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The Valley of the Kings (Wadi el-Muluk), Egypt

August 14th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 
 

The Valley of the Kings, or Wadi el-Muluk (وادي الملوك) in Arabic, is a valley in Egypt where tombs were built for the Pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom, the Eighteenth through Twentieth Dynasties of Ancient Egypt.

The valley is located at 25°44′N 32°36′E. It stands on the west bank of the Nile, across from Thebes (modern Luxor), under the peak of the pyramid-shaped mountain Al-Qurn. It is separated into the East and West Valleys, with most of the important tombs in the East Valley. The West Valley has only one tomb open to the public: the tomb of Ay, Tutankhamun's successor. There are a number of other important burials there, including that of Amenhotep III, but these are still being excavated and are not publicly accessible.

The official name for the site was The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes, or more usually, Ta-sekhet-ma'at (the Great Field).

The Valley was used for primary burials from approximately 1539 BC to 1075 BC, and contains some 64 tombs, starting with Thutmose I and ending with Ramesses X or XI.

The Valley of the Kings also had tombs for the favourite nobles and the wives and children of both the nobles and pharaohs. Around the time of Ramesses I (ca. 1300 BC) the Valley of the Queens was begun, although some wives were still buried with their husbands.

The quality of the rock in the Valley is very inconsistent. Tombs were built, by cutting through various layers of limestone, each with its own quality. This poses problems for modern day conservators, as it must have to the original architects. Building plans were probably changed on account of this. The most serious problem are the shale layers. This fine material expands when it comes into contact with water. This has damaged many tombs, particularly during floods.

The investigation of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project (1998 – 2002) investigated the valley floor with ground-penetrating radar, and found that below the modern surface the Valley’s cliffs descend beneath the scree in a series of abrupt, natural "shelves", arranged one below the other, descending several metres down to the bedrock in the valley floor.

Most of the tombs are not open to the public (16 of the tombs can be open, but they are rarely open at the same time), and officials occasionally close those that are open for restoration work. The number of visitors to KV62 has led to a separate charge for entry into the tomb. The West Valley has only one open tomb, that of Ay, and a separate ticket is needed to visit this tomb as well. The tour guides are no longer allowed to lecture inside the tombs and visitors are expected to proceed quietly and in single file through the tombs. This is to minimise time in the tombs, and prevent the crowds from damaging the surfaces of the decoration. Photography is no longer allowed in the tombs.

In 1997, 58 tourists and 4 Egyptians were massacred at Deir el-Bahri by Islamist militants from Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, leading to a drop in tourism.

As of 2005, on most days of the week an average of four to five thousand tourists visit the main valley. On the days on which the Nile Cruises arrive the number can rise to nearly ten thousand . These levels are expected to rise to 25,000 by 2015. The West Valley is much less visited, as there is only one tomb that is open to the public.

In January 2006 it was announced that a new visitors centre is to be constructed. Its planned opening date is March 2007.

[Source: Wikipedia]

Send by: Jeronimo

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