The East Valley of the Kings on Luxor’s west bank, where most of the royal tombs are. Photo by Olaf Tausch. Photography is not permitted in the tombs, nor is noise or guide lectures.
The Valley of the Kings is just one of many dry and barren valleys on Luxor’s west bank. It doesn’t look like much to a wandering eye but from the 16th to 11th century BC Pharoahs, their wives and other Egyptian nobles were buried in hidden tombs in the valley along with their valuables. Obviously these were needed to keep the royal folk comfortable in the afterlife but grave robbers were keen to relieve them of the burden of carrying huge mounts of gold and silver with them on their journey so the tombs had to be carefully hidden.
Sadly most were found nevertheless and emptied which is why the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb (a minor Pharoah) and its goodies stash in 1922 so delighted the world and ignited a fascination for Egypt’s history and Pharonic relics.
Most of the tombs are not open to the public and those that are, are costly to enter and need to be booked in advance.
If you have time and you’re up for some exercise consider hiking or mountain biking the trails visible in the photo above, a double whammy of panoramic views over Luxor’s West Bank and a definited feeling of superiority over the common herd.
On most days around five thousand tourists visit the valley, a number that can double on days when some of the largerer Nile Cruise ships dock in Luxor.
emails from Henry Warren:
From Luxor we went to see the Valley of the Kings where the many of the post- pyramid building pharaohs were laid up. They had wised up to the fact that the pyramids were a bit of a give a way to tomb robbers and thought their bodies would be safer in tombs buried deep in the ground. They were wrong of course because it was only the tomb of Tutankhamun’s that survived relatively intact.
We decided to walk from here (Valley of Kings) over the ridge to the temple of Hatshepsut: the only woman ever to become a Pharaoh. This was another very impressive temple. Unfortunately, it was also the scene of a terrorist attack in 1997 when 58 tourists and four guards were killed. Like all the archaeological sites we visited, it was well guarded and discretely surrounded by policeman on camel back placed 200 meters apart.