Ancient Egypt was one of the greatest and most powerful civilizations in the history of the world, lasting for over 3,000 years. So it’s no wonder that Egyptian history retains such an allure and can be viewed across the world in museums, famous collections, and at other unusual destinations.
However, while mummies, sculptures and paintings can be accessed in other locations, nothing quite beats the real thing. And The Valley of the Kings retains the best collection of artefacts and structural testaments to this once great civilization as a home to the most prominent figures of Egyptian history.
TOMB OF TUTANKHAMUN
The most famous of Egyptian burials, and for that reason alone a popular draw, the Tomb of Tutankhamun is by far the Valley of the King’s most famous tomb.
Discovered in 1922, this tomb contained the largest and most elaborately decorated artefacts of any tomb in the Valley of the Kings, despite being one of the smallest in size. It included a famous golden death mask, an actual chariot and a dagger forged from meteorite iron.
Part of the attraction to this tomb is the mystery of Tutankhamun himself, who was estimated to only be 19 years old at the time of his death, and who only reigned for 10 short years.
King Tut’s story still draws visitors to the area and is finding new relevancy with younger generations in pop culture, such as in the game Assasin’s Creed: Origins where players take on a highly sensationalized version of Tutankhamun.
TOMB OF AY
The Valley of the Kings has long been a staple literary device for fiction writers, and the Tomb of Ay is no exception. Ay has appeared as a character in several works including The Lost Queen of Egypt, The Egyptian, King of Egypt, King of Dreams, and Michelle Moran’s bestselling novel Nefertiti. While not as well known by name, Ay was presumed by historians to be the real power behind the boy king Tutankhamun who ascended to the throne at the age of 8 or 9 years old.
TOMB OF SETI 1
Ramses II (aka Ramses the Great) is a titan of the Ancient Egyptian legacy. Known for his battles with the Hittites, vast building programs, and fathering one hundred children, Ramses reigned for a total of 67 years.
Unfortunately, neither Ramses, the Great’s tomb or that of his sons can be visited by the public. However, his father and predecessor Seti I does have a tomb that can be accessed.
While not as widely known as Ramses II, Seti I is also widely regarded as an influential Pharaoh who fought to improve infrastructure with new mines, quarries and wells as well as restoring temples and shrines. Seti is also celebrated in the classic 1956 movie adaptation of ‘The Ten Commandments‘.
VALLEY OF THE QUEENS
Just a short distance south of the Valley of the Kings, and an excellent stop to include on your itinerary is the Valley of the Queens.
Home to more than 75 royal tombs, the Valley of the Queens is the place where the wives of Pharaohs were buried in ancient tradition, as well as being a resting place for princes, princesses and other various members of the nobility.
The most impressive of the tombs in this valley, and a key attraction for globetrotters is the Tomb of Queen Nefertari, the favorite wife of Ramses the Great. Richly decorated with wall paintings, it features descriptions of the queen’s life.
Egyptian queens and princesses (beyond Hatshepsut) loom large in popular culture and continue to add a layer of mystique to the story of Ancient Egypt. Much is documented in TV and literature of the final Pharaoh Cleopatra, her rise to power, romance with Roman leaders, and eventual rumoured death by snake bite.
As far back as Shakespeare, Cleopatra has been a much-revered character base for writers and continues to be a source of inspiration in the modern-day, too. This has happened in part thanks to slot games, as the Foxy Games platform includes several of these games in one place — namely, Mysterious Egypt, Mega Pyramid, and Rise of Giza. Altogether, these are prominent examples in the ever-more-popular slot category, making them trendy games that have helped to advance the sentiment around Egyptian queens.
MORTUARY TEMPLE OF HATSHEPSUT
A stunning ruin, and one that will also be relevant to many through pop culture. Hatshepsut has come up in TV, music, and literature over the years and will also be familiar to many as the leader chosen to represent Egypt in Sid Meier’s Civilization games.
Gamers keen to learn more about Hatshepsut can access the temple beneath the cliffs of al Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile, close to Luxor. Built during the time of the 18th dynasty, the temple is a dedication to the queen and the Egyptian deity, Amun, who the queen considered to be her true father.
The temple is an intriguing and magnificent complex filled with multiple mysteries to unravel. Once believed to have usurped her way to the throne, this theory is now largely discredited and she is better remembered as being the culture’s first female Pharaoh, and the longest-reigning from an indigenous dynasty.