Historical Development of the Valley of the Kings in the New Kingdom

Dynasty 19
The late Dynasty 18 preference for cutting tomb entrances at the base of talus slopes just above the wadi floor was continued by the first three kings of the next dynasty: Rameses I (KV 16) [13680, 10043], Sety I (KV 17) [13709] and Rameses II (KV 7) [13662]. Merenptah's tomb (KV 8) had its entrance at the junction of two small, natural watercourses in the cliff face [13672]. Subsequently, KV 10, the tomb of Amenmeses, was cut low in the same hillside as KV 16 and KV 17. Three of the remaining tombs of the dynasty, KV 13 (Bay), KV 14 (Tausert/Setnakht), and KV 15 (Sety II), were cut into the cliff face at the end of the southwest fork of the east Valley of the Kings, while KV 47 was cut for Siptah in the end of the hill that separates the late Dynasty 19 tombs from the wadi branch leading to KV 34 [13718].     13680 10043 13709 13662 13672 13718
Dynasty 20
KV 11 was begun for Setnakht, but it was taken over by his son, Rameses III. He shifted the axis to the west and added more corridors southward. Like several of the tombs of the preceding dynasty (including KV10, KV 16 and KV 17) KV 11 is also cut low into the hillside on the south side of the main valley. The tomb of Rameses IV (KV 2) as well as subsequent royal tombs of this dynasty (KV 9, KV 1 [11406, 13646, 11411, 13645], KV 6 [13674]) had monumental entrances cut into the ends of the hilly spurs that project from the cliff face into the main valley. The last two tombs, KV 18 and KV 4, for Rameses X and Ramesses XI respectively, were cut into the sides of two branch wadis running to the east of the main valley.     11406 13646 11411 13645 13674
In summary, royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings were first cut into the cliffs at the top of the talus slopes, then later moved down these slopes to the valley floor. It should be borne in mind that, as tombs were being dug, the valley floor would have risen as it was covered again and again with debris from the tomb cutting. This meant that the entrances of some of the smaller tombs cut low in the wadi floor in Dynasty 18 were finally buried under increasingly deep piles of debris.    

Published or last modified on: December 18, 2002
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