Nortina’s Egyptian Travel Diaries (#AtoZChallenge): “V” is for Valley of the Kings/Queens

I feel like I’ve been talking about the Valley of the Kings at length since “R is for Ramesses.” What more can I say other than this was the only word I could think of that starts with “V”?

So I’ve decided I’ll use this post to talk about things I haven’t mentioned yet.

The Valley of the Kings was the New Kingdom pharaohs’ solution to the pyramids’ looting problem. They wanted a more secure burial site and so opted for tombs cut deep into a mountain in a remote valley of the desert that no one could get to.

More than 25 kings from the 18th to 21st Dynasties were buried here, and this particular location was chosen for the triangular peak of the mountain, which functioned as a natural pyramid to replace man-made pyramids built over the individual tombs.

Unfortunately, they underestimated the determination of grave robbers. Nearly all of the tombs were desecrated in antiquity. Although King Tut’s tomb was discovered almost completely intact, it too was broken into at least twice in antiquity, and some valuables were stolen. However, officials quickly resealed it, and the construction of a later royal tomb nearby (Ramesses IV of the 20th Dynasty) completely concealed the entrance to the tomb, protecting it from future tomb raiders until it was rediscovered in 1922 by Howard Carter and his team.

The tombs we visited in the Valley of the Kings were those of Seti I, Ramesses I, and Ramesses IX. Check out those posts (linked at the end of this one) if you’d like to see the jaw-dropping 3,000-year-old decorations.

The falcon god Horus with Seti, Tomb of Seti I, Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Queens

The Valley of the Queens wasn’t just reserved for the queens of Egypt. This was the formal burial site for the wives and children of the New Kingdom pharaohs. The Valley of the Queens is just a short drive south of the Kings’ Valley. This area was less protected and more accessible than its counterpart, and so the tombs were even more thoroughly robbed in antiquity.

The tombs are much smaller than those of the kings, though by far the most majestic and beautiful of the tombs in the Queens’ Valley belongs to Queen Nefertari, the Great Wife of Ramesses II (see more in “N is for Neferatri” linked at the end of this post).

Queen Nefertari, Tomb of Nefertari, Valley of the Queens

We saw two other tombs in the Valley of the Queens: the tombs of Queen Titi and Prince Amen Khopshef, wife and son of 20th Dynasty pharaoh Ramesses III. The decorated walls of both tombs are protected by glass, though the artwork in Titi’s tomb is much more deteriorated than that in Amen Khopshef’s tomb—the color is faint, and many sections have been chipped or chiseled away. Titi’s tomb is not cut as deep into the mountain as others, so it’s possible that too much exposure to the sun, at least since the time it’s been opened to the public, could have led to some of the damage.

Amen Khopshef was the eldest son of Ramesses the III and the heir apparent to the throne. Unfortunately, he died young (around 15 years old), before he could become pharaoh. His tomb still contains the stone sarcophagus, though I doubt there’s still a mummy inside, as it probably would have been on display if so.

There’s also the mummified remains of a fetus enclosed in a glass display. Unfortunately, I can’t remember if Tour Guide explained how this baby and Amen Khopshef were related, but I would assume they were siblings.

Click images for captions

Sights along the way…

Earlier that morning, before our visit to the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, we stopped at the Colossi of Memnon, twin seated statues of the king Amenhotep III (18th Dynasty) that guard the ruins of his mortuary temple. These massive statues were rumored to “sing” in ancient times, likely from air passing through cracks in the statues caused by an earthquake. These cracks were eventually repaired, so the statues were silent while we were taking pictures, but I can only imagine the superstitious thoughts going through the minds of the Ancient Greeks and Romans when they heard those first musical notes in the early dawn.


“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
“U” is for Unfinished Tombs

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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