The Theban necropolis


Deir al-Medina, or the artisan village 

You'd better get up early to visit the Theban necropolis on the west (left) bank of the Nile, because it gets really hot later in the day. We started out at 5:45. We were thus the first visitors at the valley where the artisans who decorated the tombs lived during four centuries. We visited the tombs of Sennedjem and Inherkhau. These are artisans' small tombs in sarcophagus format with vaulted ceilings. Everything is painted, walls and ceilings, in colors so bright they seem to have been painted last week and not at all over 3200 years ago. We especially liked the scenes of life in paradise, including cultivating the fields (gardening). Unfortunately, cameras must be left outside. 

La vallée des artisans La vallée des artisans
At 6:15, the moon is still visible Ruins of artisans' housing
La vallée des artisans La vallée des artisans
Landscape In back on the right, the darker ptolemaic temple

To the north, there is a temple from ptolemaic times dedicated to Hathor, goddess of love and joy. Inside the temple are some beautiful bas-reliefs.

Le temple de Hathor
Bas-reliefs au temple de Hathor
The chapel within the ptolemaic temple of
Bas-reliefs in the temple of Hathor
Bas-reliefs au temple de Hathor Bas-reliefs au temple de Hathor
Bas-reliefs in the temple of Hathor

Temple of Hatshepsut

The most spectacular temple in the area is certainly that of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir al-Bahari. It is in a breath-taking setting, smack dab up against a perpendicular cliff. With its terraces and columns forming a rectangular matrix, it looks quite modern. The color of its stones matches perfectly that of the cliffs. It is very impressive.

Le temple de Hatchepsout Le temple de Hatchepsout
The Temple of Hatshepsut The "music stands" give shade for the guards
Le temple de Hatchepsout
Relief of the goddess Hathor, with cow ears Head of Queen Hatshepsut
Le temple de Hatchepsout Le temple de Hatchepsout
Statues with tourist
Le temple de Hatchepsout Le temple de Hatchepsout
Relief of Nubian villages with palm trees Colored reliefs

Among other accomplishments, Hatshepsut sent a commercial expedition to Nubia, a fact attested by the reliefs of Nubian villages.

Could these be part of the expedition that Hatshepsut sent to Nubia?

The Valley of the Kings

Finally, the legendary Valley of the Kings, narrow and winding, with a number of bifurcations. One sees tomb entrances all over. We passed by the entrance of the best-known tomb – that of Tutankhamon – and visited first that of Thutmosis III, at the extreme end of the left-hand fork and high up on the cliff face. It was already very hot. Then, the tomb of Ramses III – easier and also very beautiful. Then in back on the left again for the tomb of Taousert et Sethnakht (One reused the tomb of the other.), which is also easy and equally beautiful, especially the first large chamber, of which several walls have a basic yellow color which we liked. A memorable visit.

La vallée des rois La vallée des rois
The Valley of the Kings, with its natural pyramid The entrance to the tomb of Thutmosis III is hidden half-way up the cliff
La vallée des rois La vallée des rois
Staircase to the tomb of Thutmosis III The valley seen from the entrance to the tomb of Thutmosis III
La vallée des rois La tombeau de Taousert et Sethnakht
The valley Oops. I think this was chez Taousert and Sethnakht

Unfortunately, it is not allowed to take photographs inside the tombs, even without flash. (Why?) But, for magnificent descriptions and graphics of the tombs, don't miss consulting the "Theban mapping project". Click on the button "Sites" to access a  page which gives access to descriptions of the tombs either by clicking on the map or by choosing in a scroll-down list. On the page for each site, click on the window with a small plan of the tomb and marked "Launch this site in the KV Atlas". Next, choose the tab "Description" and click on "Images & Media" to reach photos of the tomb. It is very well done and quite excellent.

At all these tomb sites, innumerable touts try to sell t-shirts, scarves, resin statues and other similar bric-à-brac. That's Egypt. (It's also India and perhaps every other country where the people are poor but the tourists are relatively rich.)

Return to the introduction.