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Egypt and the Valley of the Kings

Updated on July 16, 2016
Your correspondent in Egypt
Your correspondent in Egypt

The Valley of the Kings is the burial site of over 62 of the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt and one Queen of ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut. It is a limestone valley a few miles outside of Luxor. This is where the famed burial site of King Tut’s Tomb is.

The Kings of Egypt having been painfully aware of the fact that a pyramid was an invitation to grave robbers, decided to build tombs in a site which was secret. To that end they blindfolded workers on their way to the Valley of the Kings so that no worker would know where this valley was. Thus, the robbers didn't find the Valley until many years after it was built.

Another reason that they choose this site is because the sides of the valley, where all the tombs were eventually built, is made of limestone. This is a substance which is easy to cut, when compared to granite. Another reason this graveyard was limestone is it is always cool to the touch. An enemy to bodies, dehydration, is virtually unknown in this valley. Additionally, the shape of the limestone mountain is like a pyramid and this appealed to the Pharaohs.

Eventually the burial places of the kings were found and almost all looted. The sole exception is the tomb of King Tutankhamun, It was discovered next to the already known tomb of Ramses VI. What happened was this: when the workers were building the after-life residence of King Ramses VI they threw the stones into the front passage of Tut’s tomb, completely covering it. As the discoveries were made in the Valley of the Kings, the archaeologist, Howard Carter began earnestly and diligently searching for it.

One day in 1922 a workman, a boy, found a stairway leading eventually to Tut’s Tomb. The tomb had been superficially robbed but the robbers never figured how to get to the casket of King Tut. Carter noticed two black skinned, wooden statues standing in front of a wall which looked to him like it just might be the site of the mummified remains of King Tut. He dug a hole in the plaster and saw the tomb of King Tutankhamun, undisturbed for nearly 3500 years.

The next ten years were consumed with carefully removing, cataloging and negotiating how much of the treasure there was rightfully Carter’s. This was a long and hard negotiation and ultimately Carter got some of it and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo got the lion’s share. It is on display there and remains a source of pride to contemporary Egyptians.

There are several tombs which are open to the public on a daily basis, among them King Tut’s tomb, which costs 100 Egyptian Pounds (Approximately $14.25) to enter.


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