Luxor - Valley of the Kings

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of Egypt  , Qinā,
Thursday, February 16, 2006

As we didn't know if we were departing Luxor sooner or later we headed across the river for a couple of hours at the Valley of the Kings - more commonly known as 'The Place of Truth' to those who ended up being buried there. Obviously a staple of any package visit to Egypt, we were pleasantly surprised by a thin late afternoon crowd.

Overlooking the scene is a barren peak called Al Qurn (The Horn). It and the surrounding hills contain entrances to more than 60 tombs of ancient Egypt's elite. Not all are Pharaohs by the way - queens and sons of certain Pharaohs are included (the Son of Ramses II tomb must have had 40 or 50 chambers - must have been a very busy guy!).

We even had a little dig ourselves (top middle) to see if we could find some treasure but decided that the ticket price was an easier way to do things in the end...

Most tombs were designed to resemble the underworld - long inclined corridors hewn out of the rock leading into ante-chambers and finally the burial alcove itself. Some are quite plain, many are very colourful and no doubt would have been amazing to see stuffed to the rafters with glistening treasures. Once again, photography was not permitted inside but I ensured the flash didn't go off so didn't feel too guilty about taking a few memories. Just pardon any fuzziness you may find...

Our first stop was the tomb of Seknakht - an extremely long and colourful descent into the netherworld. The corridors and columned chamber that precede the burial chamber are a sea of graphics of the gods, including an awesome falcon image taking up a whole wall in the antechamber (below left).

The burial chamber itself contained a large outer sarcophagus but no painted detail over the carved reliefs (which seemed a little strange after all that just up the corridor). Still, if I was dead around that time I'd have certainly liked a final resting place like this, and would not have had one slave executed for this particular job. Well maybe just one, to keep the others on their toes...

Just round the corner and up a staircase was the tomb of Tuthmosis III. Elaborate as you'd expect but very different in design, we debated whether it was better than the first and came to no firm conclusion. It was just different. Due to it's complex entrance (up then down then over a large pit and then down more stairs) it was not disturbed until its discovery in 1898, and although there is a bit of missing plaster it is very much intact. It certainly rates as one of the best examples we saw here, including the carved sarcophagus below left.

Sitpah, our third and last tomb (as you get to see three of the available for the base ticket price) was pretty colourful at the entrance but disappointing around the burial chamber. Third time was not the trick in this case. Oh well.

More disappointing was that the best Ramses tomb (Ramses VI) was closed for renovation along with many other big name tombs (e.g. Ramses II), despite it being in the middle of the winter high season. The tomb of Tutankhamun (apparently not that interesting) costs an extra 70 Egyptian Pounds ($US12) to enter and to top it all off, ticket collectors at each tomb nag to act as guides (usually unintelligibly) and then expect sizable baksheesh for pestering you or for allowing some hurried photos to be taken. I'll give ya baksheesh - naff off!

Despite all that it was good to finally get here and see it. If you can afford it there's some amazing things to see and no doubt there will be more discovered in the years to come (just like the discovery I heard about earlier this month) as it looks like there's plenty of ground left to cover. The authorities have taken precautions in this case to protect the finds from grubby tourist hands like mine, and considering how dirty they got out there that's a relief too.

Next entry -> more West Bank action

Words from the Wise #88

"Don't live in either the past or the future. If you can always concentrate on the present, you'll be a happy person."
Paulo Coelho - The Alchemist
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