Ancient tombs in Egypt

The Valley of the Kings in Luxor

Narrow wadi, that is, the dry valley of the periodic river, with a pyramid-shaped apex, the Horn of Qurna dominating - this inaccessible and solemn place was chosen by the rulers of the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties as their eternal rest. It’s also one of the highlights of our 14-day Egypt Tour

During the New Kingdom (16th-11th centuries BC), for the first time in the history of Egypt, the pharaohs gave up pyramids in favor of rock tombs called hypogea. They were carved in the valley slope on the west bank of the Nile. Work on the construction of a tomb for the new ruler began with his ascension to the throne. The first step was choosing a location. The administration had plans for the valley with the specific location of the hypogea. Then, the corridors and chambers were carved and decorated. This important task belonged to the specialized workers and artists living in the nearby village of Deir el Medina.

The Wadi has two branches: the western one, with only four tombs, and the eastern one, known as the Valley of the Kings. The following abbreviations are associated with this division: WV (West Valley) and KV (Kings' Valley). There are 63 graves in the area of the latter. Some of them belonged to high-ranking officials or members of the royal family, and the rest to the rulers of Egypt.

Each of the tombs is unique. Some are distinguished by architecture, some by decoration, and others by an interesting history. The tomb of Tutankhamun (KV 62) is the most famous tomb in the Valley of the Kings. It was found in 1922 by the English archaeologist Howard Carter. It was the only royal tomb in the Valley of the Kings, that hadn’t been robbed.

The only room with decorated walls in Tutankhamun's tomb is the burial chamber. The paintings show scenes from the preparation of the deceased for a journey to the afterlife. In the middle there are four large boxes made of gilded wood, one inside the other. Inside was a stone sarcophagus with three anthropomorphic gilded coffins tucked into one another. I

n the last, a golden coffin, was the body of the pharaoh, which has remained there to this day. Other burial rooms: the vestibule, the annex and the treasury were filled with numerous items. Most of them can be seen at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

An interesting tomb is the hypogeum of Tuthmosis III (KV 34). To get to it, you have to climb the wooden steps as the tomb was carved high in the rock. Then climb the steep path down. Narrow ladders lead to a chamber with a secret shaft. In the past, it had a practical application, it was used to supply water that fell into the tomb during heavy storms, and to stop robbers from looting the tomb. Stairs carved in the rock, through the porch with pillars, lead to the burial chamber, the only decorated room in the entire tomb.

The deepest and longest grave in the Valley of the Kings is the tomb of Seti I (KV 17). Its characteristic feature is also the fact that each room has been covered with decorations - reliefs and polychrome. They depict the king in front of many deities and scenes from various tomb books. When we look at the ceiling, we see beautiful frescoes on an astronomical theme - personifications of stars and constellations and star diagrams.

Well-preserved reliefs and frescoes await visitors to the tomb of Ramesses IX (KV 6). Ancient Egyptian artists depicted fragments of many tomb books on its walls and ceilings: the Book of the Dead, which contains scenes of judgment on the dead, the book called Amduat, depicting the solar barge's journey through the worlds, and the Book of the Day and the Book of Night. The last two symbolically show the sun's journey across the day and night sky and the birth of the sun in the morning - this shows the significance of the scene in which the beetle is swallowed by the goddess of heaven, Nut. An additional decoration of the ceilings is a polychrome depicting stars and collections.

Gain insider access to the tombs of pharaohs on our tailor-made tour! Book your luxury Egypt tour