Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thebes: Valley of the Kings

Thebes was the very wealthy political and religious capital of Egypt from about 1550-1070 BC. During that time, Egyptian rulers had beautiful tombs for themselves carved into limestone hills across the Nile opposite the city. This area is now known now as the Valley of the Kings.

So far over 60 tombs have been discovered there. Thieves stole the portable treasures of the tombs ages ago. But artists decorated the long corridors and burial chambers of the tombs with vividly-colored paintings and relief sculptures that we may still enjoy. Up to a dozen tombs are open to the public at any one time.

Between the Nile and the Valley of the Kings lie several temples. The Ramesseum is a temple which Ramses 2nd had built to remind us of him in case we were tempted to forget. Here he also had pylons decorated with his imagined victory at the Battle of Qadesh.

The most impressive complex near the Valley of the Kings is the Temple of Hatshepsut (ruled 1479-1458). As pharaoh of Egypt, Hatshepsut pursued policies that put new life into international trade. She used profits from that trade to finance the creation of new buildings and sculptures throughout Egypt. Her major project was this temple.

All of the magnificent paintings, sculptures, tombs, and buildings in and around the Valley of the Kings took artists and workers to create them. We may visit the ruins of their village, Deir al-Medina, and in their tombs see brilliantly painted scenes portraying their daily way of living.

Near the Temple of Hatshepsut we may also visit the house of Howard Carter. In 1922, Carter led the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.