Exploration of the Valley of the Kings

Archaeological Work in the Valley
Archaeological work in the Valley of the Kings has also varied greatly in methodology over the last 150 years, from the often destructive, slipshod ransacking of tombs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to the meticulous analyses of microscopic remains and stratigraphy in the twenty-first century [11277, 12799]. Unfortunately, to quench the thirst for antiquities among European collectors and museums that developed after the Napoleonic expedition, more tombs were subjected to the former approach than to the latter. The Europeans often obtained their showpieces by buying them from local villagers, such as the Abdel Rassul brothers of Qurna, Mohammed, Ahmed, and Hussein, who dug several Theban sites from 1871 to 1926, including the Dayr al Bahri cache of royal mummies.     11277 12799
American businessman Theodore Davis funded excavations in the Valley of the Kings by Carter, Ayrton, and Weigall [12582]. Carter later cleared the tomb of Tutankhamen (discovered in 1922, worked on until 1932), an enormous undertaking that still is not fully published.     12582
Archaeological teams of various nationalities have worked in the Valley of the Kings. Arguably, eight excavations have become the best known of the many conducted at Thebes and six of them are in the Valley of the Kings. They are: Belzoni's discovery of the tomb of Sety I (KV 17) in 1817 [14309]; the discovery of caches of royal mummies in 1898 in KV 35 (Amenhetep II); Quibell's 1905 discovery of the tomb of Yuya and Thuyu, the parents of Amenhetep III's wife Queen Tiy, in KV 46 [14931]; Carter's discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen; and the 1995 discovery by the Theban Mapping Project of the large number of corridors and chambers in KV 5, a tomb of sons of Rameses II. (The other two important discoveries nevertheless have royal connections: the cache of royal mummies in TT 320 (1881) and the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens (1903).)     14309 14931
There still is much work to be done in the Valley of the Kings, as the rediscovery of KV 5 suggests. In recent years, excavators have begun clearing the hillsides and building tomb shelters to safeguard the Valley from future flash floods (caused by heavy rains) [10393, 13529], and it is likely that more tombs will be found in the course of this work [11530]. More discoveries are also likely in the still largely unexplored West Valley of the Kings. Geophysical techniques, which have been used successfully in detecting Nile Valley sites, have not proved as useful in the dry, uniform bedrock of the Valley of the Kings.     10393 13529 11530

Published or last modified on: December 18, 2002
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