|The tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun from the XVIII dynasty is located in Egypt on the western bank of the Nile near the ancient capital – the city of Thebes. Now this city is called Luxor. All the rulers of the era of the New Kingdom were buried here in the Valley of the Kings, and Tutankhamun was no exception.|
The pharaoh himself and his tomb became famous by chance, since it was this burial that turned out to be the only one in the valley that was not touched by the ancient tomb robbers.
In addition, the tomb is associated with the “curse of Tutankhamun” and many assumptions about the falsification of the tomb itself and the contents. All these topics will be interesting for tourists, and we will touch on them.
Now the tomb is open to visitors, it is a popular excursion site, so we will tell you about it in detail. Prices and other information in this article are current as of mid-September 2021.
How to get there
If you are traveling with an excursion, the bus will take you to Luxor, and the guide will take you to the tomb. In this case, our comments are superfluous.
If you are driving on your own, then first you need to get to Luxor, about which read our review “From Hurghada to Luxor and back.” Then you need to cross to the west bank of the Nile by ferry for 5 pounds. The ferry pier is located between the Luxor Temple and the Mummification Museum.
After getting off the ferry, follow the road from the river for 3 kilometers and you will come to the Colossi of Memnon and the “city of the dead”. If you don’t want to go, then take a taxi, since they are always on duty at the pier, the price of the trip is 20 pounds. Then follow the signs to the desired object. Or take the local Taffetaf train for £ 5.
Entrance to the tomb of Tutankhamun – 300 Egyptian pounds. And another 240 pounds must be paid to enter the Valley of the Kings. For the current rate, see our article “Money in Egypt”.
Say, what is expensive ?! We’ll all have to get used to it. A few years ago, tickets were several times cheaper, and many objects in Luxor could be viewed for free. Now only Colossi of Memnon can be viewed for free.
From 8-00 to 17-00.
About Pharaoh Tutankhamun himself
Tutankhamun turned out to be the most famous pharaoh of Egypt precisely because of his tomb, although he did nothing significant during his reign. In fact, he never fully ruled.
The origin of Pharaoh Tutankhamun has not yet been clarified for sure. According to various versions, he was the son or nephew of the previous pharaoh Akhenaten, or a more distant relative.
Tutankhamun ascended the throne at the age of 10, and the regents ruled for him. At the age of 19, he died without becoming a full-fledged ruler. There are many versions of the reasons for his death. Most likely he fell from a chariot while hunting or died of illness.
There is a widespread version of his murder, but this is unlikely. Tutankhamun suited the entire elite of the nobility of Egypt. During his reign, they did whatever they wanted.
We do not know the truth now, and perhaps we will never know. After his death, he was hastily prepared for burial, and the mummy was heavily covered with oil. In addition, it was not very carefully removed from the sarcophagus, and the mummy was badly damaged. It is now impossible to establish the true causes of death.
During his reign, several important events took place, in which he himself was not involved.
His predecessor, Pharaoh Akhenaten, carried out a religious reform. He tried to introduce the worship of the single sun god Aten in Egypt. When Tutankhamun ascended the throne, his name was Tut-Anah-Aton, translated as “the living embodiment of Aton”.
During his reign, the priests of the old religion carried out a counter-reformation, they exalted the old god Amun back, and tried to consign the cult of Aten to oblivion. In the 4th year of his reign at the age of 14, the pharaoh changed his name to Tut-Anah-Amon, that is, “the living embodiment of Amun”. Naturally, no one asked his opinion on this matter.
The previous pharaoh Akhenaten (pictured right) was so passionate about his religious reform that he paid no attention to foreign policy. Many of Egypt’s neighbors have ceased to recognize his power and to pay tribute.
During the reign of Tutankhamun, the generals made several victorious campaigns to Syria and, possibly, to Nubia to restore the influence of the Egyptian kingdom. The most prominent commander of that time was Horemheb, who later became a pharaoh himself. These campaigns also have nothing to do with Tutankhamun himself.
About the history of the tomb
The tomb was found in November 1922. Before its discovery, there was even no certainty that Pharaoh Tutankhamun really existed. Archaeologists have found only a few references to him in written sources, and those without cartouches.
The paucity of sources is not surprising. After the death of Tutankhamun, the courtier Eya ascended the throne, who fiercely destroyed all the legacy of the previous pharaohs Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. After the death of Ey, General Horemheb ascended the throne. He began to destroy even more furiously the legacy of Ey, Akhenaten and Tutankhamen.
It was a “wild” time in Egyptian history. The names of the rulers were knocked down from the walls of temples, the papyri that mentioned the pharaohs were destroyed. Unsurprisingly, we have almost no documents mentioning Tutankhamun. There were few such documents, since he did not rule for long, and after the “purges” they did not remain at all.
The tomb was discovered by the famous English archaeologist Howard Carter. On his account there are many archaeological discoveries, and the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun was the peak of his career, then the whole world started talking about him.
In the Valley of the Kings, by that time, many tombs of the pharaohs and prominent nobles were found, but all of them had already been plundered. The level of protection of royal burials in ancient Egypt was not very high.
The Egyptians hoped more for the protection of the tombs by people. If you visit the Valley of the Kings, you will notice how well it is visible. It is simply impossible to steal something so as not to fall under the gaze of the guards and not be detained.
This is a very short-sighted policy. Someone should organize security, that is, the state apparatus should function normally in the country.
And if there is a crisis? And if an invasion? At such moments, when there were no guards, thieves took away the contents of the tombs. In addition, the officials and guards themselves were often corrupt and initiated the looting themselves.
When there was an acute shortage of money in the country, the current rulers found a good source of budget replenishment in the treasures of the tombs. In this case, they simply took a certain amount of valuable items, but did not touch the mummies. This was the most “humane” way of robbery.
The Chinese, for example, acted much smarter. They sealed the tombs with massive marble doors and buried them deep in the ground. If you visit the Valley of the Tombs of the Ming Emperors near Beijing, you can see the only tomb of Dingling that has been uncovered here. Modern archaeologists have opened it for over a year!
About 3.5 thousand different items were found inside the tomb of Tutankhamun. The sarcophagus consisted of three parts, a kind of “Pharaoh’s matryoshka”. The inner sarcophagus contained 110.4 kilograms of gold. The famous mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamun made of gold weighs more than 11 kilograms and is decorated with precious stones. All these items are now in museums, most of them in the Cairo Museum.
You don’t need to travel to Cairo or Luxor to see the famous mask. You need to look at the 1 Egyptian pound coin, the most common in Egypt, which depicts the very mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.
Where is it located, how much does it cost to enter and how much time to allocate
The Valley of the Kings is located near the city of Luxor on the opposite bank of the Nile. Tut’s tomb is located right in the center of the valley.
Its serial number is KV62, that is, it was opened 62nd in a row, but not the last. In 2005, an expedition of the archaeologist Otto Schaden found the last tomb of KV63.
It is very easy to recognize the KV62 tomb. This is a hill about 14 meters high, around which there are always a lot of people. It is easy to navigate: where there are more people, there is the tomb of Tutankhamun.
The cost of the visit is 300 Egyptian pounds. The separate entrance fee to this tomb annoys many tourists. Travelers have especially strong negative feelings after visiting, since this tomb is smaller than the others and is not so elegantly decorated. However, we will talk about this a little later.
It takes five or ten minutes to inspect the entire tomb.
The tomb of Tutankhamun is not always open to visitors. Sometimes it is closed for scientific research and restoration work.
Prepare mentally for the situation when you have arrived in Luxor, have already prepared to go down to this famous tomb, and it is closed. Moreover, the Egyptians do not consider it necessary to warn about this in advance or even publish any information in the media or on the Internet.
In 2010, the gates of the tomb were completely closed, and the burial was opened for visitors only in 2014. Now (note: the article was updated in September 2021) they want to close it again to restore the frescoes on the walls. We cannot say for sure whether it will be open at the time of your visit to the Valley of the Kings or not.
What will you see inside
Tourists are asked to leave their photo and video cameras at the entrance. This turns out to be an unpleasant surprise. If you come alone, then it is risky to leave an expensive camera to an unknown Arab. Tourists walk downstairs in turns, giving cameras to their companions in the tourist group.
Tourists still take a lot of photographs of the contents of this burial, only on their mobile phones. The guards do not look into their pockets; they have not thought of such madness anywhere else in Egypt.
Many tourists are disappointed, as the tomb is small – only 80 square meters.
You go down a small staircase, walk down a short corridor and find yourself in a room. On the right you will see a sarcophagus, on the left there will be an entrance to a small room that is closed. You cannot get close to the sarcophagus, it is separated from the visitors by a fence.
There is another room behind the sarcophagus – this is a treasury, into which tourists are also not allowed. As a result, you can only walk through this 6.5 by 3 meter room. Unsurprisingly, many visitors have a feeling of “squalor”. Tut’s tomb is the most famous of all, but one of the smallest.
On the other hand, the posthumous residence of Pharaoh Tutankhamun is much larger than the apartment of the average. In theory, the Tourist should seem spacious here (we hope the joke was a success).
There is an interesting assumption that this is not a royal tomb at all, but it was Pharaoh Tutankhamun who lay in it. He died so quickly that they simply did not have time to prepare the tomb for him. They put him in a cave that was being prepared for one of the nobles.
This hypothesis explains a lot: the small size of the rooms, the frescoes are not on all the walls, some of the drawings were spoiled immediately, since the frescoes were simply not allowed to dry.
In any case, it is worth remembering that the creation of such an underground tomb was an expensive and laborious affair. The caves were carved right into the rock, and they did it with bronze hoes, because at that moment the Egyptians did not know how to process iron. This is a complex and long-term business.
The work of plasterers and artists was not cheap. During the time of Pharaoh Ramses III, the treasury did not have enough money at all to pay for their labor, and they went on strike near temples. And the larger the tomb, the more they work, therefore, the tomb is more expensive.
At the time of Tutankhamun’s death, the financial situation in Egypt was disappointing. Many of the surrounding peoples no longer paid tribute, state administration was only recovering from the recession. There was little money for the Pharaoh’s funeral.
Let’s approach this problem from the other side, why does the Pharaoh need a spacious tomb? What will he do there? Run, jump, play soccer?
If Tutankhamun had lived longer, then perhaps a more spacious tomb would have been arranged for him.
All artifacts from the tomb were removed in 1922-23. Many of them bought foreign museums, but most of them are now on display in the national museum in Cairo. You will not see artifacts inside the tomb, only a few dummies.
What is really interesting for visitors is the mummy of Tutankhomon himself. She was brought back here in 2007. The mummy is kept in a special climate-controlled glass case.
No other tomb in the Valley of the Kings has the mummies of their owners, this is a local “exclusive”.
The second thing to look inside is the frescoes. They are bright and colorful, although damaged by bacteria.
As in all burials of the New Kingdom era, the frescoes depict the pharaoh in the company of Osiris, Anubis and other gods. You will notice another peculiarity. The frescoes are applied only on the wall near the sarcophagus, and on the other walls they are simply not there. This is another side effect of the haste in which Pharaoh Tutankhamun was buried.
Curse of Tutankhamun
Howard Carter worked on the search for Tut’s tomb with his companion Lord George Carnarvon. In 1923, Lord Carnarvon died suddenly at a hotel in Cairo. The official cause of death was not precisely determined, since the level of development of medicine in Egypt at that time was still weak. It was either pneumonia or blood poisoning from a razor cut.
It was after this death that the press began to actively “trumpet” about the “curse of Tutankhamun”. They started talking about some mythical fungi and microorganisms that the priests left behind to kill the robbers. And then Hollywood picked up the idea.
Of course, these are fables. Lord Carnarvon was not a 20-year-old boy, at the time of his death he was already 57 years old. Pneumonia and blood poisoning in those days were deadly diseases, since antibiotics were not yet discovered.
Howard Carter himself died in 1939 at the age of 64. Logically, if the curse exists, then it should have touched him first.
Another version says that there is no mysticism in the deaths of some members of the expedition. They were allegedly killed by the Egyptian special services to cover up the falsification. This version is more realistic, we will talk about it in detail.
There is an opinion that these excavations and the entire tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun are a fake. Allegedly, Carter and the Egyptian authorities built a fake tomb. This makes some sense, since Egypt has made a lot of money selling treasures.
Fans of this theory give the following reasons:
Firstly , at the time of Carter’s discovery, the entire Valley of the Kings had already been dug, and it was no longer possible to find anything new there.
This argument can be dismissed at once. How is it impossible? Archaeologist Otto Schaden found another tomb here in 2005. And they will probably find more.
Second reason . Carter spent a very long time excavating – about 5 years. He allegedly wasted this time building a forgery.
This argument also means nothing. They can dig for 5 years, maybe 10, what’s so surprising?
Thirdly , some of the items look brand new. This is also possible, some items are better preserved, some are worse.
Fourth , the lid of the coffin was split open. Supposedly, this was done on purpose, since she did not crawl through the door of the tomb. This argument is very dubious – the lid of the coffin cracked, what’s surprising?
And there are a lot of similar arguments that cast a shadow of doubt, but do not prove anything.
Let’s think sensibly. These people claim that Carter spent 110 kilograms of gold to make a sarcophagus out of it, and another 11 kilograms of gold for a mask. Found or produced about 3,500 artifacts.
He cut out a tomb in the rock, produced two stone sarcophagi. Found somewhere an ownerless mummy of a man about 20 years old. Then he packed it all into a tomb and announced the opening.
Read it all! He should have made it all unnoticed! Do you believe this is possible? Where does the gold and money come from? How could this be done in secret? This is just unreal.
The museums that have bought these exhibits carry out expert examinations of the items in their collections. If Carter and the Egyptian government had carried out such a scam, it would have been scientifically uncovered long ago.
Where do such accusations of falsification come from?
Recently, more and more dubious hypotheses and accusations of falsification of the history of ancient cultures have appeared. And this applies not only to Egypt, but also to China, Greece and Mesopotamia. These assumptions spring up like mushrooms after rain.
There are several reasons for this trend. Firstly, many scientists dream of becoming famous, but this is difficult to do while doing classical science. If you claim something sensational, then you have a much better chance of becoming famous. So people strive for “dirty fame”.
The second reason is deeper. Look at which civilizations are the leaders in the world now. USA, UK, France, Germany, China. We will drop China and talk about the rest.
Our peoples are very young. The United States is only 250 years of history. England in its present form is 1500 years of historical development. France in its current form is 1200 years old.
All our peoples are strong, but we all experience a subconscious sense of inferiority and envy of ancient cultures that boast thousands of years of history.
These are the tendencies that reign in modern history, and the press is happy to “inflate the bubbles of false sensations”.
Interesting and useful to know
– In order to pay at the box office, it is better to change money on the eastern bank (before the ferry). Read our in-depth review on Money Exchange in Egypt;
“In the“ valley of the dead ”in Luxor, there is almost nowhere to hide from the sun. Don’t forget about sun protection, read our review “Dangers to tourists in Egypt”;
– Do not try to break off pieces of ancient monuments and take them as a souvenir. They can get caught doing this, or the customs officers will find it during export. In both cases, big trouble is guaranteed. Read our review “What can and can be taken out of Egypt.”