The Valley of the Kings: Tombs, Facts & Location

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  • 0:01 The Valley of the Kings
  • 0:38 Underground Tombs
  • 2:00 King Tut
  • 2:54 Provisions for the Afterlife
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson explores the Egyptian Valley of the Kings. Get a glimpse into Egyptian beliefs in the afterlife while discovering some of the famous pharaohs, like King Tut, buried within the valley.

Valley of the Kings

Life as an Egyptian pharaoh came with some perks. There were palaces, armies, treasures, and slaves at your beck and call. After all, in the eyes of ancient Egypt, to be a pharaoh was to be like a god. Being accustomed to this kind of posh lifestyle and worship while here on earth, it's little wonder why the burial of a pharaoh was such an extravagant ordeal. To see an example of this, all you have to do is take a look at the Valley of the Kings, the ancient burial ground for some of Egypt's most famous pharaohs.

Underground Tombs

Now, when you hear the word 'burial' and 'pharaohs', I'm guessing you might think of the 'Great Pyramids'. With their impressive architecture, they have become a symbol of everything Egyptian. However, history tells us these pyramids had one pretty big drawback: they attracted grave robbers who pillaged and plundered. In order to protect the final resting places of their royalty, Egypt's New Kingdom, which dates from about 1539-1075 B.C., began burying its sovereigns in underground tombs rather than attention-grabbing edifices. With this, the Valley of the Kings was born.

Located on the western bank of the Nile near the ancient city of Thebes (now Luxor), the Valley of the Kings proves that ancient Egyptians took burying their royalty very seriously!

For starters, many of the tombs unearthed in the valley include long corridors and deep shafts. Many archaeologists believe this architecture attempted to deter grave robbers. In fact, the tomb of Queen Hatshepsut, who reigned from 1472-1458 B.C., has its actual burial chamber located quite a distance from the entrance of the tomb. Any grave robber entering this tomb would have to be pretty determined.

King Tut

Unfortunately, that's exactly what many grave robbers were - determined! Not even long corridors and deep shafts proved successful against them. Of the over 60 tombs found in the Valley of the Kings, the famed crypt of King Tutankhamun, 'King Tut' for short, seemed to have fared the best throughout history. Discovered in 1922, by Howard Carter, this renowned find made King Tut a household name.

Ironically, King Tut in life may not have been as big of a deal as he was in death. In fact, he was very young when he died. Most likely his short reign paled in comparison to that of the other pharaohs ensconced in the valley; kings like Thutmose I, Amenhotep I, and several of the pharaohs who went by the name Ramses, all found their final resting place in the Valley of the Kings.

Provisions for the Afterlife

Despite this, King Tut's tomb proved once again that the Egyptians really knew how to bury somebody. Howard Carter and his team discovered treasures, golden masks, and Tut's sarcophagus: an Egyptian coffin used to house the mummified body.

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