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Valley Of The Kings

TOMB BUILDING IN THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS

Apart from the archaeological interest in understanding how a New Kingdom settlement once looked like, the worker’s village of Deir El-Medina also reveals vital information about how New Kingdom tombs were built from the various ostraca (a piece of rock with drawings or writing on it) and papyri found in the village or in the nearby “great pit”. When these finds are added to the ones discovered at the Valley of the Kings, a clear picture of how these tombs were built emerges. Add to this the many tombs left in various stages of completion and a full picture of tomb construction in the New Kingdom can be gleaned, though some details are vaguer and speculation still has to be employed.

 

Location

So far there is no evidence relating to why each tomb in the valley was located in its specific location and when looking at a map of the valley one thing seems to emerge; they appear to have been dug in a random manner. Because of this a few tomb collisions did occur, but it is amazing that these did not happen more often.

 

The location for a new tomb was chosen by the vizier, who was accompanied by the architects and chief stonemasons, and later approved of by the king. It would have been harder for the later viziers to select sites due to the best locations in the cliffs already being used and the subsequent lack of space caused by the earlier tombs, as well as the knowledge that the valley had an inclination to flood. The correct positioning of the site must have been a very important decision to make and several factors would have influenced the choice; what was the quality of the rock? Was the site easily accessed and secure? Was the rock face suitable for a tomb entrance? The commencement and subsequent abandonment of several tombs occurs throughout the valley, though any detailed study on them has never occurred. The many hill ends, which protrude from the edges of the valley, became the setting for most of the 20th Dynasty tombs due to these being the most suitable places to cut new tombs. Though some scholars say that maps must have been made in order to avoid running into already existing tombs, this seems more like speculation as the valley had been chosen for its secrecy, hence the mortuary temples being separated from their relevant burial sites and built on the other side of the mountain, and any maps would have been a boon to tomb robbers.

 

Once the site had been chosen a dedication ceremony may have occurred as foundation deposits, similar to those used in temple dedications, have been discovered adjacent to many of the tomb entrances, though some scholars reject this. As these tombs were being cut into the body of the mountain that was sacred to the goddesses Hathor and Meretseger, and knowing the ancient Egyptians belief in religion and magic, it would be feasible to consider that some kind of dedication or offering was made to appease the gods; the gods who would watch over the deceased king. These foundation deposits contained many different items including objects of ritual importance. It is unclear why not every tomb had pits dug for these deposits, though some may have been stolen or simply lost through time.

 

Planning

Once more speculation occurs and this time it is about the discovery of two important documents which show the layouts of two separate tombs. This speculation is about whether the designs are plans of tombs to be constructed or pictures of tombs already constructed.

 

There is a plan of the tomb of Ramesses IV (KV2), in the Turin museum and it is a very detailed representation of the tomb, showing the corridors, and their names, as well as the placement of the king’s sarcophagus. The papyrus was written in hieratic and it also gives the various dimensions of the tomb. The debate, however, is whether it was actually a plan for the tomb, or a drawing after its completion

 

An ostraca was found in the debris of the tomb of Ramesses IX (KV6), which is now in the Cairo museum, whilst the tomb was being cleared in 1888. A simple illustration, with no details, it shows the access stairway next to the ramp used to draw the sarcophagus into the tomb. It also shows the side niches, or annexes, used to hold statues and/or accessories, doors and corridors, recesses and pillars, the ramp to the lower levels, and the burial chamber, including the floor recess for the sarcophagus. Again, whether it was actually a plan for the tomb, or a drawing after its completion is questioned by scholars.

 

Apart from the two aforementioned tomb illustrations, many ostraca have been found, at both Deir El-Medina and the Valley of the Kings, that also show designs of various tombs, several of which have been studied and been matched with their relevant tombs though, as in the case of the two illustrations above, the question of them being a “blueprint” or a “memento” has not been decided upon.

KV 01 Ramses VII

KV 22 Amenhetep III

KV 52 Animals

KV 02 Ramses IV

KV 23 Ay

KV 53 Unknown

KV 03 Cache of Ramses III

KV 24 Unknown

KV 54 Cache of Tutankhamen

KV 04 Ramses XI

KV 25 Akhenaten (?)

KV 55 Tiye, Akhenaten or Other

KV 05 Sons of Ramses II

KV 26 Unknown

KV 56 Unknown

KV 06 Ramses IX

KV 27 Unknown

KV 57 Horemheb

KV 07 Ramses II

KV 28 Unknown

KV 58 Cache of Ay

KV 08 Merenptah

KV 29 Unknown

KV 59 Unknown

KV 09 Ramses V / VI

KV 30 Unknown

KV 60 Two Women (Setri In?)

KV 10 Amenmeses

KV 31 Unknown

KV 61 Unknown

KV 11 Ramses III

KV 32 Unknown

KV 62 Tutankhamen

KV 12 Unknown

KV 42 Hatshepsut-Meryetre

KV 63 New Tomb - Unknown

KV 13 Bay

KV 43 Tuthmosis IV

 

KV 14 Tausert / Setnakht

KV 44 Anen (?)

 

KV 15 Seti II

KV 45 Userhet

 

KV 16 Ramses I

KV 46 Yuya and Thuya

 

KV 17 Seti I

KV 47 Siptah

 

KV 18 Ramses X

KV 48 Amenemopet

 

KV 19 Mentuherkhepshef

KV 49 Maya (?)

 

KV 20 Hatshepsut

KV 50 Animals

 

KV 21 Two Queens

KV 51 Animals

 

A list of the KV's discovered (so far!)

How to Get there

it is located  on the west bank of Luxor city

Interesting tips

To visit the Valley of the Kings you should be aware of the following:

Your entrance ticket to the valley costs (80 EGP ) (The ticket office is located at the outer entrance to the valley, at the end of the car park after the visitors centre This ticket  should give you access to three tombs  only of your choice. Cameras and Video cameras are not  allowed into the valley  at all!  You will have to check-in your camera at the entrance. Lecturing into the  tombs is not allowed. Your Egyptologist tourist guide will have to give your tombs inof from the  outside and  may  also recommend which tombs to visit. If you wish to go inside the tomb of King Tutankhamen (KV62), you will need  to buy separate ticket (100 EGP) While  on visit to  these tombs Please don't touch the wall.

 

Our advice for the best tombs to visit now:

Tomb of Ramses IX (KV 6); both have very fine relief’s and very elegant ceilings, with the scenes of the Goddess Nut, Goddess of the sky (Closed for refurbishment)

Tomb of Mernpatah (KV 8); the largest in the valley ( Closed, at the present)  (Closed)

Tomb of Ramses VI (KV 9); ( Open for a fee 50 EGP) (Open Now)

Tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35); where the best representation of the “Book of the Dead” can be seen ( Closed, Now )

Tomb of Thutmose (KV 34); it has full details of the “Book of the Dead”, and represents the standard form for 18th Dynasty royal tombs ( Closed)

Tomb of Ramses VII (KV1); (Open Now)

Tomb of Ramses I (KV16); (Open Now)

 

Tip: One of the best tombs to visit is the tomb of Tuthmosis III (KV34). This tomb is situated at the far end of the valley and has some steep steps to negotiate to reach the entrance. It is only a short tomb, but it is steep inside ... and exceedingly hot, as the huge electric fan in the burial chamber will testify. It is advised to visit this tomb first!

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