The Valley of the Queens was also known as Ta Set Neferu, the Place of the Beautiful Ones. Although some 17th- and 18th-Dynasty members of the royal family were buried here, the valley was more widely used for royal burials during the Ramesside period of the following two dynasties.
About 100 tombs were cut into the valley rock. A great number are anonymous and uninscribed; others have extremely delicate and well-preserved paintings. The tombs of Nefertari, Amun-her-khepshef, Thyti, and Khaemwaset are at various points on the path through the valley, starting on the right side of the first fork to the right (Nefertari). That fork continues around a loop to Amun-her-khepshef, and then to Thyti's tombs. Another path leads right before the loop returns to the first fork; at the end of that path is Khaemwaset's tomb. Carry a penlight with you, as the lighting in some tombs is not good.
Tomb of Nefertari. The tomb of the famous wife of Ramses II is generally closed
to the public, which is regrettable since it has some of the most vivid surviving decorations of any tomb in the Theban Necropolis, as the postcards you will no doubt be offered will attest. Permission for a private viewing can be sought from the Egyptian Supreme Council for Antiquities for a substantial extra fee that is out of the reach of the typical traveler, though not of some highly expensive luxury tour groups. Like most tombs in the Valley of the Queens, Nefertari's consists of an antechamber, a corridor, various side chambers, and a tomb chapel. The walls of the antechamber are decorated with scenes showing Nefertari adoring several deities. One remarkable scene shows the queen herself seated playing senet, a popular backgammon-like game. Tomb 66.
Tomb of Amun-her-khepeshef. This tomb was built for a prince who was a son of Ramses III (20th Dynasty). His tomb's wall paintings have very bright and lively colors and show scenes of the young prince, in the company of his father or alone, with a variety of gods. The anthropomorphic, uninscribed sarcophagus remains in the undecorated burial chamber. The tomb (it's the last one on the main road) contains an unusual item inside a glass case: the mummified remains of a fetus (not the prince himself). Tomb No. 55.
Tomb of Thyti. This cruciform tomb is well preserved. Thyti's sepulchre dates to the Ramesside period, but it is not known to whom she was married. The corridor is decorated on both sides with a kneeling, winged figure of the goddess Maat (who represented truth, justice, balance, and order) and the queen standing in front of different divinities. In the chamber on the right is a double representation of Hathor (goddess of love, music, beauty, and dancing), first depicted as a sacred cow coming out of the mountain to receive the queen, then as a woman, accepting offerings from Thyti. This tomb is on the main path, the second one on the left after the little resting place. Tomb No. 52.
Tomb of Khaemwaset. Wall paintings in the tomb of this prince, who was the young son of Ramses III, are one example of the fine workmanship of the Valley of the Queens tombs. The scenes represent the prince, either with his father or alone, making offerings to the gods. Texts from the Book of the Dead accompany the paintings. To get to the tomb from the main path, take the left fork and continue left to the path's end. Tomb No. 44.
Apr 22, 2011
Although not as big, I was even more impressed by some of the artwork and colors in the Valley of the Queens. I can't help but wonder how much more is undiscovered!