Egypt Part Four: Valley of the Kings

Indiana Jones in the Valley of the Kings, pyramid shaped mountain in background

It was about a half hour drive from our ship to the Valley of the Kings. We saw agriculture and street scenes along the way.

Our first stop was a photo op at the statues of Amenhotep III and the Collossi of Memnon. These originally guarded the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III. They were damaged by earthquakes in 1200 BC and 27 BC.

Amenhotep III and the Collossi of Memnon

We wound up the hill into the valley where the tombs were hidden. One reason they picked this area was the mountain was naturally shaped like a pyramid as you can see above. Only twelve of the 63 discovered tombs are open to the public at any given time and they alternate as they are worked on and restored. We saw four of them. The whole area was still being actively excavated. Some tombs were in better shape than others. King Tutankhamun’s tomb was the only one that still had a mummy in it and it will be moved soon. It is hard to describe the experience, it was beyond beautiful, so amazing to think how old they are.

I read all the Amelia Peabody books by Egyptologist Barbara Mertz aka Elizabeth Peters, that span the time from 1884-1923. She wrote 20 books based in Egypt mostly about archeologists digging around and solving mysteries. As I read them, I kept trying to imagine what the Valley of the Kings actually looked like back then, or even now. All I could imagine was a vast desert with nothing much else. Well, now I know. Take a look.

On the other side of the mountain, facing Karnak, was the Mortuary Temple of Pharoah Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut’s reign started roughly around 1500 BC and she was on the throne for 22 years. She ruled as a Pharaoh, presenting herself as male, wearing a false beard. She was an important figure. Her mortuary temple was where they prepared her body to be buried in the Valley of the Kings. It was an impressive structure built into the cliffs and directly opposite the Eighth Pylon, her addition to the Karnak site. It had three terraces with shrines to Hathor, Anubis, and Amun.

Then it was back to the ship for lunch and off to the airport. Return to Cairo.

Next: Giza and the Pyramids

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