Egypt - Nile valley

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Valley of the Kings

The valley of the Kings is an area of Egypt located on the Western bank of the Nile at the level of Thebes (today Luxor).
The valley is made of a hole in the libian chain which leads to the valley of the Nile.
Its Arab name is Biban el-Moulouk which means "the doors of the Kings" in reference to the doors which in the past closed the tombs.

It is known to shelter the tombs (hypogean) of many Pharaohs of the New Empire. The oldest is the one of Thoutmôsis Ist and, starting from Thoutmôsis III, except for Akhenaton, all the Pharaohs of the XVIIIth, XIXth and XXth dynasties were buried there (from about -1539 to -1075).

On the 65 discovered tombs, 25 have been identified as royal tombs. The last one identified is one of Ramesses XI (KV4).
The valley of the Kings also shelters the tombs of some wives and children of Pharaohs.
The valley of the Queens began to be used at the Ramesses Ist times


The tombs were yet tourist curiosities during the ancient Greece and Rome.
Nowadays, most tombs are not accessible to the public for conservation reasons ; the authorities proceed by bearing by opening the least exposed tombs and those which received installations necessary to their good conservation.
The low-relieves of some tombs preserve colours relatively sharp in spite of the devastations of time, the bad weather and the action of the man.


Between the 18, 19 and 20th dynasties, the techniques to dig the tombs differed : more or less long galleries, with depth and slope variables. Plundering were frequent, this is why the entry was often dug with the foot of a cliff in the hope which it would be buried with time by the crumblings.
For some kings whose tombs were profaned, their mummies could be moved in the anteroom of another tomb. Sometimes, when a tomb was dug, the valley was encumbered so much, that the engineers fell on other tombs, which they could eventually include to the new construction.


The French archaeologist Victor Loret discovered in two years 16 tombs by using the same technique as for drilling intended for seek oil.
The English Howard Carter discovered later in 1922 the Toutenkamon tomb, rich of a multitude of objects. On the other hand, its tomb was small, 10 times less large than the one of Seti. Toutenkamon was not a great king, he died young and he was the son of Akenaton, which founded the time of its reign a worship monotheist dedicated to the god sun, worship strongly rejected after his death by the priests. But this small falls taught us much on the Egyptian funerary rites, and the objects which were found there occupy an important place with the museum of Cairo.
To seek other tombs, of which none was found since that Toutenkamon, geological probes were used.

The Kv 5, unique and immense, was thus discovered thanks in particular to the surveys of 1989 carried out by the team of Weeks. Although the entry had been identified in 1825, its width had not been suspected. It was the greatest discovery of the valley, a complicated and immense plan, including more than 130 funerary rooms, one knows little about the reasons of its architectural characteristics. It is the necropolis of wire of Ramesses II, one of the most important sovereigns of Egypt whose reign was particularly long, and who survive to many of his children preceding him in the tomb. For them, he built and increased this immense structure.

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