Necropolis of Thebes Things to Do

  • Offering Scenes
    Offering Scenes
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  • Dwellings at Deir el Medina
    Dwellings at Deir el Medina
    by MM212
  • Village of Deir el Medina
    Village of Deir el Medina
    by MM212

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    Temple of Hatshepsut - Lower Terrace

    by MM212 Updated Feb 28, 2008

    In the glory days of the Temple of Hatshepsut, the lower or first terrace was the grand entrance into the temple. The vast area was once planted with trees brought back from the Queen's expedition in the Land of Punt (thought to be Ethiopia or Somalia) and an impressive avenue of sphinxes led the way to the first ramp. A dead bark of one of the trees was uncovered by archeologists and is visible to this day (see attached photo). Facing the terrace is the temple's first columned portico, guarded on either side by a large statue of Queen Hatshepsut in the form of the god Osiris. The walls of the porticos, though badly preserved, show scenes of her glorious rule.

    First Portico and Osirid Hatshepsut From the land of Punt
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    Deir el-Medina - Temple & Monastery

    by MM212 Written Feb 28, 2008

    At the far end of the Village of the Artisans, enclosed in a mud-brick wall, is the small Temple of Hathor. Dating back from the Ptolemaic period and probably replacing an older shrine, this Temple and its enclosure were converted into a monastery during the Christian-period. The monastery, called in Arabic Deir el-Medina (deir = monastery) is what gave this village its modern name. The temple itself is small and has some additions made during the Roman-period, as well as coptic cross carvings later.

    The Walls of the Monastery Deir el-Medina
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    Deir el-Medina - Village of the Artisans

    by MM212 Updated Feb 28, 2008

    The entire village where the artisans, who worked on royal tombs, lived with their families has been uncovered by archeologists. Although the village was inhabited well into the Roman-period, its function as the residence of the artisans lasted for only the three centuries leading up until the end of the Ramesside period. The village then housed approximately 1200 people and was separated into two halves by a main street - sort of a cardo maximus - from which tiny alleys branched out. The dwellings were modest and made up of a few chambers. The village was once walled and gated, and the gates were locked at night. This is because the community was heavily guarded and under surveillance, due to their detailed knowledge of the locations of the royal tombs, which were under constant threat of robbery.

    Dwellings at Deir el Medina Village of Deir el Medina
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    Deir el-Bahri - Chapel of Anubis

    by MM212 Updated Feb 26, 2008

    Part of the Temple of Hatshepsut, the Chapel of Anubis is located at the northern end of the portico on the second terrace. Anubis is the god of mummification - represented as black jackal - who was believed to have first performed the mummification on the god Osiris. The chapel is remarkably well preserved retaining the most vivid original colours. The front of the chapel - a hypostyle portico of twelve fluted columns and a blue ceiling with tiny stars - is decorated with offering scenes made by Hatshepsut, shown as a woman, and by her son Thutmosis III. The inner sanctuary is cut through the rocks of the cliff but is closed to the public.

    God Anubis The columned portico and its starry ceiling Offering Scenes Queen Hatshepsut
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    Deir el-Bahri - Temple of Thutmosis III

    by MM212 Updated Feb 26, 2008

    Sandwiched between the Temple of Hatshepsut and that of Montuhotep, the funerary Temple of Thutmosis III, son of Hatshepsut, lies in ruins today. In its glory days, it was similar in style to the Temple of Hatshepsut, albeit smaller, in that it was multi-terraced and accessible by two ramps. The Temple is not open to the public but archeologists have been busy uncovering some of the rock-cut chapels. Perhaps it will open to visitors one day.

    The ruins of the Temple of Thutmosis III
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    Valley of the Kings - Al-Qurn Mountain

    by MM212 Updated Feb 25, 2008

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    Dominating the Theban hills and the Valley of the Kings, the pyramidal al-Qurn Mountain (qurn means "horn") is said to have been one reason for choosing the location of the necropolis of Thebes. The pyramid shape in Ancient Egypt is the link between humans and the gods, hence the use as the top of obelisks and pyramidal tombs. The mountain is clearly visible from the Valley of the Kings.

    al-Qurn Mountain

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    Valley of the Kings - Tomb of Ramses IV

    by MM212 Updated Feb 25, 2008

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    Judging by the ancient graffiti on the walls of this tomb, it has been open since antiquity. The graffiti includes both Ptolemaic and Christian-period inscriptions. Nonetheless, the original wall etchings and colours are in a fair state of preservation. The tomb is long and descends slightly into the ground, and is composed of several long corridors that lead to the burial chamber. Ramses IV was a 20th Dynasty Pharaoh who reigned only for a few years and died in 1147 BC before his tomb was completed, resulting in a rush to complete it upon his death. The tomb was robbed in antiquity and the mummy of Ramses IV was in fact found in a different tomb!

    Due to the prohibition on photography inside the tomb, I have no photos of the interior to share.

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    Valley of the Queens - Tomb of Prince Khaemwast

    by MM212 Updated Feb 25, 2008

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    Opened in 1903, the Tomb of Prince Khaemwast was the 44th tomb to be discovered in the Valley of the Queens. It is currently one of only three tombs open to visitors in this valley. Prince Khaemwast was a son of Ramses III and is thought to have died a teenager. His tomb is beautifully decorated with coloured sunken reliefs that are well preserved, despite pillaging and reuse of the tomb over history. Ramses III, his father, is depicted on the walls along with the young prince himself.

    Due to the prohibition on photography inside the tomb, I have no photos of the interior to share.

    Tomb of Prince Khaemwast
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    Deir el-Bahri - Temple of Mentuhotep II

    by MM212 Updated Feb 25, 2008

    The oldest temple in Deir el-Bahri, the Temple of Mentuhotep II served as a model for the two later-period temples (Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III). Pharaoh Mentuhotep II was the founder of the Middle Kingdom and reigned until around 1982 BC. His funerary temple is in ruins today, yet still conserves the outline of the base. The temple is best visible from the terrace of the Chapel of Hathor.

    The Temple of Mentuhotep II
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    Valley of the Kings - Tomb of Ramses III

    by MM212 Updated Feb 24, 2008

    Referred to as KV11, this tomb was originally started by Pharaoh Setnakht, but when tomb diggers accidentally cut into an adjacent tomb (KV 10), they abandoned the project and Setnakht was buried in another tomb (KV14). 20th Dynasty Pharaoh Ramses III, one of Egypt's greatest, later on completed KV11 by having diggers make a sharp turn to the right to avoid further colliding with the next-door tomb. The tomb is elaborately decorated with vivid colours and has a fair state of preservation, though deterioration is quite visible. It has been open and robbed since antiquity, but was first explored in modern history in the 18th century. The mummy of Ramses III was found in 1881 outside the tomb in the cache of mummies near Deir el-Bahri.

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    The Ramesseum

    by MM212 Updated Feb 24, 2008

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    Known as the Ramesseum, the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramses II, who reigned for 67 years, was considered one of the most elaborate in the Necropolis of Thebes. The temple was built in the 13th century BC and modelled after the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Sethi I, also in western Thebes. Unfortunately, when I was in the Necropolis of Thebes in December 2007, the Ramesseum was closed for restoration, so I was unable to visit the site. The attached photos from the car had to suffice.

    The Ramesseum
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    Tombs of the Nobles - Tomb of Monthemhat

    by MM212 Updated Feb 23, 2008

    One of the most important tombs in el-Assasif area, the Tomb of Monthemhat is located near the entrance of the Deir el-Bahri. Monthemhat, a member of a prominent Theban family, died in 648 BC after serving as a prophet of Amun, mayor of Luxor and a governor of Upper Egypt in his last 30 years of life. His enormous tomb is of extraordinary proporations. It was enclosed in a long wall, some of which is visible to this day (see photos), and contained two courtyards and over 50 chambers used to bury members of his family. The tomb was discovered at least 200 years ago, but has been the focus of archeologists in the last 50 years, undergoing excavation and restoration works. Unfortunately, the tomb is not yet open to visitors.

    Tomb of Monthemhat
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    Tombs of the Nobles

    by MM212 Updated Feb 23, 2008

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    Often referred to as the Valley of the Nobles, this necropolis is not much of a valley. It is located on the lower slopes of the Theban desert hills facing the Nile Valley and is made up of a couple of large areas around the town of Old Gurna (Assasif, Old Gurna and Dra Abu'l Naga). This necropolis was the burial place for high officials and notables during the New Kingdom. Although their number exceeds royal ones (over 400), these tombs are much less elaborate, not only because they were not made for royals, but also the poor quality of the limestone in this area. Most of the tombs are painted with vivid colours and scenes. Many of these tombs are open to the public.

    Tombs of the Nobles towering above Old Gurna Tombs in the cliffs Dra Abu'l Naga Tombs Assasif Tombs
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    Valley of the Queens - Tomb of Amunherkhepshef

    by MM212 Updated Feb 23, 2008

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    Another son of Ramses III, Prince Amunherkhepshef (also referred to as Amen Khopshef) died at the young age of 10. Like his brother Prince Khaemwaset, Amunherkhepshef is depicted in his tomb as a child led by his father, Ramses III, to the gods and the afterlife. The tomb is elaborately decorated and is one of three tombs open to visitors in the Valley of the Queens.

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    Valley of the Queens

    by MM212 Updated Feb 23, 2008

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    Situated to the south of the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens was first used as a burial place for some princes and members of the royal family during the 18th Dynasty. It was not until the Ramesside period that this valley became the chosen burial place for the wives of the Pharaohs, most notably Queen Nefertari. Although smaller and less elaborate than the Valley of the Kings, the tombs are nevertheless impressive. Only three tombs are open to visitors, so this valley is usually skipped by tour groups, making it a much more pleasant experience than the overcrowded Valley of the Kings.

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