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Ancient Egypt

Valley of the Kings

A funeral procession through the ValleyA funeral procession through the Valley The Valley of the Kings is hidden among hills on the western bank of the Nile near Thebes in Upper Egypt. Here, in tombs cut into the rock beneath a pyramid-shaped peak, are buried the pharaohs of Egypt who ruled during its golden age, the New Kingdom (1550–1070 BC), including Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The Valley may have been chosen as a burial place because only one narrow gorge led into the valley, which could therefore be fairly easily guarded. Egypt’s rulers wanted to ensure that there would be no more tomb robberies, although those efforts were to prove futile.

The Valley of the Kings todayThe Valley of the Kings today

Underground tombs

By the time of the New Kingdom, pyramid tombs had gone out of fashion—perhaps they were just too difficult and expensive to build. From now on, the pharaohs would be buried in tombs dug in the ground. The winding Valley of the Kings, near the great city of Thebes, became a favoured royal burial place. 

Artists decorate a tomb's wallsArtists decorate a tomb's walls
Tomb of Ay, Valley of the KingsTomb of Ay, Valley of the Kings
The tombs were carved out of the soft limestone and shale rock by stonecutters. Plasterers, painters and other craftsmen created beautifully ornate interiors. It took years to make and prepare a tomb, which could have many rooms and passages, so the pharaoh usually started having his built as soon as he began his rule.

The Valley of the Kings is known locally as Wadi Biban el-Muluk. To the ancient Egyptians it was known as "ta set aat" (the Great Place), or, more informally, "ta int" (the Valley).

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