Valley of the Kings in Luxor Egypt | Facts, History, Maps
Discover Secrets of Ancient Egypt Pharaonic Civilization and facts about tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter, What is the Best Tombs can be visiting and more…
Valley of the Kings Names during history
The official name of the Valley of the Kings in ancient times was
- That means was The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes.
- The place of truth.
- The great necropolis of millions of years of Pharaoh.
- ta set aat Means “the Great Place.
- Biban Al Muluk (the doors of the kings in Arabic).
How many Valleys of the Kings in Egypt?
Valley of the kings is divided into two valleys
- West Valley known as Valley of the Monkeys relates to one of the monkeys’ scenes in KV23. The people who first entered the tomb of Ay saw scenes of the 12 baboons that the ancient Egyptians associated with the underworld
- East valley with the majority of the royal tombs for all the kings of the new kingdom (18th to the 20th Dynasties).
Are All New Kingdom kings buried in the Valley of the Kings?
We cannot confirm if all the kings of the New Kingdom were buried here or not as long as some toms are not located yet.
- Ahmose I
- Amenhotep I
- Thutmose II
- Ramesses VIII
Who was the first king started to dig his tomb in the Valley of the Kings?
We know for sure now that the first New Kingdom king who was buried in the Valley of the Kings was king Thutmose I according to his official engineer Ineni who wrote (I oversaw the digging of the cliff-tomb of my majesty in privacy, none seeing, none hearing) then the majority of the New Kingdom rulers dug their tombs in the same place.
Why did they choose the site of the valley of the kings?
Ineni chooses that place for many reasons mostly religious reasons for example.
The mountain takes a naturally pyramidical shape to allow the soul (BA) to go to the sky.
The place is surrounded by mountains from all around, naturally protected.
Very dry place, never rain.
Overall, the mountain is soft limestone to make the worker’s mission easy.
The valley is located on the west side of the Nile because the sun god set (died) on the western horizon in order to be reborn. So, the king will be reborn like the sun god.
For how much time Valley of the Kings was used as a burial place?
The Valley of the kings was used as a burial place from about 1550 BC to 1080 BC beginning with Thutmose I and ending with Ramesses x or Ramesses XI.
When the Valley of the kings was discovered?
We found many graffiti on the walls of the Valley of the Kings, around 2100 Greek and Latin graffiti besides those Phoenician, Lucian, and Coptic ones.
The first registered one dates back to 278 BC on the walls of the tomb of Ramesses VII and a lot more not known its date exactly like those on the walls of Ramesses IV and Ramesses VII.
The tomb of the king Merenptah has graffiti dates back to the Poet Mikalos 104 AD.
Seems Diodorus Siculus came to the valley of the kings during the Olympic Games in 180 BC. He mentioned that the priests’ documents mentioned 47 tombs.
642 CE till the 13th century, the Valley of the King’s tombs were never mentioned anywhere.
In the 13th century, the Armenian traveler Abo Saleh was the first one who talks about the ruins of Luxor city.
In1599, An Italian traveler not known his name was the first who gave a detailed explanation for Karnak temple after the visited Philae temple in Aswan but seems he did not visit the West bank of Luxor.
In 1688, the first official visit to the Valley of the Kings by European travelers belongs to a Christian association
In 1708, Father Claude Sicard visited 10 tombs in the Valley of the Kings and saw the huge granite sarcophagus of Ramesses IV.
In 1738, the first scientific description of the valley of the Kings by the Evangelist Richard Pococke visited the valley two times and draw the first scientific map for the valley of the Kings and the tombs which were easily reached. He mentioned 14 opened tombs and 9 closed.
In 1769, James Bros visited 7 tombs in the Valley of the Kings and he draw the two girls playing Harb.
In 1792, Willian George noticed that the village people prefer living in the tombs and he wrote” The first village you meet called El Qurna on the west bank of the Nile and it consists of few houses because the majority of its people prefer living underground”
In 1798, Viviant Dinon, a member of Napoleon’s Expedition drew maps and plans of the known tombs, and for the first time noted the Western Valley.
The Institut d’Égypte or Egyptian Scientific Institute members established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 gave much care to the discoveries of upper Egypt particularly the Valley of the Kings.
In 1821, Gomar and Costaz gave a detailed description of the tombs of the Valley of the Kings in Costas de l’Égypte. Gostaz map includes 11 tombs that were accessible at that time.
In 1814, Henry Salt Organizing expeditions to search for mummies headed by Giovanni Belzoni.
In 1816, Giovanni Belzoni discovered many tombs including the tomb of AY KV23 in the west valley.
In 1817, Giovanni Belzoni discovered the tomb of Montuherkhebeshef and the tomb of Ramesses I then he discovered the tomb of Seti I which was known as Belzoni’s tomb till it was closed between 1978-1979.
In 1821, Belzoni and Alessandro Ricci copied and draw all of Seti I tomb’s scenes and the show it in London in 1821 the marble sarcophagus of the king takes the shape of a mummy and is inscribed with the book of the gate.
Seti I tomb paid the world attention to the Valley of the kings after his wrong belief that there is nothing more could be found there. In the 19th century, everything changed.
From 1821 to 1832 John Gardner Wilkinson copied many of the inscriptions and artwork of the opened tombs of the Valley of the Kings.
The 19th century witnessed unusual interbout coping and many of the inscriptions and artwork in the tombs between 1821- 1839, especially after the decipherment of hieroglyphs by Jean-François Champollion.
In 1829, Jean-François Champollion spent 3 months of his long trip to Egypt from March to June in the Valley of the Kings in his temporary hotel at that time, the tomb of King Ramesses IV.
In 1845–1846, Karl Richard Lipsius’s expedition discovered and documented twenty-five in the main valley and four in the west valley.
Later on, in the second half of the 19th century too much effort did the Egyptian Antiquities Service to explore the valley.
In 1883, Auguste Mariette and Eugène Lefébure, In1888, Jules Baillet and Georges Bénédite, 1899 Victor Loret they discovered 16 more tombs. Besides, the KV9 discovered by Georges Daressy.
Gaston Maspero and Howard Carter, the chief inspector of Upper Egypt discovered KV42 and KV20.
The American explorer Theodore M. Davis and his team led by Edward R. Ayrton discovered KV43, KV46, and KV57.
In 1907, Theodore’s team discovered the Amarna cache in KV55 and they thought that the Valley was discovered and explored. Davis’s 1912 publication, The Tombs of Horemheb and Tutankhamun closes with the comment, “I fear that the Valley of Kings is now exhausted’.
KV55 contained gilded parts from a sarcophagus shrine, a gilded and inlaid coffin, human remains, and a set of canopic jars, which, along with other funerary paraphernalia, comprised a fragmentary burial dating to the Amarna period.
Theodore Davis was blessed with luck and discovered many important tombs, among them, the almost intact sepulcher of Yuya and Thuya (nowadays in the Egyptian Museum).
In 1910 The Tomb of Queen Tiyi came out.
1922 After Davis’s death in 1915, the world was on a date with the great discovery of king Tutankhamun KV62 in November 1922 by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon. Since that time, the Valley became very famous for the discovery of the boy king’s tomb of Tutankhamun.
In 1979, The Valley of the Kings became a WORLD HERITAGE SITE along with the Theban Necropolis.
In 2001, A new project called THEBAN MAPPING PROJECT was developed after it has been established in 1978 to create an archaeological map of the Valley of the Kings. Providing information and plans for most of the tombs in the Valley.
On 2006, February 8, the American team led by the University of Memphis announced that they uncovered KV63
On 2006, July 13, Nicolas Reeves names another finding as KV64. It was a tomb dating back to the 18th dynasty and was reused in the 22nd Dynasty.
In 2008, May, Zahi Hawass announced that an Egyptian team is looking for the missing tomb of Ramesses VIII.
Nobody can confirm if the Valley of the Kings told all its secrets or not yet but we do believe that still, many things will come out in the next few years.
Who Built the Valley of the Kings? Workers or slaves?
It seems easy questions and most of the answers came like slaves. Actually, no those who built the valley of the Kings are workers.
We know a lot of them from their city Deir El-Medina, a unique place that shows the only well-preserved ancient Egyptian Village. “Servants in the Place of Truth“, was the name of the workers who dug the tombs of the Valley of the Kings.
The workers and their families were not slaves but free citizens. They were working, getting salaries, free days, and housing for themselves and their families.
Workers of Deir El Medina received care for their health problems through medical treatment, prayer, and magic. Workers had their own chapels for different gods and goddesses.
We will put another article with detailed information about the worker’s life, families, religion, their famous gods, social relations, tombs rubbery and workers first known strike in the world.
Who robbed the Valley of the Kings? Tomb Robberies in the Valley of the Kings
The main purpose of the tombs in ancient Egypt is saving the corpse and possessions of the deceased for eternity. Djoser (c. 2670 BCE), the founder of the third dynasty put his burial chamber at the end of a 28m deep shaft. The builders of the Giza Pyramids did their best to keep their corpses and possessions saved. New Kingdom Kings put their tombs inside the cliff to protect them from tomb robbers.
When do tombs get robbed?
Royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings ger robbed two times
Almost everybody in ancient times knows or at least can guess what could be inside a royal tomb. That was the reason almost all pyramids, and treasure-filled tombs of the valley were targets for the treasure hunters or theft. It was knowing that the royal tombs were filled with almost everything they used and he will reuse it in the afterlife. Meanwhile, the kings as long as they were living.
They enlarged their tombs and supply them with more treasures and staff he will use hereafter. Robbers focused mainly on precious items like gold, silver, Jewellery, perfume, gilded coffins, and amulets of precious stones.
Seems robbers attacked the tombs a short time after the king’s funeral because we found evidence of corruption among employees. Proves from the 8th year of king Horemheb that restoration work was done for KV43 (Thutmosis IV). That was not all, we have what’s called the Mayer Papyri (c. 1108 BCE) records some of the tomb robberies were caught and punished and confessed how they robbed the tombs.
In modern time
Valley of the Kings tombs layout
Valley of the King’s tombs was constructed on the west bank of the Nile River during the New Kingdom Period, from about 1550 – 1080 BC. Thutmose I (Father of Queen Hatshepsut) tomb was the first tomb in the Valley of the Kings and the last one Maybe Ramses XI. All the kings of the 18th, 19th, and 20th Dynasties dug their tombs in the valley. Simply the tombs in the Valley of the Kings take 3 different designs
- Tombs with one axis or direction
- Tombs takes the design of the letter L
- Tombs are very deep
But why did they change the designs of the tombs?
Ancient Egyptians changed the design of the tombs for uncontrolled reasons sometimes. For example, while digging a tomb for one of the kings, they found another tomb behind.so, it was urgent to find a way how to protect the x tomb and finish the one they dig as it happened when they were trying to dig Ramesses III tomb. Sometimes they had to change the design or directions because of the soft qualities of the mountain quality like that of the Merenptah tomb.
How did New Kingdom Kings try to protect their tombs?
The new Kingdom kings did their best to protect their eternal houses, palaces, or the places where they will spend the second everlasting time by digging them in the Mountain and hiding the entrances under rubble.
Others guarded the areas day and night and carved warnings and curses in the tombs. As they noticed sometimes the tombs rubbers smashed skulls, twisted limbs from torsos, and ripped open chest cavities to take the amulets and other things. Putting all the above in mind, we can confirm that nothing succeeded to prevent the tomb rubbers and all the Pyramids in Egypt, all tombs have been opened and robbed in the past.
Valley of the Kings Tombs Numbering
When you will visit the Valley of the Kings, you will find beside each tomb aboard with two letters and Numbers plus two Cartouches. The letters are KV
K stands for Kings
So together means Kings valley and the number tells when the tomb was discovered. In other words, for example, KV1, means Kings Valley number 1 or the first tomb was discovered in the Valley but it does not mean it is the oldest one.
The two cartouches are
sȝ rˁ = “Son of the Sun (Ra God)”
nswt-bjt “King of Upper and Lower Egypt”
But the question is, who and when they started that abbreviation of the tomb in the Valley?
Many travelers and explorers used numbers, letters, or sometimes descriptive labels for the tombs in the Valley but the first one who used this modern abbreviation was John Gardiner Wilkinson in 1827.
That was not all, he called the 4 tombs discovered till his time in the west valley or the valley of the monkeys with WV1 till WV4. Means west valley number 1 till west valley number 4. That names last till they added the tombs of the west valley to those of the east and all take KV+NUMBER.
Why was King Tut’s tomb never raided?
First of all, King Tutankhamun tomb KV62 will have a separate article but for the moment it is good to know at least that the tomb was not intact.
Tutankhamun tomb was robbed twice. Compared with the other tombs in the valley of the Kings, it is the only one where they found around 5300 pieces.
One of the masterpieces of the tomb was the inner sarcophagus weighing 110kg of pure gold. Besides the mask 10.3kg of gold. The main reason why the tomb was saved side by side to Tutankhamun tomb is KV9 Ramesses V, Ramesses VI tomb. The entrance of the tomb is 10 meters higher than king Tut tomb. Workers took all the sand and debris and put it on Tutankhamun’s tomb, that’s why it was saved all that time.
Valley of the Kings opening hours:
Valley of the kings is opened daily from 06.00 am to 17.00 pm but ticket windows close at 16.30 pm.
How to get to the valley of the Kings?
If you plan to visit the Valley of the Kings by limousine, taxi, bicycle, donkey, or any transportation method, you will end at the parking lot. Then you will walk between the Bazaars to the entrance of the visitor center.
After you will cross the Xray, you will see in front of you an amazing maquette(3Dmap) for the valley of the Kings. The Maquette offers a very nice overview of the Valley of the Kings and what the tombs look like inside the mountain. Restrooms are available in the visitor’s center (5 L.E) per person.
Valley of the Kings Tickets
kindly put in your mind that you will need to purchase two tickets. Entrance ticket for the Valley including access to 3 tombs and a ticket for the electric car. Tickets windows are next to each other. The Entrance fee for the Valley of the kings
Adult: EGP 260 (14.4$)
Students with valid cards: EGP 130(7.2$)
Children aged 6-12 years: EGP 130 (7.2$)
Children under 6 years: FREE
Additional tombs in the Valley of the Kings with additional ticket
If you like to visit more than 3 tombs on the standard ticket, you will need to buy another standard ticket to allow you to see 3 more tombs but
If you like to visit the additional tombs with additional tickets, you need to buy special tickets as following
- KV9 – Ramesses V, Ramesses VI tomb EGP 100 per person (5.5$)
- KV17 – Seti I EGP 1400 per person (76$)
- KV62 -Tutankhamun EGP 300 per person (16$)
They will check the standard tickets for the valley of the Kings 4 times, by the entrance and whenever you will enter one of the tombs, they will hole-punch at each tomb entrance. Once you have 3 holes, you are done with the standard tickets. You need to keep them with you all the time.
Best time to visit the Valley of the Kings
Normally the Valley is very busy from 06.00 am to 09.00 am because of the Cruise people. Hurghada and Marsa Alam day trips reached the place around 10.00 am to 12.00 pm. so, the best time to visit the Valley of the Kings could be from 14.00 pm till 17.00 pm.
How much it cost a ticket for a Camera in the Valley of the Kings?
Nowadays it is allowed to use your camera or Mobil phone for free inside the tombs of the Valley of the Kings.
Best tombs to visit in Luxor Egypt
It is very hard to answer that questions and what it mean best tombs for each one of us. Best tombs in the valley of the kings mean the best-preserved wall paintings, tombs with the most beautiful ceiling paintings, or the longest tomb.
Best tombs mean the easiest tombs to visit, tombs for very famous kings like Ramesses II, Ramesses III, Ramesses V & Ramesses VI. Art is individual taste and whatever you will visit in the Valley of the Kings, sure you will like something you will love. Here are some of the recommended tombs but please also put in mind that the opened tombs changed from one year to another.
- KV2 The Tomb of Ramesses IV
- KV6 The Tomb of Ramesses IX
- KV11 The Tomb of Ramesses III
- KV8 The tomb of Merenptah
If you like to know about the best tombs you can visit against the charge, here are the three extra ones
- KV9 – Ramesses V, Ramesses VI
- KV17 – Seti I
- KV62 – Tutankhamun
List of the Valley of the Kings tombs
Valley of the Kings is a one-of-a-kind sightseeing in Luxor that can visit by Luxor Private Sightseeing Tour. Your visit to Luxor wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Valley of the Kings.
When you visit the Valley of the Kings, you will find beside each tomb an information board gives information about the tomb-like when it was found, the design, the famous two titles of the King like the nsw bity “King of Upper and Lower Egypt” and the Sa Ra” the son of the god Ra”. Besides, famous religious texts decorate the walls of the tombs like the Book of Dead, Books of the Gates, Book of Caverns, and the Book of the Heavens.
KV1 – Ramses VII
KV2 – Tomb of Ramesses IV
KV3 – Tomb of Unidentified Son of Pharaoh Ramesses III
KV4 – Unfinished Tomb of Ramesses XI
KV5 – Tomb of Sons of Rameses II
KV6 – Tomb of Ramesses IX
KV7 – Tomb of Rameses II
KV8 – Tomb of Merenptah
KV9 – Tomb of Ramesses V & Ramesses VI
KV10 – Tomb of Amenmesse
KV11 – Tomb of Ramesses III
KV12 – Tomb of Unknown
KV13 – Tomb of Amenherkhepshef and Mentuherkhepshef
KV14 – Tomb of Tausret and Setnakht
KV15 – Tomb of Seti II
KV16 – Tomb of Ramesses I
KV17 – Tomb of Seti I
KV18 – Tomb of Ramesses X
KV19 – Tomb of Mentuherkhepshef Son of Ramesses IX
KV20 – Tomb of Thutmose I and Hatshepsut
KV21 – Tomb of Unknown
KV22 – Tomb of Unknown
KV23 – Tomb of Unknown
KV24 – Tomb of Unknown
KV25 – Tomb of Unknown
KV26 – Tomb of Unknown
KV27 – Tomb of Unknown
KV28 – Tomb of Unknown
KV29 – Tomb of Unknown
KV30 – Unknown Occupant (Lord Belmore’s tomb)
KV31 – Tomb of Unknown
KV32 – Tomb of Tia’a
KV33 – Tomb of Unknown
KV34 – Tomb of Thutmose III
KV35 – Tomb of Amenhotep II
KV36 – Tomb of Maiherpri
KV37 – Tomb of Unknown
KV38 – Tomb of Thutmose I
KV39 – Tomb of Unknown
KV40 – Burial site of Unknown Person
KV41 – Tomb of Unknown
KV42 – Tomb of Hatshepsut-Meryetre
KV43 – Tomb of Thutmose IV
KV44 – Tomb of Unknown
KV45 – Tomb of Userhet
KV46 – Tomb of Yuya and Thuya
KV47 – Tomb of Siptah
KV48 – Tomb of Amenemopet called Pairy
KV49 – Tomb of Unknown
KV50 – Tomb of Unknown
KV51 – Tomb of Unknown
KV52 – Tomb of Unknown
KV53 – Tomb of Unknown
KV54 – Tomb of Unknown
KV55 – Tomb of Smenkhkare/Akhenaten
KV56 – Tomb of Unknown
KV57 – Tomb of Horemheb
KV58 – Tomb of Unknown
KV59 – Tomb of Unknown
KV60 – Tomb of Sitre In
KV61 – Tomb of Unknown
KV62 – Tomb of Tutankhamun
KV63 – Burial Site of Person(s) Unknown
KV64 – Unknown Original Occupant
KV65 – Unknown Occupant
List of the Opened tombs in the Valley of the Kings
There are in total 62 tombs in the Valley of the Kings, 8 of them are included in the standard tickets and you can choose any three tombs to visit. Also, there are 3 more tombs that need extra tickets
The 8 opened tombs for the standard tickets are
KV1 – Ramses VII
KV2 – Ramses IV
KV6 – Ramses IX
KV8 – Merenptah
KV11 – Ramses III
KV14 – Tausert – Setnakht
KV15 – Seti II
KV47 – Siptah
Yearly they close some tombs and they open new ones means tombs are rotated yearly to limit the damage and keep the tombs healthy.
List of the Extra tombs
- KV9 – Ramesses V, Ramesses VI
- KV17 – Seti I
- KV62 -Tutankhamun
Tips for visiting the Valley of the Kings
- The first piece of advice we can tell, visit the valley of the Kings with an archaeologist guide. You will never find everything in one book and the guides will give you more details about the religion of the ancient Egyptians. They will provide you with a detailed explanation of the development of the tombs from the hole underground to the Pyramidical shape of the tombs in the Valley. Open your heart and mind, listen to them about the workers, tomb decorations, tomb style, religious books, and wall paintings.
- Read before you go and make up your mind if you are an individual visitor which tombs from the opened ones you like to visit. Make your mind if you like to add more extra charge tombs and get the ticket before you take the electric car up to the Valley.
- Take extra water with you and some snacks, especially in the summer months, and drink at least 5 small bottles of mineral water to not hydrate.
- Small change for the WC
- Do not forget to take your hat, sunglasses, and sun cream with you Luxor Day Trip from Hurghada in your Egypt by bus or Private.
- Cotton dress during summer
- There is a café facing king Tutankhamun’s tomb in the valley of the kings if you like to drink something or have an ice-cream
- Sometimes the tombs are so busy and you have to be ready to queue some of them or try to visit the valley at the end of the day between 15.00 – 17.00 pm.