The Valley Today

Not long ago, the Valley of the Kings was visited by an average of two to four hundred tourists daily, but that number increased enormously with the appearance of cheap group charters from Europe. An average of four to five thousand tourists visit daily, except on Wednesdays and Sundays, when Nile cruise boats arrive from Aswan and the number rises to nine thousand [16056, 13717, 15296]. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism has said that it is planning for twenty-five thousand tourists daily by 2015.     16056 13717 15296
The Valley of the Kings is the burial place of some of the world's greatest historical figures and it must be treated with dignity and respect. But such large numbers of tourists spell disaster for the Valley if steps are not taken to manage the site properly. Unfortunately, very few attempts have yet been made to solve the problems and the Valley and its tombs are increasingly threatened. Indeed, some tombs already have begun to deteriorate.    
The Theban Mapping Project is at the forefront of efforts to solve or mitigate conservation problems. In 2001, with the support of the World Monuments Fund and American Express, it designed new signs for the Valley [15933]. Twenty-nine aluminum signs were installed, some showing maps of the Valley, others providing information on the sixteen tombs open to the public. Tour guides are now encouraged to lecture outside the tombs using the signs as a visual aid [16053], after which tourists proceed quietly and in single file through the tombs. This change alone should dramatically reduce the damage being done to decorated walls.     15933 16053
The Theban Mapping Project is preparing a demonstration model of tomb protection, installing fiber-optic lighting, environmental controls, and protective devices to prevent damage to decorated walls and stop visitors' perspiration from increasing temperature and humidity in the chambers. Once tested, this model can then be replicated in other tombs in the Valley of the Kings.    
The Theban Mapping Project is also working to raise funds to establish a system of trash collection in the Valley, a new electrical system, a transportation system and bus parking area, and an interpretive center for visitors. It has developed an archaeological database to monitor conditions in tombs in the Valley of the Kings and identify potential conservation problems before they become more serious. It is working to establish a training program in site management so that future generations of on-site inspectors can more effectively deal with problems of conservation and tourism.    
These plans will take several years to implement but it is essential that they be done if the Valley of the Kings is to be protected for future generations to learn from and enjoy.    

Published or last modified on: August 23, 2002
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