The Valley of the Kings was a great burial ground for the Pharaohs. After around 1500 B.C. the Pharaohs no longer built great pyramids in which to be buried. Instead, most of them were buried in tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
How Many Tombs are in the Valley of the Kings?
There are over 60 tombs in the Valley of the Kings. They vary from small tombs that are little more than a large hole in the ground to very large tombs with over 100 underground chambers.
Unfortunately, most of the tombs were looted thousands of years ago and the treasure was stolen or removed by thieves. There is artwork on the walls, however, that allows archeologists to learn much about the lives of the Pharaohs and other leaders who were buried here. The one tomb that was discovered with much of the treasure and tomb still intact was that of Tutankhamun.
The Tomb of Tutankhamun
The most famous tomb in the Valley of the Kings is that of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, sometimes called King Tut. It was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter and had been largely untouched by thieves and vandals. Carter found the tomb under the remains of some workmen's huts. This may be why it had not been found by tomb raiders. The tomb was packed with amazing artifacts including King Tut's mummy, a gold mask, and a solid gold inner coffin. The tomb contained several chambers including the burial chamber, antechamber, treasure chamber, and annex.
Details on Others Tombs in Kings Valley
The area has been a major area of modern Egyptological exploration for the last two centuries. Before this the area was a site for tourism in antiquity . This area illustrates the changes in the study of ancient Egypt, starting as antiquity hunting, and ending as scientific excavation of the whole Theban Necropolis. Despite the exploration and investigation noted below, only eleven of the tombs have actually been completely recorded.
Many of the tombs have graffiti written by these ancient tourists. Jules Baillet located over 2100 Greek and Latin graffiti, along with a smaller number in Phoenician, Cypriot, Lycian, Coptic, and other languages. The majority of the ancient graffiti are found in KV9, which contains just under a thousand of them. The earliest positively dated graffiti dates to 278 B.C.
In 1799, members of Napoleon's expedition to Egypt (especially Dominique Vivant) drew maps and plans of the known tombs, and for the first time noted the Western Valley (where Prosper Jollois and Édouard de Villiers du Terrage located the tomb of Amenhotep III, WV22). The Description de l'Égypte contains two volumes (out a total of 24) on the area around Thebes.
European exploration continued in the area around Thebes during the nineteenth century, boosted by Champollion's translation of hieroglyphs early in the century. Early in the century, the area was visited by Belzoni, working for Henry Salt, who discovered several tombs, including those of Ay in the West Valley (WV23) in 1816 and Seti I (KV17) the next year. At the end of his visits, Belzoni declared that all of the tombs had been found and nothing of note remained to be found. Working at the same time (and a great rival of Belzoni and Salt) was Bernardino Drovetti, the French Consul-General.When Gaston Maspero was reappointed to head the Egyptian Antiquities Service, the nature of the exploration of the valley changed again. Maspero appointed English archaeologist Howard Carter as the Chief Inspector of Upper Egypt and the young man discovered several new tombs and explored several others, clearing KV42 and KV20.
Around the start of the 20th century, the American Theodore M. Davis had the excavation permit in the valley, and his team (led mostly by Edward R. Ayrton) discovered several royal and non-royal tombs (including KV43, KV46 and KV57). In 1907 they discovered the possible Amarna Period cache in KV55. After finding what they thought was all that remained of the burial of Tutankhamun (items recovered from KV54 and KV58), it was announced that the valley was completely explored and no further burials were to be found, in Davis's 1912 publication, The Tombs of Harmhabi and Touatânkhamanou; the book closes with the comment, "I fear that the Valley of Kings is now exhausted.After Davis's death early in 1915 Lord Carnarvon acquired the concession to excavate the valley and he employed Carter to explore it. After a systematic search they discovered the actual tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62) in November 1922.
Various expeditions have continued to explore the valley, adding greatly to the knowledge of the area. In 2001 the Theban Mapping Project designed new signs for the tombs, providing information and plans of the open tombs.
Most of the tombs are not open to the public (18 of the tombs can be opened, but they are rarely open at the same time), and officials occasionally close those that are open for restoration work. The number of visitors to KV62 has led to a separate charge for entry into the tomb. The West Valley has only one open tomb—that of Ay—and a separate ticket is needed to visit this tomb. The tour guides are no longer allowed to lecture inside the tombs and visitors are expected to proceed quietly and in single file through the tombs. This is to minimize time in the tombs and prevent the crowds from damaging the surfaces of the decoration. Photography is no longer allowed in the tombs.
In 1997, 58 tourists and four Egyptians were massacred at nearby Deir el-Bahri by Islamist militants from Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya. This led to an overall drop in tourism in the area.On most days of the week an average of four to five thousand tourists visit the main valley. On the days that the Nile Cruises arrive, the number can rise to over nine thousand. These levels are expected to rise to 25,000 by 2015.The West Valley is much less visited, as there is only one tomb that is open to the public
HOURS OF OPERATION:
1 May – Ramadan: 6:00 AM – 7:00 PM
(last ticket sold at 6:00 PM)
Ramadan – 30 April: 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM
(last ticket sold at 4:00 PM)
General Admission:(Includes admission to the area and to THREE of the following tombs, which are open to the public.)
Egyptian: 4 LE
Egyptian Student: 2 LE
Foreign: 70 LE
Foreign Student: 35 LE
Train: 2 LE
Tickets for the tombs of Ramesses VI, Tutankhamun, and Ay must be purchased separately (see below for details).
Tomb of Ramesses VI: Egyptian: 2 LE
Egyptian Student: 1 LE
Foreign: 50 LE
Foreign Student: 25 LE
Tomb of Tutankhamun: Egyptian: 10 LE
Egyptian Student: 5 LE
Foreign: 80 LE
Foreign Student: 40 LE
Tomb of Ay: Egyptian: 2 LE
Egyptian Student: 1 LE
Foreign: 20 LE
Foreign Student: 10 LE
Student rates are available to bearers of a valid student ID from an Egyptian university or an International Student ID Card
West Bank, Luxor
BY TAXI: ask for “wadi al-maluk” for the East Valley (KV), and “wadi al-gurub” for the West Valley (WV), also known as the “Valley of the Monkeys.”
Visitor’s center, gift shop.