Week 6-Adam Longo

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.

2 thoughts on “Week 6-Adam Longo

  1. Your blog caught my eye this week as I too am interested in the Valley of the Kings. This valley where many Pharaohs and Kings have been buried does seem to show the amount of forced labor from the poorer population of Egypt during the New Kingdom that I’m sure took a lot of their time and effort. Because of the significant problem of grave robbers at the time of both the poor looking for money and the wealthy looking for artifacts to keep for their own, the need to hide the tombs of the royals was apparent. However, it was unsuccessful as many of the tombs were robbed and the bodies moved to a new location for their safety. Their plan seemed to backfire as I’m sure once someone stumbled over one royal tomb and looted it, they were sure to look in the same area for more.

    What really interested me this week was the fact that there was a transition from building very flamboyant pyramids in the Old and Middle Kingdoms to a discreet valley full of royal tombs in the New Kingdom. It is believed they picked the site for the Valley of the Kings because of the presence of the natural structure of Al Qurn that appears to look like a pyramid. And despite their prosperity as a state at the time, the royals still chose to create a much more low-key and inconspicuous location for their tombs and artifacts.

  2. I also was very interested in the prestige position of the kings and queens and wrote about Queen Nefertari. She was the wife of Ramses II and was buried in the Valley of the Queens. (She was briefly mentioned in lecture this week.) What initially sparked my interest was the immense tomb her husband built for her. It was right next to his own, and he dedicated the entire temple to her name. It is evident that he held a strong and passionate respect for her as well as an intense love as his writings refer to her as “the most beautiful” of his many wives. Sometimes, in the process of learning about so many ancient societies that lived inconcievably long ago, it’s easy to lose sight of the actual human characteristics we share with the people we study. The little spark of romance that makes this story so sweet helped remind me that they experienced the same emotions that we do today. You mentioned the dedication to and respect for royal leaders by civilians and this is just another way that these ancient people can be brought to life at least in our minds. They were definitely a passionate population.
    I appreciated the information you included detailing the tombs and burials of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. I hadn’t come across some of those facts until now. I was surprised to learn about the burying of princes and princesses in the Valley of the Queens. With regards to how much stress was put on the eliteness of the kings and queens, I would not have guessed that princes and princesses, although royal as well, would be buried in the the same place but perhaps in a separate area. I thought that was interesting.

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