Tombs in Thebes, Valley of the Kings

There are hundreds of tombs in Thebes (modern Luxor), only a few of which are open to tourists and even fewer which are visited by many of them. Most people are familiar with the Valley of Kings, and hundreds flock to see the Tomb of Tutankhamen , never realizing that dozens of more exciting, more vivid tombs exist in the valley.

Most tours offer visits to one or two of the kings’ tombs and the Tomb of Tutankhamen. I can’t quite understand why, since the tomb of Tut is perhaps the least interesting of the tombs in the valley. We remember it well because it is the only unmolested tomb found in our century — the thousands of funerary pieces and statues, the massive sarcophagi and the spectacular golden lid of Tutankhamen’s coffin have awed visitors to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for nearly a century. But his tomb alone is small and poorly decorated.

But, if you have the time, there is so much more to see. There are 62 tombs in the Valley of Kings  alone, and hundreds of others in the Valley of Nobles nearby. Queen and princes are buried in the Valley of the Queens, and the common workers tombs in the Valley of the Workers are well worth a visit. Most tombs are not open to the public, but those that are provide a chronological survey of art and writing from the New Kingdom pharaohs and their royal courts.

The Valley of Kings is well documented, and has been the location for archeological excavations since antiquity. A comprehensive survey of the area, and detailed information about the tombs that have been found, can be seen at the ambitious Theban Mapping Project. The site is fabulous!

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