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ANCIENT LUXOR
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VALLEY OF THE QUEENS
Connie Tindale
 
VOQ rock faceVOQ Overviewrock face

 

The Valley of the Queens lies to the south of the Theban hills and is sign-posted from the Ticket Office. Its main attractions are the Tomb of Nefertari which unfortunately was closed several years ago and several sons of Ramses III. Tickets are available on site and cost 35 le to view three tombs. At present there are only three tombs open so one ticket is sufficient - Prince Amun-her-Khopshef (QV55), Prince Khaemwaset (QV 44) and Queen Tyti (QV 52). The Valley is open from 7.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m. in the winter and from 7.00 a.m. until 6.00 p,m. in the summer. Descriptions of the tombs can be seen through the links given below.

 
   

 

   
 

The Valley of the Queens is a small desolate craggy area on the southern edge of the Theban hills and it was used as a cemetery long before the first Pharaoh was laid to rest at the northern end of the range in the larger Valley of the Kings.  The Valley of the Queens could have been chosen as a burial place not only for its isolation but because water flows "miraculously" from one of its rocks after a storm making it a place of mystery and renewal.  It is known locally as Biban el Harem, “Gates of the Harem” but its original name was “Place of Beauty.”  The modern name “Valley of the Queens” appears to have come primarily from the fabulously decorated tomb that Ramses II prepared for his wife Nefertari.

Most of the tombs here are simply pits with no cult chapels or anything similar but a few others followed a simple plan of a straight corridor and a burial chamber.  Although some were elaborately decorated, most were not and the majority were very badly damaged by flooding, vandalism, or inappropriate usage.  Now, with a few exceptions, they are of little interest to anyone except the most enthusiastic archaeologist and, as most are unidentified, only five have ever been opened to the public.

 

position of tombs
There are approximately 80 tombs in the Valley of the Queens (listed below)

Although the area looks insignificant, there were many more burials in the Valley than anyone would imagine and about eighty tombs have been found, although very few of them are of Queens.  In fact more Queens appear to have been buried in the 'lost cemetery' that Carter located above the Valley of the Kings than are buried in this Valley.  Most of the tombs here are of Princes and others could be of Priests who adopted Royal titles during the breakdown in government control in the later part of the 20th dynasty.  Among the tombs whose owners are known are those of: Queen Sit-re the wife of Ramses I, Queen Tuy the wife of Seti I, Queen Nefertari and six daughter/wives of Ramses II.  Also buried there are two wives of Ramses III, five of his sons and several viziers of Tutmosis I.

Family relationships in Egypt’s monarchy are often too complex to decipher, due to the incestuous marriages that occurred between brothers and sisters, and fathers and daughters.  Ramses II is alleged to have been, at the same time, both father and husband to some mothers of his children, to whom he was both father and grandfather.  Although he buried his daughter/ wives in the Valley of the Queens, he chose to inter many of his sons in a communal tomb (KV5) in the Valley of the Kings

Anubis greets NeferatariNefertari with food offering
The paintings in the tomb of Nefertari are magnificent.

Workers from the Deir-el-Medina probably constructed the later tombs in the Valley of the Queens.  The remains of rest houses similar to those above the Valley of the Kings have been found.  As the group of rest houses is small, it is unlikely that this would have been a separate settlement.

For visitors, the big draw to the Valley of the Queens was the tomb of Nefertari, which was beautifully restored at great cost a few years ago, but the tomb was closed again recently because even severely restricted visitor numbers proved too damaging to its fabric.  Nobody knows when or if the tomb will re-open.  Those who have seen the inside of this tomb consider themselves privileged despite paying 100 LE for a ten-minute stay.  When and if the tomb re-opens, the entrance fee is likely to be vastly more than that amount. Sometimes specialist visits are arranged by prominent archaeologists but these visits are very expensive.

There are not many visitors to the Valley of the Queens now that Nefertari’s tomb is closed so it is never crowded and, apart from the build up of heat in the middle of the day, the valley can be visited at any time.  The ticket covers entrance to any three tombs but recently (2008) only three tombs were open so it negates any predicament over which one to omit.

 

Significant Tombs in the Valley of the Queens

Tomb Number
Name
QV 30   Nebiri (probably), Head of the Stable, Dynasty XVIII
QV 31 A Queen
QV 33  Princess Tanezem(t) Dynasty XX (?)
QV 36     Princess, no name

  QV 37         

Queen Si-tre wife of Ramses  I
QV 40   Anonymous Princess or Queen
QV 42 Prince Para'hirwenemef, son of Ramesses III
QV 43   Prince Set-hir-khopshef, King's son, Son of Ramses III.
QV.44 Prince Khaemwaset, Sem- priest of Ptah. Son of Ramesses III.
QV46  Imhotep (probably) Vizier. Tuthmosis I

QV.47           

Princess 'Ahmosi Daughter of Sekenenre'-Ta'a and Sit-dhout:
QV.51  Queen Esi II mother of Ramses VI, daughter of Hubalznet
QV 52  Queen Tyti – possible wife of Ramses III
QV 53  Prince Ramses son of Ramses III
QV 55 Prince Amen-hir-khopshef Royal Scribe, son of Ramses III
QV 60  Queen Nebttaui daughter of Ramses II
QV 66 Queen Nefertari Wife of Ramses II

QV.68    

Queen Merytamun daughter of Ramses II
QV.71  Queen Bent'anta daughter of Ramses II
QV.73   A Princess, no name. Dynasty XX
QV.74     Queen Tentopet Great King's mother and King's wife
QV.75 A Queen, no name
QV 80 Queen Tuy – wife of Seti I
QV 88   Prince Ahmose