The Valley of the Kings: Then and Now

In order to preserve the character of the Valley of the Kings and to protect the tombs it contains, it is important to track the history of changes in its topography. Roads have been laid, bedrock has been cut, debris has been removed, resthouses have been built. These all affect the stability of the terrain and the movement and seepage of rainwater. Flash floods, for instance, have been and continue to be a major problem.    
Using historical photographs taken by George Daressy circa 1910 as a guide, the Theban Mapping Project has taken new photographs from the same vantage points in order to identify these changes.    
The historical photograph shows the approach to the Valley of the Kings, a dirt track, where today there is a large parking lot. Behind the buses in the contemporary photograph is the cafeteria where tourists can enjoy a cold drink after a hot day visiting the tombs [12573, 16846].     12573 16846
The entrance to the Valley of the Kings in 1910 was through a narrow cleft in the bedrock. It has been widened dramatically for a paved road. The lone guard standing in the earlier picture was replaced by a string of souvenir kiosks selling imitation antiquities, postcards and other knick-knacks, now moved down next to the parking lot [12574, 11823].     12574 11823
In these photographs, al Qurn looms over the Valley of the Kings in the distance. Visitors used to come from the Nile by donkey, and at the left of the center of the historical image is the shelter where the animals rested. Howard Carter built this donkey stand in 1901-1902. It lay directly over the then-forgotten entrance to tomb KV 5, marked by the dark green tent in the contemporary photo. The walls and large forecourt in the foreground of the second photo were built by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization in 1988 when KV 2 (out of the picture to the right) was reopened to the public [12575, 11809].     12575 11809
These views are from a side valley to the east of the main Valley of the Kings, on a hillside above tombs KV 3, KV 4, and KV 46. At the center in the distance is the entrance to KV 1. Since Daressy's time, a path has been cut to it from the main road. This road is now paved. In the foreground of the second photograph is the large courtyard built in front of KV 2, where tourists now assemble to listen to their tour guides [12576, 11817].     12576 11817
These views are into a small wadi to the east as you enter the Valley of the Kings. The entrances to KV 3, 46 and 4 are located in this wadi to the left [12583, 11819].     12583 11819

Published or last modified on: September 17, 2002
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