Egypt and the Nile
Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings is one of the most popular tourist sights in the world, and people flock here in huge numbers. The Valley of the Kings consists of the East Valley, where you can find most of the tombs of the New Kingdom Pharaohs, and the West Valley, which has only one tomb open to the public, and that is the tomb of Ay, who succeeded Tutankhamun to the Egyptian throne. So it is to the East Valley that the tourists flock to. The visitor can buy a standard ticket which allows access to three tombs, but this does not include the tomb of Tutankhamun, to visit this tomb, you will need to buy a separate ticket. Not all the tombs are open to the public, and others are closed from time to time so that restoration work can be undertaken. The numbering system for the 62 tombs was first developed by John Gardiner Wilkinson in 1827. He numbered the then known tombs 1 through 21 from the entrance to the valley in a southward direction. Since then the tombs have been numbered in the order they were discovered, with the sixtysecond tomb, that of Tutankhamun, being the last.
Towering over the Valley of the Kings stands a Theban Peak reminiscent of the shape of a pyramid. It is thought that this may have been a contributing factor as to why the Pharaohs chose this particular remote valley to build their tombs.
Tourists wait to gain entry into what must b the most popular tomb in the valley, that of Tutankhamen. The boy Pharaoh was still a teenager when he died and was interned in his tomb. Then in 1922 British Egyptologist Howard Carter working on behalf of his patron Lord Carnarvon, finally discovered his resting place. The tomb itself is very small and it is believed that it was not originally intended for him, and that his early death resulted in the tomb being commandeered for his use. Next to the burial chamber is a small room called the Treasury. In this room Carter discovered a canopic chest containing the boy Pharaohs internal organs, and an amazing array of treasures including a number of gilded figures. The Antechamber contained all the items that the ancient Egyptians considered to be necessary for the Pharaohs afterlife, including thrones, couches, dismantled chariots and even food. The tomb still contains Tutankhamun's mummified body, which remained in its inner golden sarcophagus for many years, the other two having been removed. In 2007, 85 years after the original discovery, due to the damage that was being done to the mummified body of the boy king, by the humidity within the tomb, caused by the daily throng of visitors. The body has been removed from its original coffin, to the other side of the tomb, where it is now on display in a hermetically sealed display case. Apart from the head and feet, the kings remains are in a very poor state, , so only these areas are on show, with the rest of the body being covered by a linen cloth. Mystery has long surrounded Tutankhamun's death. A CT scan of his body, the first one ever performed on an Egyptian mummy, seemed to indicate that days before his death, he had broken his left leg in an accident, and that this may have caused a fatal infection. It is believed that Tutankhamun is the only Pharaoh still in the Valley of the Kings.
If you choose to buy the extra ticket to visit the tomb of Tutankhamun, then this still leaves you the choice of which three tombs to visit using the standard ticket. If you have the services of a guide then ask his or her advice, if not, then there are information boards outside the tombs to help you decide. During very busy times, long delays can build up for entry into the most popular tombs, so depending on how long you can spend in the valley, you may have to make some compromises. Video cameras are not allowed in the valley and have to be left at the entrance. Still cameras are allowed but must not be used inside the tombs themselves.