Sunday, January 11, 2004

Valley of the Kings

I just saw a neat program on the Valley of the Kings last night, and today found an excellent resource on the site. The program I saw focused on the excavation of the tomb of the sons of King Ramses II, known as KV 5. The tomb was found in modern times in 1825, but the entrance was covered by excavation materials from another tomb and only rediscovered in 1987. Before 1990 they parked tour busses over portions of the tomb, damaging a decent amount of it. Good job, people.

KV 5 is an incredible tomb - it isn't fully excavated, but it's at least 443 meters long, and covers more than 1200 square meters. It's one of the largest tombs in all of Egypt, and I think most of it was excavated out of solid rock. Wow. The linked site has an incredible amount of information on the tomb itself (if you have flash, try out the "Launch this site in the KV atlas" feature).

The Theban Mapping Project has a ton of wonderful information on the Valley of the Kings, containing detailed descriptions, maps, and photographs of all the various sites. In reading this over I'm amazed both at how relatively little we know about these tombs (many are still partially excavated or completely filled with debris), and also how badly the tombs have been treated. For instance, KV 3 was converted for use as a coptic chapel, KV 4 was both used as a stable and as Howard Carter's dining room, KV 9 contains Greek and Roman graffiti, and KV 17 's decorations were largely destroyed by early archaeologists.

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