Valley of the Kings
Aug 11, 2005
Valley of the Kings was my next stop. And I headed over there in the afternoon with some friends from my hotel.
We take a taxi to Hatshepsut Temple. From there we hike over the hill, and descend into the Valley of the Kings. It wasn't an overly hard hike. I recommend everyone going this way rather than taking a taxi directly to the Valley of the Kings. It's a much more special entrance. The other suggested route might be taking a donkey tour that skirts the ridge above Hatshepsut.
Looking down into the Valley of the Kings, it's a nice valley, but there isn't much to see, as everything is underground. The moment is special though; this is _the_ Valley of the Kings.
Walking down the hill I reflect on being Jewish. This is from the era when Jews were still slaves in Egypt. Did my people build this?
Okay, there is one problem with taking the back route into the Valley of the Kings; the ticket office is in front. We take a kitsch tourist train out to the parking lot, where the ticket office is.
Tickets are priced according to the number of tombs you want to visit. We buy tickets for 3 tombs. Tickets to see Tutankhamen's famous tomb are sold separately and are much more expensive. The irony is that everything from inside it has been moved to the museum in Cairo and it's among the least interesting of the tombs.
We start with the Tomb of Ramses IX. It's amazingly well preserved despite being 3000 years old. The walls are covered with paintings of animals, serpents, and demons. When we descend down to the room of the sarcophagus, it is big and colorful. The daily cycle, from sunrise to sunset, as described in ancient Egyptian mythology, is shown on the walls. The ceiling is covered with a painting of the Goddess Nut, the goddess of the sky. Photos are forbidden, but I sneakily take them anyways. If I'm not using a flash, I'm not going to do any harm.
Our next stop is the tomb of Tutmoses III. To get there is a bit of a trek; up ladders, and down stairs. It's starting to feel just a little bit Indiana Jones like again. As we descend down into the tomb, there are stairs and more stairs. This is the oldest temple in the Valley of the Kings, and it shows in the artwork, which is childlike, especially as compared to the beautiful paintings in the previous tomb. In this tomb, simple stars cover the ceiling. And people are shown as stick figures.
The final tomb we head into is the Tomb of Merenptah. There is a steep descent, and at the bottom it's steamingly hot. As compared to the other two tombs, this tomb isn't very impressive. Though it does contain a big and impressive sarcophagus. Most interesting is the history. According to some sources, this may be the Pharaoh mentioned in the bible in Exodus.
That's it for the Valley of the Kings. Check it out sometime. It's amazing.
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