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Ancient Egypt /
1. Introduction
2. Gods
3. Concepts
4. Cult
5. Cult centres
6. Necropolises
7. Structures

Detailed articleAncient Egypt

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Ca. 1500-ca. 1070 BCE

Open map of Ancient EgyptAncient Egypt / Religion / Necropolises /
Valley of the Kings
Also called: Valley of the Tombs of the Kings
Arabic: wādī 'al-mulūk

Detailed articleList of tombs

Landscape of the Valley of the Kings
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Tomb of Ramses 6, Valley of the Kings
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Modern entry to the Tomb of Ramses 9, Valley of the Kings
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In Ancient Egypt, the royal necropolis of Thebes, the capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom. The valley is the one single Egyptian necropolis with the most royal tombs.
The Valley of the Kings was first used in the early 15th century BCE, remaining popular until the 11th century, all through the era of the New Kingdom, from the 18th, through the 19th and until the 20th dynasties. In all, this burial place was used for some 430 years. The first known king to be buried here was Tuthmosis 1, the last Ramses 10. The last king of the New Kingdom, Ramses 11, also built a tomb here, but was never buried in it.
Tuthmosis 1's predecessor, Amenophis 1 is attributed with tomb KV39, which would mean that he was the first king here. This theory is, however, never proven.
The end of the era of the Valley of the Kings is also the end of the New Kingdom. With the transition to the

It is located to a small, rocky valley, 700 metres deep, 400 metres wide at its most, opening up in the north, closing in the south. The mountain sides are largely of limestone.
The valley is right in from the fertile flatland of the western bank of the Nile, across from the city Luxor.
There are 63 tombs in the valley. Most were built for kings (or pharaohs as they often are called), but there were also two queen tombs, as well as a few tombs for nobles and princes.
Neither the longest nor the largest tombs were built for any king. The longest tomb was for Queen Hatshepsut, digging about 210 metres into the mountain, descending 100 metres. The largest was built for 52 sons of King Ramses 2, having a central pillared hall, with corridors leading to the many burial chambers.
One often suggested reason for the location here is the peak hovering over the valley, that resembles the shape of a pyramid.
Tombs are named KV for King's Valley, and a number between 1 and 63. Technically, they are numbered according to discovery, but this does not apply to all tombs.

The tombs follow one main pattern. A shaft leads deep into the mountain side, concluding in a modestly sized chamber or chambers used for the burial.
In purely architectonic terms, the tombs were very simple, and when the entry to the tomb was covered and hidden after the burial, the intention of the structure becomes easy to read. The tombs were not for human admiration, they were practical tools for the deceased.
Still, the shaft tomb was of an older pattern, used mainly with the shaft tombs, which were not intended to be hidden for the public. Even more, it is not hard to see similarities between the pyramid shafts and the tombs here.
One reason for the valley for burial was the rightful fear of the kings that their tombs would be robbed. The tombs here were attempted hidden, entries were carefully hidden behind dirt and rocks.
The tombs were also an expression of the dead's entry into the underworld, from where one could join the sun's journey through day and night.
The burial chambers were lavishly equipped with treasures as well as furnitures and trivial necessities for the afterlife.
Despite the efforts of protecting against robbers, all but one tomb were thoroughly robbed. In many cases, it appears, later kings commissioned the robberies, making their own grand projects possible. Only the small, modest tomb of Tutankhamon survived, hidden below another tomb. Although his grave must have been modest compared to many other tombs, the finds here represents possibly the richest treasure ever unearthed.

Decorations and their purpose
Both shafts and chambers were richly decorated, with sculptured and painted scenes. The depictions were of the king in the presence of gods, and magical texts helping the king in the afterlife.
The wall text deals with the trials the king has to pass, threatened by spirits and demons.

Early 15th century BCE: First royal burial in the valley, Tuthmosis 1 is placed into a tomb that would also be used by his daughter, Hatshepsut.
Around 1000: By the command of the kings of the 21st Dynasty, all known royal tombs in Thebes are relocated, and all valuables are stripped of them.

Modern age
1922 November: Discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamon, with the greatest single treasure find ever.
1979: The Valley of the Kings is included on UNESCO's World Heritage list.
2006: Discovery of a new tomb.

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By Tore Kjeilen