Valley of the Kings

Trip Start Jul 01, 2010
Trip End Jun 30, 2011

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Flag of Egypt  , Qinā,
Monday, April 4, 2011

The next day we left even earlier because we were going to Valley of the Kings and it can get seriously hot walking around there and the tours also start earlier here. Good move on our part because we were barely a step ahead of some groups and the tombs are a bit stuffy to share with 20 or 30 people.  
How much time and money you spend there is really up to you. You could spend days and hundreds of EGP should you be so inclined. We were not and didn't. We were content to visit 4 of the what we had heard are the best tombs, hike over the mountain for a bit of exercise and some killer views and then finish with a visit to Hatshepsut's temple.

The Valley of the Kings is a valley in Egypt where for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed for the kings and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom. The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile, across from Thebes (modern Luxor), within the heart of the Theban Necropolis. 

The area has been a focus of concentrated archaeological and egyptological exploration since the end of the eighteenth century, and its tombs and burials continue to stimulate research and interest. In modern times the valley has become famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen (with its rumours of the Curse of the Pharaohs), and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. 

We purchased a 3 ticket pass for 80 EGP which allows you to visit 3 of the 6 or 7 currently open, but does not include special ones like the Ramses V/VI (50 EGP extra but very nice) or the ridiculously over priced Tutankhamen (100EGP extra and apparently nothing to see).  I really liked all 4 that we went to visit...long straight tunnels that led to the burial chambers. Walls richly carved, amazing detail. Some tombs have retained more of their colour than others but all have incredible designs carved into the walls. 

Ramses VI (KV9) which is Ramses V's tomb as well had particularly amazing artwork and was my favourite. On the burial chamber ceiling is a scene of Nut transitioning the night sky. The walls are decorated with various funerary books, the detail of these is precise and amazingly and perhaps a bit suspiciously, have retained much of their colour and intensity. 

After visiting these four amazing tombs, we hiked over the Theban hills, stopping towards the end for a tasty lunch and much needed rest before we continued on to the great Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. 

Ma'at-ka-Ra - 'Truth/Order/Balance ("Ma'at") is the Spirit/Double ("ka") of Ra' Hatshepsut - 'Foremost of Noble Women'   Although not the only female ruler of Egypt, Ma'at-ka-Ra Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty) is perhaps the best known after Cleopatra. She was an 18th dynasty Pharaoh, daughter of Thuthmose I and Ahmes. When her father died her half brother, Thuthmose II, ascended to the throne. He was young, apparently younger than Hatshepsut herself. 

The Egyptian tradition of having the Pharaoh marry a royal woman led Thuthmose II to marry Hatshepsut. (The women in Egypt carried the royal blood, not the males. To become Pharaoh, the man had to marry a female of royal blood, often a sister, half sister or other near relative. Usually it was the eldest daughter of the previous Pharaoh.) Thuthmose II died soon after becoming Pharaoh, leaving the widow Hatshepsut, a daughter Neferura... and a son by another wife - Thuthmose III. 

Due to the young age of the Pharaoh, Hatshepsut became his regent. They ruled together for a number of years until she proclaimed herself Pharaoh (perhaps when Thuthmose III was reaching manhood) - something almost unheard of, despite the higher status of women in Egypt compared to women in other cultures at the time. Women could own land, inherit from family members, and even go to court to defend her rights. But before Hatshepsut, there were queens who had ruled Egypt... but not a female Pharaoh.  She managed to rule for about twenty years, before disappearing from history. 

Tired and spent, it was time to go back home. It was an amazing time and a fitting end to our cultural visits of Egypt. We were still to take the train to Cairo and then fly out but in essence, this was it, our trip through ancient Egypt was done.    
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