Valley of the Queens is the name of the necropolis of ancient Egypt where queens and princes of the Nineteenth and Twentieth dynasties were buried, although some from earlier times have also been found.
It received the Egyptian name Ta-Set-Neferu “the place of beauty”, and in Arabic it is the current Biban al Harim.
The pharaohs of the 18th dynasty, instead of the traditional construction of pyramids as burial chambers, and perhaps due to their vulnerability to the grave robbers, chose to be buried in tombs cut into the rock.
The complex is made up of several wadis (valleys):
- Valley of the Queens, the main and largest valley.
- Valley of Prince Ahmose, named after the owner of the first tomb discovered in it, the QV88.
- Valley of the Dolmen, named after some rocks with that shape.
- Valley of the Rope, named after the discovery of a Coptic string.
- Valley of the Great Cascade, because a torrent formed in the rainy season.
- Valley of the Three Pits, which owes its name to three tombs found in wells.
There is a temple of Ptah, and in the Valley of the Three Pits the ruins of Deir el Rumi, a Coptic monastery, are preserved.
History of the Valley of the Queens
Although the founder of the Valley is the Great Royal Wife of the founder of the 19th dynasty, Queen Sitre, the truth is that before her, several tombs belonging to the 17th and 18th dynasties had already been excavated.
However, it was only from Sitre that the place became exclusive to women and the favorite children of the reigning monarch.
The first royal tomb was discovered by Belzoni in 1816, that of Tyti. John Gardiner Wilkinson located 24 graves in 1828.
Champollion and Rosellini identified the earlier graves in 1829. Carl Richard Lepsius conducted a new inventory, documenting and recovering numerous objects.
Ernesto Schiaparelli and Francesco Ballerini began a systematic excavation of the Valley of the Queens in 1903 and discovered the tomb of Nefertari, the most beautiful jewel in the entire Theban necropolis.
Currently in the Valley of the Queens there are up to 98 tombs, wells and others abandoned shortly after construction that were never occupied, all of them numbered under the initials QV.