For this week’s post, I chose a topic that greatly interested me upon first glance, Royal Tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. In my opinion, this topic was essentially interesting to me because from my prior experience and knowledge of the ancient Egyptian society, I have learned that the Egyptian ruling elite such as Pharaohs, Kings, Queens, etc. were treated with intense respect and waited on all day every day on hand and foot by servants and the lower classes. This leads me to believe that the burial tombs and arrangement for this elite ruling class must have been an extremely time-consuming and tediously intense process involving a large amount of forced labor among the masses of the poor in order to serve the purpose of constructing tombs for the Kings and Queens.
Because this ruling Egyptian class was such an essentially big deal, the royal tombs of the “New Kingdom” were hidden in locations to the west of the royal mortuary temples. In reality, the kings were buried in one of two valleys, most in the East Valley and a few in the West Valley, known collectively as “The Valley of the Kings”. A lot of new knowledge, artifacts, and assumed behavior deduced from these recovered artifacts has been discovered since the 1970’s when the Theban Mapping Project of the American University in Cairo started systematically mapping and investigating tombs there.
Unfortunately, the mummies of the New Kingdom Kings (with the exception of Tutankhamen’s mummy) have been robbed of their valuable jewelry and relocated to two new caches. The end of the 20th dynasty marked the period that the royal burials began to get systematically robbed, most likely by the Theban rulers in order to provide state funds. These mummies were later re-located and re-buried to their original caches.
The Theban hills is also home to the “Valley of the Queens” which also included the burial of many princes and princesses. The two main groups of tombs dated to the reigns of Ramses II on the northern slope and Ramses III on the southern slope.