Nortina’s Egyptian Travel Diaries (#AtoZChallenge): “U” is for Unfinished Tombs

Did you know that the pharaohs began the construction of their tombs as early as year 1 of their reign?


Well, the construction of a royal tomb required a lot of tedious work:

  • Deciding on location
  • Digging deep into the mountain (such as for tombs in the Valley of the Kings) or carving and transporting large blocks of stone from quarries across Egypt up and down the Nile (such as for the pyramids or for sarcophagi and other funerary objects inside the tombs)
  • Finding skilled laborers to chisel and paint the walls
  • And most importantly, finding an architect to design the whole thing and a vizier to oversee the process

All of this was time-consuming, and oftentimes, the pharaoh died before the tomb was ever completed. When that happened, the workers were urged to complete as much as they could during the 70 days of the mummification process. Once the body was ready to be entombed, that was it! Finished or not, they had to end the work so that the king could begin his journey to the afterlife.

Take King Tut, for instance, who died unexpectedly at around the age of 18 or 19. There was no time for elaborate decorating of the walls of his tomb, and it is believed that he was actually buried in a tomb originally intended for someone else because his actual tomb was nowhere close to being finished (if construction had even been started at all), which is why, although it may be the most famous royal tomb, as it was discovered almost completely intact, it’s actually not the most impressive one in the Valley of the Kings. That title belongs to Seti I.

And yet, even in the most impressive tomb, there are parts that remain unfinished.


“A” is for Arrival
“B” is for Buyer’s Remorse
“C” is for Cruisin’ the River Nile
“D” is for Delays, Delays, Delays
“E” is for Empty Tombs
“F” is for Fragrance
“G” is for Great Pyramid of Giza
“H” is for Hatshepsut
“I” is for Island Temple of Philae
“J” is for Just Engaged!
“K” is for Kom Ombo
“L” is for Luxor
“M” is for Museums and Mummies
“N” is for Nefertari
“O” is for Osiris, Set, and Horus: Gods of Egypt
“P” is for Pizza Hut Fail
“Q” is for Queen Cleopadrat
“R” is for Ramesses
“S” is for Seti I
“T” is for Traffic

This April for the A to Z Challenge, I’m sharing my experience of traveling to Egypt last month. These posts likely won’t be in chronological order, depending on what memory each letter strikes up, but if you’d like to follow me on this journey, subscribe below.

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