophagus. Along the length of the chamber's ceiling are two images of the sky goddess Nut which depict both the swallowing and rebirth of the sun disc.

Adjacent to Ramesses VI's tomb is that of Tutankhamun described in detail by following the highlighted link.

In recents years, considerable attention has been given to KV5, the extensive tomb of the sons of Ramesses II. The work of Kent Weeks and his team has uncovered well over 100 rooms in the sprawling complex. The tomb is not open to the public. The full story of the discovery of KV5 is related in Week's book The Lost Tomb.





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