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Special places archive

October 2002

The Valley of the Kings


The American University in Cairo hosts the Theban Mapping Project. The Atlas of the Valley of the Kings is an exemplary interpretation of a very complex site. From an overview map you can select from dozens of tombs, then explore the passages and chambers. Text, photographs, 3d models and video segments describe each tomb its history and archaeology.

Well chamber E, tomb of Sety I -- screen shot from the Theban Mapping Project web site

Thebes is one of the world’s most important archaeological zones. Sadly, however, it has not fared well over the years. Treasure-hunters and curio-seekers plundered it in the past; pollution, rising ground water, and mass-tourism threaten it in the present. Even early archaeologists destroyed valuable information in their search for museum-quality pieces.

Today, however, we realize that the monuments of Thebes are a finite resource. If we fail to protect and monitor them, they will vanish, and we and our descendants will all be the poorer. The TMP believes that the first and most essential step in preserving this heritage is a detailed map and database of every archaeological, geological, and ethnographic feature in Thebes. Only when these are available can sensible plans be made for tourism, conservation, and further study.

During the last decade, the TMP has concentrated on the Valley of the Kings. Modern surveying techniques were used to measure its tombs. From the data collected, the TMP is preparing 3-D computer models of the tombs. And of course, the TMP is continuing its excavation of KV 5. For the TMP staff, sharing their work with the interested public is just as important as what they do in the field. This has been done through a series of publications and this growing website.

filed under Egypt + Archaeology


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