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Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings



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The Valley of the Kings in Luxor in Egypt was once part of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes.

From the Eighteenth Dynasty to the Twentieth, the pharaohs of Egypt were buried in the Valley of the Kings. Today, visitors flock to see the myriad of ancient tombs cut into the limestone of the Valley of the Kings, mostly contained in its eastern valley.

Eighteenth Dynasty tombs include those of Amenhotep III (in the west valley), Hatshepsut, Thutmose III and Thutmose IV. Some of the most famous figures of Ancient Egypt are buried at the Valley of the Kings, including the boy king Tutankhamun, Ramses the Great, Ramesses IV and Tuthmosis III.

The Valley of the Kings has almost thirty tombs in all and, together with the other remains of Thebes, forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. This site also features as one of our Top ten tourist attractions in Egypt.


History of the Valley of the Kings: Third Intermediate Period to the Byzantine Period

At the end of the New Kingdom, Egypt entered a period of political and economic decline. The priesthood of Amen at Thebes administered Upper Egypt, while kings ruling from Tanis controlled Lower Egypt. The Valley of the Kings suffered from plundering, which led the ruling high priests of Amen during Dynasty 21 to rewrap and conceal the royal mummies in tombs such as KV 17, KV 35 and KV 57, in order to protect them. Later some of the mummies were moved to a cache south of Dayr al Bahri in TT 320. Meanwhile, a number of tombs of the Valley of the Kings were reused either for non-royal burials (KV 19, KV 22, KV 24, KV 25, KV 34, KV 44, KV 45, and KV 47) or as a storage/work area (KV 4).

Graeco-Roman Era

For centuries, the Valley of the Kings remained almost deserted, until the arrival of the Greeks during the third century B.C., who expressed a new interest in the Valley, and the monuments of Egypt in general. Two of the major tourist attractions in Thebes were the Colossi of Memnon, the pair of massive statues that preceded the pylon of the memorial temple of Amenhetep III. The northern one emitted a whistling sound at dawn, caused presumably by heated air escaping from cracks which appeared after an earthquake damaged the statue. Thus, it reminded the Greek visitors of the myth of Memnon who cried out to his mother, Eos, the goddess of the dawn, and hence its name. A graffito carved on the foot of the colossus reads as follows: "From Trebulla. Hearing the holy voice of Memnon I missed you, O my Mother, and I prayed that you might hear him too."

The Valley of the Kings was another frequently visited site in Graeco-Roman times. Over two thousand Greek and Latin graffiti can be found in ten royal tombs (KV 1, KV 2, KV 4, KV 6, KV 7, KV 8, KV 9, KV 10, KV 11, KV 15). KV 9 attracted the most visitors, probably because Rameses VI's cartouche strongly resembles the one of Amenhetep III and might have been a reminder of their hero, Memnon. Around one thousand graffiti have been recorded by scholars in this tomb alone.

The graffiti are often limited to a name and sometimes a date, but others give the visitor's profession, and his comment about the tomb (An example: “I, Dioskorammon, looked at this nonsense and found it bewildering.”). The heyday of Greek and Roman travel to Thebes was between the 3rd century BCE and 6th century CE.

Diodorus Siculus and Strabo both visited Egypt between 60-56 B.C. and 25-24 B.C., respectively. According to Diodorus, priests claimed the Valley once contained forty-seven royal tombs, but that, during the reign of Ptolemy I, only seventeen remained. Strabo also mentioned the tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

Byzantine Period

The next period of activity in the Valley of the Kings corresponds to the expansion of Christianity in Egypt. From the fifth century A.D. onwards, several tombs of the Valley (KV 1, KV 2, KV 4, KV 8, KV 9, KV 15) were used by hermit monks as refuges, while KV 3 was converted into a chapel. Numerous graffiti record hymns and prayers, representations of saints and crosses, and Christian names.

From about the sixth century CE until the eighteenth century, virtually nothing is known about Thebes or the Valley of the Kings. There are no graffiti, no visitors’ journals, no letters, and no sketches.


Standing near the entrance to the Valley, KV5 was robbed in antiquity. [1] In addition, over the centuries, it suffered the fate of other low-lying tombs, which was to be filled with rubble washed down in the flash floods that accompany thunderstorms over the Valley.

The tomb was examined several times once exploration of the Valley in relatively modern times started, first in 1825 (by James Burton), and later in 1902 (by Howard Carter, discoverer of the tomb of Tutankhamun, who used KV5 only as a dumping ground). However, they were not able to penetrate past the first few rooms, and thus saw nothing unusual about the tomb.

It was not until the Theban Mapping Project, under Kent R. Weeks, decided to clear the tomb (in part to see if it would be damaged by proposed building works nearby, and in part so that it could be mapped) that the stage was set for the discovery of its true extent and nature. Although the works had begun in 1987, the first substantial finding came in 1995, after extensive clearing in the outer chambers of the tomb: approximately 70 rooms, lined along long corridors, running back into the hillside. The number of rooms corresponds roughly to the number of sons the pharaoh sired. This discovery caused a worldwide sensation and reignited popular interest in Egyptology. Findings so far include thousands of potshards, ushabti, faience beads, hieratic ostraca, glass vials, inlays and a large statue of Osiris, the god of the afterlife.

Further excavations have revealed that the tomb is even larger than was first thought, as it contains more corridors, with more rooms, branching off from previously discovered parts of the tomb. At least 130 rooms or chambers have been discovered as of 2006 (only about 7% of which have been cleared), and work is still continuing on clearing the rest of the tomb. [2] [3]

Located near the tomb of Ramesses II, KV7, this tomb contained most of his children, both male and female, in particular those who died in his lifetime. The skull fragments of Amun-her-khepeshef, among others, were found inside and reconstructed.


How the Valley of the Kings was built

The ancient Egyptians chose to build their new necropolis in the "red land," a term which, as explained by the Canadian Museum of History, signifies the reddish desert. This is opposed to the rich, arable "black land" adjacent to the Nile River. The proposed location, opposite the ancient city of Thebes (now Luxor), was carved out of the Theban massif, according to the Oxford Handbook of the Valley of the Kings. Perhaps the pharaohs were attracted to the peak, which recalled the shape of the great pyramids. Aside from its fairly remote location, the Valley of the Kings had another security advantage. As related by The Great Courses Daily, there was only one entrance to the valley, which would be easy to guard.

That is where Deir el-Medina came into play. It was thought, as explained in the World History Encyclopedia, that the new town would help provide security as well as maintain discretion as to where the pharaohs and their treasures were interred.


The main use of Valley of the Kings was for burials mainly from 1539 BC to 1075 BC. The valley contains about 63 tombs of different rulers, pharaohs, and queens of the old kingdom of Egypt starting from Thutmose I and ends with Ramses XI. The main kings and rulers of the eighteenth were the only ones who were allowed to be buried in the valley. Others out of the royal family were buried in small rock chambers close to the tomb of their master.

The tombs inside the valley of the kings were decorated by the workers of the village of Deir el-Medina, who came from different routes over the Theban hills. Many tombs have graffiti from the ancient tourists as the site attracted tourists from the last two centuries. There were also many expeditions by the Napoleon expedition to Egypt and the European exploration to draw maps to the tombs inside the valley till around the beginning of the 20th century when the team of the American explorer Theodore M. Davis discovered many Royal and non-Royal tombs in the valley. In 2001, new signs of the tombs were designed by Theban Mapping Project to provide new information about the open tombs.


Valley of the Kings - History


2 Samuel 18:18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself the pillar, which is in the king's dale for he said, "I have no son to keep my name in memory." He called the pillar after his own name and it is called Absalom's monument, to this day.

4. The Meaning of Jerusalem

II. GEOLOGY, CLIMATE AND SPRINGS

IV. GENERAL TOPOGRAPHY OF JERUSALEM

1. Description of Josephus

2. Summary of the Names of the Five Hills

V. EXCAVATIONS AND ANTIQUITIES

2. Wilson, and the Palestine Exploration Fund (1865)

8. Jerusalem Archaeological Societies

VI. THE CITY'S WALLS AND GATES

4. Buried Remains of Earlier Walls

5. The Great Dam of the Tyropoeon

7. Josephus' Description of the Walls

12. Nehemiah's Account of the Walls

24. Upper Gate of the Temple

VII. ANTIQUARIAN REMAINS CONNECTED WITH THE WATER SUPPLY

1. Gihon: The Natural Spring

2. The Aqueduct of the Canaanites

4. Hezekiah's "Siloam" Aqueduct

5. Other Aqueducts at Gihon

11. Birket Chammam el BaTrak

17. Dates of Construction of these Aqueducts

VIII. TOMBS, ANTIQUARIAN REMAINS AND ECCLESIASTICAL SITES

1. Tell el-Amarna Correspondence

3. Site of the Jebusite City

9. Invasion of Shishak (928 B.C.)

10. City Plundered by Arabs

11. Hazael King of Syria Bought Off (797 B.C.)

12. Capture of the City by Jehoash of Israel

13. Uzziah's Refortification (779-740 B.C.)

14. Ahaz Allies with Assyria (736-728 B.C.)

16. Hezekiah's Religious Reforms

17. Manasseh's Alliance with Assyria

18. His Repair of the Walls

19. Josiah and Religious Reforms (640-609 B.C.)

20. Jeremiah Prophesies the Approaching Doom

21. Nebuchadnezzar Twice Takes Jerusalem (586 B.C.)

22. Cyrus and the First Return (538 B.C.)

23. Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls

28. Hellenization of the City under Antiochus Epiphanes

29. Capture of the City (170 B.C.)

31. Attempted Suppression of Judaism

32. The Maccabean Rebellion

33. The Dedication of the Temple (165 B.C.)

34. Defeat of Judas and Capture of the City

36. Jonathan's Restorations

37. Surrender of City to Antiochus Sidetes (134 B.C.)

40. Pompey Takes the City by Storm

41. Julius Caesar Appoints Antipater Procurator (47 B.C.)

43. Reign of Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.)

44. Herod's Great Buildings

45. Herod Archelaus (4 B.C.-6 A.D.)

48. Rising against Florus and Defeat of Gallus

49. The City Besieged by Titus (70 A.D.)

50. Party Divisions within the Besieged Walls

51. Capture and Utter Destruction of the City

52. Rebellion of Bar-Cochba

53. Hadrian Builds Ella Capitolina

54. Constantine Builds the Church of the Anastasis

55. The Empress Eudoxia Rebuilds the Walls

57. Chosroes II Captures the City

58. Heracleus Enters It in Triumph

60. The Seljuk Turks and Their Cruelties

61. Crusaders Capture the City in 1099

63. Ottoman Turks Obtain the City (1517 A.D.)

2. Christian Buildings and Institutions

The earliest mention of Jerusalem is in the Tell el-Amarna Letters (1450 B.C.), where it appears in the form Uru-sa-lim allied with this we have Ur-sa-li-immu on the Assyrian monuments of the 8th century B.C.

The most ancient Biblical form is yerushalem, shortened in Psalm 76:2 (compare Genesis 14:18) to Salem, but in Massoretic Text we have it vocalized yerushalaim. In Jeremiah 26:18 Esther 2:6 2 Chronicles 25:1 2 Chronicles 32:9 we have yerushalayim, a form which occurs on the Jewish coins of the Revolt and also in Jewish literature it is commonly used by modern Talmudic Jews.

The form Hebrew with the ending -aim or -ayim is interpreted by some as being a dual, referring to the upper and lower Jerusalem, but such forms occur in other names as implying special solemnity such a pronunciation is both local and late.

In the Septuagint we get (Ierousalem), constantly reflecting the earliest and the common Hebrew pronunciation, the initial letter being probably unaspirated soon, however, we meet with (Hierousalem)-with the aspirate-the common form in Josephus, and (Hierosoluma) in Maccabees (Books II through IV), and in Strabo. This last form has been carried over into the Latin writers, Cicero, Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius. It was replaced in official use for some centuries by Hadrian's Aelia Capitolina, which occurs as late as Jerome, but it again comes into common use in the documents of the Crusades, while Solyma occurs at various periods as a poetic abbreviation.

In the New Testament we have (Hierousalem), particularly in the writings of Luke and Paul, and (ta Hierosoluma) elsewhere. The King James Version of 1611 has Ierosalem in the Old Testament and Hierusalem in the New Testament. The form Jerusalem first occurs in French writings of the 12th century.

4. The Meaning of Jerusalem:

With regard to the meaning of the original name there is no concurrence of opinion. The oldest known form, Uru-sa-lim, has been considered by many to mean either the "City of Peace" or the "City of (the god) Salem," but other interpreters, considering the name as of Hebrew origin, interpret it as the "possession of peace" or "foundation of peace." It is one of the ironies of history that a city which in all its long history has seen so little peace and for whose possession such rivers of blood have been shed should have such a possible meaning for its name.

Other names for the city occur. For the name Jebus see JESUS. In Isaiah 29:1, occurs the name 'ari'el probably "the hearth of God," and in 1:26 the "city of righteousness." In Psalm 72:16 Jeremiah 32:24 Ezekiel 7:23, we have the term ha`ir, "the city" in contrast to "the land." A whole group of names is connected with the idea of the sanctity of the site `ir ha-qodhesh, the "holy city" occurs in Isaiah 48:2 Isaiah 52:1 Nehemiah 11:1, and yerushalayim ha-qedhoshah, "Jerusalem the holy" is inscribed on Simon's coins. In Matthew 4:5 Matthew 27:53 we have he hagia polis, "the holy city," and in Philo, Hieropolis, with the same meaning.

In Arabic the common name is Beit el Maqdis, "the holy house," or el Muqaddas, "the holy," or the common name, used by the Moslems everywhere today, el Quds, a shortened form of el Quds esh Sheref, "the noble sanctuary."

Non-Moslems usually use the Arabic form Yerusalem.

II. Geology, Climate, and Springs.

The geology of the site and environs of Jerusalem is comparatively simple, when studied in connection with that of the land of Palestine as a whole (see GEOLOGY OF PALESTINE). The outstanding feature is that the rocks consist entirely of various forms of limestone, with strata containing flints there are no primary rocks, no sandstone (such as comes to the surface on the East of the Jordan) and no volcanic rocks. The lime stone formations are in regular strata dipping toward the Southeast, with an angle of about 10 degrees.

On the high hills overlooking Jerusalem on the East, Southeast and Southwest there still remain strata of considerable thickness of those chalky limestones of the post-Tertiary period which crown so many hilltops of Palestine, and once covered the whole land. On the "Mount of Olives," for example, occurs a layer of conglomerate limestone known as Nari, or "firestone," and another thicker deposit, known as Ka`kuli, of which two distinct strata can be distinguished. In these layers, especially the latter, occur pockets containing marl or haur, and in both there are bands of flint.

Over the actual city's site all this has been denuded long ages ago. Here we have three layers of limestone of varying density very clearly distinguished by all the native builders and masons:

(1) Mizzeh helu, literally, "sweet mizzeh," a hard, reddish-grey layer capable of polish, and reaching in places to a depth of 70 ft. or more. The "holy rock" in the temple-area belongs to this layer, and much of the ancient building stone was of this nature.

(2) Below this is the Melekeh or "royal" layer, which, though not very thick-35 ft. or so-has been of great importance in the history of the city. This rock is peculiar in that when first exposed to the air it is often so soft that it can be cut with a knife, but under the influence of the atmosphere it hardens to make a stone of considerable durability, useful for ordinary buildings. The great importance of this layer, however, lies in the fact that in it have been excavated the hundreds of caverns, cisterns, tombs and aqueducts which honeycomb the city's site.

(3) Under the Melekeh is a Cenomanian limestone of great durability, known as Mizzeh Yehudeh, or "Jewish mizzeh." It is a highly valued building stone, though hard to work. Geologically it is distinguished from Mizzeh helu by its containing ammonites. Characteristically, it is a yellowish-grey stone, sometimes slightly reddish. A variety of a distinctly reddish appearance, known as Mizzeh ahmar, or "red mizzeh," makes a very ornamental stone for columns, tombstones, etc. it takes a high polish and is sometimes locally known as "marble."

This deep layer, which underlies the whole city, comes to the surface in the Kidron valley, and its impermeability is probably the explanation of the appearance there of the one true spring, the "Virgin's Fount." The water over the site and environs of Jerusalem percolates with ease the upper layer, but is conducted to the surface by this hard layer the comparatively superficial source of the water of this spring accounts for the poorness of its quality.

The broad features of the climate of Jerusalem have probably remained the same throughout history, although there is plenty of evidence that there have been cycles of greater and lesser abundance of rain. The almost countless cisterns belonging to all ages upon the site and the long and complicated conduits for bringing water from a distance, testify that over the greater part of history the rainfall must have been, as at present, only seasonal.

As a whole, the climate of Jerusalem may be considered healthy. The common diseases should be largely preventable-under an enlightened government even the malaria which is so prevalent is to a large extent an importation from the low-lying country, and could be stopped at once, were efficient means taken for destroying the carriers of infection, the abundant Anopheles mosquitoes. On account of its altitude and its exposed position, almost upon the watershed, wind, rain and cold are all more excessive than in the maritime plains or the Jordan valley. Although the winter's cold is severely felt, on account of its coinciding with the days of heaviest rainfall (compare Ezra 10:9), and also because of the dwellings and clothes of the inhabitants being suited for enduring heat more than cold, the actual lowest cold recorded is only 25 degrees F., and frost occurs only on perhaps a dozen nights in an average year. During the rainless summer months the mean temperature rises steadily until August, when it reaches 73, 1 degrees F., but the days of greatest heat, with temperature over 100 degrees F. in the shade at times, occur commonly in September. In midsummer the cool northwest breezes, which generally blow during the afternoons and early night, do much to make life healthy. The most unpleasant days occur in May and from the middle of September until the end of October, when the dry southeast winds-the sirocco-blow hot and stifling from over the deserts, carrying with them at times fine dust sufficient in quantity to produce a marked haze in the atmosphere. At such times all vegetation droops, and most human beings, especially residents not brought up under such conditions, suffer more or less from depression and physical discomfort malarial, "sandfly," and other fevers are apt to be peculiarly prevalent. "At that time shall it be said. to Jerusalem, A hot wind from the bare heights in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow, nor to cleanse" (Jeremiah 4:11).

During the late summer-except at spells of sirocco-heavy "dews" occur at night, and at the end of September or beginning of October the "former" rains fall-not uncommonly in tropical downpours accompanied by thunder. After this there is frequently a dry spell of several weeks, and then the winter's rain falls in December, January and February. In some seasons an abundant rainfall in March gives peculiar satisfaction to the inhabitants by filling up the cisterns late in the season and by producing an abundant harvest. The average rainfall is about 26 inches, the maximum recorded in the city being 42, 95 inches in the season 1877-78, and the minimum being 12, 5 inches in 1869-70. An abundant rainfall is not only important for storage, for replenishment of the springs and for the crops, but as the city's sewage largely accumulates in the very primitive drains all through the dry season, it requires a considerable force of water to remove it. Snow falls heavily in some seasons, causing considerable destruction to the badly built roofs and to the trees in the winter of 1910-11 a fall of 9 inches occurred.

There is only one actual spring in the Jerusalem area, and even to this some authorities would deny the name of true spring on account of the comparatively shallow source of its origin this is the intermittent spring known today as `Ain Umm edition deraj (literally, "spring of the mother of the steps"), called by the native Christians `Ain Sitti Miriam (the "spring of the Lady Mary"), and by Europeans commonly called "The Virgin's Fount." All the archaeological evidence points to this as the original source of attraction of earliest occupants of the site in the Old Testament this spring is known as GIHON (which see). The water arises in the actual bottom, though apparent west side, of the Kidron valley some 300 yards due South of the south wall of the Charam. The approach to the spring is down two flights of steps, an upper of 16 leading to a small level platform, covered by a modern arch, and a lower, narrower flight of 14 steps, which ends at the mouth of a small cave. The water has its actual source in a long cleft (perhaps 16 ft. long) running East and West in the rocky bottom of the Kidron valley, now many feet below the present surface. The western or higher end of the cleft is at the very entrance of the cave, but most of the water gushes forth from the lower and wider part which lies underneath the steps. When the water is scanty, the women of Siloam creep down into the cavity under the steps and fill their water-skins there at such times no water at all finds its way into the cave. At the far end of the cave is the opening of that system of ancient tunnel-aqueducts which is described in VI, below. This spring is "intermittent," the water rising rapidly and gushing forth with considerable force, several times in the 24 hours after the rainy season, and only once or twice in the dry. This "intermittent" condition of springs is not uncommon in Palestine, and is explained by the accumulation of the underground water in certain cavities or cracks in the rock, which together make up a reservoir which empties itself by siphon action. Where the accumulated water reaches the bend of the siphon, the overflow commences and continues to run until the reservoir is emptied. Such a phenomenon is naturally attributed to supernatural agency by the ignorant-in this case, among the modern fellahin, to a dragon-and natives, specially Jews, visit the source, even today, at times of its overflow, for healing. Whether this intermittent condition of the fountain is very ancient it is impossible to say, but, as Jerome (Comm. in Esa, 86) speaks of it, it was probably present in New Testament times, and if so we have a strong argument for finding here the "Pool of Bethesda."

In ancient times all the water flowed down the open, rocky valley, but at an early period a wall was constructed to bank up the water and convert the source into a pool. Without such an arrangement no water could find its way into the cave and the tunnels. The tunnels, described below (VI), were constructed for the purpose

(1) of reaching the water supply from within the city walls, and

(2) of preventing the enemies of the Jews from getting at the water (2 Chronicles 32:4).

The water of this source, though used for all purposes by the people of Siloam, is brackish to the taste, and contains a considerable percentage of sewage it is quite unfit for drinking. This condition is doubtless due to the wide distribution of sewage, both intentionally (for irrigation of the gardens) and unintentionally (through leaking sewers, etc.), over the soil overlying the rocks from which the water flows. In earlier times the water was certainly purer, and it is probable, too, that the fountain was more copious, as now hundreds of cisterns imprison the waters which once found their way through the soil to the deep sources of the spring.

The waters of the Virgin's Fount find their way through the Siloam tunnel and out at `Ain Silwan (the "spring" of Siloam), into the Pool of Siloam, and from this source descend into the Kidron valley to water the numerous vegetable gardens belonging to the village of Siloam (see SILOAM).

The second source of water in Jerusalem is the deep well known as Bir Eyyub, "Job's well," which is situated a little below the point where the Kidron valley and Hinnom meet. In all probability it derives its modern name from a legend in the Koran (Sura 38 5, 40-41) which narrates that God commanded Job to stamp with his foot, whereupon a spring miraculously burst up. The well, which had been quite lost sight of, was rediscovered by the Crusaders in 1184 A.D., and was by them cleaned out. It is 125 ft. deep. The supply of water in this well is practically inexhaustible, although the quality is no better than that of the "Virgin's Fount" after several days of heavy rain the water overflows underground and bursts out a few yards lower down the valley as a little stream. It continues to run for a few days after a heavy fall of rain is over, and this "flowing Kidron" is a great source of attraction to the native residents of Jerusalem, who pour forth from the city to enjoy the rare sight of running water. Somewhere in the neighborhood of Bir Eyyub must have lain `En-Rogel, but if that were once an actual spring, its source is now buried under the great mass of rubbish accumulated here (see EN-ROGEL).

Nearly 600 yards South of Bir Eyyub is a small gravelly basin where, when the Bir Eyyub overflows, a small spring called `Ain el Lozeh (the "spring of the almond") bursts forth. It is not a true spring, but is due to some of the water of Job's well which finds its way along an ancient rock-cut aqueduct on the west side of the Wady en Nar, bursting up here.

The only other possible site of a spring in the Jerusalem area is the Chammam esh Shefa, "the bath of healing." This is an underground rock-basin in the Tyropeon valley, within the city walls, in which water collects by percolation through the debris of the city. Though once a reservoir with probably rock-cut channels conducting water to it, it is now a deep well with arches erected over it at various periods, as the rubbish of the city gradually accumulated through the centuries. There is no evidence whatever of there being any natural fountain, and the water is, in the dry season, practically pure sewage, though used in a neighboring Turkish bath.

G.A. Smith thinks that the JACKAL'S WELL (which see) mentioned by Nehemiah (2:13), which must have been situated in the Valley of Hinnom, may possibly have been a temporary spring arising there for a few years in consequence of an earthquake, but it is extremely likely that any well sunk then would tap water flowing a long the bed of the valley. There is no such "spring" or "well" there today.

Modern Jerusalem occupies a situation defined geographically as 31 degrees 46 feet 45 inches North latitude., by 35 degrees 13 feet 25 inches East longitude. It lies in the midst of a bare and rocky plateau, the environs being one of the most stony and least fruitful districts in the habitable parts of Palestine, with shallow, gray or reddish soil and many outcrops of bare limestone. Like all the hill slopes with a southeasterly aspect, it is so thoroughly exposed to the full blaze of the summer sun that in its natural condition the site would be more or less barren. Today, however, as a result of diligent cultivation and frequent watering, a considerable growth of trees and shrubs has been produced in the rapidly extending suburbs. The only fruit tree which reaches perfection around Jerusalem is the olive.

The site of Jerusalem is shut in by a rough triangle of higher mountain ridges: to the West runs the main ridge, or water parting, of Judea, which here makes a sweep to the westward. From this ridge a spur runs Southeast and East, culminating due East of the city in the MOUNT OF OLIVES (which see), nearly 2,700 ft. above sea-level and about 300 ft. above the mean level of the ancient city. Another spur, known as Jebel Deir abu Tor, 2,550 ft. high, runs East from the plateau of el Buqei`a and lies Southwest of the city it is the traditional "Hill of Evil Counsel." The city site is thus dominated on all sides by these higher ranges-"the mountains (that) are round about Jerus" (Psalm 125:2)-so that while on the one hand the ancient city was hidden, at any considerable distance, from any direction except the Southeast, it is only through this open gap toward the desert and the mountains of Moab that any wide outlook is obtainable. This strange vision of wilderness and distant mountain wall-often of exquisite loveliness in the light of the setting sun-must all through the ages have been the most familiar and the most potent of scenic influences to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Within the enfolding hills the city's proper site is demarked by two main valleys. That on the West and Southwest commences in a hollow occupied by the Moslem cemetery around the pool Birket Mamilla. The valley runs due East toward the modern Jaffa Gate, and there bends South, being known in this upper part of its course as the Wady el Mes. In this southern course it is traversed by a great dam, along which the modern Bethlehem road runs, which converts a large area of the valley bed into a great pool, the Birket es Sultan. Below this the valley-under the name of Wady er Rabadi-bends Southeast, then East, and finally Southeast again, until near Bir Eyyub it joins the western valley to form the Wady en Nar, 670 ft. below its origin. This valley has been very generally identified as the Valley of Hinnom (see HINNOM, VALLEY OF.)

The eastern valley takes a wider sweep. Commencing high up in the plateau to the North of the city, near the great water-parting, it descends as a wide and open valley in a southeasterly direction until, where it is crossed by the Great North Road, being here known as Wady el Joz (the "Valley of the Walnuts"), it turns more directly East. It gradually curves to the South, and as it runs East of the city walls, it receives the name of Wady Sitti Miriam (the "Valley of the Lady Mary"). Below the Southeast corner of the temple-area, near the traditional "Tomb of Absalom," the valley rapidly deepens and takes a direction slightly to the West of South. It passes the "Virgin's Fount," and a quarter of a mile lower it is joined by el Wad from the North, and a little farther on by the Wady er Rababi from the West. South of Bir Eyyub, the valley formed by their union is continued under the name of Wady en Nar to the Dead Sea. This western valley is that commonly known as the Brook Kidron, or, more shortly, the "Brook" (hachal), or ravine (see KIDRON), but named from the 5th century onward by Christians the Valley of Jehoshaphat (see JEHOSHAPHAT, VALLEY OF). The rocky tongue of land enclosed between these deep ravines, an area, roughly speaking, a little over one mile long by half a mile wide, is further subdivided into a number of distinct hills by some shallower valleys. The most prominent of these-indeed the only one noticeable to the superficial observer today-is the great central valley known to modern times by the single name el Wad, "the valley." It commences in a slight depression of the ground a little North of the modern "Damascus Gate," and after entering the city at this gate it rapidly deepens-a fact largely disguised today by the great accumulation of rubbish in its course. It traverses the city with the Charam to its east, and the Christian and Moslem quarters on rapidly rising ground to its west. Its course is observed near the Babylonian es Silseleh, where it is crossed by an ancient causeway, but farther South the valley reappears, having the walls of the Charam (near the "wailing place" and "Robinson's arch") on the East, and steep cliffs crossed by houses of the Jewish quarter on the West. It leaves the city at the "Dung Gate," and passes with an open curve to the East, until it reaches the Pool of Siloam, below' which it merges in the Wady Sitti Miriam. This is the course of the main valley, but a branch of great importance in the ancient topography of the city starts some 50 yards to the West of the modern Jaffa Gate and runs down the Suwaikat Allun generally known to travelers as "David's Street," and thus easterly, along the Tarik bab es Silseleh, until it merges in the main valley. The main valley is usually considered to be the Tyropeon, or "Cheesemongers' Valley" of Josephus, but some writers have attempted to confine the name especially to this western arm of it.

Another interior valley, which is known rather by the rock contours, than by surface observations, being largely filled up today, cuts diagonally across the Northeast corner of the modern city. It has no modern name, though it is sometimes called "St. Anne's Valley." It arises in the plateau near "Herod's Gate," known as es Sahra, and entering the city about 100 yards to the East of that gate, runs South-Southeast., and leaves the city between the Northeast angle of the Charam and the Golden Gate, joining the Kidron valley farther Southeast. The Birket Israel runs across the width of this valley, which had far more influence in determining the ancient topography of the city than has been popularly recognized. There is an artificially made valley between the Charam and the buildings to its north, and there is thought by many to be a valley between the Southeast hill, commonly called "Ophel" and the temple-area. Such, then, are the valleys, great and small, by which the historic hills on which the city stood are defined. All of them, particularly in their southern parts, were considerably deeper in ancient times, and in places the accumulated debris is 80 ft. or more. All of them were originally torrent beds, dry except immediately after heavy rain. The only perennial outflow of water is the scanty and intermittent stream which overflows from the Pool of Siloam, and is used to irrigate the gardens in the Wady Sitti Miriam.

The East and West valleys isolate a roughly quadrilateral tongue of land running from Northwest-West to South-Southeast, and tilted so as to face Southeast. This tongue is further subdivided by el Wad into two long ridges, which merge into each other in the plateau to the North. The western ridge has its actual origin considerably North of the modern wall, being part of the high ground lying between the modern Jaffa road to the West, and the commencement of the Kidron valley to the East. Within the city walls it rises as high as 2,581 ft. near the northwestern corner. It is divided by the west branch of the Tyropeon valley into two parts: a northern part-the northwestern hill-on which is situated today the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the greater part of the "Christian quarter" of the city, and a southern hill-the southwestern-which is connected with the northwestern hill by but a narrow saddle-50 yards wide-near the Jaffa Gate. This hill sustains the citadel (the so-called "Tower of David"), the barracks and the Armenian quarter within the walls, and the Coenaculum and adjacent buildings outside the walls. This hill is from 2,500 to 2,350 ft. high along its summit, but drops rapidly on its southwestern, southern and southeastern sides. In its central part it falls much more gently toward the eastern hill across the now largely filled valley el Wad.

The eastern ridge may be reckoned as beginning at the rocky hill el-Edhemiyeh-popularly known as Gordon's Calvary-but the wide trench made here by quarrying somewhat obscures this fact. The ridge may for convenience be regarded as presenting three parts, the northeastern, central or central-eastern, and southeastern summits.


The Royal Necropolis

For nearly five hundred years, starting in the sixteenth century, many tombs were built not only for the new pharaohs, but also for powerful noblemen and high priests. The very first royal tombs built in the Valley of the Kings were for Amenhotep I and Thutmose I, who died in 1493 B.C. The last known tomb was constructed for either Ramesses X or XI.

In the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty, kings were the only ones that were allowed burial within the large tombs. Non-royals were buried in a chamber that was close to their master’s tomb. During the last part of the Eighteenth Dynasty, when religious orthodoxy returned, Tutankhamun, Ay and Horemheb were buried in the royal necropolis.

Burials increased in the Valley of the Kings during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties. Both Ramesses II and Ramesses III built massive tombs. There are some rulers from this time period that were not buried there. For instance, the tombs for Ramesses VIII, Thutmose II, and Smenkhkare have never been found.

Egypt entered an extended period of economic and political decline during the last part of the New Kingdom. The priests began to have more power over Upper Egypt, while the kings continued to rule over Lower Egypt. During the start of the Twenty-first Dynasty, High Priest Pinedjem I, added his cartouche, a symbol indicating a royal name, to one of the tombs.

During this time period, many of the tombs were greatly plundered. The priests moved most of the mummies to three tombs to protect them. Later on, many of them were relocated to another area close to Deir el-Bari. This mass reburial included numerous royal mummies. When they were finally discovered years later, the mummies were in very poor condition and many had been put into the wrong sarcophaguses.

Most of the open tombs at the end of the Third Intermediate Period were used for new burials. In the Coptic time period, a number of the tombs were converted into stables, houses and churches. Many of the walls of these tombs were heavily damaged.


20 Facts About The Valley Of The Kings

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The valley of the Kings Once part of the ancient city of Thebes is the burial site of almost all of Egypt’s Pharaohs from the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties. Archaeologists have found around sixty-three tombs (with the latest discovery being in 2008) at this burial complex located in the hills of Dayr- al-Bahri.

Even though most of the tombs that are located in this valley have been robbed and looted the remains of these ancient burial sites give archaeologists and historians an estimate of the power of ancient Pharaohs and noblemen. This archaeological site has been the center of attention for researchers since the eighteenth century and even today scholars rush to ancient Thebes to study and explore the history behind one of the most important locations in ancient Egypt.

Here we have about the Valley of the Kings:

The Valley of the Kings has been a royal burial complex for almost 500 years.

The official name for the site in ancient times was The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes. Or also, Ta-sekhet-ma’at (the Great Field).

The first tomb discovered was of pharaoh Ramses VII designated KV1

Most of the tombs of the Valley of the Kings are not open to the public.

Researchers state that the quality of the rock in the Valley is quite inconsistent, ranging from finely grained to coarse stone.

Builders took advantage of available geological features when constructing the tombs due to the lack of specific tools, the builders had to look out for any advantage that could help them achieve their goal.

The peak of al-Qurn which watches over the valley is an iconic feature of the region the tomb police, known as the Medjay, watched over the valley from this location.

The tomb of Akhenaten was originally intended to be located in the Valley of the Kings Archaeologists point toward the unfinished WV25 as the intended burial chamber for Akhenaten.

During Roman times the valley of the kings was a very attractive touristic location.

Many of the tombs have graffiti written by ancient tourists researchers have located over 2100 ancient graffiti, mostly Latin and Greek.

Archaeologists have found that most of the ancient graffiti are located in KV9, which contains just under a thousand of them. The earliest positively dated graffiti dates to 278 B.C.

The mark “KV” actually stands for “Kings Valley” while WV stands for Western Valley.

There is a number of unoccupied tombs in the Valley of the Kings and their owners remain unknown.

The most imposing tomb of this period is that of Amenhotep III, WV22 located in the West Valley.

The burial site of Tutankhamun is one of the most famous in the entire Valley of the Kings.

The tomb of Tutankhamun was one of the first royal tombs to be discovered that was still largely intact, even though robbers had already accessed it in the past.

The tomb of Horemheb is one of the most unique tombs in the Valley of the Kings exhibiting unique features compared to other tombs in the Valley, it is rarely open to the public.

The first ruler of the twentieth dynasty, Setnakhte, had two tombs constructed for himself.

The tomb of Ramesses III is one of the largest and most visited tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

The first unknown tomb since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb is dubbed KV 63 even though it has a sarcophagus, pottery, linens, flowers, and other materials it is unoccupied.

Image source: National Geographic. Source and reference National Geographic / Wikipedia


How to Visit

There are several ways to visit the Valley of the Kings. Independent travelers can hire a taxi from Luxor or from the West Bank ferry terminal to take them on a full day tour of West Bank sites including the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and the Deir al-Bahri temple complex. If you’re feeling fit, hiring a bicycle is another popular option—but be aware that the road up to the Valley of the Kings is steep, dusty and hot. It is also possible to hike into the Valley of the Kings from Deir al-Bahri or Deir el-Medina, a short but challenging route that affords spectacular views of the Theban landscape.

Perhaps the easiest way to visit is with one of the countless full or half-day tours advertised in Luxor. Memphis Tours offer an excellent four-hour excursion to the Valley of the Kings, the Collossi of Memnon and Hatshepsut Temple, with prices including air-conditioned transport, an English-speaking Egyptologist guide, all of your entrance fees and bottled water.


Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings is a magnificent area in Egypt located west of the Nile River. The region contains many tombs of the new kingdom and is divided into the west and the east valley. The east valley is more famous and attracts more visitors to it as it has most of the tombs. Visitors are often awed by the symmetry and magnificence of the tombs. Despite there being so many tombs, they each have their own uniqueness. It is almost impossible to see all of them. One of the special tombs is that of King Tutankhamen. A separate ticket is required to enter this famous tomb.

Not all the tombs are open for visiting at all times. Some are only used for special occasions and some of them are closed for restoration by the government. These tombs have undergone many changes in the past 500 years. Another tomb, Thutmose III’s, is in the East Valley and is one of the ancient tombs that has its own unique history. It was constructed in an oval shape and has paintings and carvings on the interior walls. There is a metal staircase that leads visitors down into the tomb.

Horemheb, Ramesses VI’s is yet another tomb that is worth visiting. So far almost 120 rooms have been discovered, however, they are not all open to the public. Although the ones that are accessible are certainly worth the visit.


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