Valley of Kings

Two 65-foot-high (20-meter-high) sandstone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III—known, incorrectly, as the Colossi of Memnon—are all that’s left of his mortuary temple on the west bank of the Nile, across from Luxor Temple. The annual flooding of the river eventually destroyed the once stupendous building.

Seti I, whose well-preserved mummy rests in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, did much to promote prosperity during his 11-year rule. He overran Palestine, made peace with the Hittites in Syria, opened mines and quarries, and enlarged the great Temple of Amun at Karnak. The discovery of Seti I’s tomb in 1817 caused as much of a furor in the European press as the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb 105 years later.

Pharaoh Seti I (who reigned circa 1290 to 1279 B.C.) was buried after an 11-year reign in an elaborate tomb in the Valley of the Kings—one of the longest, deepest, and finest of all the tombs there. The tomb’s ceiling (pictured) depicts the heavens, including constellations; astronomical texts; and a row of deities.

After the internal organs of Pharaoh Tutankhamun were removed and treated with a preservative, they were stored in an alabaster chest and entombed in a gilded wooden shrine protected by a quartet of goddesses. The shrine, along with most of the treasures found in Tut’s tomb, is now in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.

Brilliantly colored paintings cover the walls of Tutankhamun’s small burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor. Since the young king was only about 20 when he died, there was no tomb ready for him, and this one was hastily prepared. Between 1539 and 1078 B.C. nearly all pharaohs were buried in the Valley of the Kings. More than 60 tombs have been found, and archaeologists believe there are more to be discovered.

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