This name describes two rock gorges crossing the mountain massif. In the western part, today known as the Western Valley (WV) or the Valley of the Apes (in Arabic, Wadi el-Gurnd), Amenhotep III and Eje were buried (Ai) II (XVIII dynastia). Eastern part (KV), called in Arabic Biban al-Muluk (The gates of the Kings), is the burial place of the rulers of the XVIII, XIX and XX dynasties and their families. The ancients used to call it the Great Field (Ta-sechet-aat) or the Miraculous Ladder of the West.
Both parts of the valley are combined 63 tombs (2008) and additionally 20 incomplete excavations and shafts marked A to T. Only among the burials 24 the tombs belong to the kings, everyone (KV63 – discovered in 2005 r.) it did not include the queen's mummy, and the rest to high dignitaries. First 21 the graves were ordered according to John Gardiner Wilkinson's numbering (1827 r.; KV – King’s Valley). Numbers from 22 do 63 allocated roughly in the order of their discovery.
The Al-Kurn peak dominates the valley (in Arabic "Róg"), identified with the serpent goddess Meretseger. Perhaps this pyramid-like peak gave the pharaohs the idea of creating necropolises in the valley. Today, a comfortable asphalt road leads to the valley, but in antiquity access was difficult, and the entrance was guarded by police patrols (medzaju). The first pharaoh, whom he ordered to be buried here, was Thotmes I. (KV38), ruler of the eighteenth dynasty (XVI w. p.n.e.). His tomb may have been built during Thotmes III. The tomb of Queen Hatshepsut is the oldest (KV20), perhaps it was a tomb for Thotmes I., which his daughter took over. Ramses XI was the last to be buried in the Valley of the Kings.
In antiquity, the entrances to the tombs were not covered.
The necropolis police carried out an inspection, checking, that the seal on the door has not been broken. Initially, the system worked quite well, but when hard times came at the end of Ramses III's reign, the robbers attacked the graves more and more boldly. Craftsmen from Dajr al-Madina took part in this practice (Deir el Medina). Their partners were the richest officials from Thebes. This disturbed the priests, who during the 21st Dynasty moved the mummies to a safe place. One of these caches was in Ad-Dayer al-Bahri. The necropolis fell into oblivion for a while, when the first Greek and Roman "tourists" began to visit the tombs. Then she was forgotten again. Rare rainstorms changed the look of the area from time to time, by placing heaps of scree. The valley was discovered by the French Jesuit Claud Sicard in the years 1708-1712. W 1734 r. Richard Pococke outlined the foreground of the valley with 18 tombs. Once it seemed, that there is nothing to find in the area, Howard Carter found Tutankhamun's tomb intact (KV62). Recent discoveries include Kent Weeks's research on KV55's tomb, destined for the numerous sons of Ramesses II, which turned out to be unexpectedly great (150 chambers; 400 m2). Work is underway on the newest tomb in the valley (KV63), found in March 2005 r. (advertisement 10 February 2006 r.) by American archaeologists from Memphis under the direction of Dr.. Ottona Schadena ok. 14,5 m from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Schaden suspects, that the tomb is related to the dead of the Amarna period. It contained several coffins, whose wood had been broken by termites, and the inscriptions are covered with black resin. A small coffin covered with gold was also found with no visible inscriptions. One of the wooden coffins may have been intended for the queen from the end of the 18th Dynasty (guess by dr. Damage a), possibly, that for Tutankhamun's mother, Queen Kiyi (theory dr. Zahiego Hawassa).
Visiting the tombs
Some tombs are closed either due to poor condition, or ongoing maintenance. The graves are closed temporarily, in order to limit the harmful influence of crowds of visitors, because sweat destroys wall paintings, and the carbon dioxide released with the breath is harmful to the polychrome. The valley is also threatened by geological changes and temporary flooding due to more frequent rainfall than before. You can see the disastrous impact of the rising groundwater level caused by the High Dam: the lower layer of shale grows more and more and drags salt.
Tomb of Ramesses VII
It is located right at the entrance to the valley. It was robbed in antiquity. After the renovation in 1994 r. its walls are protected by glass panels that protect the paintings. Rameses VII, son of Ramesses VI and queen Nubchesbed, reigned during the crisis of the state, rising grain prices and the looting of royal tombs. The modest tomb consists of an entrance, corridor and burial chamber with a small room with a niche.
High-quality reliefs covering the walls suggest, that the tomb was planned and constructed on such a scale, because the ruler had little time to build. The decoration resembles the tomb of Ramesses VI, the paintings after conservation have retained their vivid colors. The doorframe is decorated with a winged solar disk with a scarab, on the sides are Isis and Nephthys, and below is the royal cartouche. The wide corridor is covered with depicting reliefs (on the left) the king in front of the altar of the falcon god Re-Horachte-Atum-Khepri with the Hymn to Re and (on the right) Ptah-Sokar-Osiris along with the Hymn to the gods of the Underworld.
Further on the left you can see part of the Book of Gates (the Re barge flowing on the waters of the Underworld), and on the right the Book of Caves (deities paying homage to the dying sun god). The king as Osiris is cleansed by the priest. The ceiling of the corridor is covered with paintings with cartouches and flying vultures. Corridor through a deep well (vestibule) leads to the sarcophagus hall. The door frame is decorated with a winged disk, and there are two goddesses on the entrance wall – on the right Sachmet-Bubastis-Wert-Hekau, and on the left Wert-Hekau (Great Lady of Magic). The sarcophagus was carved out of the rock, and the cover is made of a roughly processed cartouche-shaped block, dekorowanego figurami Izydy,
Neftydy, Selkis and the four sons of Horus. To date, the mummy of Ramesses VII has not been identified.
Tomb of Ramesses IX (KV6)
The burial place of one of the last pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings (XII w. p.n.e.), was already available in antiquity, hence 46 graffiti of ancient tourists Ramses was probably the son of Mentuherchopszef, son of Ramesses III and Tachat, though some consider him the son of Ramesses VIII or Ramesses VII. The reign of Ramesses IX became famous for the high-profile interrogations of robbers and the ubiquitous corruption of officials. The mummy was found in a DB320 cache in Deir el-Bahri.
At the time of the king's death, only half of the tomb was completed. In addition to the entrance, three corridors were carved, the first of which has a series of four lateral niches. On the walls, Ramses stands before the gods, you can also see fragments of the Book of Caves: crocodiles and cut off heads are swimming on solar barges. The shaft chamber and the column room have been completed, the passage behind it was enlarged for a royal burial in the burial chamber at the end of the tomb, adorned with the Book of the Night.