When his tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922, Tutankhamen became the most famous ruler of the ancient world. We didn't go inside because we didn't have time but next time I'll go inside.
Tutankhamen, 1334-1325 B.C.
There are many theories about the parentage of Egypt’s most famous pharaoh, Tutankhamen. Some say he was a son of Akhenaten, others that he was his brother or half-brother, still others that he was a distant and minor relative. We know that he was born into the royal family and that he was probably raised at al Amarnah. Originally named Tutankhaten (“Living Image of the Aten”), his name was changed to Tutankhamen (“Living Image of Amen”) after the death of Akhenaten and when he succeeded Semenkhkara to the throne. He was crowned pharaoh when he was only nine years old and two principal royal advisors, Iy and Horemheb, apparently managed the affairs of state. Each of these advisors would succeed Tutankhamen in turn when the boy-king died eight years after his coronation.
One of the first acts of Tutankhamen’s reign was to re-open the temples of Egypt’s traditional deities. Authority was restored to priesthoods that Akhenaten had ignored, especially the priesthood of Amen at Karnak. There, and at Luxor Temple, the young king’s advisors authorized major building campaigns. A stela at Karnak, called the “Restoration Stela,” tells of these activities.
Tutankhamen died when he was only seventeen years old. The cause of death is not known, although a small fragment of bone in his skull (visible in x-rays) has led some to suggest that he was murdered. He was apparently to have been buried in KV 23, but that tomb was not finished at the time of his unexpected death, and he was therefore hastily interred in KV 62, buried with thousands of magnificent objects, but virtually devoid of the usual carved and painted walls.
This tomb was not suffered flood-water damage and paintings are preserved.
Thutmes IV, 1419-1386 B.C.
Son of Amenhetep II and the Royal Wife Tia'a, Thutmes IV claimed in the so-called “Dream Stela” at Giza that he had been made pharaoh because he obeyed the wish of the god Horemakhet by clearing sand away from the body of the Great Sphinx (which represented that god). This is a fiction, of course, probably meant to satisfy religious aspects of New Kingdom kingship.
Thutmes IV was not active militarily and there are fewer military officials during his reign than in his predecessors’. There was, however, a very large civil and religious bureaucracy. His building activities mainly involved adding to existing temples, but he constructed a small mud-brick temple for himself on the West Bank at Thebes immediately south of the Ramesseum, and an Egyptian alabaster shrine at Karnak, now reconstructed in the Karnak Open-Air Museum.
His tomb was unfinished at the time of his death.
Tuthomosis I was the first Pharaoh to have his tomb cut, around 1495 BCE, and was followed by later Kings, over the next 500 years. There are 62 tombs in the valley. Each tomb is numbered in order of its discovery, but only about a dozen tombs are currently open to the public.
KV 2 - Tomb of Ramses IV
KV 8 - Tomb of Merenptah
KV 11 - Tomb of Ramses III
KV 16 - Tomb of Ramses I
KV 17 - Tomb of Seti I
KV 43 - Tomb of Thutmes IV
This tomb is the most preserved tomb in the valley. It descends over 100m. The long corridor ends with the burial chamber. The burial chamber originally contained Seti’s alabaster sarcophagus, but that is now in the Soane Museum in London.
Sety I, 1291-1278 B.C.
Sety I may have briefly served as co-regent with his father, Rameses I, and then ruled Egypt alone for fourteen years.
Sety I called himself “Repeater of Births,” meaning that he considered himself the leader of a renaissance. Certainly, this was true not only militarily but in terms of Egypt’s art and architecture as well. For example, he devoted considerable time and energy to the Temple of Amen at Karnak. He began the great hypostyle hall, one of the largest religious structures ever built. The hall covers 5,406 square meters (1.3 acres) and contains 134 columns, the largest of them twenty-three meters (seventy-five feet) high.
Sety also built extensively at Abydos, where he built both the Osireion, a cenotaph dedicated to Osiris, and an elegantly proportioned temple in which a “King List” was carved. That list gives the names of seventy-six rulers from the beginning of Dynasty 1 to Sety I himself.
Sety I’s mummy, found in the Dayr al Bahri cache in 1881, is now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
Sety I and his principal wife Tuya lost their firstborn son. It was their second son, Rameses II, who succeeded his father as pharaoh.
It has the shortest entrance corridor in the valley. It has a single almost square burial chamber, containing the King’s pink granite sarcophagus. Ramses I died suddenly. The chamber is the only part of the tomb that is nicely decorated. It is interesting to note the different phases of the work, in the uncompleted corridor.
Rameses I, 1293-1291 B.C.
Paramessu, as Rameses I was called before being crowned pharaoh, was the son of a troop commander, Sety, from the eastern Delta town of Avaris. He rose rapidly through the ranks of the military and was eventually appointed vizier. After a brief period as “Deputy of His Majesty in Upper and Lower Egypt,” meaning that he was an informal co-regent with Horemhab, Paramessu was crowned king and changed his name to Rameses I. His reign was a short one, less than two years. But during that time, he added to the decoration of the Second Pylon at Karnak, built additions to the Nubian garrison at Buhen, re-opened long-closed turquoise mines in Sina, and led at least one military expedition into western Asia.
Rameses I married Sitra, the daughter of an army officer, and she bore him a son whom they named after Rameses I’s father, Sety. Sety succeeded Rameses I as the pharaoh Sety I.
Rameses I was buried in the Valley of the Kings in KV 16, a small tomb reminiscent in plan and layout of Dynasty 18 royal tombs.
The colour of painted sunk reliefs is well preserved.
Rameses III, 1182-1151 B.C.
Immediately after his father Setnakht died, Rameses III began a reign dedicated to slavishly copying the deeds of Rameses II. Obviously, Rameses III greatly admired almost everything about the reign of Rameses II. He adopted a similar titulary, gave his children the same names that Rameses II had given his, and modeled his memorial temple, Madinat Habu, on the Ramesseum. Rameses III was an ambitious builder, and erected or added to scores of temples in Nubia, Egypt, and even western Asia.
Rameses III buried the several children and wives who predeceased him in the Valley of the Queens. He himself was buried in KV 11, a tomb that had been begun by his father before he moved to KV 14.
The remarkably well-preserved mummy of Rameses III was found in 1881 in the Dayr al Bahri cache.
This tomb is damaged but you can still see great paintings.
Merenptah, 1212-1202 B.C.
Because Rameses II lived into his eighties at a time when normal life expectancy in Egypt was only about forty, many of his sons predeceased him, and it was his thirteenth son, Merenptah, who finally succeeded him to the throne. Merenptah was by then already sixty, and his reign lasted only ten years. But during that time, he maintained peace in northeast Africa and western Asia, led expeditions into Nubia and Libya, and sent food to famine-stricken Hittites in Syria. His military exploits are recounted in three major inscriptions, one at Karnak, a second at Athribis in the Delta, and a third in his memorial temple at Thebes. This last text includes the first known reference to the people of Israel, which was said to be "wasted, bare of seed."
Merenptah’s building activities included additions to the Osireion at Abydos, enlarging government offices at Memphis (and moving his administration from Piramesse to Memphis), and building at Dandarah. In the Valley of the Kings, his tomb, KV 8, is one of the valley’s largest. His memorial temple, currently being made into an open-air museum by the Swiss Institute, lay immediately behind that of Amenhetep III and used the earlier temple as a source of building stone.
Merenptah’s mummy was found in 1898 in the royal cache of mummies re-buried in KV 35, the tomb of Amenhetep II.
This tomb was spared flood-water damage and paintings are very well preserved.
Rameses IV, 1151-1145 B.C.
Rameses IV, the son of Rameses III, ascended to the throne during a period when Egypt had fallen on hard times. There is no evidence that he attempted, or was able, to restore its wealth and international authority. Texts of his reign speak of social unrest, rising crime, and economic decline.
However, Rameses IV did order extensive work in several stone and turquoise quarries, and he built additions to temples at Abydos, Heliopolis, and Thebes and erected many statues there. His own memorial temple lay near Dayr al Madinah, and his tomb, KV 2, was dug in the Valley of the Kings. Later, in Dynasty 21, his body was moved with several other royal mummies to KV 35 for safekeeping.
The entrance fee is 20.00 LE per person. It includes visiting of 3 tombs. My advice - get 2 tickets and visit 6 tombs. Tickets for Tutankhamun`s tomb are separate and entrance fee is 40.00 LE per person.
If you want take photographs inside you'll need very sensitive film (for night shoots) because flash is not permitted. Or you can be only group (very small) in that tomb and guardian can “close his eyes” for couple of shoots. We give him at the end some “baksheesh” :)
p.s. don't tell his boss for this :)
The Valley of the Kings is located on the West Bank of the River Nile. Some people think that the reason the New Kingdom pharaohs decided to build their tombs here was because of the pyramid-shaped mountain located here. The pyramids of the old kingdom were like beacons for grave robbers, so the New Kingdom tombs could still be under a pyramid, but as well be hidden away in the side of a rocky hill.
No trip to Luxor would be complete without a trip to the Valley of the Kings on the west bank.
Although there isn’t much to take photographs of here, as all the tombs are underground, the valley is dominated by a natural pyramid.
The entrance fee allows you to visit 3 tombs. We visited the tombs of Ramses I, III and VI and although the treasures have long gone the wall paintings are spectacular.
The Giza Pyramids are eye-catching, in another words, they are shouting to the thief 'rob me, rob me!" That's why the later pharohs no longer built pyramids. They headed to the deep of the mountains, with a hope that their tombs would not be robbed. The tombs in the Valley of the Kings are just amazing! They are preserved in good conditions. You can see the paintings on the walls, stars on the ceiling, simply fascinating! One of the highlights is the Tomb of Tutankhamun. Though there is not much paintings or decorations on the wall, the mummified body of Tutankhamun still lied in the burial chamber. If you don't have time to visit all the tombs, or feeling too hot to move, I recommend the Tomb of Ramses VI, Tomb of Ramses III, Tomb of Tawosret/Sethnakht, and of course, the Tomb of Tutankhamun. Except for the Tomb of Tutankhanum, you should buy the ticket at the ticket office first. There is no need for buying a ticket for your camera - it is banned altogether. The Medinat Habu should not be missed too. It is second in size to the Temple of Karnak. As most tourist would miss this site, you can almost have the entire area to yourself. The Temple of Hatshepsut is a must-go too. Looking at the temple from a distance, it looks like that the temple is rising out of the desert. It is really a pity that at my time of travelling, the Tomb of Nefertari, Valley of the Queens was under renovation. You have no choice but go to the Amunherkhepshep. The Ramesseum, compared to the other spectacular sights at the West Bank, seemed a little off-colour. There is no signs at all for the Tombs of the Nobles. The problem is some villagers will come up to you and be your "guide". Tombs of Ramose, Userhet & Khaemhet is worth a visit though again, you have to bear the uninvited guide - the guardians of the tombs.
Do prepare to bring a lot of water with you. You definitely would need it. The sun is simply wicked.