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Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings is famous for its royal tombs. These beautifully painted tombs have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. For over a thousand years, the kings, queens and nobles of the New Kingdom (1500-1070 B.C.) were buried in this valley, which is the world's most magnificent burial ground.

Wall-painting: women socializing; 
CMC PCD 2001-293-042 Tomb entrance; 
CMC PCD 2001-288-006 Wall-painting: pharoah hunting; 
CMC PCD 2001-302-080

The tombs were cut into the limestone rock in a remote wadi (a dried-up river valley) on the west side of the Nile, opposite the present day city of Karnak. Their walls were painted and sculpted with magnificent murals depicting scenes of daily life and the land of the gods. The chambers were filled with treasures -- everything from furniture to food, statues, boats and jewels, which a person needed to sustain life into eternity. The royals and their courtiers hoped to find refuge from robbers and their enemies, who caused such havoc in the pyramid tombs of their predecessors.

Road leading to a valley tomb; 
CMC PCD 2001-277-051 Theban Peak; 
CMC PCD 2001-288-005

The Valley of the Kings was located in the ancient necropolis of Thebes, the capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom. Two branches separate the valley into the Western Valley and the Valley of the Monkeys. The Theban Peak, shaped like a pyramid, can be seen high above the burial grounds. This is perhaps one of the reasons the pharaohs chose this remote location.

Carter in the Valley of the Kings; 
CMC PCD 2001-277-099 The valley contains hundreds of tombs, many of which have yet to be excavated and others that have not yet been found. The most famous tomb (KV No. 62) belongs to the boy king Tutankhamun. It was discovered on November 22, 1922 by the English archaeologist Howard Carter . Here is a quote from Carter's diary describing his reaction as he first peered into the tomb's antechamber.

"I inserted the candle and peered in, Lord Carnarvon, Lady Evelyn and Callender standing anxiously beside me to hear the verdict. At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues and gold - everywhere the glint of gold (...)"

Peering into Tut's tomb;
 CMC S97-10671; 
PCD 2001-272-044 When Lord Carnarvon, the English patron who financed Carter's work, could no longer stand the suspense, he asked, "Can you see anything?" Carter replied, "Yes, wonderful things."

This famous quote sums up the excitement of this incredible discovery that took the world by storm. The awe-inspiring beauty of Tutankhamun's treasures has generated enormous interest in the history of Egypt. These treasures are the quintessential symbol of this remarkable civilization.

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