National Geographic : 1954 Dec
Following the westward course of ancient funeral pro cessions along the riverbank, we sailed as they did across the Nile to the "eternal home of the dead" in the Valley of the Tombs of the Kings. On donkeyback we jogged through green patches of cul tivation till we came to a broader road. There we trans ferred to antiquated cars that would take us deep into the desolate and wind-swept hills in which the old Thebans en tombed their rulers. Sleds Carried Coffins Downhill The Valley of the Tombs of the Kings is the largest of sev eral such valleys. Sloping cor ridors lead to the funerary chambers and the sarcophagus, or stone coffin, that held the mummy in its wrappings. The size, decorations, and furnish ings depended on the station and wealth of the deceased. The richest tombs were crowded with vast treasures in furniture and personal posses sions. Sometimes several mem bers of the family were in terred in the same grave with the king. Through the centuries grave robbers have looted Egypt's tombs, but the immovable chambers and their paintings and carving remain. They give clear proof that the ancient Egyptians not only believed in a life after death but had a very practical concept of it.* Along one of the royal ave nues we visited the now empty tomb of Rameses VI. We went first down an inclined passage way; here, in the ancient days, the heavy stone coffins were placed on sleds and pushed down the slope into the tomb. * See "Daily Life in Ancient Egypt," by William C. Hayes, NA TIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, Oc tober, 1941. 763 Gilbert Grosvenor A Queen's Gift to the Sun Soars Above El Karnak Egypt's Queen Hatshepsut erected two gold-tipped monuments to the solar deity in the Temple of Amun at ancient Thebes. One pink granite monolith still rises 97 feet. Large hieroglyphs praise "Son of Re, Khnemet-Amun, Hatshepsut, beloved of Amun-Re, king of gods, who is given life, like Re, forever." For Queen Hatshepsut to call herself son of a god was characteristic; she also proclaimed herself king. Statues show her wearing a pharaoh's plaited beard.