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The Valley of the Kings


The Valley of the Kings is the funeral place where tombs of the Theban pharaohs found . These pharaohs reigned Egypt during the 18th to the 20th Dynasties . They are decorated with magnificent paintings illustrating the Afterlife , the great magical religious writings of the time , and the otherworld destiny of the king . It was called The Great , Noble Necropolis of Millions of Years of Pharaohs , and for five hundred years , it was the burial place of Egypt's New Kingdom rulers . Sixty-two tombs and twenty unfinished pits have been found here , seven of them in the large West Valley of the Kings , the rest in the East Valley of the Kings . It is the East Valley that is visited by most tourists . 

In the northernmost section of the Theban necropolis , there is a valley of difficult access dominated by a mountain called the Theban peak: whose shape is quite similar to a pyramid . These topographical features lent a sacred characteristic to the site , which is probably why it was chosen to house the royal necropolis and the tombs of leading dignitaries . François Champollion , the man who deciphered the hieroglyphic script , visited the site in 1828 and called it the 'Valley of the Kings: a name used up  to this day . The ancient Egyptians considered it the great and august Necropolis of the Millions of years of the Pharaoh (Life , Strength , Health) in the west of Thebes; as well as 'ta sekhet aat' (the great plain) . 

No one was allowed to enter except during the funeral ceremony of a pharaoh . A special police corps called the 'medjay' was responsible for the constant surveillance of the valley , guarding the access-ways and periodically making checks to make sure that the seals placed on the entrance of each tomb were still unbroken . 

Despite all these precautions , the royal tombs began to be desecrated by thieves as early as in the 20th dynasty and continued to be pillaged in the following centuries .

When the first European travelers visited the site in the 18th century , all the royal tombs except one had been completely emptied and their opened entrances faced the walls of the valley , hence bear the Arabic name Biban al Muluk , or Gates of the Kings . Tombs in both , the West and East Valley , follow a common numbering system that was first established in 1827 by John Gardner Wilkinson . Wilkinson numbered the twenty-one tombs , which were accessible in his day , from the entrance of the valley southward and from west to east .

Since then , tombs have been added to the list in the order of their discovery , KV 62 , the tomb of Tutankhamen , is the most recent .

 
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