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Valley of the Kings Luxor Egypt Site Management Master Plan (TPD0608005)


The Valley of the Kings (KV) on the West Bank of the Nile in Luxor, Egypt, is one of the best known and most visited archaeological sites in the world, forever associated in collective memory with the discovery of the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922.

The necropolis served for five centuries (during the New Kingdom, Dynasties 18, 19, and 20, from 1550 to 1070 BC) as the burial place of ancient Egypt’s pharaohs and other notables. To date, 621 tombs have been found there, together with about 20 “commencements.” Cut deep into the hills and cliffs that define the valley, these tombs range from small, single-chambered holes in the ground to huge complexes of rooms and corridors covering thousands of square meters. Ancient artisans plastered, carved, and painted their walls and ceilings with scenes and texts describing the royal journey into the afterlife, the night time journey of the sun, astronomical events, and ceremonies at the royal burial.

The Valley’s unique inscriptions and reliefs attracted early travellers and explorers; however, they ignored the site’s true importance in their pursuit of treasures. Only with the decipherment of the hieroglyphic language in 1822 by Jean François Champollion, and the advent of modern archaeology at the end of the 19th Century, did scholars begin to gain a fuller understanding of the site’s significance. That significance was acknowledged in 1979, when Unesco recognized ancient Thebes, including the Valley of the Kings, as a World Heritage Site.

 “Before  heritage  places  are  promoted  or  developed  for  increased  tourism,  management  plans should  assess  the  natural  and  cultural  values  of  the  resource.  They  should  then  establish  the appropriate levels of acceptable change, particularly in relation to the impact of visitor numbers on the  physical  characteristics,  integrity,  ecology  and  biodiversity  of  the  place,  local  access  and transportation systems and the social, economic and cultural well-being of the host community. If the likely level of change is unacceptable the development proposal should be modified.”

ICOMOS, 1999

1 As we go to press (February 2006) the discovery of a new tomb in KV has been announced, labelled KV 63


The Valley of the Kings has been the focus of attention of scholars, tourists, vandals, and thieves for over 3,000 years. Today, after centuries of damage and looting, the Valley is facing a severe challenge: unless swift, radical, and all-encompassing action is taken, we may see the destruction of the site within the next 25 years. The nature of the threats is two-fold: there are natural threats including flooding, geological instability, and environmental changes, but the most serious problems come from human activity. The popularity of KV and the sheer number of visitors has resulted in a myriad of problems that include damage to the fabric of the site, the destruction of tomb interiors, and aesthetic pollution due to intrusive tourist facilities and ill-chosen flood protection measures. These problems are likely to become even more acute over the next few decades, as the number of visitors coming to KV rises.

The number of visitors to the Valley today is immense; indeed 30 years ago, the number of tourists in the Valley of the Kings was about 100 per day; today, more than 7,000 visitors arrive daily, and the Ministry of Tourism is aiming for 12,000 visitors daily by 2014. To adequately deal with the problems such numbers impose, the Valley of the Kings needs a site management masterplan that addresses the issues of visitor access in conjunction with site conservation.

With this in mind, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) commissioned the Theban Mapping Project (TMP) to produce a comprehensive Masterplan for the Valley of the Kings. It has been prepared with the generous assistance of the World Monuments Fund and the American Research Center in Egypt.

The Valley of the Kings, along with the rest of the West Bank and the temples on the East Bank of Luxor, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 under the cultural properties section after meeting the following criteria:

I Cultural properties should represent a masterpiece of human creative genius.

III Cultural properties should bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization, which is living or has disappeared.

VI Cultural properties should be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas or beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.


The preparation of this Masterplan involved several interrelated projects, each of which will be dealt with in the following chapters. The outline below gives an understanding of these processes and the order in which they were carried out. The planning process is also summarized in Figure 1.

  • A review was made of all available literature including historical records, previous interventions, modern rediscovery and excavation reports, and previous proposals for conservation. All relevant Cultural Resource Management (CRM) resources were consulted.
  • Pertinent risk factors were identified and a review was made of their impact on the Valley.
  • A review of the role of tourism in Egypt, Luxor, and KV was made.
  • A Stakeholder Assessment was conducted, both to identify the interested parties and to assess the views of the many disparate groups who have a stake in the well-being and management of the Valley of the Kings. It also helped to foster a sense of inclusion and establish a role for these groups in the development of any plans.
  • Surveys were made of such features as geological stability, topography, hydrological susceptibility, and meteorological conditions.
  • Detailed condition assessments of tomb paintings has been compiled and detailed photography of all tombs open or potentially open to visitors has been made.
  • Microclimate conditions in KV 9 have been monitored to track the effects of visitors on humidity and temperature.
  • Data on visitor traffic, behaviour, and perceptions, and the impact of tourism on the Valley have been collected and analyzed.
  • Visitor management policies such as opening hours, camera rules, and ticketing procedures have been reviewed.
  • A review of landscaping, parking, passenger loading, vendor kiosks, and other infrastructure has been undertaken.
  • Proposals have been suggested for the location and design of water supplies, sewage, electricity supply, and maintenance.
  • Site and tomb carrying capacities and visitor flow mechanisms have been designed to prevent dangerous overcrowding.
  • Tomb maintenance and protection procedures have been outlined.
  • A plan to promote and improve trails from the Valley to Deir al-Medina and Deir al-Bahari has been designed.
  • A new management structure for the Luxor West Bank SCA administration has been proposed.
  • New systems of lighting, environmental controls, and traffic management in tombs, and protective systems for wall decoration have been designed
  • Provisions are outlined for continued security in KV—including tomb monitoring, policing of vendors, vehicular traffic management, and security checks at entrance gate.
  • The construction of a Visitors Center has begun with funding from the Government of Japan. The TMP has been asked to design its exhibits and displays and to work with the SCA in designing the surrounding support facilities. Suggestions for such installations are included.
  • The implementation of several trial schemes has begun and their effect on KV, positive or negative, reviewed.
  • Consideration has been made to make provision for the regular updating, monitoring, and implementation of the Masterplan.

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Figure 1: Site Management Planning Process for KV, after Demas


1.1           Site Definition: Thebes and Modern Luxor

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Figure 2: Location Map, Luxor, Egypt

Thebes is one of the largest, richest, and best-known archaeological sites in the world. It lies about 900km (560 miles) south of Cairo on the banks of the River Nile. On the East Bank, beneath the modern city of Luxor (Figure 2), lie the remains of an ancient town that from about 1500 to 1000 BC was one of the most spectacular in Egypt, with a population of perhaps 50,000. Even in the Middle Kingdom, four centuries earlier, Thebes had earned a reputation as one of the ancient world’s greatest cities. Within it, the Egyptians had built the huge temple complexes of Karnak and Luxor. These are two of the largest religious structures ever constructed, and the homes of priesthoods of great wealth and power. On the West Bank lies the Theban Necropolis—covering about 10km²—in which archaeologists have found thousands of tombs, scores of temples, and a multitude of houses, villages, shrines, monasteries, and work stations.

Thebes has been inhabited continuously for the last 250,000 years. The first evidence of the Palaeolithic in Africa was found there. However, the most important period in the history of Thebes was the five-century-long New Kingdom, when what the ancient Egyptians called this “model for every city” achieved unrivalled religious, political, and architectural stature. Every New Kingdom pharaoh—there were 32 of them—and many before and after that date added to the site’s huge architectural inventory. The monuments erected during Dynasties 18, 19, and 20 have ensured that even today, 30 centuries later, it is one of the world’s foremost archaeological sites. Not surprisingly, Thebes was one of the first sites listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site (in 1979).

The name “Thebes” was given to the town by early Greek travellers. Some historians believe the Greeks misheard the local name for an area around Medinat Habu, “Djeme;” others that it came from “Tapé,” or tp, meaning “head” in ancient Egyptian.  In the Bible, Thebes was called “Nō,” from the ancient Egyptian word niw, meaning “city.” The Egyptians also called it waset, the name of the nome (administrative district) in which it lay, or niwt ‘Imn, “city of Amun,” which the Greeks translated literally as “Diospolis,” “city of Zeus,” (the god with whom Greeks equated Amun). The Egyptians had many epithets for Thebes: “City Victorious,” “The Mysterious City,” “City of the Lord of Eternity,” “Mistress of Temples,” “Mistress of Might,” and others. The more recent name for Thebes, “Luxor,” derives from the Arabic al-Uqsur, meaning “the castles,” which in turn may derive from the Latin word “castra,” meaning a military garrison.

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Figure 3: Modern Sign, Luxor

Between the river and the desert edge, the floodplain consists of a thick layer of nutrient- rich Nile silt deposited by millennia of annual Nile floods. Today, perennial irrigation waters fields of sugar cane, clover, wheat, and vegetables, and produces two, even three crops annually. Before the completion of the Aswan Dam in the 1960s, which ended the annual Nile flood, the river rose every year in June, and then for the following four months covered the floodplain with 30-50cm of water. The water filled shallow, natural “basins” that were a product of uneven silt deposition across the floodplain. About six such basins lay on the Theban West Bank, each covering several square kilometres. After the floodwaters receded, these now water-saturated basins were planted and their crops harvested in late autumn and winter. In dynastic times, farmers grew wheat, barley, sorghum, pulses, onions, garlic, and melons. These were vegetables of such quantity and quality, grown with such ease, that European visitors constantly remarked about the wondrous Egyptian soil. Some Greek travellers believed that life generated spontaneously in this rich Nile mud and that simply drinking Nile water would cause a woman to become pregnant. The valley’s fabled richness became for Europeans proof of the special place Egypt occupied in the hearts of the gods. Nowhere but in Egypt were the silts so rich, the crops so ripe, the fields so easily tended. Even today, the Theban area has a great reputation for agricultural excellence, and tourists who come to admire its monuments often leave equally impressed by its landscape. Azure skies, green fields, dark blue rivers, golden hills, crimson sunsets, and florescent afterglow give Thebes the appearance of an over-imagined painting. Europeans were certain that here was the landscape in which God had created the Garden of Eden.

The close proximity of limestone cliffs and the richness and extent of adjacent agricultural land helped maintain the wealth and prestige of ancient Thebes. But the reasons that it grew from a sleepy Old Kingdom hamlet to a substantial Middle Kingdom town and a formidable New Kingdom city were political and religious.  The reunification of Egypt after the defeat of the Herakleopolitans at the end of the First Intermediate Period was largely the work of Theban rulers, and they appointed Theban officials to high government positions, thereby assuming control of the entire country. During the Second Intermediate Period, Theban rulers again achieved prominence; with the expulsion of the Hyksos in the 17th Dynasty, they again governed the Two Lands.

Thebes was inconveniently located too far south to rule a country increasingly tied economically and politically to western Asia. The town of Pi-Ramese was built in the Nile Delta to ease problems of international communications, and it assumed importance as Egypt’s diplomatic and military centre. Memphis, at the apex of the Nile Delta, served as the headquarters of the Egypt’s internal bureaucracy. However, inconvenient location notwithstanding, Thebes prospered and was revered. In part, this was due to the religious, political, and economic power wielded by Amun, the principal god of Thebes. Credited with having freed Egypt from its enemies, making it the wealthiest and most powerful country in the ancient world, establishing Thebes as “the queen of cities,” Amun, joined with the Heliopolitan solar deity as Amun-Ra, became “king of the gods,” the leader of the Egyptian pantheon. The Theban temples of Amun, their huge landholdings, and the large cadres of priests that managed them, ensured that Thebes was Egypt’s pre-eminent religious centre. It remained the perceived capital city of Egypt long after actual bureaucratic authority had moved away. This state of affairs continued into the Late Period. However, as Egypt’s wealth and power declined, so invariably did that of Thebes. There are Late Period, Greek, and Roman references to Thebes, and a large number of Christian monasteries, churches, and hermitages on the West Bank. But from about the 11th Century AD until its “rediscovery” by European travellers in the late 18th Century, Thebes virtually disappeared from history. With the coming of European visitors, however, Thebes, now Luxor, resumed its place as one of the most famous cities in the world.

1.2           Site Definition: The West Bank

The boundaries of the Theban West Bank have changed significantly during the last century. In common local usage, “The West Bank” has referred to the west bank of the Nile directly across from the city of Luxor, but the term implied no specific boundaries (Figure 4). The term “Theban Necropolis” could also refer to this area, but it was usually limited to the desert lands that extend west from the cultivation into parts of a complex wadi system that contain archaeological remains. Its northern and southern boundaries were not clearly defined.

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Figure 4: Location Map, KV in West Bank

In ancient times, designations of the West Bank were no less vague. The area was called “West of Thebes,” “The Great West,” or “The Beautiful West,” but its boundaries were never mentioned. Today, somewhat more precisely, “The West Bank” is defined administratively as the west bank of the Nile lying within the modern boundaries of Luxor City. The northern boundary lies beyond the modern villages of al-Tarif and the complex called New Thebes. The southern is near Armant. The western is not specified, but extends into the desert beyond any archaeological sites. The eastern boundary is the River Nile.

The area defined as “antiquities land,” that is, land controlled by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, was enlarged in a law passed in 1956. Prior to that date, the Colossi of Memnon lay on a small “island” of government-owned land, surrounded by private fields. In 1956, several hundred square meters of the temple of Amenhetep III held by the private sector were incorporated into antiquities land, creating a single, contiguous archaeological zone that included the principal central core of the temple. (A very substantial part of the temple compound surrounding the central core, however, still lies beneath privately owned sugar cane fields.)

There are still many irregularities in the “antiquities land” boundaries. Some date back to a decision made in 1926, when the Egyptian government issued a decree declaring the West Bank to be a protected area. The 1926 Survey of Egypt graphically showed the area’s eastern boundary on its 1:500 “Theban Necropolis” map sheets. Generally, that line was drawn along the edge of the cultivation, regardless of whether antiquities lay east of it or not. This arbitrary (and, frankly, inexplicable) line resulted in some temples lying partly in the protected antiquities zone, partly in unprotected private lands. The memorial temple of Thutmes III is an example: its First Pylon and courtyard lie beneath private agricultural land outside the antiquities zone; the rest of the temple lies within it.

Thebes was designated a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1979, but none of Unesco’s documents correctly defined its boundaries. They were supposed to have included both the East Bank temples of Karnak and Luxor and the West Bank “necropolis, funerary temples, royal palaces, and a village of craftsmen and artists.” SCA officials have been no more precise about its East Bank borders, but they are more precise about its limits on the West Bank. They argue that the World Heritage Site begins at the Nile, then extends west through agricultural land into the desert beyond the Valley of the Kings. The northern boundary includes the archaeological zone of al-Tarif; the southern, Malkata and Birkat Habu.

Thebes and the World Heritage Convention 1972

Egyptian Government Ratified the Convention in February 1974

Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis entered on the World Heritage List in 1979

Site description “Thebes was the city of the god Amun, was the capital of Egypt during the period of the Middle and New Kingdoms. With the temples and palaces at Karnak and Luxor, and the necropolises of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, Thebes is a striking testimony to Egyptian civilization at its height.”

Exact Location: Long. 32º 35′-40′ E, Lat. 25º 42′-45′ N

For inexplicable reasons, the coordinates given above by the World Heritage Convention for the boundaries of “Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis” do not include some of the pertinent monuments—most notably, Luxor Temple. In the map below (Figure 5), the coordinates have been corrected by the TMP and the entire protected area is shown within the rectangle, the two longitudinal lines representing 32º 35′ E and 32º 40′ E and the two latitudinal lines showing 25º 41′ N and 25º 45′ N. The 2km buffer zone would add another two minutes to each boundary.

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Figure 5: WHC Zone

For economic reasons, some officials and entrepreneurs have maintained that the eastern boundary of the archaeological zone is not the Nile but the main Cairo-Aswan highway that runs north to south several kilometres west of the river. This definition, they believed, would permit new hotels and cruise ship moorages to be built along the river. The SCA, however, argues that the World Heritage Site does extend to the Nile, and that the area to be protected includes the cultivated floodplain and the Nile riverbank. Justification for this view is that the panoramic view of the West Bank from Luxor is as much a part of the area’s heritage as its individual monuments, and it is clear that Unesco’s intention was to protect that view. Indeed, a law defining the River Nile as the eastern boundary of the site was passed by Egypt’s National Assembly in 1983. It was based upon official amlak (cadastral) surveys of the area. This was reaffirmed in 2005 by the Luxor City Council, when it gave orders to demolish new construction along the banks of the Nile. The reasons cited were that such construction was unsightly, detrimental to the landscape, illegally built on government land, and in violation of antiquities laws.

In 1980, President Sadat decreed the West Bank to be a Cultural Heritage Site, and prohibited any building activity that encroached upon it or altered its character. In 2004, President Mubarak reaffirmed the 1980 decree, and further declared that SCA-owned lands should be surrounded by a 2km-wide “buffer zone” in which only limited building activity would be permitted.

1.3           Site Definition: The Valley of the Kings 2

2 Known today in Arabic as Wadi Biban el Mouluk (the Valley of the Gates of the Kings) and in antiquity as The Hidden Place or The Great Place

The Valley of the Kings (KV) consists of two branches of a huge West Bank wadi, or valley, in the desert west of the temples at Deir al-Bahari, called the East Valley and West Valley (Figures 6 and Figure 7). The former is the better known because of the 60 tombs that have been found there. There are two royal tombs in the West Valley, plus a few small, undecorated tombs of unidentified royal family members. KV is less than a kilometre from the Nile floodplain as the crow flies, but the road leading to it describes a great arc over five kilometres long.

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Figure 6: Map of East Valley

Wadis are small, steeply sided valleys, arroyos, found throughout the limestone hills of Egypt. They were cut into bedrock millions of years ago by heavy rains that fell almost continuously over the North African landscape, eroding bedrock created millions of years earlier when it lay beneath a great sea called Tethys, the precursor of the Mediterranean. Virtually all exposed bedrock in this part of Egypt is limestone, except for small pieces of chert embedded in the limestone strata (making the bedrock look rather like a bowl of cream and raisins). These chert nodules were used from Palaeolithic times through dynastic times as the material of choice for making tools. There is also an underlying strata of montmorillonite, a dangerously unstable stone also called Esna Shale (in Arabic tafla). Esna shale is known in the Valley of the Kings, and can be seen exposed on several KV hillsides and tombs. When this shale is exposed to water or even high humidity, it expands and can exert tremendous pressure on the limestone strata above it. In the process of expansion, it can seriously damage the tombs that are cut there.

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Figure 7: Map of West Valley

For purposes of this masterplan, we consider the term “Valley of the Kings” to include both the East and West Valleys, the entire watershed defined by the hills surrounding them (Figure 8), and the roads and paths that connect them to the Nile Valley.

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Figure 8: Map of KV Watershed

1.4           Historical Development of KV

1.4.1.       Introduction

The Valley of the Kings served as the burial place of Egypt’s pharaohs during the New Kingdom, from 1550 to 1070 BC. The first ruler to be buried here may have been Thutmes I, the third king of the 18th Dynasty; the last was Rameses XI, last ruler of the 20th Dynasty. In the New Kingdom, for the first time, Egyptians located royal tombs away from the memorial temple. They built the temples along the edge of the cultivation, where they could be reached by religious processions that travelled from Karnak Temple by boat along canals cut through the fields.  The tomb was dug several kilometres away, in the solid, dry bedrock of the isolated and easily guarded Valley of the Kings, Wadi al-Molouk.

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Figure 9: An Example of Wilkinson’s KV Numbering 

During its five centuries of use, 62 tombs were dug in KV. Each has been assigned a number; the first 22 were numbered by John Gardner Wilkinson in the mid-1800s (Figure 9). Wilkinson’s scheme assigned numbers geographically from the entrance of the Valley southward and from west to east.  Since then, tombs have been numbered in order of their discovery, the most recent being KV 62 (King’s Valley tomb 62, the tomb of Tutankhamun, found by Howard Carter in 1922).  KV 5, the tomb of the sons of Rameses II, was rediscovered in 1995, but its entrance had been seen by Wilkinson a century and a half earlier, and was given its number then. In addition, there are about two dozen “commencements,” tomb shafts that were begun but almost immediately abandoned for unknown reasons. The non-royal tombs in KV belonged to various officials, royal family members, and priests.

The Valley of the Kings lies about one kilometre (half mile) west of the Nile floodplain at Thebes (modern Luxor). It is a small wadi cut by torrential rains and erosion during several pluvial periods in the Pleistocene into a thick layer of limestone that lies about a discontinuous stratum of Esna shale. The Valley lies about 70m (230 feet) above the level of the River Nile (140m [460 feet] above mean sea level), and the immediately surrounding hills rise an average of 80m (265 feet) above the valley floor. It was probably chosen as the burial-place of royalty because of its geology, its relatively convenient access from the Nile floodplain, and the pyramid-shaped mountain, “the Qurn,” or “forehead,” rising about 300m (985 feet) above its southern end that perhaps was seen as a symbol of the god Ra.

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Figure 10: The Qurn

1.4.2        Tomb Construction

Tombs in the Valley of the Kings were not all cut to a common plan, but changed through time as ancient priests refined their “map” of the journey made by the pharaoh and sun god through the night sky. The plan of the royal tomb reflected this journey, and the changes to plan are therefore theologically significant. Tombs in the 18th Dynasty were relatively small, with steep corridors curving downward and making several right-angle turns before reaching an oval or rectangular burial chamber. Tombs of the 19th Dynasty had steep corridors leading along a single (or a jogged) axis to a large burial chamber and multiple side-rooms. In the 20th Dynasty, tombs were again smaller, nearly level, with wider and higher corridors and much more elaborate versions of various religious texts (Figure 11).

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Figure 11: Tomb Types by Dynasty

The walls of KV tombs were decorated in carved and painted raised relief, or painted on a layer of plaster applied to the flat, limestone bedrock. After a tomb chamber had been dug, its walls were smoothed, a thin layer of mud plaster mixed with wheat chaff was applied, and then painted with a white or grey wash. Scenes and hieroglyphic texts were outlined in red ink, and then amended, if necessary, by senior scribes and artisans who used black ink to correct spelling errors or change the proportions of figures. Raised relief was carved, the figures modelled, and paint applied. The artist’s palette consisted of only six colours, each made of natural, usually mineral, ingredients: black (made from soot and charcoal), white (gypsum), red (hematite or ochre), yellow (limonite or yellow ochre), blue (ground faience), and green (rarely used; copper, or a mix of yellow and blue pigments).

The selection of a KV site for a royal tomb was made by the vizier and the country’s principal architects, and later affirmed by pharaoh. Early in the New Kingdom, during the 18th Dynasty, preference was often given to sites at the base of the sheer cliffs that surround KV, ideally below gullies through which, in the rare event of rain, a “waterfall” would pour over the cliff and deposit debris over a tomb’s entrance, burying it ever deeper over the centuries. In the late 18th and 19th Dynasties, the preferred location was in lower-lying talus slopes; in the 20th Dynasty, it was one of the small spurs of bedrock that extend from the Valley’s sides into the centre of KV. These changes in preferred location may indicate that 18th Dynasty tombs were intended to be completely and permanently sealed after the burial, while 19th and 20th Dynasty tombs were to remain partially accessible so that ceremonies could continue to be performed in them long after the pharaoh had been interred. In this latter case, it is likely that only the burial chamber and its storerooms would have been permanently closed. The orientation of the tomb was apparently the result of geological considerations, not a desire to align the tomb to any particular cardinal direction. Tomb axes run in compass directions from 68° to 357°. In order correctly to place decoration on their walls, artists arbitrarily assumed that a tomb’s principal axis ran from east to west, from the rising to the setting sun, no matter what its actual direction.

By the later New Kingdom, the Valley of the Kings was filled with tombs, and there were fewer and fewer sites available in which more tombs could be cut.  This crowding posed problems. It seems unlikely that ancient architects maintained a master plan of the valley showing the location of tombs, because we know of three instances in which quarrymen dug a new tomb that collided with an earlier one. When such collisions occurred, the quarrymen presumably had three choices: immediately change the new tomb’s axis and veer away from the earlier tomb; abandon the new tomb and dig elsewhere; or incorporate part of the earlier tomb into the new.

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Figure 12: KV Tombs in Collision

Once a site had been decided upon, rituals were performed to sanctify it. These included digging small pits, as many as four or five of them, into which were placed miniature construction tools, clay and stone vessels, religious symbols, and foodstuffs. These pits are called foundation deposits and they have been found associated with nine KV tombs, though some scholars believe that all the royal tombs had them.

We know a great deal about how KV tombs were cut and decorated, in part because of thousands of objects and inscriptions found in the village of Deir al-Medina. Deir al-Medina lies about a kilometre (mile) south of KV and during the New Kingdom it served as the home and burial-place of the artisans and artists who carved and decorated KV tombs.  The remains of about 70 houses can be seen in the village proper, and during the New Kingdom, about 400 people lived here in small stone dwellings built along a narrow street. Many different specialists lived at Deir al- Medina: quarrymen, plasterers, scribes, sculptors, architects, draftsmen with the skills needed for the preparation of the royal tombs. Their jobs were passed from father to son, and we have records of up to half a dozen generations of a single family employed in KV work. They were paid for their labour in kind: bread, beer, dried fish, onions and other vegetables. Texts found in the village include journals, love letters, business documents, inventories, shopping lists, legal papers—almost every aspect of life is discussed in them—and from them we have learned a great deal about work in the Valley of the Kings.

Quarrymen worked in the tombs in a “left gang” and a “right gang” of up to several dozen men each, each headed by a foreman. These gangs would begin cutting a royal tomb shortly after a new pharaoh ascended the throne and the tomb site has been chosen. They worked with chert tools, one or two men in each gang cutting into the limestone bedrock, others forming basket brigades to carry the debris from the tomb. Their work was lit by oil lamps with linen wicks of carefully measured length; when a wick had burned up—they were designed to burn for four hours—it was time to stop for lunch or to leave for home. Salt was added to the oil to prevent it from smoking. The men worked eight hours a day for eight days, then took a two-day weekend. There were numerous other holidays throughout the year as well, but digging must have been hard and unpleasant work. We know from our own archaeological excavations in KV today that the tombs can be miserably hot, humid, and filled with choking dust. There is an ever-present risk of being cut or bruised by sharp- edged fragments of limestone or of having ceiling blocks weighing several tons collapse on one’s head.

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Figure 13: Ancient Tomb Plan, KV 2, Rameses IV

It was difficult to cut tombs with precision, and the ancient supervisors painted control marks on the walls and ceilings of tombs to help quarrymen ensure a straight axis, or make a 90- degree turn, or properly situate a doorway. Surveying tools were simple but effective: carpenters’ squares determined right angles; plumb bobs assured vertical walls; and a length of string measured length.   With patience and care, these elemental tools permitted highly accurate tomb cutting. There is a papyrus in the Egyptian Museum in Turin on which an ancient architect had drawn a plan of KV 2 (Figure 13), the tomb of Rameses IV, and noted the dimensions of its chambers. We can convert the ancient measurements given there into modern metric units—1 cubit = 52.3cm (20 inches) long, 1 palm = 7.47cm (3 inches) or 1/7 cubit, and 1 digit = 1.87cm (0.8 inches) or palm—and compare them with dimensions we can measure today. If we can assume that the plan was drawn before the tomb was cut, not after it—and this cannot be proven—then the quarrymen came within fractions of a centimetre of achieving what the specifications called for.

The limestone bedrock in which KV tombs were cut is a relatively soft stone that can be easily worked. In many parts of the Valley, the stone is structurally sound, fine-grained and strong. However, in other places, it is heavily fissured and cracked, peppered with tennis ball-sized nodules of hard chert (often-called flint) that make quarrying difficult. (The chert nodules, by the way, were an excellent material for the manufacture of stone tools such as hand-axes, chisels and hammerstones—the very tools used by ancient workmen to quarry KV tombs.  Many such chert tools have been found in KV.) Where the stone was sound, wall decoration could be cut in raised or sunken relief; where it was poor, decoration was painted on thick layers of plaster applied to the walls to provide a smooth surface.

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Figure 14: KV 57, Tomb of Horemhab, Preliminary (red), Corrections (black)

Tomb preparation was a team effort, rather like an assembly line. While quarrymen roughly cut the tomb, other workmen followed behind, more accurately aligning and smoothing the walls and ceiling with sandstone abrasives and making sure that corners and doorways were squared. Behind them, artisans first applied a thin plaster layer to the walls, painted lines to divide walls into scenes and registers, then drew in red ink outlines of the figures and hieroglyphs to be carved there (Figure 14). Senior artists and scribes used black ink to adjust the proportions of figures or correct spelling errors.  Scenes and texts were either carved in raised relief or painted on plaster.

It probably took only a few years to dig and decorate a royal tomb in the Valley of the Kings, even though only 50 or 60 workmen might be involved in the work. When a pharaoh’s tomb was finished, the Deir al-Medina workmen would be free to work on other royal projects, on nobles’ tombs, or on tombs for themselves that were dug adjacent to their village, until the next pharaoh was crowned and his tomb begun.

Royal tombs were sometimes, but by no means always, larger than nobles’ tombs; they varied greatly among themselves in size. As Table 1 shows, there is no correlation between the size of a royal tomb and the regnal length of the pharaoh for whom it was cut. KV 5, tomb of Rameses II’s sons was the largest, and the KV 5 chambers excavated to date cover over 6000 m3.

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Table 1: KV Tombs by Volume and Regnal Length

1.4.3        Tomb Design

The late American Egyptologist Elizabeth Thomas studied the chambers and corridors of New Kingdom royal tombs and assigned to them letter designations according to the function they were intended to serve (Figure 15). Not all royal tombs have all these chambers, and some have more than one of each. The following indicates these chambers, and notes how some of them changed through time. Where known, the ancient names of each room is indicated, but keep in mind that these names are from Rameside texts and may have been different in earlier periods.

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Figure 15: KV 8 (Merenptah) with Chamber Designations

Chamber A: The Tomb Entrance, called “Passage of the Way of Shu.” Shu was god of air, and the entrance was fully open to the sky before the reign of Thutmes IV, partly open after.

Corridor B: First corridor, called the “Passage of Ra,” referring to the fact that in some tombs, depending on their orientation, descent, and plan, this corridor was the farthest that sunlight could penetrate. The Litany of Ra was often inscribed on its walls.

Chamber C: At first, a chamber with a descent, later a stairwell with recesses, then a corridor, “C” (or the niches cut into its walls) was called the “Hall Wherein They Rest.” “They” referred to the statuettes of the thirty-seven gods mentioned in the Solar Litany.

Corridor D: A corridor whose ancient name may simply have been “Second Passage,” and/or “Third Passage.”

Corridor E: “E” was a deep pit or “well,” called the “Hall of Hindering,” once thought to have been cut to prevent floodwater from entering the tomb, or to thwart tomb-robbers. In 1817, Giovanni Belzoni found the corridor beyond the rear wall of “E” in KV 17, the tomb of Seti I, to be blocked and painted. He also found that ancient thieves had used ropes and boards to climb down into the pit and up the other side. The thieves pierced the blocking, then continued into the tomb. If the wells were intended to be security devices, they regularly failed. Several wells have chambers cut off them, and today, Egyptologists believe that they served primarily as the symbolic burial-place of the god Osiris.

Chamber F: This pillared hall is referred to as the “Chariot Hall.” Remains of chariots have been found in the tombs of Thutmes IV and Amenhetep III and in other tombs as well, most notably in KV 62, the tomb of Tutankhamun, and in KV 5. Some Egyptologists have argued that this hall marked the transition between the upper part of the tomb, equated with the “Upper Duat” (a part of the Netherworld), and the lower part, or “Lower Duat.”

Corridors G, H, I: The ancient names of these three rooms are not known. Their functions were apparently simple: to offer additional wall surfaces for decoration and texts and perhaps to provide storage space for funerary goods. Originally a stairwell, “H” later became a corridor, then, at least in KV 57, 8, and 11, a chamber. First a room, “I” became a corridor in later tombs. The Turin plan of KV 2 describes it as “The Ramp.”

Chamber J: The burial chamber, “J,” was in ancient times called the “Hall in Which One Rests,” or the “House of Gold,” clearly references to the sarcophagus and shrines that were placed in it. Another name was “The Hidden Chamber.” The plan of this chamber changed through time, and could be cartouche-shaped, rectangular, pillared, vaulted, and/or with a sunken central floor level. Four small side-chambers (designated Ja-Jd), two of them intended for storing food and drink, two for statuettes and ritual equipment, were often cut through its walls. Occasionally, as in the tombs of Amenhetep III, Horemhab, and Seti I, there might be more than four side chambers.

Chamber K: The “Passage on the Inner Side of the House of Gold,” also called the “Second Passage beyond the House of Gold,” is found in a few tombs. Of unknown designation, it was originally a corridor, later a chamber.

Chamber L: This room of unknown purpose was originally a corridor, later a chamber. It is not often found in KV tombs.

1.4.4        Post-Pharaonic Use

When KV was abandoned at the end of the New Kingdom, no further tombs were dug there, but it soon became a popular tourist destination. Greek and Roman traders travelled to Thebes from Alexandria and the Fayum between 332 BC and 300 AD. Graffiti was carved on monuments and hillsides and numerous graffiti has been found on KV tomb walls, and they used the tombs as campsites. The fires they lit and the food they cooked blackened walls and destroyed painted scenes.

The graffiti are not especially profound, but they are useful indicators of the kinds of tourists who visited Thebes two millennia ago. Their visits were motivated by the tales they heard of the wonderful Colossi of Memnon and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. They would have agreed with Diodorus Siculus (ca. 59 BC) that Thebes, filled with “huge buildings, splendid temples, and other ornaments . . . [was a city] more opulent than the others in Egypt or anywhere else.” And they might have agreed, too, with Diodorus’s disappointment that the opulent remains might originally have been even more so. He wrote that, “while the structures themselves have survived until our era, the silver, gold, and ivory, and a king’s ransom in precious stones, were carried off by the Persians in the time when Cambyses burned the temples of Egypt.” (There is no evidence of this.)

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Figure 16: Christian Graffiti in KV 2, Rameses IV

They were followed by early Christians, who used the tombs as hermitages and sometimes defaced the figures of Egyptian gods, or replaced them with figures from Christian iconography. By the 2nd Century AD, Christianity was the predominant religion in Egypt, and between 451 and 1065 AD, when a great famine hit Egypt and decimated its population, many Theban tombs and temples were converted to monasteries or churches, and statues and scenes of pagan gods were defaced.  This was the beginning of the desecration of dynastic monuments at Thebes. In 390 AD, Constantine removed two obelisks from Thebes to Alexandria, then to the Circus Maximus in Rome and to Istanbul. These were two of the first shipments abroad of Theban monuments. Many more shipments would follow, although not immediately. For more than a millennium after the Coptic period, Thebes was in a dramatic political and economic depression.

1.4.5        Modern Era

There is virtually no mention of Thebes in any text until the 18th Century, and even knowledge of its precise location was lost. The first modern European to “rediscover” Thebes was the Jesuit priest, Claude Sicard, who came in 1726 and realized that the monuments he gazed upon were those of the fabled ancient city. Earlier travellers to Upper Egypt had mistaken Memphis, Antinopolis, and other sites for Thebes, but failed to recognize the town itself. Once it had been rediscovered, however, it became a major source of antiquities for the European market. The number of European visitors to Thebes in the 18th Century was small; but these travellers published journals and commentaries that contributed to the rise of 19th Century interest in ancient Egypt and to the rapidly increasing popularity of Nile Valley travel. Egyptian art and architecture became popular in Europe and interior decorators and architects clamoured for drawings of ancient monuments. One of the first visitors to sketch what he saw at Thebes was the Danish artist and engineer, Frederik Ludwig Norden (1708-1742). Norden sketched in the Ramesseum and gave the first description of a temple relief.

At nine o’clock, in making a sharp turn round the point of a projecting chain of mountains, we discovered all at once the site of the ancient Thebes in its whole extent; this celebrated city, the size of which Homer has characterized by the single expression of with a hundred gates,…this illustrious city…the whole army, suddenly and with one accord, stood in amazement at the sight of its scattered ruins, and clapped their hands with delight, as if the end and object of their glorious toils, and the complete conquest of Egypt, were accomplished and secured by taking possession of the splendid [sic] remains of this ancient metropolis.  Denon on first seeing the West Bank, 1803

Another early visitor, Richard Pococke (1704-1765), made the first map of the Valley of the Kings and drew plans of nine tombs.  He also sketched plans of the Ramesseum and the Ptolemaic temple at Deir el-Medina. James Bruce (1730-1794), who discovered the tomb of Rameses III in the Valley of the Kings (KV), later called “Bruce’s Tomb,” also accurately described how the relief decoration in the temple of Medinat Habu had been carved.

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Figure 17: KV Map, as Drawn by Pococke, 1743

The most important early attempt to record Theban monuments was prompted by Napoleon’s desire to learn more about the country that he sought to conquer. His army was in Egypt in 1799-1801, accompanied by over 130 scholars from all fields of science and the arts. They had instructions to record everything from modern costume to natural history to ancient monuments.  The results of their surveys, published as the Description de l’Égypte, appeared between 1809 and 1828. Two of the 19 folio volumes of plates were devoted to the antiquities of Thebes and gave Europeans their first (mostly) accurate description of its monuments. Two members of this scholarly brigade, Prosper Jollois and Edouard de Villiers, prepared a remarkably accurate map of KV, with plans of several KV tombs and many other Theban monuments.

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Figure 18: 19th Century Watercolour of Antiquities Seller

The Description and other 19th Century works on Egypt whetted Europe’s appetite for things Egyptian and encouraged large numbers of explorers, adventurers, merchants, and scholars to visit Thebes, both to study the monuments and to carry them home.  So, too, did such popular books as Amelia Edwards’s (1831-1892) A Thousand Miles Up the Nile, and paintings of the Theban landscape (both real and imagined) (Figure 18) by such artists as Alma Tadema (1836- 1912), David Wilkie (1785-1841), Edward Lear (1812-1888), John Frederick Lewis (1805-1876), and especially David Roberts (1796-1864).

One of the most successful early travellers was Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778-1859) who had come to Egypt to sell a water-lifting device to the government. He failed at this, but quickly found employment carting antiquities from Theban sites to Europe. A map drawn by Belzoni exists as one of the earliest attempts to record the tombs in KV (Figure 19). His most famous discovery was the tomb of Seti I (KV 17), which is often referred to as “Belzoni’s tomb.”

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Figure 19: KV Map, as Drawn by Belzoni, 1821

Belzoni describes searching for private tombs and antiquities at al-Qurna: “Surrounded by bodies, by heaps of mummies in all directions . . . the blackness of the wall, the faint light given by the candles or torches for want of air, the different objects that surround me, seeming to converse with each other, and the Arabs with the candles or torches in their hands, naked and covered with dust, themselves living mummies, absolutely formed a scene that cannot be described.”

John Gardner Wilkinson (1797-1875), who worked at Thebes in 1824 and 1827-28, copied scenes and inscriptions in the private tombs that eventually led to his hugely successful study of life in ancient Egypt, The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, a masterful ethnography of dynastic times. Wilkinson also surveyed the known tombs in the Valley of the Kings, assigning numbers to the 20 tombs then visible and establishing the numbering system still used today.

After Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered in 1822, the demand for accurate copies of Egyptian texts grew rapidly. Jean François Champollion (1790-1832), who was responsible for the decipherment, recorded texts and scenes at Thebes, and was the first to recognize that royal tomb inscriptions were religious texts, not autobiographical ones. Niccolo Francesco Ippolito Baldessare Rosellini (1800-1843) worked with Champollion and published 400 folio plates of Egyptian texts and scenes. Together with the Description, they were Egyptologists’ principal reference works for many decades, and still remain valuable sources. Champollion’s interest in Thebes was not entirely benign, however. He also worked to cut pieces of wall decoration from the tomb of Seti I and have them installed in the Louvre.

In reply to a complaint from Joseph Bonomi, Champollion wrote: “…one day you will have the pleasure of seeing some of the beautiful bas-reliefs of the tomb of Osirei [Seti I] in the French Museum.  That will be the only way of saving them from imminent destruction and in carrying out this project I shall be acting as a real lover of antiquity, since I shall be taking them away only to preserve and not to sell.”

The greatest of the 19th Century epigraphic expeditions was that of Carl Richard Lepsius (1810- 1884), which resulted in the Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Aethiopien (1859), 894 folio plates of Egyptian texts, reliefs, architectural drawings, panoramas, and maps, including two volumes on the monuments of Thebes. It is the largest Egyptological work ever published, and today, as Egyptian monuments deteriorate, it is an increasingly valuable record of ancient sites. Other epigraphers and artists who worked in Thebes include Edouard Henri Naville (1844-1926) who published four tombs in the Valley of the Kings in 1887, and, assisted by Howard Carter, the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir al-Bahari in 1894-1908.

Photography was used at Thebes by Maxime du Camp (1822-1894), Francis Frith (1822-1898), and other early photographers, but they did not try to produce systematic records of the monuments. Perhaps the first to do that was Felix Guilmant, who made a complete photographic record of the tomb of Rameses IX. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s photographer, Harry Burton (1879-1940), was responsible for several major photographic surveys at Thebes, including complete coverage of the excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun and its objects.

From the 19th Century onward, Egyptian antiquities were much sought after by European collectors and museums. Many tales have been told about gun battles fought between rival expeditions and violent diplomatic rows over objects. But by the early 20th Century, this Wild West Bank image had ended, and the number of objects stolen or sold dramatically declined. It did not cease altogether, however: theft and vandalism still occur at Thebes in spite of the best efforts of authorities to prevent it. The passing of strict antiquities laws in Egypt has helped, as has the listing of Thebes in 1979 as a Unesco World Heritage Site, and Unesco declarations controlling international trade in antiquities. However, as long as there are customers, there will be people willing to supply the market.

Archaeological work in Thebes has varied greatly in methodology over the last 150 years, moving from highly destructive, slipshod ransacking of tombs and temples, to the meticulous analysis of even microscopic remains. Unfortunately, until recently, the former approach was by far the more common.

Excavations funded by the American businessman Theodore Davis (1837-1915) in the Valley of the Kings included work by Howard Carter, Edward Ayrton, and Arthur Weigall. Carter later cleared the tomb of Tutankhamun (discovered in 1922, worked on until 1932), an enormous undertaking that still is not fully published. Arguably, seven excavations have become the best- known of the many conducted at Thebes and have thrust Thebes into international headlines that helped shape people’s image of what ancient Thebes was like. They are: the discovery of the tomb of Seti I by Giovanni Belzoni (1817); the discovery of caches of royal mummies in 1881 (in Deir al- Bahari tomb 320) and 1898 (in the tomb of Amenhetep II); the discovery of the tomb of Nefertari by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1903; James Quibbell’s discovery of the tomb of Yuya and Thuya, the parents of Queen Tiy, in the Valley of the Kings in 1905; the 1922 discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter; and the 1995 discovery by the Theban Mapping Project of KV 5, a tomb of sons of Rameses II.  Interest in the valley grew after the 1922 discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, but concern for the protection of KV tombs came about only in the 1990s. It has resulted in the careful excavation of KV 5, KV 10, KV 14, and KV 16, and in conservation studies of KV 17.

1.4.6        A Move toward Conservation

One of the first visitors to express concern for the preservation of Theban monuments was Richard Pococke. He lamented that, “They are every day destroying these fine morsels of Egyptian Antiquity, and I saw some of the pillars being hewn into millstones.” Auguste Mariette (1821-1881) decried the all-too-common tourist who came to Thebes “with a pot of tar in one hand and a brush in the other, leaving on all the temples the indelible and truly disgraceful record of his passage.” And he begged his colleagues to “preserve Egypt’s monuments with care. 500 years hence Egypt should still be able to show to the scholars who shall visit her the same monuments that we are now describing.” Mariette’s plea was largely ignored, however, and, if anything, the destruction of the monuments became even more common in the later 19th Century.

Some notable examples however should be pointed out. We have records of flood prevention work in KV in the vicinity of KV 17 (Seti I) by J.G. Wilkinson, Robert Hay, and James Burton when they cleared debris from earlier excavations by Belzoni. However, it would take to the end of the 19th Century before the advent of modern scientific archaeology arrived with the work of William Matthew Flinders Petrie. He is often referred to as the father of Egyptology for his achievements in the field.

 “The science of observation, of registration, of recording, was yet unthought-of; nothing had a meaning unless it were an inscription or a sculpture. A year’s work in Egypt made me feel it was a house on fire, so rapid was the destruction going on.”  W. M. Flinders Petrie, 1931

The complete mapping, recording, and surveying of the Valley would not be completed until the end of the 20th Century.  This work is summarized in Chapter 5.


In this section, we shall deal with the present threats to the Valley of the Kings and their underlying causes. Before any attempt can be made to remedy the problems of the site, we must have a clear idea of the condition of its fabric and the processes at play, which have resulted in damage to KV. Only after we identify the threats that affect the sustainability of KV can we develop strategies for their removal or control. We distinguish between threats from the natural environment and threats due to human action.

2.1           The Natural Environment

2.1.1        Geology

The Valley of the Kings was cut into limestone bedrock by torrential rains and massive floods that poured over the African landscape millions of years ago. The limestone lies atop an underlying, discontinuous stratum of Esna shale, about 50m thick. This shale is an unstable, weak, grey looking stone that can expand up to 50 percent in volume when it is exposed to moisture. It can exert tremendous pressure on overlying strata, causing tombs cut within them literally to implode (Figure 20). Such damage has occurred in KV 7, the tomb of Rameses II, whose burial chamber was cut partly into an underlying Esna shale layer, as well as in KV 5, the tomb of the sons of Rameses II. When the shale expanded during various flood events, pressure caused the chambers’ pillars and walls to fracture, and resulted in serious structural damage.

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Figure 20: Destroyed Pillar in KV 5 

The thick layer of limestone is known as the Serai Formation of the Thebes Group. This formation consists of three major layers of limestone (Figure 21), varying in quality from fine, hard, solid stone, like that in KV 5 or KV 57, to the weak and fractured stone found in KV 7 and KV 11.

The lowest layer of the Thebes Group, called Member One (the Hamidat Member), is 120m thick. Most KV tombs were cut into this stratum. Structurally, the stone varies from poor to good. Tombs cut into the layer’s lower parts have been affected by the underlying Esna shale, even though they may not come into direct contact with it. The proximity of Esna shale, and the variable quality of the limestone, means that the condition of the tombs dug here varies considerably. Some tombs, even after 3,000 years, remain structurally sound.  Others have suffered serious damage: pillars have fallen, walls have cracked, chambers have filled with flood-borne debris, ceilings have collapsed, and paint and plaster has disappeared. Tombs such as KV 7, 17 and 47, whose burial chambers graze the shale layer, have experienced serious damage. Others, such as KV 5 or 57 have experienced almost none.

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Figure 21: Geology Cross-section

Extensive fissures and fractures can be seen on KV hillsides where the lower parts of Member One are exposed. These were created about 20,000 years ago due to seismic activity, and can extend hundreds of metres below ground. They have acted as conduits for rainwater to seep into tombs, infiltrating the underlying Esna shale and causing structural problems. The TMP prepared a Valley- wide map of these fractures (Figure 22 and Figure 23), and cleaned and sealed those in the hillside above KV 5 in 1997.

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Figure 22: KV Outcrops & Vertical Fractures

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Figure 23: KV Fractures Cross-Section

The middle layer, Member Two (the Dababiya), is up to 140m thick. It is notable for the fossils it contains. Especially common are large bivalves (Lucina thebaica), starfish, and nummulites, which can be seen in abundance along the footpath over the hill from KV to Deir al-Medina.

The upper layer, Member Three (the Shaghab), is up to 30m thick and has a much more yellowish colour than the layers below. It can be seen in the upper reaches of the Qurn as one walks from KV to the Village du Repos (Deir al-Medina).

A preliminary study was made to evaluate the seismic risk in the KV/Luxor area. Although the archaeological literature occasionally refers to historic earthquake effects in ancient Thebes, this is poorly documented.  A study of historic earthquakes was made based upon studies by Maamaun, et al (1985). Earthquakes listed in that study that are close enough to Luxor to have had any effects are shown in Figure 24.  These earthquakes date as far back as 600 BC and as recently as 1972 AD.  It can be seen in the figure that most of the seismic events of any potential risk in Luxor are about 200km or more away. At this distance, even considering estimated Richter magnitude  6+ earthquakes, the local accelerations in Luxor would be expected to be less than four or five percent of the acceleration of gravity, consistent with the recommendations of the Egyptian Society for Earthquake Engineering (1988).

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Figure 24: Seismic Activity, 300 BC to Present

2.1.2        Topography

The central part KV is clearly defined by sheer cliffs, from 20 to 60m high, which extend around its eastern, southern, and western sides (Figure 25). Tombs were cut into these cliffs early in the New Kingdom. Later, they were dug into the low, rounded hills and steep slopes within the Valley. These low hills are separated from each other by natural pathways stretching like splayed fingers across the valley floor.  KV’s barren upper hillsides are covered by weathered chert nodules and fossils. The low-lying hills are covered with thick layers of limestone chips and sand. Some of this debris comes from the ancient cutting of KV tombs; some comes from 19th and early 20th Century excavations; some is debris dumped when KV pathways were widened and low retaining walls were built; and some is debris washed down from the hills high above KV during rainstorms and resulting flash floods that occur every few decades. The SCA has suggested that all of this debris should be removed down to bedrock, as was done a few years ago in the Valley of the Queens. This will be an expensive and time-consuming project, and it must be done with great care if valuable data is to be recorded. Major aesthetic and hydrological concerns aside, such clearing will uncover extensive ancient workmen’s huts, shrines, foundation deposits, and caches of funerary objects, all of which will require delicate archaeological excavation. The large amount of such material to be found here has been demonstrated by recent Swiss, American, and British clearing operations. Further topographic studies are therefore needed before any further work is carried out.

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Figure 25: KV Topographical Map

2.1.3        Meteorology

Of all the threats to KV none is more serious (or more preventable) than the flooding caused by torrential rains that strike the Valley’s watershed. In minutes, the flash floods these sudden cloudbursts create can wash tons of debris down the KV hillsides and into unprotected tombs. The floodwaters weaken bedrock in which the tombs are cut, destroy their decorated walls, deposit many metres of silt and stone in their chambers, and cause dramatic and damaging changes in the humidity levels within tomb chambers.

For example, the storms that struck Upper Egypt in October and November 1994 did terrible damage. In Upper Egypt generally, the Government reported that over 500 people were killed, 11,000 homes were destroyed, and 25,000 feddans of crops ruined. In Thebes, too, there was considerable destruction to the monuments. In the Valley of the Kings, the storms caused the flooding of several tombs, and the Antiquities Inspectorate was forced to requisition pumps from neighbouring villagers to remove the accumulated water. KV 13, the tomb of Bay, was the most heavily hit: inspectors measured 1.40m of water in its lower chambers. KV 14, 15, 35, and 57, among others, received smaller amounts of rain and debris. During these storms, runoff from the KV watershed cut channels in the valley floor (through a deep layer of limestone chips), and damaged the asphalt road eastward from the new KV resthouse. In the West Valley (WV), one can still see channels two metres deep and three metres wide that were cut through mounds of limestone and sand, and there is plentiful evidence of stones weighing 10 or 15kg being rolled along the WV floor.

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Figure 26a and b: Flooding in KV, 1994

The floodwaters that rushed down the wadi from the KV and WV watersheds were joined by even heavier runoff from more northerly wadis. Near the house of Howard Carter, these streams joined forces, creating a wall of water that some residents of northern Thebes claim was as much as two metres high.  This torrent rushed toward the temple of Seti I, seriously damaging the temple’s enclosure wall and subsidiary buildings, turning limestone stelae and mud brick walls into mush. A few metres north, across the paved road from the temple, grave markers in a modern Muslim cemetery were demolished and the road itself buckled. Just east of the temple, homes in a mud-brick village were reduced to piles of rubble. The whole event took less than 15 minutes. When it was over, several animals had been killed, scores of homes had been destroyed, and hundreds more were damaged. (It is important to note that the pattern of flooding here at the northern end of the Necropolis in 1994 seems to have been very similar to a flash flood that struck in 1949.)

Over the past 90 years, archaeologists have slowly come to realize that flooding in KV is a recurring event that must be dealt with broadly if damage to the ancient monuments is to be prevented. The recent storms, and the historical pattern of storms that we are only now beginning to trace, lend a degree of urgency to this work. Most of these plans are still in elementary stages of design, and all have concentrated on the Valley of the Kings. But although KV forms a discrete watershed, it is nonetheless just one part of a broader area—the northern sector of the Theban Necropolis—that has been subject to rainfall and flooding for at least two centuries.

No one should have been surprised that heavy storms came to Thebes, or that their floodwaters damaged specific, localized areas. The storms of 1994 were only the most recent in a long history of storms, many of which have taken a heavy toll of Theban monuments. A review of the meteorological history of the West Bank (poorly-known though that history is) indicates that the location of these storms is roughly predictable, and that the flooding they cause recurs in the same areas at the same intervals decade after decade. The topography of the West Bank dictates this pattern. This was reaffirmed by a heavy rain in 2005 that caused minor flooding in the same areas as the rains of 1994.     The Regular Recurrence of Storms

Figure 27, based on data prepared for the TMP by Dr. Sherif el-Didy, Professor of Hydrology at Cairo University, and supplemented with information provided to the TMP by the Egyptian Air Force, shows a partial history of storms in the Luxor-Thebes area since the first weather station was established in Luxor in the 1930s. These figures record data for Luxor, specifically the Luxor Airport weather station on the edge of the East Bank desert. Our interest is KV, another 19km west. However, until a weather station is installed on the West Bank (something the TMP is seeking permission to do), this is the best data available. (There was a station that operated in KV briefly in 1997-1998, but it was dismantled and we have not been able to locate its records.) Figure 27 shows the occurrence, each year from the 1940s to the 1990s, of the storms that dropped the greatest amount of rainfall—at least 1mm of rainfall—in a one-hour-long period. If there were several one- hour storms in a single year, only the storm with the heaviest rainfall is charted. The maximum amount of rain that fell in one hour is shown on the vertical scale (although, of course, the storm, if it continued with reduced intensity for more than one hour, may have dropped more than the one- hour amount). Note that the most significant storms seem to come in roughly three- or four-year clusters once every decade or so. Regular yearly patterns of rainfall have been noted in other parts of Egypt, too, although their intervals of recurrence differ from those seen here.

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Figure 27: Storms with Heaviest Rainfall by Decade,   1940-1996

This pattern of three to four years of heavy rain per decade is not perfect, of course. However, each recent major storm dropping more than 5mm of rain in one hour (in 1949, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1989, 1991, 1993, and 1994) usually has fallen within a three- or four-year storm cluster. That a greater number of heavy storms has occurred in more recent decades than in earlier ones may indicate that there is also a longer-term cyclical pattern of storms.

In a letter to his mother in October 1918, Howard Carter wrote: “For three successive Octobers we have had heavy downpours, and this time a peculiar phenomenon occurred.   While we were as dry as a bone, the larger valleys suddenly became seething rivers….The Valley of the Tombs of the Kings,  joined  by  the  Great  Western  valley,  in  a  few  moments  became  little  short  of  mountain rivers…the torrent cutting out wide furows [sic] in the valley bed and rolling before it stones some two  feet  in  diameter—natives  returning  home  with  their  animals  were  unable  to  ford  it,  and  thus were cut off from their homes.”     The Seasonality of Storms

It is also the case that virtually all of the recent heavy storms at Thebes (or at least those for which we have records) occurred in the months of October, November, or early December. Although much less frequent, rainfall has also been seen in Luxor in other months. Villiers Stuart (The Funerary Tent of an Egyptian Queen) noted that it rained in Luxor on February 23, 1882, but only a few drops. A light rain also was reported in February 1896. If Dr. Abdel Aziz Sadek’s interpretation of dates in Theban graffiti of the Rameside period is correct, rains heavy enough to leave ponds of water in the Valley of the Kings (events unusual enough to merit visits and comments by ancient scribes who brought their children to see the phenomena) fell on March 18, 1210 BC (in the reign of Merenptah), and again, less dramatically, on June 6, 1150 BC (in the reign of Rameses IV). In the 20th Century AD, such rains were extremely rare. However, it did rain in March 2005. In the ancient Coptic calendar, the Gregorian months of October and November overlap the months of Tut, Phaophi, and Athyr (the three months of ancient akhet, the Egyptian season immediately following the recession of the Nile flood). In these months, the calendar warns that the weather will be intermittently but regularly windy, rainy, and stormy. There is a similar tradition of heavy October- November rains among the Bedouin of the Western Egyptian Desert.     The Location of Storms

Heavy rains in the Luxor area are remarkably limited in their geographical extent.  One frequently hears of rains falling heavily in one village, while only a few hundred metres away another village remains dry (this is another reason why the Luxor Airport meteorological data is not the best indicator of West Bank weather.) Although there may be some rain falling throughout the Theban Necropolis during a storm, it is rare that the heaviest rains fall in more than a small part of it. In the 1994 storms, for example, light rain fell over the entire Necropolis, but was not serious enough to do damage.  Slightly heavier rains fell over parts of Malkata and Sheikh Abd al-Qurna (causing flooding in TT 139, Pairi). Very heavy rains fell in parts of KV, WV, and in the wadis north of these. In KV, the heaviest rains fell in those very limited areas of the watershed that drain into the south-western most part of the Valley—the hills above tombs KV 13, 14, 15, 31, and 32. There were only small to moderate amounts of water reported in KV 8, 35, 57, and 62. These tombs also lie below the western slopes of the Valley.

Tracing the scarce records of rainfall and flooding in KV in ancient graffiti, the diaries of 19th Century travellers, and the recollections of on-site inspectors and guards, this pattern seems almost always to be the case: there may be drops of rain falling throughout the Valley, but it is the western part of KV, and especially the south-western part, that is subject to the most frequent and heaviest rainfall and consequently that receives the greatest amount of damage. The only KV tombs outside this quadrant that offer historical evidence of serious flooding are KV 5, 10, 17, and 18. None of these was affected by the 1994 storms.

The geographical split of rainfall is illustrated in a letter from Howard Carter to Lord Carnarvon: “…towards the sunset, as the desert cooled, there was a great storm in the Northwest.  No rain fell in the Valley, but from all the washes that ran down from the Theban hills, including the Valley of the Kings  there  was  a  torrent,  which  cut  furrows  four  feet  deep  and  rolled  stones  as  big  as  two  feet across.  The locals were unable to ford the floods when returning from their work in the fields as the area was a vast lake.  Yet no rain fell.”

2.1.4        Flora and Fauna

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Figure 28: Mold in KV 62, Tutankhamen 

KV is a desert wadi devoid of any natural vegetation.  Its only fauna are a few mice (lured by the detritus from tourists’ lunch boxes), and occasional snakes (lured by the mice). There are also a few scorpions, insects, and small birds. In addition, beetles (family Dermestidae) and silverfish (family Lepsimatidae) have been observed in KV tombs. Bats were a problem several decades ago, but today, thanks to screened entrance gates, only KV 20 (Hatshepsut) is inhabited (its gate has been vandalized). The only other flora or fauna are micro-organisms such as fungi and bacteria that infest a few KV tombs. These have had a deleterious effect on decorated walls and are to be seen, for example, on the walls of KV 62.

2.2           Human Intervention

Human activity has occurred at KV in one form or another almost continuously for the past 500,000 years. Here, we provide an overview of these interventions.

2.2.1        Prehistory

The hillsides surrounding KV were used in Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic times (and in Dynastic times, too) as work stations where chert nodules embedded in the limestone bedrock were collected and used to fashion hand-axes, knives, and scrapers. These workstations, first identified in the 1850s (they were the first evidence of the Palaeolithic to be found in Africa), lie along the top of the sheer cliffs that define the Valley of the Kings, and along the footpaths that cross the hillsides.

2.2.2        Dynastic Period

In antiquity, Egyptians cut tombs for their pharaohs in KV and built numerous small huts and shelters near tomb entrances in which to house themselves during their work. Occasionally, ancient engineers were slipshod in their work, were forced to dig in structurally weak bedrock, or accidentally broke into an already-existing tomb. They were fully aware of the variable geology of KV, but time constraints, crowded conditions in KV, and the apparent absence of any overall KV map caused mistakes that we are still trying to correct today.

In ancient times, perhaps only a few years after a tomb was sealed, thieves broke in searching for grave goods to be melted down or refashioned and sold. In their haste to acquire the treasure, the thieves showed no regard for the wall paintings, many times breaking through fragile constructions and damaging the walls.

However, attempts at conservation and restoration of what, even then, were ancient monuments were made during the Pharaonic Period, though not in the Valley of the Kings. Two examples of this are Thutmes IV, who cleared and conserved the Great Sphinx, and Khaemwese, son of Rameses II, who had a special interest in Egypt’s glorious past and restored several pyramids of Old Kingdom pharaohs in Memphis. Khaemwese has been called the first Egyptologist.

2.2.3        Late Antiquity

From Graeco-Roman and early Christian times through the 20th Century, some KV tombs were used as temporary habitation sites by visitors, monks, or excavators. Often, the occupants left graffiti on tomb walls and on the Valley’s cliffs. If ancient, such graffiti are considered a valuable part of the archaeological record; if recent, they are considered acts of vandalism.

2.2.4        19th Century Rediscovery

From the Napoleonic invasion onward, interest in KV was rekindled, attracting visitors and looters alike. The Enlightenment in the 19th Century placed Egypt firmly on the Grand Tour for the elites of Europe. A serious problem caused by these 19th Century visitors was the making of squeezes and rubbings of reliefs, and the use of fires to light their passage. Squeezes were made by pressing wet paper or soft wax against the walls, letting it dry, then pulling it off to use for cast-making. Unfortunately, the wall’s painted surface was pulled off, too. Several tombs have been damaged because of squeezes, none more seriously than KV 17, the tomb of Seti I (Figure 29).

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Figure 29: Damage to KV 17 from 19th Century Squeezes

During this period, the grand museums of Europe, as well as opportunistic and wealthy private collectors, engaged in a campaign of ruthless looting of the antiquities of Egypt. The Valley of the Kings was not exempt from these ventures. Much of the contents of the Valley of the Kings was dismantled, collected, hacked out, and disseminated to the four corners of the world.

“Ours  is  probably  the  last  generation  which  will  be  permitted  to  see  the  glory  of  Egyptian sculpture, as they were first revealed to the explorers at the beginning of the century…the smoke of the travellers’ torches and the disfigurement by travellers’ spoliations, have rendered  the ‛fine gold dim’ in many of the paintings and inscriptions.”  William Howard Russell, 1869

2.2.5        Archaeology

Archaeological work in KV has also done considerable damage to the fabric of the site. Egyptology lags behind many other academic disciplines in its approaches and adoption of new ideas and was late in arriving at the notion of scientific archaeology. Only with the work of Flinders Petrie did the start of systematic recording, and what could be termed scientific archaeology, emerge. For over 80 years Egyptian archaeology has been dominated by the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and many Egyptologists have been guilty of feeling the “lure of gold” and until recent times have, regrettably, acted like treasure hunters.

Archaeologists are too often concerned with their own concession (the area defined by SCA in which they are allowed to work) and not the broader effects of their work on a site. In the past, ill- conceived clearing of tomb chambers has sometimes allowed floodwaters into chambers, which have destroyed fragile painted walls. The removal of debris around pillars has resulted in fractures in the bedrock and even the collapse of ceilings. The debris from excavations, often dumped on adjacent hillsides, has deflected rainwater into nearby tombs. More recently, archaeologists working in KV have failed to clean their work area, leaving behind unsightly piles of rubbish, stone, and gaping holes in the hillsides. Workers contracted to cart away excavation debris have dumped the debris alongside the road to the Valley instead of in more distant wadis in order to save time and money. As a result, the road to KV now offers tourists an unsightly, rubbish-lined drive to the site.

In addition, recent excavations in KV have significantly altered the topography of its watersheds, and hydrological studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s need to be redone before the levels of pathways and the orientation of tomb entrances can be effectively changed and  future floods diverted away from the tombs.

2.2.6        Previous Conservation Attempts

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Figure 30: Protective Screens

Modern attempts at cleaning, consolidating, stabilizing, or “restoring” KV tomb decoration have sometimes done more harm than good. This is also true of the installation of protective devices such as gates, glass panels (Figure 30), handrails, walkways, lights, and environmental controls. An early example of this is the lighting system installed in KV 9 (the tomb of Rameses VI) by Howard Carter nearly 90 years ago. Carter drilled into walls at ceiling level and inserted wooden dowels to support the electric cables that he ran through the tomb to power lamps placed at intervals along its corridors. Original paint and plaster were damaged in the process.

In recent years, foreign missions have undertaken conservation work in KV 5, KV 7, KV 9, KV 10, KV 14, and KV 16, and reports on these projects are available. Unfortunately, no records exist that document the much larger amount of past conservation activity conducted in the Valley by   the SCA. No systematic survey of tomb conditions was even conducted until 2005, and most conservation work has proceeded in an irregular manner, governed by the availability of finances, labour, and materials, and the urgency of the needed work. The majority of the work that has been done thus far is small-scale, such as the filling of cracks and fissures in tomb walls and ceilings, plastering over graffiti (even ancient ones), and the restoration of broken  pillars.  Fluorescent lighting, wooden stairs, ramps, walkways, and hand railings have been installed in many tombs, and large glass panels erected in front of decorated walls. Many problems, such as flaking pigment and the growth of fungi, have largely been ignored.

2.2.7        Structural Changes to KV

Structural changes to KV have been carried out for two main reasons, one for increased visitor access and two for flood protection schemes. The construction of pathways in KV, first undertaken in the 1920s and revised several times since, was done before hydrological studies had been conducted. This has resulted in an increased threat to tombs from flash floods. To widen pathways, for example, workers had to raise them to levels that deflected floodwater into nearby, low-lying tomb entrances. When the road from KV to Carter House was paved, it created a spillway that allowed floodwaters to pour out of KV in great quantity    and with great force into areas like Dira Abu al-Naga, the temple of Seti I, and surrounding villages. As discussed above, in 1994 such a flood destroyed large parts of these areas, causing millions of pounds of damage. Recent construction of diversionary canals and barriers along the road is unlikely to help: the canals are not properly graded and the barriers do not cross the paved roadway.

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Figure 31: KV 17 Flood Walls

Projects to prevent flash flooding within KV from damaging tombs or other parts of the archaeological zone have so far proved unsatisfactory. The hydrological studies on which they were based are outdated because continued excavations over the past decade have transformed the Valley’s topography. Walls, recently constructed around some tomb entrances as flood barriers, are aesthetically inappropriate in KV (Figure 31) and probably ineffective as well.

2.2.8        Tourism

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Figure 32: Visitor Touching Wall

For the last 200 years, KV has been an increasingly popular tourist destination. From a few dozen visitors each day in the mid-1960s to over 7,000 each day in 2005, the pressures on the tombs caused by mass tourism have grown to dangerous levels. Rapid changes in temperature and humidity in the tombs caused by hordes of hot, sweaty tourists pose serious threats to painted decoration. Lack of crowd control and traffic management make a visit to KV unpleasant for tourists and dangerous for monuments. Carelessly sited and poorly constructed tourist infrastructure—toilets, parking, lighting, etc.—threaten the aesthetic character of KV. Touching and accidental abrasion of tomb walls by visitors is an increasingly occurring problem. These will be dealt with in more detail below.

2.2.9        Vandalism and Theft

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Figure 33a and b: Before and After Attempted Theft, KV 43 

Major thefts have been perpetrated from antiquity onward (ancient texts detail some of them), but today such theft is extremely rare in KV, perhaps because of effective policing, harsh fines, and stiff prison sentences. (Antiquities theft is still a problem in Egypt, but most thieves concentrate on the many un-inventoried, unguarded nobles’ tombs used as makeshift storerooms). In fact, very few artefacts or wall fragments from KV have been stolen in the past century. (One example of wall fragments that escaped detection is the pair of door jambs taken from the tomb of Seti I and now reside in the Louvre and Florence). Increased tourism has itself helped to prevent theft, effectively keeping tomb interiors under scrutiny 10 hours a day. One of the few recent examples of attempted theft is the unsuccessful cutting out of a wall section in KV 43 (Figure 33). The attempt failed, but the wall was irreversibly damaged.

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Figure 34a and b: Steps Leading to KV 34, ca. 1910, 1999 

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Figure 35a and b: Entrance to KV 47, ca. 1910, 1999 

Figures 34 and 35 graphically illustrate the changes to the fabric of KV over the last century.

2.3           Summary of KV Risk Factors

High Risk:

  • Flooding
  • Tomb micro-climate
  • Inadequate site management and improper maintenance

Medium Risk:

  • Fractures and structural instability of limestone bedrock
  • Micro-organism and animal intrusion
  • Unsatisfactory conservation
  • Inappropriate flood protection schemes
  • Poorly sited and unaesthetic infrastructure
  • Accidental abrasion and touching of walls by visitors

Low Risk:

  • Landslides
  • Seismic activity
  • Improper excavation
  • Theft and vandalism


“The natural and cultural heritage, diversities and living creatures are major tourism attractions. Excessive  or  poorly  managed  tourism  and  tourism  related  development  threaten  their  physical nature,  integrity  and  significant  characteristics. The ecological setting, culture and lifestyles of host communities may also be degraded, along with the visitor’s experience of the place.” ICOMOS, 1999

3.1           Tourism in Egypt

Historically speaking, tourism has been a key ingredient in Egypt’s economy for about the last two hundred years. However, over the last generation, tourism has become an essential component of the economy and is now the source of 45 percent of the country’s annual foreign currency earnings. Its contribution to GDP is significant and readily quantifiable, but what is more difficult to calculate is the contribution tourism makes to employment levels and, particularly, its indirect effect on industries such as transportation, construction, food & beverage, and recreation.

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Figure 36: Vintage Travel Poster for Egypt

The growth in tourism has been unprecedented: in 1980, one million tourists visited Egypt and generated receipts of over $300 million. By the year 2000, this had grown to 5.5 million tourists with total receipts topping $4.5 billion. Moreover, in 2004, a record 8.1 million tourists visited Egypt, a 34.1 percent increase on the   previous year, with revenues totalling around $6.1 billion (Tables 2 & 3). Furthermore, it is the goal of the Egyptian government to increase the numbers of visitors to 9.5 million and raise cash receipts to $10 billion per annum within the next five years.

A very sizeable investment has been made both by the public and by the private sectors in the infrastructure the tourist industry requires, and in all budgetary planning by the Egyptian government an assumption is made that this infrastructure will need to grow to accommodate an ever-increasing number of tourists. Millions of dollars are spent annually to encourage and promote tourism, most recently in neighbouring Arab countries, which now represent a growing sector of the Egyptian tourist market.   It has been argued that a few “high-end” tourists would maintain and increase tourism-based profits while imposing fewer pressures on the archaeological and natural resources. Egypt, however, has committed itself (due to ministerial decisions made decades ago) to the pursuit of mass tourism, and that pattern is unlikely to change in the near future. However, some diversification of the tourism product has occurred from the traditionally based cultural heritage tours, as summarized below.

The Egyptian Tourist Authority identifies 16 categories of tourist attractions & types of tourism:

  • Pharaonic Egypt
  • Graeco-Roman Egypt
  • Coptic Egypt
  • Islamic Egypt
  • Diving Resorts
  • Museums
  • Safari
  • Conferences
  • Natural Parks
  • Resorts
  • Golf
  • Nile Cruises
  • Oases
  • Modern Egypt
  • Sports
  • Therapeutic Tourism

3.1.1        Tourist Statistics

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Table 2: Tourist Arrivals Egypt, 1995-2004 

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Table 3: Tourist Arrivals Egypt, 1995-2004

As discussed above growth of tourism has progressed at an unprecedented rate. Despite some setbacks in 1997 with the terror attacks on tourists in Cairo and Luxor the market recovered fairly quickly. Again, a small downturn was felt after the September 11th attacks in the USA in 2001 and during the ensuing Afghanistan and lraqi conflicts, however the tourism product in Egypt has shown itself to be very resilient. More recent local events (bombings in Taba and Sharm el-Sheikh in 2005) have caused a slight dip in tourist figures, however these have recovered quickly. Many have suggested that in light of global events such as the London and Madrid bombings tourists are suffering from terrorism fatigue and even though concerned by these events, will not let that affect their holiday plans

3.1.2 Effects of Tourism

Until very recently growth in tourism was thought achievable without imposing any negative effects on Egypt’s cultural heritage resource. Tourism was considered a non-consumable industry and was accepted as an essential component of the country’s development strategy. In fact, it was regarded as essential to the success of Egypt’s economy. With hindsight, this turned out not to be true; tourism does consume resources of the host nation, not just natural and human-made resources, but cultural ones, too. Cultural resources are finite and have to be managed like any other scarce resource. This new reality is one with which the Egyptian authorities are now having to deal. The goal of previous administrations re the archaeological heritage was to maximise revenue by a duel approach of opening more sites to visitors and promoting visits through advertising and high profile overseas tours of antiquities. This approach is now being challenged and revised by many.

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Figure 37: Tourism and Cultural Heritage in Egypt

Until very recently, Egypt had been slow to embrace change in the development of its tourism strategy. Many now however, are calling for a revised approach to tourism and the implementation of a code of practice for tourism. The following is an example of a proposal compiled by ICOMOS, which could be revised and remodelled for the Egyptian market:

  • Comprehensive tourist development plans are essential as the pre-condition for developing any tourist potential.
  • It should be a fundamental principle of any tourist development plan that both conservation, in its widest sense, and tourism benefit from it. This principle should be part of the constitutional purpose of all national tourist agencies, and of local authority tourism and recreational departments.
  • A significant proportion of revenue earned from tourism should be applied for the benefit of conservation, both nationally and regionally.
  • The best long-term interests of the people living and working in any host community should be the primary determining factor in selecting options for tourist development.
  • Educational programmes should assist and invite tourists to respect and understand the local way of life, culture, history and religion. Tourism policy should take these factors into account.
  • The design of new buildings, sites and transport systems should minimize the potentially harmful visual effects of tourism. Pollution controls should be built into all forms of infrastructure. Where sites of great natural beauty are concerned, the intrusion of human- made structures should be avoided if possible.
  • Good management should define the level of acceptable tourism development and provide controls to maintain that level.

3.2           Tourism in Luxor

Luxor is a medium-sized town by Egyptian standards, with a population of approximately 150,000. Despite this, the town, because of its importance to the economy of Egypt, was declared a medina (city) by presidential decree in 1989. Until then, Luxor had been part of the al-Qurna administrative Governorate. Administratively, the City of Luxor also includes the five   adjacent villages (Karnak, Karnak al-Gadid, al-Qurna, Manshiyya and Awammiya) which swell the population to 360,000.

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Figure 38: Modern Sign in Luxor

The presidential decree granting Luxor city status gives its bureaucrats a unique position in Egyptian politics, in that they report direct to the office of the President of the Republic, with authority over government ministries within the cities” boundaries. This gives the governor a great deal of say in decisions affecting the future of Luxor.

The history of Luxor in many ways is also the history of international tourism in Egypt: as the tourist market expanded, so did Luxor. What was once a village has now become a city whose very existence is primarily dependent upon the continued growth in mass tourism. Luxor is one of Egypt’s wealthiest cities; however, it is unlike the rest of Egypt, in that there is almost no other industry in Luxor’s economic sector other than tourism. A large proportion of the population works either directly or indirectly in the tourism industry. However, much of the economic benefit from tourism in Luxor feeds into the overall Egyptian economy, not to the city of Luxor.

Tourist accommodations and facilities are mainly situated on the East Bank of the Nile, in four- and five-star hotels, and an ever-increasing fleet of cruise boats (currently over 225 boats operate on the Nile with a capacity of 12,300 rooms). Recently, however, there has been a flurry of small hotel construction on the West Bank. These hotels cater mainly to independent travellers and archaeologists working in the area. Figures 39a and b illustrate the changes made to the fabric of life in Luxor over the last 200 years.

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Figure 39a and b: The Changing Face of Luxor Temple

In 1976, the council of ministers issued Decree 134 designating Luxor a tourist zone, which requires that all new construction must be approved by the Ministry of Tourism. The two main tenants of the order state that:

  • No urban or hotel development shall take place on the West Bank of the Nile, expect for the relocation of people living above or near tombs
  • Environmental protection/conservation zones shall be established around the monuments of both East and West Bank

These rules have been applied somewhat arbitrarily, in some cases construction is allowed close to the monuments and in other cases, buildings are demolished when constructed illegally. This construction does not directly affect KV, however it has had a detrimental effect on other parts of the West Bank, particularly the area around the memorial temples. Point one, referring to the relocation of people living close to the tombs, has been a contentious issue for many years. Several unsuccessful attempts have been made over the last century to move the inhabitants of Qurna, and as we go to press, a further attempt at relocation is due to take place.

“A more balanced interpretation of the archaeological past requires a management plan for the Luxor/West  Bank  archaeological  zone  which  is  sympathetic  to  the  view  that  the  ancient  dynastic cemeteries were never the deserted places which notions of a national park or an open-air-museum attempt to invoke.”  Kees Van der Spek, 2006

Due to its importance to the overall economy of Egypt, Luxor has been the focus of many planning initiatives (Figure 40). Twenty years of planning for the future of Luxor have produced at least twelve separate plans for the city (that we are aware of). These cover such diverse issues as poverty eradication, job creation, heritage protection, tourism and urban planning. However, what they all have in common is a policy of segregation and specialization between districts and activities. One such concept is the goal to declare Luxor, an ‘Open-Air Museum’ or ‘Heritage Zone’. This has been actively promoted for the last five years, and if implemented would result in further isolation of visitors from the local community and the creation of ‘enclave’ tourism. Despite the fact that the stated goals of many of these plans and initiatives for Luxor are to protect the cultural heritage, to promote international tourism, and to further the interests of the local community.

These projects require a high level of co-operation between stakeholders if they are to be successful, each one should not just be consider on its own merits but on its broader implications for the community, the heritage and the future of Luxor.

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Figure 40: History of Urban Planning Proposals in Luxor

3.3           Tourism in KV

The Valley of the Kings is by far the most visited SCA site in the Luxor area. Data is not available but it would be safe to say of that of the tourists visiting cultural heritage attractions in the city, 100% of them visit KV. It appears on almost all tourist itineraries and independent travellers single out the site for a visit. The figures for 2004 (Table 4) show that 1.8 Million visitors came to KV, approximately 5,000 per day on average. This is a rise of almost 40% on the attendance figures for 2003, whilst some of this is a recovery from the effects of global terrorism the underlying trend is for continued growth.

3.3.1        Tourist Statistics

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Table 4: KV Visitor Numbers 2000-2004, by Month

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Table 5: KV Visitor Numbers by Month, 2000-2004

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Table 6: KV Visitor Numbers 2004, Egyptian & Foreign

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Table 7: KV Visitor Numbers 2004, Egyptian & Foreign

3.3.2        Effects of Tourism

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Figure 41a and b: Entrance to KV, ca. 1910, 1996

As the images above show, the Valley of the Kings has dramatically altered in the last century. Mass tourism has had a huge impact on its physical and natural environment. The changes made to accommodate the rise in visitors have been substantial. These include:

  • The widening of roads and pathways
  • The construction of shelters, benches, rest houses and toilets
  • The provision of cafeterias, security points and site offices
  • The erection of signage

In planning for tourism in the Valley of the Kings, we must assume that visitor numbers will increase annually. Indeed, the Ministry of Tourism has stated that its goal is to have visitor numbers double and even treble within the next 10 years.  To prevent irreversible damage to the monuments, a KV management plan must assume that the current rate of 7,000 visitors per day in KV will reach 15,000-20,000 per day by 2014. Therefore, facilities designed today must have extra capacity built in at the design stage.


One of the preliminary and essential parts of research for the Valley of the Kings Masterplan was to identify and consult the stakeholders of the site. These parties have an interest in any future development of the Valley. The inclusion of their views and their “buy up” of any future schemes is essential to their successful implementation. Consequently, a comprehensive list of the stakeholders was identified and from this, a strategy devised on how best to collect their views. In Stage One we targeted visitors, tour guides, site staff, and the local community of KV. In Stage Two, a questionnaire was placed online on the Theban Mapping Project website at www.thebanmappingproject.com and the views of visitors to the site were solicited.

4.1           Stakeholder Survey Stage One—Site Survey

In June 2004, we commissioned the Social Research Center of the American University in Cairo to conduct a survey of the selected stakeholders.

4.1.1        Methodology     Valley of the Kings Stakeholders

Fourteen major stakeholder groups were identified, and for the purposes of our survey the groups were subdivided by types.

  • Archaeologists & scholars
  • Egyptian Environmental Affairs Authority (EEAA)
  • Tourists3
  • Red Sea day trippers
  • Cruisers
  • Hotel groups
  • Solo/Individual/Backpackers
  • Repeat travellers
  • Egyptian nationals
  • Tourism professionals
  • Tour operators
  • Tour guides
  • Taxi drivers
  • Bus drivers
  • Merchants
  • Site staff
  • Inspectors
  • Maintenance staff
  • Guards
  • Cleaners
  • Toilet staff
  • Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)/Ministry of Culture (MOC)
  • Ministry of Tourism (MOT)
  • Security/Military
  • City of Luxor Council
  • Local community
  • World Heritage Organization—UNESCO/ICOMOS
  • World Monuments Fund (WMF)
  • Donors/Sponsors

3 Stage One survey targets in bold face     Objectives of the Study

The Valley of the Kings stakeholder consultation examined the opinions of tourists, tour operators, local vendors, KV staff, and the local community on the following issues facing the site:

  • Congestion and crowding
  • Quantity and quality of visitor services
  • Maintenance
  • Management
  • Safety

The findings of the study will help in the design of the planned Visitors Center and the completion of the Valley of the Kings Masterplan.     Study Design

The study utilized both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The quantitative approach included self-administered interviews with visitors and tour guides. Because of time constraints, it was decided to conduct the study in June 2004.  In order to have a representative sample, a week was selected in this month and the interviews were conducted during that week. The interviews were conducted throughout the day (morning and afternoon). The interviewers made 610 interviews with visitors representing 44 different nationalities. In addition, 208 interviews were conducted with tourist guides. The qualitative approach consisted of six focus groups discussions. Two focus group discussions were conducted with merchants, two with KV staff, and two with local community residents.     Study Instruments

Two questionnaires were developed for the quantitative study: one for visitors, the other for guides.  The questionnaires collected information on:

• Background characteristics (sex, age, nationality, etc.)

• Perceptions of visitor services available at KV (shops, toilets, “tuf-tuf” train, parking, access to tombs, etc.)

• Suggestions to improve visits to KV

The questionnaires were developed by the TMP and the SRC and reviewed by Dr. Zahi Hawass of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. In addition to the Arabic version, the visitor questionnaire was translated into English, French, German, and Italian.

The discussions with focus groups covered the following points:


  • The connection of participants to KV
  • Participants’ opinions on the benefits and problems with KV
  • Suggestions to improve the present situation at KV


Three interviewers were involved in each focus group discussion: a supervisor, a moderator, and a note-taker.   The discussions were recorded using a cassette recorder.     Fieldwork Recruitment of Staff

Six interviewers and two supervisors were recruited to work alongside the Conservation Manager of the TMP. Fieldworkers and office editors were selected from those with good past experience in such surveys.

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Figure 42: Stakeholder Survey Staff Training

Training of the interviewers took place in the first week of June 2004. The training course consisted of instructions regarding interviewing techniques, field procedures, and a detailed review of items on the questionnaires.  An orientation session met on the West Bank in Luxor before the fieldwork began. This consisted of a tour of the antiquities area, an introduction to the Valley of the Kings, and a brief presentation regarding the issues affecting the site. Main Fieldwork

The field staff consisted of one team. During fieldwork, the team was regrouped as necessary for quantitative and qualitative studies. Two supervisors were recruited for quality assurance. The fieldwork was conducted June 13-19, 2004. Table 8 represents the number of questionnaires completion by language over the fieldwork period.

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Table 8: Completed Questionnaires by Language, June 13-17, 2004     Data Processing

After the original data collection and field editing of questionnaires for completeness and consistency, special editors were recruited to carry out office editing and coding.

Data entry and verification started after one week of office data processing.  The process of data entry including-editing,  cleaning,  and  one  100 percent re-entry-was  facilitated  using  PCs  and  a computer database program  developed  specially  for this  survey.  Data processing operations for the questionnaires were completed by the end of June 2004.  The focus group discussions were analyzed by a specialist in qualitative approaches.  Quality Control Measures

The quality of the data collected was ensured by:


  • Selecting qualified field staff
  • Field editing (by supervisors)
  • Field checks by general supervisors
  • Office editing
  • Re-entry of 100% of questionnaires     Limitations of the Study

Because of restrictions on time, this study was conducted in the middle of June 2004. The timing and limited nature of the survey may affect the survey in the following ways:


  • There are fewer visitors at this time compared to other months in the year, especially the cooler winter months (Table 4). The lower numbers of visitors influences visitor opinions regarding the adequacy and efficiency of available services at KV.
  • A disagreement between guide and visitor opinion may occur. The guides’ opinion reflects the satisfaction with services provided throughout the whole year, while the visitors’ opinion is based only on one visit (in the majority of cases).
  • A slight bias may result because this is a one-time survey. A less biased study design would have to represent all the months (or at least seasons) of the year.


Table 9 represents the visitor numbers during the period of the study and actual sample size and sample fraction of the visitors during each day of the fieldwork.

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Table 9: KV Ticket Sales, June 13-17, 2004 

4.1.2        Characteristics of Respondents

For all respondents, the study questionnaire included questions about the date and time of the interview, age and gender of respondents, and size of the group. The guide questionnaire included additional questions about languages fluently spoken, education, residence, and work experience. In contrast, the visitor questionnaire included additional questions about the number of visits to Egypt, the number of visits to KV, duration of visit to Egypt and to KV, type of travel (independent or with organized group), the number accompanying the visitor, and the method of transportation to KV.     Characteristics of Guides


  • Gender: The majority of guides are male (92 percent).
  • Age: More than one half of the guides (53 percent) are in their 30s; approximately 27 percent are younger, and 20 percent are older. The mean age of the sample is approximately 34 years.
  • Languages fluently spoken: More than 64 percent of the sampled guides speak English, 26 percent speak German, 21 percent speak French or Spanish, 13 percent speak Italian, and small percentages speak other languages.
  • Education: Most of the guides have graduate or postgraduate studies in Hotels and Tourism (56 percent), languages (43 percent), or archaeology (9 percent).
  • Place of residence: Many of the guides (38 percent) live in Luxor, 40 percent in Cairo or Giza, 13 percent in the Red Sea governorate or Aswan, and approximately 6 percent in Lower Egypt.
  • Work experience: More than a quarter of the guides (26 percent) have work experience of less than five years; approximately 40 percent of them have 10 or more years work experience. The mean number of years of work experience is eight years.
  • Number of visitors to KV: Number of visitors in the group: Many of the groups are small. Approximately two-fifths of the groups (39 percent) have fewer than 10 visitors, and in about one-fifth have 30 or more visitors. The mean group size is approximately 17 visitors.     Characteristics of Visitors

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Figure 43: Visitors Completing Survey


  • Country of origin: The distribution of sampled visitors according to their country of origin shows that the majority are Europeans, and that Germany and Great Britain have the largest shares (17 percent and 14 percent, respectively).
  • Gender: The results show that the sample is evenly distributed by gender (47 percent of the visitors are male and 53 percent are female).
  • Age: The majority of visitors (about 70 percent) are 20-49 years old. About 4 percent are less than 20 years of old, and a quarter is 50 or more years old.
  • Number of visits to Egypt: More than four-fifths (82 percent) of the visitors are visiting Egypt for the first time and only about 18 percent visited Egypt more than once. The mean number of visits is 1.7.
  • Number of visits to KV: Approximately 89 percent of the visitors are visiting KV for the first time and only 11 percent visited it before. The mean number of KV visits is 1.5.
  • Alone or with family/friends: Most of the visitors are visiting Egypt with their families or friends (47 percent and 40 percent, respectively). The mean size of the number accompanying the visitor is 5.4 people. Only 13 percent of the visitors came alone.
  • Independent or with organized group: More than four-fifths (83 percent) of the visitors come to Egypt as part of an organized group. The mean size of the group is 18.8 people. Approximately 17 percent of the visitors came to Egypt independently.
  • Duration of visit to Egypt: Almost all visitors (97 percent) spend less than three weeks in Egypt. The mean duration of their visit is about 12 days.
  • Duration of visit to Luxor: Approximately two-thirds of visitors spend only one or two days in Luxor. The mean duration of their visit to Luxor is 3.4 days.


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Table 10: Background Characteristics of Visitors

4.1.3        Perceptions of the Valley of the Kings

Visitors and guides were asked their opinion of services inside KV. Both the visitor questionnaire and the guide questionnaire collected respondents’ views concerning shopping, transportation, management of visits to tombs, toilets, and crowding inside KV.     Shopping

Table 11 presents the visitors’ and guides’ views regarding the shopping area, number of shops, availability of merchandise, size of shops, and the experience of shopping in KV. The findings indicate that visitors are more satisfied with the shopping situation in KV than are the guides. Around four-fifths of visitors found the shopping area, number of shops, availability of merchandise, and the size of shops to be appropriate. Despite this result, only 70 percent of visitors enjoyed the shopping area. Regarding guides’ opinion on shopping at KV, slightly more than 40 percent of guides found the shopping area appropriate. These results imply that satisfaction with shopping area at KV is related to the length of experience with the KV. Guides, with more experience than visitors, are less satisfied, visitors who visited KV more than once are also less satisfied with shopping in KV than first-time visitors.

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Table 11: Opinions about Retail Outlets at KV     Transportation

Visitors were asked how they came to KV on the day of the survey. Table 12 indicates that the majority (71.3 percent) came by coach and that 11 percent used a taxi. A noticeable percentage (17.7 percent) used other means of transportation such as bicycles, donkeys, private vehicles, etc. The results also indicate that visitors who travelled independently are more likely to use a taxi (34.6 percent) or other means of transportation (35.6 percent) than a coach (29.8 percent).

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Table 12: Method of Transportation to KV

Both visitors and guides were asked their opinion on the bus park location and the “tuf-tuf” (a small train used inside the KV). Table 13 presents these results. The findings indicate that guides find more problems with transportation than do visitors. When asked about the suitability of the bus park location, slightly more than half of guides and 92 percent of visitors said it was in a suitable position. Around 75 percent of guides and 35 percent of visitors said that the bus park has an environmental impact on KV (pollution and/or noise). The results also indicate that the majority of guides (77.8 percent) and visitors (94.3 percent) saw the “tuf-tuf”’ train as an appropriate service for KV.

Despite these results, 53.8 percent of guides and 11.1 percent of visitors thought that the appearance of the “tuf-tuf” train is not appropriate for the KV. Moreover, slightly less than a quarter of visitors and two-thirds of guides said that the “tuf-tuf” train caused pollution and/or noise in KV. Minor differentials are observed in the visitors’ responses by the number of visits to the KV and the type of visitor (alone or with group).

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Table 13: Opinions about Transportation at KV     Management of Visits to Tombs

Visitors were asked about the number of tombs they visited on the day of the survey and the time they spent inside KV. Table 14 shows that the majority of visitors visited three tombs (69 percent) and around one-fifth of visitors visited four or more tombs. The mean number of tombs visited was 3.35. However, repeat visitors were more likely to enter four or more tombs compared with first-time visitors (30.2 percent compared to 20.9 percent).

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Table 14: Number of Tombs Visited

Slightly less than one-third of visitors spent between 90 minutes and two hours in their visit to the KV.  In addition, Table 15 reveals that less than two percent stayed less than half an hour and 17.2 percent stayed more than two hours. On average, the visitor stayed 108.6 minutes inside the KV.

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Table 15: Duration of Visit to KV

Guides and visitors were asked about the opening hours, the number of visitors, and the environment inside the tombs in the KV. Around four-fifths of guides and slightly more than 90 percent of visitors said that the opening hours of the tombs were appropriate (Table 16).  When asked their opinion on the numbers present in the tombs, 86.2 percent of guides and 46.8 of visitors said the tombs were crowded. The internal climate in the tombs is considered uncomfortable (hot and/or humid) by 86.3 percent of guides and 54 percent of visitors.

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Table 16: Opinions on Visit to KV     Toilets

The toilets in KV consist of one mobile porta-loo. Visitors and guides were asked questions regarding the suitability of the system, the location of the porta-loo, and whether they experienced queues at the toilets. The findings (Table 17) indicate that guides have more complaints about the system of toilets than visitors have. Partially, this result is due to the time of the survey. The survey was conducted in June, a month when the number of visitors is low. Two-thirds of the guides and one-quarter of the visitors found the porta-loos and their location suitable. The majority of guides (86.5 percent) and one-third of visitors experienced queues at the toilets. Again, this result is partly due to visitor opinion being based on their limited experience (and the day of their visit), while guides’ answers reflect a longer experience of the site.

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Table 17: Opinions of Toilet Facilities in KV     Visits to Tombs

Guides were asked about the tombs they visited on the day of survey to assess the tombs more likely to be visited and, therefore, under pressure from visitor numbers. The majority of guides (82.9 percent) visited the tomb of Rameses V and Rameses VI (KV9) (Table 18). Two-thirds of guides (65.2 percent) visited the tomb of Rameses III (KV 11), and slightly more than half (51.9 percent) visited the tomb of Rameses IX (KV 6). More than a third of guides (38.1 percent) of guides visited Rameses IV (KV 2). Other tombs were visited by minor percentages of guides. Over seven percent of visitors claimed to have visited closed tombs, probably because of misremembered tomb numbers or pharaohs’ names.

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Table 18: Tombs Visited by Guides during Survey

Table 19 summarizes the answers of guides when asked “what was the most enjoyable part of your group’s visit to KV,” and the answers given by visitors. A significant percentage of guides and visitors gave general answers, such as “the tombs” (around 30 percent of visitors and 23 percent of guides).  Complementing what was observed in Table 19, Rameses V & VI (KV 9) was mentioned by a high percentage of guides and visitors: just over half the of guides (51.8 percent) and about third of visitors (29.7 percent). Eight percent of visitors and 25 percent of guides felt that the tomb of Rameses III was the most enjoyable part of their visit to KV. Table 19 shows that parts of KV were mentioned by some visitors that were not mentioned by guides. There were limited responses from visitors about certain surprising aspects of their experience, such as “the guides are very good,” “going to the Valley by donkey,” “walking around the Valley and visiting the ancient theatre.”

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Table 19: Most Enjoyable Aspects of Visit

4.1.4        Stakeholder Suggestions

The final question on both the visitor and guide questionnaires is deliberately phrased as an open question, to allow participants to contribute their own views regarding the future direction of management plans for the Valley of the Kings.  We asked, “In your opinion, how could we improve a visit to the Valley of the Kings?” The number of responses received was staggering and covered many diverse areas in the operation of the site. In order to assess these contributions, we have subdivided the responses into five main categories and one miscellaneous section:

  • Visitor Services
  • Site Infrastructure
  • Visitor Management
  • Site Information
  • Tomb Access
  • Miscellaneous     Visitor Services

Table 20 deals with suggestions for improving general services in the Valley. What is overwhelmingly demanded by both guides and visitors are facilities for refreshments: a cafeteria, snack shop, or cold-water sales. In fact 44 % of the guides raised this as a particular concern, and among visitors, 25 percent noted the lack of any refreshment facilities. The harsh environmental conditions at the site, not only in June, when the survey took place, but also throughout the year, strongly influenced suggestions received regarding the improvement of the visitor experience. Furthermore, some visitors suggested making umbrellas and hats available (1.9 percent). (Whether these were to be sold or rented was not made clear.) However, the provision of goods and services such as drinks, umbrellas, and hats could be a lucrative source of funding-profit for vendors.

Other noteworthy areas of concern included a higher profile for the Valley through promotional campaigns, the provision of enhanced medical services—which was particularly singled out by the guides (5.1 percent)—and the overall improvement of visitor services throughout the site.

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Table 20: Stakeholder Suggestions-Visitor Services     Site Infrastructure

Options suggested for improving the infrastructure of the site from both the guides’ and the visitors’ points of view, focused on the provision of effective sun protection and clean and readily available toilets (Table 21).

Over 45 percent of the guides felt that the provision of more and/or larger rest houses and shelters would improve the visitor experience. Concern about protection from the sun was also expressed by almost one-fifth (19.4 percent) of the visitors. In second place was the desire for clean and accessible toilet facilities. Over one-third of guides (35.9 percent) mentioned this and over one- eighth (13.2%) of the visitors felt improvement was needed.

Additional concerns raised by the guides were the need to find a replacement for the “tuf-tuf” train (eight percent) and the need to re-design entrance gates to deal with large numbers of visitors (3.5 percent). Visitors, however, were more concerned with lighting systems in the tombs, with approximately four percent of the visitors asking for an enhanced system of illumination, compared with just half a percent of guides. This is probably due to the recently introduced guiding ban within the tombs, which means that the guides no longer enter the tombs. The effect of this ban is felt by about one percent of visitors who suggested that an audio guide system be made available for the tombs; something, which, not surprisingly, no guide felt, needed to be introduced.  Finally, a more radical solution was suggested by some to negate the impact of large numbers of visitors to the site. This was the provision of replicas of key tombs or a complete copy of the entire Valley.

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Table 21: Stakeholder Suggestions—Site Infrastructure     Site Management

The treatment of their visitors while at the Valley of the Kings is a pressing concern to many of the guides, with almost a quarter (23.8 percent) concerned at the way in which merchants, freelance traders, and site staff interact with the visitors (Table 22). This concern, however, does not appear to be shared by the visitors; less than five percent of visitors (4.1%) raised issues relating to negative interaction with traders, staff, and local people. The future location of the bus park in relation to the electric train starting point is an important consideration to over two percent of guides (2.5%).

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Table 22: Stakeholder Suggestions—Site Management     Site Information

The need to improve the present signage in the Valley was raised by many of the guides (Table 23). The key areas of concern are the numbers of boards currently available for guiding, with almost one-fifth (19.7%) suggesting more information panels. However, the visitors were less concerned with the provision of information panels, with only three percent raising the matter, along with only two percent expressing any concern with the level of general signage throughout the Valley. Interestingly, the visitors suggested the need to have the information panels produced in multiple languages (2.2%), a concern the guides did not share. A small percentage of guides (one percent) suggested providing additional information for the visitors in the form of site information leaflets.

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Table 23: Stakeholder Suggestions—Site Information     Tombs and Ticketing

Issues surrounding access to the tombs are of obvious concern to many guides and visitors, and they produced a large number of suggestions and comments (Table 24). The main proposal was to open more tombs, both those currently closed for restoration and those, which have never been made available for the public to visit. This was cited by 22 percent of guides and six percent of visitors. In addition, longer opening hours, especially in the summer months, was suggested by 13 percent of guides and five percent of visitors.

The interior conditions of the tombs were also of concern, with the provision for environmental controls suggested by four percent of guides and seven percent of visitors. Other tomb protection strategies included the control of visitor numbers within a tomb (four percent of guides, 1.3 percent of visitors), protecting all the opened tombs with protective glass screens (5.1 percent of guides, 0.5 percent of visitors), and the enforcement of the camera ban within the tombs (5.6 percent of guides). In contrast, six percent of visitors felt that they should be allowed to use cameras and video cameras without further payment.

Concerning the current ticketing system in the Valley, several suggestions were made to alter present procedures; these included redesigning the current tickets (5.1 percent of guides, 0.5 percent of visitors), the inclusion of the tomb of Tutankhamun on the current entry ticket (1.1 percent of visitors), and an increase in the number of tombs available on one ticket (1.6 percent of visitors).

Three percent of tour guides felt that the present schedules of tour companies would benefit from an arrangement of schedule sharing in order to avoid overcrowding at certain times of the day and particular days of the week. The issue of controlling visitor flow was also raised by one percent of the guides, who suggested the use of timed tickets.

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Table 24: Stakeholder Suggestions—Tombs and Ticketing     Miscellaneous

The responses in Table 25 were difficult to categorize and have therefore been placed under the heading “miscellaneous.” However, they do offer several insights into the workings of the Valley, including the sentiment shared by one-tenth (10.8 percent) of visitors who feel that the site is perfect as it is and should be left unaltered; only 0.5 percent of guides shared this view.

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Table 25: Stakeholder Suggestions—Miscellaneous

4.1.5        Analysis of Qualitative Data

As discussed in the introduction, six focus group discussions were conducted, two with merchants, two with workers at KV, and two with local community residents. In general, the focus group discussions investigated the experience of the participants with KV and their suggestions to improve services there.     The Merchants

Two focus groups discussions were conducted with merchants. Ten sellers participated in the two groups (five in each one). On average they have been working in these jobs for 11 years; one had worked as a souvenir seller for 30 years. All of the traders working at the Valley operate on annual contracts from Luxor City Council.

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Figure 44: Merchant Area

The following questions were asked during the discussion:

A. Are you satisfied with your business?

A common feeling of dissatisfaction about work conditions was recorded among all the respondents. Some of the complaints are:

  • There is no cafeteria
  • The toilets are far away from the shopping area
  • Vendors are not allowed to sell water bottles and soft drinks
  • The shelters over their outlets are insufficient
  • Mosquitoes are a persistent problem and the city council should use insecticide early in the morning before opening
  • The retail area is not clean
  • The bazaar is not sheltered from the sun
  • Tourist guides mistreat the sellers and advise the tourists only to buy from shops whose owners the guides like
  • The authorities impose a fine if a trader exceeds his unit’s defined area
  • The authorities take traders handcuffed like criminals to jail if the fines are not paid

Typical quotations from merchants: “The tourism police treat us like drug dealers if they find a bottle of water with us.”

“FIFA has the right to refuse our request to organize the Football World Cup 2010; I can’t find anything well organized in Egypt to be proud of.”

B. What are the changes you have noticed in the last few years?

The traders in the focus group discussions found conditions in previous years better than the present day because then they were allowed to sell water and soft drinks. Furthermore, visitors now buy goods directly from local factories and not from the retail shops. As a result, the merchants’ goods are left in the sun for long periods and are ruined. The respondents also mentioned the constant attention from tourism police who are now posted outside the Valley.

C. Is the market suitable, and how can it be improved?

As seen from the above responses, the market is thoroughly unsuitable. It needs such basic services as toilets, a cafeteria, umbrellas, constant spraying of insecticide, regular cleaning, and specific times set aside by guides for tourists to shop before or after their visit in the Valley.

D. Are you satisfied with your income? What are the problems you face with the tourists, and how can they be solved?

With regards to income, the merchants all claim to be satisfied. They claim to have no problems with the tourists; their problems are with the guides, who always hurry their groups past the retail area. One of the respondents said: “I overheard one of the guides tell his group in English to be wary of the shopkeepers, because they are all thieves and have infectious diseases. He thought that we are uneducated and couldn’t understand him.”

Some of the participants said their income in the past was more than now. They observed that tourist guides take the groups directly to factories to get commissions, but that factories are illegal, while the retail shops at KV are legal. One respondent suffers monetarily because he and his partner cannot work at the same time, as the authorities do not allow two persons in a shop.

E. What does KV represent for you?

KV is very important for the merchants and represents for them:

  • The only source of income and work for those without industrial or agricultural opportunities
  • Their national heritage, historical civilization, and impressive ancient history
  • A great landmark to be proud of

F. How can the increasing number of tourists be dealt with in the future?

The antiques sellers in the focus group discussions mentioned many ways to improve the KV in the future.  Some of these suggestions are:

  • The parking lot should be widened and expanded
  • All the shops should have the same size and appearance
  • Each shop should specialize, its wares: one sells galabeyas, another drinks, etc.
  • The shopping area should be covered
  • The bazaars should be parallel to each other
  • The conditions of the shop licenses should be designed more in the sellers’ favour
  • The place should be tidy
  • Toilets should be available
  • The Valley should be opened at night
  • A sound and light show could be produced     KV Staff

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Figure 45: KV Staff

Two focus group discussions were conducted with workers at the KV, one with seven supervisors and the other with seven workers. The supervisors’ focus group discussion included the guards’ supervisors, cleanliness supervisors, and inspectors. The workers’ focus group discussion included restorers, restorers’ assistants, guards, cleanliness workers, and an electrician. The following points were covered during the discussions:

A. Are you satisfied with your job? How could the work conditions be improved?


Although the supervisors were generally satisfied, they had a few complaints:

  • They work continuously for 12 hours a day
  • The number of guards is inadequate
  • Restorers lack necessary chemicals and trained assistants
  • Tombs need cooling systems
  • As white cement is now prohibited, they are forced to use lime and the natural powder from the hills, which is more difficult, and harkens back to the time of the pharaohs
  • The cleanliness supervisor asked for more equipment and ashtrays

One  supervisor  remarked:  “Here  we  deal  with  tombs,  which  is  totally  different  from  temples; they need special treatment, but we can’t find the appropriate materials or trained workers.”


The workers harbour the following concerns:

  • They work continuously for 12 hours a day
  • They are exposed to dangerous materials
  • The system of awarding bonuses is unfair
  • Some work without contracts and therefore have no benefits
  • They have no official papers from the tourism authority
  • They have no medical insurance or pension plan
  • There are no vacations; they must gain permission from the supervisors for days off
  • Some have worked unpaid for the last four months
  • They lack tools and equipment
  • The ventilation system in the tombs borders on being dangerous
  • The system of rotating guards is inadequate

Two representative quotations from workers in KV: “I went to Luxor city to issue my new ID card, but they told me you have to stamp your papers, the authority in Cairo told me that they can’t stamp my papers because I’m a temporary worker, is that fair?”

“I have been working as an antiquities restorer for 21 years now; I know everything about my work, wooden scaffolds, ceilings, walls, ladders, chemicals, and the repair mixture. We work in very bad conditions, the deepness of the tomb could be 300m, the amount of oxygen is not sufficient. But if we talk about our rights or complain, they threaten us, we just need some fairness, we just need our rights.”

B. How many hours do you work?


A guards’ supervisor does not have specific working hours. They usually inspect the tombs every two or three hours. The other respondents typically work for about nine hours a day.


Guards do not have specific working hours; they are on duty for 24 hours, and then rest for 24 hours. The rest of the respondents work for about nine hours a day.

C. Are you satisfied with your income, and how has the Valley changed over time?


The supervisors claim to be satisfied with their income. Of the changes that have occurred in the Valley over time, the supervisors mentioned:

  • The new shelters
  • The restorers now have a laboratory and work more scientifically
  • There are glass walls in the tombs to protect the walls
  • The tombs’ gates are now well-designed
  • There is now a computer in the inspector’s room
  • The road to the tomb of Thutmes III is now wider
  • Technical improvements: electricity in the tombs now working on three lines, not only one as before
  • Two inspectors pass by daily and report on the restorers’ work


None of the workers is satisfied with the salaries and consider the income insufficient. The changes that have happened in the Valley and mentioned by the workers include:

  • Glass protection screens in the tombs
  • The wooden scaffolds
  • Improved electricity supply
  • Improved cleanliness
  • The area is now highly secured

D. What problems concern you in the work?

Both supervisors and workers mentioned the lack of transportation for the employees to the KV as a main problem. In addition, workers again cited the low salaries.

E. Do you notice any increase in the number of tourists?

Supervisors and workers both observed an annual increase in the number of tourists to KV.

One  respondent  remarked:  “There  are  more  tourists  in  winter  than  in  summer,  but  generally speaking there is an increasing number of tourists every year, and there are many new nationalities.”

F. How do you deal with the tourists, and do you have problems with them?


Three of the respondents have no direct link to the tourists, but the rest mentioned that the main problem with the tourists is the use of photography, particularly flash photography, inside the tombs. They feel this is the fault of the guides, who do not tell their groups that flash photography is prohibited. The solution they suggest is to prohibit all cameras inside the tombs. The respondents also mentioned the fact that the guides do not tell their groups that Tutankhamun’s tomb requires a separate ticket, forcing people to go all the way back to the main gate to get tickets. This is an avoidable inconvenience, which is particularly hard on elderly people.


None of the respondents has a direct link to the tourists.

G. How can the increasing number of tourists be dealt with in the future?


The supervisors discussed many points, some technical, and made the following suggestions:

  • A cooling system inside the tombs is needed
  • Limit number of visitors for each tomb per day
  • Open more tombs
  • Widen the parking area
  • Have more coordination between the East and West Bank tourist convoys
  • With regards to the Japanese project (Visitors Center) and its services: toilets, cafeteria, panorama, etc.

H. Do you think that the number of open tombs is adequate?

The respondents agreed that the number of open tombs and the visiting hours are adequate. They commented on the future Visitors Center’s large screen production that will provide information about the Valley and its tombs, enabling the tourists to decide which tombs they want to visit.

Workers suggested that more tombs be opened in the winter.

I. What would you like accomplished in KV?


  • Make the tourists feel comfortable
  • Find a good solution for the ticketing system, either writing details of a visit on the ticket, or making guards use a small punch, but do not tear the ticket
  • Have a first aid station


  • A cafeteria
  • Shelters with more fans
  • More glass walls inside the tombs
  • Cooling inside the tombs
  • Modern cleanliness equipment     Local Community Residents

“One essential element in improving the encounter between tourists and local populations lies in the participation in and, ultimately, control over the protection and management of sites by the local people themselves, as well as their sharing in the profits which derive from tourism…Ways must be found  to  develop  tourism  so  as  to  preserve  both  the  cultural  and  natural  resources,  whilst  also inviting the substantive participation  of local communities; that is, a tourism which can be part of sustainable development.”  UNESCO, 1996

Two focus group discussions were conducted in two hamlets: al-Hassasna and al-Sawalem, both in al-Qurna. Five villagers attended each of the focus group discussions. The participants were farmers, alabaster sellers, traders, etc. None of the participants worked in KV. The following points were covered during the focus group discussions:

A. Do the tourists who visit KV come to your village?

Most tourists visit the village, the alabaster factories, and the agricultural area. Some eat lunch in small restaurants, take photographs, buy gifts, and walk around the village. A small number ride horses and camels.

These visits are considered an important source of the participants’ income. They also know about the tourists’ ideas, culture, and attitudes.

B. Have you ever visited the Valley and the tombs?

In the al-Hassasna focus group discussion, only one of the respondents had visited the Valley and the tombs before. The rest had seen the Valley from outside, but had never been to the tombs.

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Figure 46: Modern Qurna

In the al-Sawalem focus group discussion, all of the participants had visited the Valley more than once, either with their families and relatives or to meet tour guides and drivers. One of the traders, an archaeology student, had visited the Valley more often than the others.

C. Do the tour buses affect your village?

Some respondents said that tour buses have a positive effect on their village and they want more of them. Others mentioned the effect of bus exhaust fumes, noise, and general environmental safety.

D. What can be done to enhance visitor satisfaction in KV?

When asked to suggest ways to improve the situation at KV, the participants mentioned many necessary services and more general suggestions:

  • Cafeteria
  • Toilets
  • First aid centre
  • Phone booths
  • Road signs
  • Fire station
  • Lining the road with trees
  • Extending the working hours into the night
  • Sound and light show
  • Determining specific times to have tourists visit the alabaster factories and bazaars

4.1.6        Conclusions & Recommendations

As discussed above, the purpose of this study was to collate the views of the stakeholders of the Valley of the Kings. The study successfully collated the views of over 600 visitors and 200 guides and included holding in-depth discussions with over 30 site workers and community residents. We can happily state that we have achieved our goals. But more than that, we received remarkable support and enthusiasm for the masterplan from a large percentage of the stakeholders we consulted.

What nearly all the consultations indicated was the high regard in which the Valley is held by visitors and the local community alike. The overwhelming majority of visitors had positive things to say about KV.  This can be seen in Table 26, which shows that over 80 percent of visitors would pay a return visit.

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Table 26: Visitor Satisfaction

The ground swell of goodwill highlighted by this survey is a valuable tool in the successful implementation of the Valley of the Kings Masterplan. The utilization of this resource will result in a more successful implementation and guarantee the long-term success of the plan.

The main proposals gleaned from this survey are:

  • The provision of a cafeteria
  • Improved toilet and shelter facilities
  • The night opening of the site
  • Improvements to the retail facilities
  • Improved conservation of the tombs
  • Improved cleaning of the site
  • Amendment of ticketing procedures
  • Improvement to visitor flow

4.2           Stakeholder Survey Phase Two—Online Survey

In October 2004, we launched the second part of our stakeholder consultation. This was an online survey placed on the Theban Mapping Project website at www.thebanmappingproject.com.

4.2.1        Methodology

Fourteen stakeholder groups were identified in above. The goal of the online survey was to target the academic community, repeat visitors to KV, visitors to the Theban Mapping Project website and the wider international community.

The opinion of these stakeholders was sought on the following issues facing the site:

  • Perceptions of KV
  • Quantity and quality of visitor services
  • Role of the Visitor Centre
  • Recommendations for the future

The study by its nature (online self-administered questionnaire) was only quantitative. We made announcements through various email and web-based communities, including the Egypt Exploration Society (EES), Egyptologists Electronic Forum (EES), Amun Yahoo Group, university mailing lists, including University College London (UCL) and the American University in Cairo (AUC). We also mailed requests to TMP newsletter subscribers.

An announcement was also made on the front page of the TMP website, soliciting contributions (the website receives an average of five million hits monthly, and was therefore ideally suited to attract repeat visitors to KV and other interested parties).

TMP Website Announcement:

Last year (2003), the Theban Mapping Project was asked by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, to take the lead role in developing a masterplan for managing the Valley of the Kings.

In antiquity, the valley was the burial place of the Egyptian elite for over five hundred years, and for the last three thousand years it has been the focus of attention from scholars, travellers and tourists. Today, after centuries of damage and looting, the valley is facing its most severe challenge: its future preservation hangs in the balance. Unless swift, radical and all-encompassing action is undertaken, we may see the destruction of this site within the next twenty-five years. The problems facing the valley today come predominantly from human intervention, but in addition, there are natural threats that have to be managed. The sheer number of visitors brings countless problems, ranging from damage to the fabric of the site to issues surrounding the provision of tourist facilities appropriate to the site and the visitors.

The first stage of developing this masterplan is a consultation process involving as many interested parties as possible and we are particularly interested in the views and suggestions of previous visitors. Therefore, we invite you to take part in our online survey.

The questionnaire had 25 questions, some closed but most with open answers, and appeared in English, the language of the TMP website. A copy of the questionnaire appears in Appendix II. The study remained on the website for six months and, when it was closed, 504 questionnaires had been submitted. Coding of the data was carried out in the Cairo office of the TMP by intern Joseph Lehner.

Throughout the following results from the Online Survey, we have given typical examples of comments and suggestions received.

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Figure 47: Screen Capture of Online Survey

4.2.2        Background Characteristics of Respondents     Country of Origin

The spread of contributors to the online survey covers 39 countries (Table 27). Of these, the United Kingdom (47.62%) and the United States of America (15.48%) dominate the responses received. This is to be expected as both the questionnaire and the TMP website are written in the English language. Other English-speaking nations also figure highly with Australia and Canada both contributing 4.76% and New Zealand 0.99% of the completed surveys. This gives the English- speaking nations a total share of over 73% of responses. This must be taken into account when considering the data. However, the fact that so many other nations contributed is encouraging and further studies could target the under-represented nations.

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Table 27: Background Characteristics-Country of Origin     Gender

The sample is slightly skewed in the representation of females: 56% of respondents were female and 43% of the responses were male.  The remaining 1% left the question blank.

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Table 28a and b:  Background Characteristics-Gender     Age

The majority of respondents were in the age ranges 26-45 (42%) and 46-65 (43%). This is consistent with the community that was targeted.

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Table 29a and b: Background Characteristics-Age     Number of Visits to Egypt

A large number had only visited Egypt once yet many respondents had made multiple visits including 19 (3.77%) who had been over 20 times. The number who have visited more than 10 times is over 10%. This is clearly an audience who will have strong views on any plans for KV.

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Table 30a and b: Background Characteristics-Visits to Egypt     Visits to KV

With visits to KV, the results mirror the findings for visits to Egypt. Overwhelmingly most respondents had only visited KV once (44.84%). However, we also had a significant group (6.35%) who had been more than 10 times.

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Table 31: Background Characteristics-Visits to KV

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Table 32: Background Characteristics-Visits to KV     Last Visit to KV

For the majority the last visit to KV was within the last two years (57.14%); however, a sizeable number had not visited for over five years (18.26%). This is important to consider, as a considerable change in visitor numbers has occurred over this time.

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Table 33: Background Characteristics-Last Year of Visit

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Table 34: Background Characteristics-Last Year of Visit     Type of Traveller

This is the principal difference between the stakeholder survey carried out in KV and the online survey. Here we have a roughly even split between independent travellers (51%) and group travellers (47%), compared with 17 % and 83% respectively in the previous study in KV. Again, this is due to the nature of the target audience.

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Table 35: Background Characteristics-Type of Traveller     Mode of Transport to KV

Visitors were asked how they travelled to KV on their last visit. Only 48% did so by bus, compared to 71% in our onsite survey.  This change is due to the large sample of independent travellers in this survey. What js encouraging is that some 12% of visitors used a non-polluting alternative to the motor vehicle, whether by foot, bicycle, or donkey.

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Table 36a and b: Stakeholder Perceptions-Transport to KV

4.2.3        Perceptions of the Valley of the Kings     First Impressions

Overwhelmingly, the responses are positive. Visitors are overcome by awe, enthused, and feel that reality exceeds their expectations. However, negative issues and statements arise as well. Typical responses include:


  • Desolate and barren when you block out the tourists.”
  • “What a difference between 1978 and 2004. What a crowd!”
  • “I’d wanted to go there all my life.  I just stood in amazement.  It was wonderful and everything that I had expected.”
  • ”Everything I had ever imagined and more.  However, it was swamped by large organized tour groups, and I was worried about their impact on the tombs and surrounding landscape.”
  • “While some parts definitely looked wild and untamed, a great portion of it seemed to have been modified for the convenience of visitors. The West Valley, however, seemed almost totally wild.”     Shopping Area

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Figure 48: KV Vendors & Tourists

A large percentage (45%) disliked this area and the experience of walking through it to reach the tombs. This was mirrored in many comments received about the level of harassment and intimidation, experienced when passing through the vendors. This should be compared to the 70% who enjoyed the shopping area in the previous poll.

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Table 37a and b: Stakeholder Perceptions-Shopping Area     Parking Area

There is a sure pattern of like and dislike among the visitors; however, many of the individuals appear to recognize the “necessary evil” of having a parking area.  Some people focused on the fact that the parking lot should not detract away from the experience of the visit, but that without the parking area the visit may not have been possible. Many suggested moving the area farther away to protect the Valley and enhance the sense of place.  Those individuals, with responses marked as “other,” chose to answer the question with suggestions irrelevant to the asked questions, or experienced the parking area but with no real feelings towards it-neither liking nor disliking the parking. Overall, 49% of those surveyed liked it.

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Table 38: Stakeholder Perceptions–Parking Area     Transport within KV

A similar pattern to the responses on parking emerges here with the views on the “tuf-tuf ‘ train that transports visitors from the parking area to the security entrance. Most respondents were m1concerned with it (32%) or in fact approved of it (57%). However, those who did not approve (18%) were very vocal in their condemnation, as illustrated below.

  • “Visitors should be strongly encouraged to walk the short distance. I appreciate there are those unable to walk for whom transport may be needed but there is a big difference between ‘can’t walk’ & ‘can’t be bothered to walk.”‘
  • “Diesel train is a novelty but a little electric tram on rails would be better for the environment it’s in, i.e. fumes & vibrations.”
  • “Too touristy. Should remove Disney style trains and hawkers stands. No respect for history or cultural importance of site. Dirty. Too much litter.”

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Table 39: Stakeholder Perceptions-Transport within KV

4.2.4        Visitor Management

“I would hate to see more tourist buildings. Part of what I loved about my visit, was how you can imagine how it was (KV) in the past.”     Ticketing and Admissions

Ticket Sales Location

We asked the question: Currently tickets can only be purchased at the entrance to the Valley. Would you like to see ticket sales elsewhere? If so, where?

51 percent of respondents felt that ticket sales would be beneficial in other areas. Their suggestions included:

  • An additional booth within KV
  • Main ticket office on West Bank
  • Ferry terminal, East or West Bank.
  • ln Cairo, Luxor, etc., at other antiquities sites & museums
  • ln hotels and cruise boats
  • Travel agents
  • On the internet
  • Tourist Information centres in Egypt and/or overseas


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Table 40: Stakeholder Perceptions-Ticket Sales Location

We also asked: Would you be willing to pay a greater admission charge?

A large majority (71%) were happy to do this, although many added the caveat that the increased charges should go towards the conservation of the site.

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Table 41: Stakeholder Perceptions-Admission Charge Increase

On the matter of the opening hours we asked: Are the opening hours of the tombs convenient? What changes could usefully be made?

67 percent were happy with the current system; however, many asked for increased hours in the evenings especially through the hot summer months.

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Table 42: Stakeholder Perceptions-Opening Hour Sufficiency     Tomb Visits

We asked: On your last trip, how many tombs did you visit?

Just over half the sample (51.97%) visited three or fewer tombs. This is in contrast to 69% who visited three or fewer tombs during our onsite survey.

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Table 43: Stakeholder Experience-Number of Tombs Visited

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Table 44: Stakeholder Experience-Number of Tombs Visited

Length of visit

We asked: How long did you stay in the Valley of the Kings?

Here we found a large difference with our KV sample, with 42% of respondents spending over three hours in KV compared with an average visit of 108 minutes for the onsite respondents. Furthermore, 21% of those answering the online questionnaire spent more than half a day visiting KV. Here we are dealing with a core of regular, well-informed, enthusiastic visitors.

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Table 45: Stakeholder Experience-Length of Visit to KV

Crowded Tombs

We asked: Did you find the tombs crowded?

The responses here show a clear split in opinions. We have an almost equal number of those who felt the tombs were crowded as the ones who considered them not crowded or were undecided in their opinion. Some typical responses from visitors who had found the tombs crowded are:

  • “Everyone is clustered around about three tombs-where the large groups go”
  • “Crowded-too many in a given tomb at one time”

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Table 46a and b: Stakeholder Perceptions-Crowded Tombs

Tomb Conditions

We asked: Did you find the tombs hot, humid, or comfortable?

Here again we see opinion almost evenly split between those who found the tombs comfortable (46%) and those that found them hot and humid (44%). What we are seeing here is a result of the views expressed over a long period of time both by first-time visitors and the more experienced visitor who will avoid the peak periods.

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Table 47: Stakeholder Perceptions-Tomb Conditions


We asked: Guides are not permitted to lecture in the tombs. Do you approve of this restriction?

This restriction, which was first brought into force in 2002, has the seal of approval of 64% of the responders.

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Table 48: Stakeholder Experience-Guide Ban

Photo Ban

We asked: Did the photography ban in the tombs affect your visit?

Again we see that the ban has general approval with 62% saying it did not affect their visit. However, many felt that the rules were easily broken, as evident from the following comments:

  • “For a few Euros to the attendant you can take all the photos you want.”
  • “It seemed to me that the tourists took very little notice of the guards and continued with flash and touching walls.”

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Table 49a and b: Stakeholder Experience-Photo Ban     Site Facilities


We asked: Were security procedures appropriate?

67 percent felt that site security was appropriate.

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Table 50a and b: Stakeholder Perceptions–Appropriate Security


We asked: Were the bathroom facilities suitable?

Of those that used them, a majority felt that the bathrooms were not suitable and need replacing as well as a change of location. However, a large number (32%) did not see or use them.

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Table 51a and b: Stakeholder Experience-Suitable Bathrooms

4.2.5 Conclusions & Recommendations

Many of the suggestions and comments received in the online survey mirror the concerns of the participants in our earlier KV study. They call for better site facilities including a new cafeteria, new toilets and improved shelter for visitors. They want to see extended opening hours in the summer months and a solution to running the gauntlet of the vendors in the present retail area. They want new options for the purchasing of tickets and a guarantee that funds will be used for conservation of the site. However, the responses we received were in more detailed than previously and have, therefore given us a greater insight into the views and wishes of the many stakeholders of KV. One recurring request is that information about KV and the tombs currently open should be made available on the internet and at selected locations in Luxor and that site specific information should be made available in KV.

  • “Lack of shade and lack of official guidebooks.”
  • “After the car park, etc., KV is beautiful. In places, it remains almost desolate even when busy. Do not spoil this impression!”
  • “Fantastic for ruins but signage and control over site rather lacking.”
  • “How intrusive the tarmac can be.”
  • “Need more signage encouraging people to visit tombs at the end of the Valley.”
  • “Explanations on signs and tickets why numbers must be restricted to save the tombs.”

Considering all this, it is positive to note that when questioned whether one would consider returning to the Valley, an overwhelming 92% of the population surveyed says they will “absolutely,” “definitely,’” “surely,” etc., be coming back; many had, in fact, already booked tours or trips.

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Table 52a and b: Stakeholder Experience-Return Visit

4.3           Other Stakeholders

There are many stakeholders involved in the future of KV (section Due to time and financial constraints this report has not been able solicit the views of all of the organizations and individuals connected with KV. What follows below js a review of these bodies and their relationship with KV.

The Ministry of Culture, of which the Supreme Council for Antiquities is a part, bears the primary responsibility Egypt’s monuments. The SCA is a large, bureaucratically complex organization that currently employs over 19,000 people. Many of its administrators believe that only by making the SCA a separate ministry (as is done in several other archaeologically-rich countries), substantially scaling down the size of its staff, and introducing regular, professional programs of training, will it become up to the task of protecting Egypt’s rich patrimony.

The Ministry of Tourism is responsible for encouraging and managing tourism in Egypt, and as such, its primary goal has been to bring as many tourists to Egypt’s monuments as possible. There is nothing inherently antithetical about the goals of the SCA and the Ministry of Tourism if there is close cooperation between them, but this has not usually been the case.

The Governor of Luxor City Council is responsible for the co-ordination of the activities of government ministries in Luxor. He sits with the ministries on the High Council of Luxor. As such, its decisions on road building, water, sewage, electrical supplies, and the growth of local villages impact directly on the archaeological monuments.

The Ministry of the Interior controls the Tourism and Antiquities Police who are responsible for the security of tourists on archaeological sites and the protection of archaeological monuments from theft and vandalism. They have a direct say in matters such as opening hours of sites and crowd control with sites.

International organizations such as Unesco, while appearing to have no direct role in the management of KV, have a powerful role to play in influencing public perceptions of cultural heritage and in brokering responsible behaviour in government ministries. Pressure can be put to bear if inappropriate decisions are made and training and guidance provided for site staff.

Tour agencies within Egypt and externally are a powerful lobbying group, often with direct access to government ministries. They can have a huge impact on site conservation and they are an essential part of any future planning of visitor numbers and access controls.


“There were several reasons why we began our Theban survey in the Valley of the Kings and not elsewhere in the necropolis. The rapid increase in mass tourism that had begun in the late 1970s seemed likely to continue. It was especially heavy in KV, and careful planning would be required to keep the tourist threat to a minimum. Nonetheless, tourism and archaeological preservation are not necessarily antagonistic, so long as tourism is properly controlled.” Kent Weeks, 1998

Eighteen KV tombs are suitable for opening to the public (Table 53), usually 11 at a time on a rotating schedule. The other 44 tombs in the Valley are closed to visitors, some because of the need to protect them, some because they have not been cleared, some because they are undergoing restoration, some because they are of no interest except to specialists. Therefore, the condition surveys undertaken by the TMP have focused on this pool of tombs.

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Table 53: KV Tombs Accessible to Tourists

5.1           Previous Work by the TMP

People have been digging in the Valley of the Kings since antiquity, and the chronicles of their work are told in some detail in Nicholas Reeves and Richard Wilkinson’s book, The Complete Valley of the Kings. However, the history of conservation work, touristic development, and recent archaeology in KV has yet to be written. At the present time, there are six missions working in the Valley: the Japanese in the tomb of Amenhetep III; the French in the tomb of Rameses II; the Swiss in the various habitation sites dotting the East Valley; the Americans in the tomb of Amenmeses; the British in the area between KV 9 and KV 57; and the Theban Mapping Project in KV 5 and around the Valley generally (Appendix V).

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Figure 49: Surveying in KV5

The Theban Mapping Project (TMP) was established in 1979 to prepare a detailed archaeological map and database of the Theban Necropolis. Its goal is to establish an historical and contemporary record of all the monuments in this 10km² World Heritage Site, beginning with the Valley of the Kings. It firmly believes that, if these ancient remains are to be preserved, the first and most essential step is to make detailed studies that record every archaeological, geological, and ethnographic feature at Thebes and regularly monitor the condition of its monuments. To date, the TMP has achieved the following goals:

It has compiled copies of all known maps, published and unpublished, of the Valley of the Kings. Together, these maps document the Valley’s changing topography over the past 250 years.

It has compiled an archive of historical photographs and engravings from the late 18th Century onward that document changes in the Valley’s appearance and track the history of touristic developments (such as footpaths and retaining walls) and the patterns of previous flash floods.

It has acquired aerial photographs of the Valley. The earliest dates from 1918, but the most important are the 1949 survey made by the RAF, the 1969 survey of the French CNRS, the 1980 photographic survey made for the TMP by Egypt’s Academy of Scientific Research, a 1986 Egyptian Air Force survey, and the 1992 survey made for Waseda University. In addition, we are in the process of commissioning new satellite imagery of the West Bank to update imagery acquired by the Center of Documentation in 2003. The TMP has also made extensive use of hot air balloons to obtain oblique colour photographs of all the significant features on the West Bank.

It has collected existing topographic maps of the area and has prepared its own topographic map of the Valley of the Kings. The TMP map was published, together with detailed plans, sections, and axonometric drawings of all accessible KV tombs, in its Atlas of the Valley of the Kings (2000, reprinted, 2002, new edition, 2003, reprinted 2005).

It has conducted extensive geological, hydrological and structural surveys of the Valley of the Kings, and these reports have been published in its KV 5: A Preliminary Report on the Excavation of the Tomb of the Sons of Rameses II in the Valley of the Kings (2000, reprinted, 2002, revised edition, 2005).

It has developed plans for the protection of tombs in case of future flash flooding and rainfall (published in the KV 5 volume).

It has designed and installed interpretive signs for visitors to the valley: general maps of the valley, signs indicating which tombs are open to the public and detailed signs specific to individual tombs, describing their most important features, illustrated with photos and tomb plans. The signs are laser-printed on aluminium sheets to withstand the harsh environment of the Valley.

It has published an Arabic-language booklet on the Valley of the Kings intended for Arabic students who visit the Valley as part of their school history courses. An initial printing of 5,000 copies has sold out and is being reprinted by the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

It has made several KV tombs wheelchair-accessible by constructing ramps over sills in chamber doorways. Wheelchair-accessible tombs are identified on TMP signs.

It relocated KV5, the tomb of the sons of Rameses II, and has devoted over 10 years to its clearing and preservation. It discovered that the tomb was the largest ever dug in the Valley of the Kings and one of the largest ever-found in Egypt. It was published in the KV5 Preliminary Report (cited above) and updates appear regularly on the TMP’s website. The discovery made headlines around the world and appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1995.

It has developed a website, www.thebanmappingproject.com, on which it publishes all the information it has assembled, including detailed maps, plans, photographs, and descriptions of all KV tombs, articles on Valley-related subjects, and zoomable aerial photographs of the entire Theban Necropolis. The site, which receives over six million hits each month, is the recipient of over a hundred awards for excellence in content and design, and has been chosen as a website of the year by the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor, Popular Science, and many other publications.

“The protection of our archaeological heritage must be based upon the fullest possible knowledge of its nature and extent. General surveys of archaeological resources are essential working tools in developing strategies for site protection. Consequently, archaeological survey should be a basic obligation in the protection and management of the archaeological heritage.” Unesco, Culture, Tourism & Development 1996

5.2           Current Tomb Condition Report4

4 Condition reports compiled by Dina Bakhoum, Lamia el-Hadidy, and Lotfy Khaled, see Appendix 3.

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Figure 50: Dina Bakhoum, Conservator

In 2004-5, documentation surveys of accessible KV tombs were undertaken by means of a detailed photographic and condition assessment review. These activities serve several purposes. The photographs taken by the TMP throughout the years form a valuable historical database of the tombs and provide a detailed record of their condition. Historical images are being collected to provide even more historical depth to these records, and we propose that the tombs be photographed periodically (e.g. every 10 years) in order to monitor changes in a tomb’s condition. It is important to note that this condition survey has been carried out visually. Only in KV 9 have monitoring devices been installed (more below), although such devices will eventually be installed in all open tombs, as funding permits.

The completed condition reports (Appendix III) deal with each tomb individually. In some tomb condition reports, each type of damage was given a symbol that is shown in a table below (Figure 53). The following example is from Corridor C in KV 15 (Figure 51 and 52), showing the left and the right walls and the pictures taken of them. (Other detailed photos were taken but are not indicated on the general layout.)

The level of detail in the documented condition is enough to provide knowledge of the problems in a tomb, and forms an important record and survey of the tombs. On the other hand, it is important to note that before any restoration work is to take place, a more detailed survey should be carried out. The photographs taken by the TMP are useful in comparing the condition of tomb painting before and after restoration.

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Figure 51: KV15 Survey Photographs

5.2.1        Methodology

The survey was conducted and laid out according to conventions adopted by international conservation bodies.

The structural condition

Most of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings are in a structurally stable condition. Cracks and fissures observed in the bedrock do not represent a danger to most tombs. In some cases, the cracks often resulted in the loss of plaster layer. The loss of plaster in such parts must have taken place shortly after the tomb was decorated. During recent restoration activities, re-plastering took place in the tombs when plaster has fallen (due to its lack of cohesion to the substrate, see the condition of the plaster layer). Such re-plastering serves to protect the remaining plaster from falling. A major disadvantage of much modern re-plastering is that it hides the real cause of the deterioration.

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Figure 52: Detail of KV 15 Survey Photograph

The plaster layers

Ancient Egyptian tombs show different techniques of decoration. In some cases, the decoration was carved or drawn on plaster, in other cases it was carved in bedrock. If the tomb were to be plastered, then, after cutting the tomb, a plaster layer would be applied, then scenes drawn in red lines (often later corrected in black ones). The plaster was then carved and painted. When reliefs were to be carved in stone, a very thin plaster layer was applied, and then the same procedure of drawing first in red lines, then correcting in black, then carving was followed. The choice of the technique might be related to the dynasty when the tomb was cut, and also depended in some cases on the quality of the bedrock.

In tombs that were plastered, the plaster was usually applied in two or more layers, a thick layer as the main base, and another thinner layer as the base for the colours. When the bedrock was uneven, it was often necessary to apply two thick layers of plaster. The material used for mortar was in some cases clay with straw, ashes, or, in other cases, gypsum or lime. The types of damage and deterioration observed on the plaster layer and/or the carved stone surface include the following:

a. The loss of the thick and thin plaster layers; the bedrock is visible, but in many cases recent restoration has re-plastered over the lost areas (further discussion below in “Interventions”)

b. The loss of the thin plaster layer, while the background layer is still visible

c. Powdering of the plaster layer

d. Decay of the plaster

e. Cracks or micro-cracks in the plaster layer or the bedrock. Often these cracks are related to cracks in the bedrock behind the plaster. In some cases, they are caused by the natural shrinkage of the plaster; in other cases, they are due to the detachment of the plaster layer from the substrate bedrock

f. Detachment of the plaster layer from the background surface. This type of damage is very serious and can cause the plaster to fall away. In order to record this type of damage, one raps gently on the plaster and, according to the sound, one can identify hollow areas in the background. Detachment of plaster is also often indicated by micro-cracks, and in many areas where numerous cracks were found it could be assumed that the plaster is detaching. Many such areas had already been injected during previous restoration activities.

g. Human-made damage: Scratches or hacking. In many tombs, scratches damaged the decoration and removed a substantial part of the plaster layer. Much of this damage can be attributed to ancient visitors

h. Human-made damage: Graffiti. Another form of human intervention is graffiti. This exists in numerous tombs in various forms over several centuries. In some cases, the graffiti are painted, drawn, or written on the plaster or stone surface. In others, they are carved in the plaster or stone. Numerous graffiti are the work of early travellers to the valley and give their names, the place they come from, and the date of their visit. In tombs where Christian monks lived, crosses and symbols were drawn on the walls. Beside ancient graffiti which has historical value, there is also some modern graffiti done by visitors during the last century

i. Wasp nests. Wasps built their nests on the walls and ceilings of many tombs. The problem with such nests is that they appear on the surface of the painting and cannot be easily removed

The paint layer and the surface

The paint layer is the final layer applied to the surface of the plaster. Its deterioration, flaking, and detachment depend on the type of pigment, the binding material, and the grain size. The main types of damage are the following:

a. Loss of the paint layer. In numerous tombs, paint was lost mainly in the upper parts of walls and in the corners of ceilings. This is perhaps due to the higher humidity in those areas

b. Flaking and detachment of the paint layer

c. Chromatic alterations, such as the fading of the colours

d. Abrasion of the paint layer

Some damage, although not directly related to the paint layer, is found on its surface and is therefore included here.

e. Soot blackening. In many tombs, the upper corners and upper parts of walls in corridors and chambers show blackening on the surface. In historical photographs, the black appears to be more intense than today. This black soot is most probably due to fires used in antiquity to provide light and heat. Much of this soot has been cleaned during recent restoration activities, but it has not been completely removed. For example in corridor D of KV 6, the soot has not been removed and looks today as it does in the historical images. In some recent restoration interventions, paint was applied over the black soot in order to hide it

f. Blackening due to humans touching. People tend to touch areas where special scenes are indicated, and corners of gates or pillars while going up or down a corridor. This constant touching blackens tomb walls and, in some cases, fragile parts of the paint or the plaster have been knocked off

g. Dust accumulation. On almost all walls in the tombs, dust is accumulating and causing colours to appear darker and less intense than they really are. As there is no regular maintenance of the tombs and the dust is not regularly removed, it accumulates, sticking to the paint due to the high humidity in the tombs. This is very damaging, as it becomes heavy and causes underlying painting to detach. This phenomenon appears on almost all of the walls. It was therefore not marked on each photograph but indicated only where the conditions were especially bad

h. Incrustations on blue and green pigments. A strange black incrustation appears on much of the blue and green pigments. It does not appear on any other colours. More analysis should be carried out to understand why it appears here. Perhaps it is the result of a chemical reaction with certain consolidants

i. Salt efflorescence


Walls were thoroughly checked not only for damage but for any modern intervention; although some interventions clearly prevented the tomb’s decoration from being lost, others resulted in serious problems.

a. Re-plastering of missing parts. Modern plaster has been applied to almost all lacunae

b. Stains due to chemicals used for injections and consolidation. In numerous areas of the ceiling and the walls, injections were used to strengthen detached plaster or paint to the substrate surface. The holes used for such injections are still visible, and show staining around them. In some cases, a kind of blackening or yellowing appears in areas at the centre of the wall. It is not due to dust accumulation, fire, or bats. Due to its odd location, and the way it affects pigments, it is assumed that it is due to certain chemical consolidants that reacted badly with the background materials. Samples of plaster in such areas should be analyzed to learn what materials were applied there. In other areas, there are incrustations, blackening or chromatic alterations that might be due to the application of chemicals. It was also noted that the injections were not done carefully enough to avoid leakage lines and stains

c. Paint over black soot

d. Retouching. In some tombs, there was retouching of areas where the plaster has fallen.

Modern plaster was applied, then re-touched

e. Wooden inserts for electricity cables. In some tombs, rounded wooden inserts were found at intervals in the upper part of the wall. In KV 6 these inserts still carry the old electrical cables used for the lighting of the tomb

f. Glass panels. Glass panels have been installed in many tombs to protect the paintings from touching, scratching, or other damage. For this purpose, the glass panels are very effective. For example, in some tombs the plaster and paint layers are very fragile, about to be detached if touched. But, despite the advantages of the glass panels, they do also have serious disadvantages that can result in worse deterioration of paintings. These panels are not fixed, as for museum objects where the environment is completely controlled. The glass does not reach the ceiling and accordingly the dust gets in and remains on the walls. The heat and humidity accumulated behind the glass are also dangerous to the painting.

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Figure 53: Guide to Conservation Symbols

5.2.2        Photographic Survey Methodology5

5Photographic surveys compiled by Matjaž Kačičnik and Francis Dzikowski

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Figure 54: Matjaž Kačičnik, Photographer

The TMP has undertaken a photo documentation project for existing condition reports of tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The Theban Mapping Project, until the late 1980s, was focused on vertical aerial photographic coverage of 60km² of the Theban Necropolis. Then, in the 1990s, as excavation started in KV 5, the TMP shifted its focus underground and almost all decorated surfaces in KV 14 and KV 9 were photographed, from entryway to burial chamber. Parts of other tombs were also covered. For current condition reports, a complete record of tombs—each wall, each column, each ceiling—is needed. Since 2004, because of the scope of such a documentation project, limited time, and costs, the TMP decided to use digital cameras. For this work, our photographer, Matjaž Kačičnik, used a 6.1 Mega pixel digital SLR camera and a range of zoom lenses. Lighting the decorated surfaces of tomb walls was done with 1000-watt incandescent lights with umbrellas. Two to eight lights were used evenly to light the area being photographed.

The decision to use digital cameras meant that the TMP saved the expense of film, its processing, and scanning. But digital cameras require additional lenses, computer equipment, and computer image adjustment. We cannot avoid the dilemma of comparing film vs. digital images. Slide film still gives better quality than digital, but only if it is scanned with a top-quality scanner. Otherwise, 6.1 Mega pixel digital images are better. To get the best results, we shot in RAW format. To capture colours of painted walls accurately, the white balance of the digital camera had to be adjusted several times daily for each lighting setting.

Dust has always been an issue with any photographic system, whether on lenses or slide negatives or in the camera chamber. Most digital SLR’s eventually end up with dirt on the sensor (actually on the low-pass filter protecting the camera’s imaging sensor), resulting in smudges, blotches, and blobs on the final pictures. Today, dust is probably the biggest problem of digital SLR interchangeable lens cameras, and there is much dust in tombs, on floors, walls, and in the air. Therefore, handling photographic equipment has to be careful. Cleaning of equipment was performed on a daily basis but still after a while, we got dust on the camera’s sensor. RAW format enables us to reduce the effects of any dust that might be present using computer programs, which compare RAW photographs with a reference image on which only dust is visible. (A reference image is created by capturing a bright, featureless white object from a short distance). When there is too much dust on the sensor, it has to be cleaned with special fluid and sensor swab. That way, we were able to get the best quality images and an authentic copy of the area being photographed.

In the near future, we will have complete coverage of decorated surfaces in all tombs, from entryway to burial chamber, in high quality digital format, easy to access and easy to work with, for future study, conservation, engineering, or environmental work.

5.3           Tomb Environmental Monitoring

The condition of walls, plaster, and painted decoration in KV tombs can be seriously affected by changes in ambient temperature and humidity. It is therefore imperative that the temperature and humidity in KV tombs be constantly monitored and permanent records kept of the data. This is not currently the situation and therefore we recommend that loggers be installed on all open and potentially open tombs (Table 53). Depending on the length and design of a tomb, monitoring may require from two to ten data loggers, installed at such features as ramps or staircases, changes in axis, narrow gates, or other architectural features that can affect airflow.

Loggers should not be placed at floor or ceiling level but as near the mid-point of a chamber or corridor as possible to record ambient room temperature. Attaching them to wooden handrails, for example, is a good position, provided they are discretely positioned and securely mounted. Experience has taught that loggers that can be seen by visitors and easily removed are almost certain to be stolen.

The data loggers should be computer-compatible, able to store at least 60 days’ worth of data when taking readings at ten-minute intervals, 24 hours a day. Downloading should be a task assigned to specially trained members of the KV conservation staff.

The records generated by these loggers should be stored in multiple copies in the offices of the SCA and its conservation units and maintained as a permanent environmental record of the tomb. It should be kept in mind that “the role of microclimate can only be established if the processes involved are followed in situ simultaneously with accurate measurement of the microclimate. Sophisticated and extremely precise measurements of the microclimate do not explain anything unless they are related to the real processes occurring in situ” (GCI, “Conservation of Wall Paintings,” 125). Thus, accompanying notes should record any unusual activities in the tomb (cleaning, closure, heavy tourist traffic) so that these events can also be plotted in the environmental record. Unusually high or low readings should be monitored, and accompanying records of visitors and any activities noted that might help explain these readings. Correlations with visitor figures should be noted, and the carrying capacity of a tomb may have to be changed if it appears that readings are too high or change too dramatically.

It has been clearly shown that the number of visitors in a tomb will affect temperature and humidity levels, but that effect is not immediate. There is a lag of two to three hours before visitors significantly raise temperature/humidity levels, and a lag of about one to two hours before their absence results in a decline. Thus, it is difficult to use changes in levels as a direct guide to controlling the number of visitors in a tomb. A warning system can, however, be installed in the most heavily visited tombs (such as KV9 or KV11), announcing that temperature/humidity levels have reached a pre-determined critical level. At such a point, the tomb can be closed for an hour or two, until readings return to an acceptable level.

What is an “acceptable level?” It is believed that decorated tomb walls are not adversely affected by high or low temperature/humidity levels, as long as they remain in a range above 10º C or 20 percent and below 30º C or 65 percent. Within those ranges, any figures are acceptable, providing they do not change too rapidly or too dramatically. It is the changes in level, not the level itself that poses problems. Ideally, then, an environmental monitoring system should be connected to an air conditioning or air exchange system that is turned on or off when certain temperature or humidity levels are reached. Such a system could maintain approximately constant levels, but only some of the time. An ideal temperature of 15º C ± 4º C, or an ideal humidity level of 50 percent ± five percent, for example, might be achieved 80 percent of the time, subject to the kind of equipment employed, the number of visitors, and the outside air quality. However, it would be expensive. (Because of the lag between tourist numbers and environmental changes, such a monitoring or warning system could not be effectively used to control of visitor numbers. For that, we believe that a system based upon the ideal tomb carrying capacity should be used, discussed below.

Furthermore, given that outside air temperature and humidity vary, given that tourists have a significant effect on the temperature and humidity in a tomb, and given that no long-term records of temperature and humidity levels in KV tombs exist, how do we maintain such constant environmental levels?

Previous studies lie thin on the ground, the only reliable information available is from the study carried out by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) in the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens (QV) on the West Bank at Luxor.

Key Findings of the GCI

  • Found entrance of one person causes rise in humidity
  • When tomb closed a stable temperature and humidity are recorded
  • Water vapour per person at 28C is 0.013 gm/min.
  • Plaster used in repairs can increase humidity
  • If air changed twice/hr, the water vapour of 60 people and C02 of 43 people can be removed

Therefore, to understand better the effect of visitors on the micro-environment of KV tombs, we selected one tomb in which to monitor temperature and humidity levels over a prolonged period. The tomb was KV 9, the tomb of Rameses VI (Figure 55). One reason this tomb was selected was that it was due to re-open to the public after a period of restoration at the time of our study.

5.3.1        Methodology

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Figure 55: ERTCO Data Logger

The data loggers we used are from the Ever Ready Thermometer Company Inc. (ERTCO), the RHTEMP101 is a miniature, battery-powered, stand- alone temperature and humidity recorder (Figure 55). This device combines the latest in low power technology with Windows-based software to provide a Temperature and Humidity Recorder. Its real-time clock enables all data to be time and date stamped. Its reading rate is user-selectable and can range from one every two seconds to one per day. The start time and calibration are both programmable, as well as having the capability of alarming and real time monitoring. Once activated, the device measures and records 4,096 humidity and 4,096 temperature measurements simultaneously. The storage medium is non-volatile solid-state memory, providing maximum data security even if the battery becomes discharged. It is small enough to be unobtrusive nearly anywhere. Once the data is collected, retrieval is simple. The software enables users to select reading rate, device i.d., and initiate the start of data collection within moments after hardware is connected.

Ertco Data Logger Technical Specifications

  • Calibrated Accuracy: ±0.5°C (0 to +50°C)
  • Temperature Resolution: 0.1° C
  • Temperature Range: -40° C to +80° C.
  • Humidity Accuracy: 2% RH
  • Humidity Resolution: 0.5% RH
  • Humidity Range: 5 to 100% RH
  • Operating Environment: -40°C to 80°C, 5 to 95% RH

As stated above, the tomb selected for our study was KV9, the tomb of Ramesses VI. This tomb is centrally located and is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful tombs in KV. In addition, the tomb had just re-opened after a period of restoration at the time of our study. Therefore, we knew we could expect high visitation figures during the study period.

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Figure 56: KV9 Queues

We had six humidity and temperature recording devices available for use and these were positioned in KV 9 as in Table 54 and Figure 57. These were placed at regular intervals along the axis of the tomb and at positions where we knew groups of visitors would linger. The loggers were fixed at waist height to avoid dust from the floors and to utilize the readily available fixture point (the wooden handrail, positioned in the tomb about six inches away from the wall to encourage visitors from touching the reliefs). This height also made it easy to take readings (no need for a ladder or other more complicated methods). It also proved, however, to be a problem: we were concerned with the potential risk of vandalism and/or theft and unfortunately, this turned out to be a reasonable fear. On the first day of use, we had one logger stolen and over the period of the study (less than 12 months), we had all but one stolen. At a cost of $100 per unit, this is a substantial loss. If the loggers are to be placed in all open tombs, a suitable way of securing them will have to be devised to avoid further losses.

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Figure 57: Plan of KV 9, with chamber designations

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Table 54: Data Logger Positions

We recorded the data in three periods. These were:

  1. September 12, 2004, to November 27, 2004
  2. January 31, 2004, to April 9, 2005
  3. June 14, 2005, to August 28, 2005

The tomb was closed to the public starting April 15, 2005.

5.3.2        Data Results

Over a period of 12 months, temperature/humidity loggers were installed in KV 9, at locations shown on the accompanying plan (Table 55). Their readings are shown on the accompanying charts.

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Table 55: Data Logger Results KV9, Sept. 12, 2004-Nov. 27, 2004

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Table 56: Temperature Highs and Lows, KV9, Sept. 12, 2004-Nov. 27, 2004

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Table 57: Humidity Highs and Lows, KV9, Sept. 12, 2004-Nov. 27, 2004

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Table 58: Data Logger Results KV9, Jan. 31-April 9, 2005

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Table 59: Data Logger Results KV9, June 16-August 28, 2005

The second and third sets of results are derived from two and then one monitor, respectively, due to the theft of the other monitors. The third set of readings was also taken when the tomb was closed to the public.

The difference between the lowest temperature readings, usually at 0500, when the tomb had been closed for 12 hours, and the highest, at 1700, when it had been open for 12 hours, is unacceptable from a conservation standpoint. To leave this changing environmental pattern unchecked will almost certainly mean that significant damage will occur to the tomb’s decorated walls and ceilings. It was for this reason the SCA decided to close KV9 for an indefinite period starting April 15, 2005.

5.3.3        TMP Proposals

One possible solution to ensure the tomb’s safety whilst maintaining access to the public is an air exchange system that extracts air from the tomb and allows natural currents to replace it with air from outside.

Another is to use an air exchange system that treats the air that enters the tomb, either by chilling it or by lowering its level of humidity.

A third solution is to install air conditioning equipment in the tombs. But many units are large, difficult to place without damaging the aesthetic of the Valley, are heavy users of electricity, difficult to maintain, and dependent upon water for their chiller units. Many archaeologists do not want to pipe water into KV because the possibility of broken pipes and leakage could pose an unacceptable threat. But these problems can be mediated, and an example of such an installation is detailed below.

One can do three things: 1. Set a maximum limit on the number of visitors allowed in the tomb at any one time, a figure to be determined by experimentation and careful monitoring of the environment or by using arbitrary figures of carrying capacity; 2. Install devices to control the environment and maintain temperature and humidity within a specified range no matter how many or how few visitors come into the tomb; or 3. Both.


As we have demonstrated, the greatest threats facing the Valley of the Kings today are the result of its popularity with tourists. To tackle the complex problems caused by mass tourism, we have to identify their causes, and develop plans to manage the Valley in ways that will reduce their effects. For example, how many people can safely visit the Valley of the Kings in a single day? How many can visit in one hour? How should they be distributed within the Valley? What facilities must be provided for tourists, and how can they be made to impose as little as possible upon the fabric of the Valley?

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Table 60: Visitor Numbers to KV, 2000-2004

It is worthwhile reiterating that the goal of the Valley of the Kings masterplan is to secure the long-term future of the site. This has involved two large-scale stakeholder consultations on the future direction of any changes to KV, studies of the physical character of the valley and its tombs, visitor behaviour studies, discussions with the SCA and the Government of Japan regarding the construction and design of a Visitors Center for the Valley, and discussions with the government of Spain concerning jmplementation of a management plan. These detailed surveys and analyses have helped us gain greater understanding of the day-to-day operations of the Valley, without which no management plan can be constructed.

This data will enable us to devise a visitor management strategy. That strategy will consist of the following elements, discussed in more detail below:

  • Access to the site
  • Site facilities
  • Security measures
  • The carrying capacity of the site
  • Visitor flow into and within the site
  • Carrying capacity of the individual tombs
  • Visitor access
  • Site ticketing system
  • Site and tomb protection measures

To understand the present-day visitor experience, let us take the journey the visitor makes from the East Bank of the Nile (the main starting point for most visitors) to KV, through its tombs, and out again.

Most visitors travel to the West Bank on coaches or buses provided by tour operators. Independent visitors usually travel by taxi or minibus, crossing over the Luxor Bridge to the Theban Necropolis, a trip of 15km that takes approximately 40 minutes. However, an increasing number of tourists, mainly independent travellers, stay on the West Bank of the Nile. Their journey is normally made by taxi or local bus or by bicycle. Before the bridge was constructed, a regular tourist ferry crossed the river, and a few visitors still cross the Nile by local ferry or motor launch.

Once on the West Bank, the preferred route to the Valley is via the road beside the Colossi of Memnon (often the first monument visited, and one for which no ticket is required) to the central ticket office at Beit al-Medina (which, incidentally, no longer sells tickets to KV), and then to the road to KV at the northern end of the Necropolis.

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Figure 58: Ferry on West Bank

Actually, there are three routes to the Valley of the Kings. Two are poorly maintained footpaths that lead from Deir al-Bahari or Deir al-Medina over the hills to KV. They are used by only a handful of hikers or donkey riders. The third is a paved road from Carter House to KV

6.1           Roads and Pathways to KV

A visit to the Valley of the Kings begins well before one reaches the Valley proper, at the north end of the Theban Necropolis, near the house built 80 years ago by Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, as his field headquarters. From Carter House, the road arcs over 4km through a series of wadis. That road, which lies in part along the path used by ancient priests, was paved with asphalt about 40 years ago. All vehicular traffic to KV travels this route. The entrance way contains a small security detachment. This road should offer tourists fine examples of the Western Desert’s natural beauty. Unfortunately, it does not.

For the past decade or so, despite regular protests by Egyptologists and occasional governmental prohibitions, people have used this well-travelled road as a dumping ground for rubbish. At first, excavation debris from projects working in KV tombs was dumped here. Then, seeing an opportunity to cut transport costs, local contractors began dumping construction waste, including broken tiles and old toilets. Villagers began to add household waste and garbage to the mix; a local septic pump-out service emptied tankers full of human waste; and local clinics began to discard used bandages, needles, scalpels, and vials of drugs.

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Figure 59a & b: Approach to KV

The result is that visitors to KV travel through an ugly, offensive, and often foul-smelling wadi. For local inhabitants, the garbage poses serious health problems. Raw sewage migrates downhill toward a well that is a principal source of potable water at the north end of the necropolis. The well is already in danger of being severely polluted. The medical waste is a threat to the well-being of children who sometimes play here. Attempts to ban dumping have been only intermittently and marginally successful, largely because there is no on-site enforcement.

6.1.1        TMP Proposals

A. The house built and occupied by Howard Carter at the north end of the Theban Necropolis, adjacent to the road leading to the Valley of the Kings, has long been considered a possible site for a small museum. In fact, about 10 years ago, the construction company The Arab Contractors were hired to check structurally the building and prepare the surrounding area as a parking lot in anticipation of that use.

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Figure 60: Carter House

We propose making Carter House into a small museum devoted to the life of Howard Carter and his work in the Valley of the Kings, especially his discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. There are almost no objects currently known that could be installed in Carter House, although the SCA does have a series of photographic panels dealing with the Tutankhamun discovery, currently on display in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. The SCA has agreed to remove these to Carter House to form a first set of exhibits. These panels could be expanded upon, and photographs of Carter working in the house and at the Valley of the Kings could gradually be added.

Initially, Carter House would require only one guard to oversee the building during opening hours. Until more exhibits are installed and tour guides come to view the site as a useful tourist stop, we would recommend not charging an admission.

Except for a small charge to transport and install the display panels, the only significant cost in preparing the house as a museum would be the installation of appropriate lighting. The preparation of additional panels in future would be involve minor costs.

B. Although most visitors are taken by tour companies to KV, clearer signage for independent travellers looking for KV would be an asset to the site. In addition, a welcome sign would be appropriate, with the name of the site and the SCA and World Heritage logos prominently displayed. Near the location of Carter House a map of the West Bank should be placed along with an indicator board notifying visitors which tombs are open and the status of the individual tombs (see below for more details).

C. The roadside area from Carter House to KV should be cleaned of rubbish, using front loaders and graders. The debris should be hauled farther into the desert, and there should be areas designated for archaeological excavation debris, construction waste, rubbish, and raw sewage. (Ideally, a waste treatment plant should be constructed on the West Bank and sewage lines laid in villages.) The area should be simply landscaped so that the roadway looks as much as possible like it did decades ago. Power lines, septic and water lines to be laid from the Nile Valley to the entrance of KV should be installed underground in protective conduits. Intermediate pumping stations for incoming water and a holding tank at a midway pump-out station should be carefully sited to minimize problems of noise, smell, and visibility.

D. The grading of the wadi should be carefully planned so that its slope can help control the direction and the speed of any floodwaters that pour along here whenever there is a rainstorm in KV. Northwest of Carter House, the city has already dug a ditch to divert such floodwaters away from archaeological sites and modern villages. However, five years after work began, the city-built flood control system is not yet complete: the slope of the ditch must be recalculated to ensure that it proceeds downhill; in some places, it appears not to. In addition, channels, covered with steel gratings, must be cut across the paved road so that floodwaters flowing along its southern side can be channelled into the diversionary ditch on the north. Several cross-road channels should be cut at 100m intervals along the road and an additional two or three should be dug, perhaps 10-15m apart, northwest of the ditch’s starting point.

E. A program of regular inspection of the roadway should be undertaken by the antiquities inspector responsible for KV. He must ensure that no further dumping occurs and that violators are cited. Flood control measures must be regularly inspected and cleaned so that they remain in good condition. Maintenance staff should patrol the roadway at weekly intervals to collect windblown papers, and rubbish tossed from vehicles. They should empty rest-stop waste receptacles.

F. The road from Carter House to the bus parking lot is paved with asphalt and at present is in good condition. The kerbing, however, has been removed in places (presumably by the drivers) to permit lorries illegally to dump excavation debris alongside. The kerbing should be replaced and any future dumping prevented.

G. Sewage, water, and electrical lines should be installed below ground, running from Nile Valley sources to KV. A septic holding tank should also be installed down-slope from the parking area.

H. Footpaths to KV from Deir al-Bahari and Deir al-Medina should be cleaned and steps cut into the bedrock where needed to prevent injuries to tourists.

6.2           Types of Transport

The vast majority of visitors to KV travel by bus. These range in size from 10-passenger mini- vans to large 50-passenger models. The latter are more common, although few of them arrive more than 50-70 percent full (i.e., with 25-35 passengers). Most of the buses bring tourists from hotels and moored cruise boats on Luxor’s East Bank, or in convoys from Hurghada and other towns on the Red Sea. Several times each year, these are joined by dozens of buses bringing Egyptian school and university students to KV.

Taxis and private cars are the second most common means of transport. On average, these vehicles carry only two passengers each. About 40-60 arrive at KV daily.

Other Vehicles making the journey to KV include utility vehicles such as septic pump-out lorries, SCA vehicles, security cars and vans, and tractors with trailers that carry excavation debris from KV to (unlawful) dump sites along the main road. These vehicles, although few in number (perhaps 10- 15 per day), cause further congestion because of their slow progress and frequent stops. In addition, a small number of local public transport vehicles, which carry KV employees and a few independent travellers make the journey to KV.

Despite the overwhelming majority of visitors arriving by taxis, private cars, and buses, an increasing number of tourists come to KV by donkey. These are usually young travellers who have come in small groups of 10-15 persons, and who contract with a guide or stable manager to hire donkeys for a morning. In past years, only two or three such groups came to KV each day. Recently, however, the donkey trip has become increasingly popular, and as many as 100 riders can be seen each morning. They set out from the west bank of the Nile with a guide and a couple of donkey boys at about 0700 and proceed west to the traffic checkpoint, then turn north to Ta’arif, then west again along the paved road to KV. Since donkeys are not permitted in the valley itself, the riders dismount at the entrance to the parking area, buy their admission tickets, and visit KV. Meanwhile, their donkeys are taken over the hills around KV to await their riders on the path leading to Deir el-Medina or to Deir el-Bahari.

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Figure 61: Donkey Travel

A few riders come to KV by donkey from Deir el-Medina or Deir el-Bahari, riding up the hill and leaving their animals on the hillside above KV. They must then walk through KV to the ticket office (and only then go through a security check) before returning to KV for a visit to the tombs. When finished in KV, they climb the hill, remount, and return to their point of origin.

Horse carriages are rare—seldom more than two or three each week. They bring tourists from the East Bank via the new bridge or from the Nile to KV. Most passengers are unaware that a carriage ride to the Valley is a very long one—often taking several hours—or that the long, uphill, and waterless trip is extremely hard on the horses. The carriages wait outside the parking area for an hour or two before returning to the Nile. Such trips, in fact, are prohibited, and usually the carriage drivers are not the carriage owners but men who rent the carriage from the owner (who remains ignorant of its itinerary, and who receives little of the money paid out by the tourist).

Bicyclists, usually young backpackers travelling in pairs, ride from the Nile to KV along the main road. About 10 riders a day make the trip. They park their bicycles just outside the parking area. A few visitors come on foot, some along the main road, but most, perhaps 10 daily, hike over the hill from Deir al-Medina or Deir al-Bahari. The hikers must then walk through the Valley of the Kings to the parking lot in order to purchase tickets for the tombs. On their return to the Valley, they must check their video camera at the main gate. After their visit, having retrieved their video camera, they then have either to walk out of KV along the main road, or sneak around the security post since videos are not permitted in KV. (This ban is a major irritant to tourists, and will be discussed later.)

6.2.1        TMP Proposals

A. As stated above an increasing number of tourists travel to KV by donkey, bicycle or by foot. Few realize that the road they must take is long and uphill. Three simple, shaded roadside rest stops should be constructed at appropriate intervals along the road. At the moment there is only one, awkwardly situated, in poor condition, and with little shade. Waste receptacles should also be provided there.

B. With construction of the new Visitors Center (Section 6.1.5), the donkeys will have to change their route around KV. Moreover, when a fixed line water supply is provided at KV, it would be very useful to construct a small watering place for the donkeys near the newly proposed car park.

C. Prohibited vehicles such as horse carriages and lorries carrying waste should be stopped at the start of the main KV road near Carter House by security services.

6.3           Vehicle Parking

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Figure 62: Current Parking Lot

The road from Carter House leads to a small, irregularly shaped parking area at the juncture of the roads to the East and West Valleys of the Kings. The bus park can accommodate as many as 75 large tour buses, but any number above 35 or so results in congestion that is dangerous to pedestrians and results in delays when buses leave. It is not unusual for buses to fill the KV parking area and have to park in the approach road, and traffic can be so bad that it can take a departing bus 20 minutes to navigate its way out of the 150m length of the parking lot. Since the bombing of a hotel in Taba in 2004, taxis and private vehicles have been prohibited from stopping in the KV parking area, and must instead park alongside the road before its entrance, causing significant congestion. At present, large buses are charged LE 0.75 to park in the KV lot; smaller vans pay LE 0.50. This money apparently goes to the Luxor City Council, not to the SCA.

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Table 61: Vehicle Numbers in KV, 6am-5pm, February 6, 2005

6.3.1        TMP Proposals

The existing car park is currently used only by tour buses, since passenger cars are prohibited from entering and must park outside, along the road leading from Carter House to KV. We have proposed redesigning the current parking area as part of a broader plan for a new Visitors Center. This, together with new vendors’ area, cafeteria, and outbuildings, are outlined in the accompanying plan below (Figure 64). According to that plan, the present car park would become a load/unload zone. Once a bus had dropped off its passengers, it would return down the road to the new parking area in the next wadi to the east, where it would wait until the tour guide telephoned to inform the driver that the group was ready to be picked up. The bus would then return to the load/unload zone. This procedure means that each tour bus would make two trips into the load/unload zone, but by designing that area properly we do not believe this doubling of traffic would pose safety problems or create delays. The advantage of having a new parking area is that it would lie in a wadi that permits almost unlimited expansion of parking facilities (Figure 63 and 64).

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Figure 63: Proposed New Parking Area 

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Figure 64: Aerial Plan of Proposed Parking Area

6.4           Vendors’ Area

Before a bus enters the parking area, it stops at the parking area entrance where its passengers disembark. This is done so that tourists must walk past a row of 38 kiosks in which local merchants sell postcards, hats, costumes, film, and replica antiquities, before reaching the tram that will take them to KV. Our Stakeholders Consultation indicates that many tourists find this an unpleasant experience, especially for the elderly and handicapped. After visiting KV, tourists will again walk past the sales kiosks into the parking lot where they locate and board their bus and depart the Valley. (Buses going to the tomb of Ay drive through the parking lot directly into the West Valley.)

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Figure 65: Vendors’ Area

The parking and vendor area is also flanked by a first aid station and ambulance garage, and a cafeteria that has been closed for the past six years. Behind the cafeteria, small diesel tractors pull passenger carriages that serve as a tram line carrying tourists the 350m farther south to the entrance of the Valley of the Kings.

6.4.1        TMP Proposals

With the construction of the new Visitors Center and the redesign of the adjacent parking area and vendors’ stalls, this area will be significantly changed.

A. A maximum of 40 kiosks should be built in front of the entrance to the new KV Visitors Center. These would replace the 38 kiosks currently operating. A plan showing their possible location has been prepared by the Architectural Office of the SCA.

B. One kiosk should be dedicated to the sale of SCA publications and SCA-approved videos, CDs, DVDs, films, posters, and copies of Egyptian artefacts. The SCA kiosk should be given pride of place, nearest the entrance to the Visitors Center and directly on the path of tourists entering and leaving the site. Proceeds from its sales should go directly to the newly created SCA Holding Company that will fund various SCA conservation and restoration activities at archaeological sites.

C. The remaining kiosks should be rented to the current leaseholders of kiosks east of the KV parking lot, if those leaseholders agree to newly established rent levels and certain conditions of operation. (A smaller number of kiosks, perhaps each operated by a consortium of current leaseholders, could also be considered.) We suggest that the kiosks on the west side of the Visitors Center—the side along which arriving tourists will walk—should concentrate on selling items that visitors might use during their KV visit: hats, film, camera batteries, guidebooks, and maps, for example. Those on the east side, along the path departing tourists will use to reach the bus pick-up point, can sell other, “take-away,” merchandise: posters, copies of artefacts, clothing, and books. According to the TMP Stakeholder Survey, kiosk leaseholders are amenable to the idea of having kiosks specialize in the sale of various items—one selling film, another statuettes, for example—and of having the SCA set general standards for the quality of merchandise offered. A decision on this, on the order in which kiosks are placed, on the kinds and quality of goods to be sold, prices, and on rental fees to be charged, should be made by a committee of kiosk operators, representatives of the SCA, and other relevant parties. The size and layout of each kiosk should also be discussed, as should questions of lighting and electrical wiring, painting, security, and the types of merchandise displays to be allowed. A kiosk-operators’ representative should be chosen to represent their interests in future, ongoing discussions.

D. One or two kiosks should sell food and drink. To minimize litter, the kinds of food to be sold should be strictly limited to small packages of chips or biscuits, the drinks to water and soft drinks. Hot food should not be made available, nor should foods or drinks in large containers. Tables with umbrellas and immovable seats can be set out in front of the Visitors Center, near the bus departure area. Appropriate trash receptacles should be located throughout this area and in all of KV.

E. Kiosks should be open throughout the day, observing the same hours as the Visitors Center and KV itself. To this end, electricity will have to be installed and metered and its cost factored in when determining kiosk rental rates.

6.5           Visitors Center

At this point in the visit to KV, visitors would normally encounter the now closed cafeteria and proceed by diesel train to the security and camera check. However, this building has now been demolished and the site is to be the location of a visitors centre. Here we will discuss the likely impact of such a development.

“Often conservation or management plans omit recommendations for making the significant values of a site understood: interpretation. If this somewhat elitist view is pursued, the ongoing destruction of archaeological sites of significance is assured.” G. Grimwade and B. Carter, 2000

Interpretation of heritage sites is primarily about explaining significance and meaning; this is the perceived role of the visitors centre in KV. It requires research, planning, and strategic consideration of what are the best media forms to use and the principal messages to be conveyed to targeted audiences. It must present the meaning behind the site, which creates value and significance.

6.5.1        The Commissioning of the Visitors Centre

In 2004, the SCA signed an agreement with the Government of Japan under which the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will build a Visitors Center at the Valley of the Kings, on the site of the old and abandoned cafeteria and rest house. It was agreed that JICA would provide the building, but the SCA would be responsible for water, septic, and electrical connections, and for all surrounding facilities (including parking, vendors’ stalls, tramlines, cafeteria, first aid station, and security posts). JICA was also to provide a 3x3m plastic model of the Valley of the Kings for installation in the Center. The Theban Mapping Project agreed to design the exhibits, mostly display panels (in Arabic, Japanese, and English) in the Visitors Center, to develop continuously-running films to be shown on TV monitors, and install computer programs to be made available on interactive computer stations. The Center will be completed early in 2006.

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Figure 66: Demolition of Old Cafeteria

It will include 620m² of exhibition space. The building itself has already been designed, and its plan, including fixed internal features (walls, computer terminals, 3-D model displays, TV monitors, toilets, check points, sales and information desks), have been approved by the SCA and contractually agreed to. If 1,400 tourists are to pass through this space each hour, that means 24 visitors will enter the building every minute. We estimate that the average time tourists will spend in the Visitors Center is 10 minutes. This is the amount of time needed for a cursory examination of the displays, and also the amount of time under the current ticketing system tourists will have to wait while their guide buys KV admission tickets at the ticket kiosk (to be a part of the Visitors Center). It is unlikely that tour groups, most of them on very tight schedules, will ordinarily stay longer than 10 minutes in the Center. The exhibits in the Visitors Center must be designed in such a way that they can be viewed by about 1,000 persons per hour, about 200 every 10 minutes. They should lead tourists along a clear path from entrance to exit.

In February 2005, Dr Holeil Ghaly and Dr Kent Weeks submitted to the SCA a proposal describing the purpose of such a Visitor Center and offered suggestions as to what that Center and its adjacent buildings should contain. The Visitors Center now being constructed conforms in general to those suggestions. Three principal concerns were emphasized in that proposal:

1. Planning and construction had to take into account the anticipated increases in tourist numbers in KV, and facilities built now must accommodate a twofold increase in tourist numbers over the next decade.

2. Proper water mains and septic systems should be installed that rely on pipes running from al-Tarif to the site, not on storage tanks, pump-out vehicles, and water carriers. Only in this way can noise and odour pollution be controlled and health standards be maintained.

3. New electrical lines must be installed, replacing the existing wires, which are not adequate to power the Visitors Center, the Valley, and the proposed new outdoor lighting.

If these cannot be installed immediately, then any temporary measures must ensure that septic tanks are down-road from the Visitors Center, out of sight and hearing; water tanks must also be placed away from the Center and pumps be installed to ensure adequate water pressure in toilets and sinks; and back-up generators must be installed, again out of sight and hearing, that are adequate to supply all facilities.

6.5.2        Designing the Visitors Center Complex

It was our view that a Visitors Center complex must include the following:

  • An interpretative center explaining the history and character of the Valley (this requires training and job descriptions for staff)
  • An area in which two brief films on the Valley can be shown; one is being prepared by National Geographic and will not exceed five minutes in length; the other is 1920 footage donated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York taken in KV by Harry Burton, the photographer of the Tutankhamun excavation
  • A cafeteria serving water, drinks, and minimal food, in environmentally-friendly packaging
  • A “bazaar” where existing vendors can relocate their curio shops and where the SCA can sell its publications and merchandise (CDs, DVDs, posters, cards, stationery, T-shirts, pencils, etc.)
  • A first aid station and ambulance parking facility
  • An office for the antiquities inspector
  • A ticket office
  • An office for the security police
  • Parking for buses, taxis, security, and VIP vehicles
  • A tramline from the Center to KV and a recharging station for the trams
  • A large toilet facility with handicapped facilities
  • A septic line running 500m east to a pump-out station; a regular pump-out system with proper tankers is needed, and a clearly marked place in the desert to dump sewage must be identified and used, unless some kind of septic cleaning system can be installed in the pump- out station; it should also be connected to a smaller toilet facility at the entrance to KV; and it should be designed eventually to be connected to a West Bank sewage system
  • A water tank and tanker vehicles to provide a regular water supply, suitable for later connection to a water main
  • Electricity supplied by lines from the West Bank, supplemented by the use of solar panels installed on the roof of the Center
  • The Visitors Center should be able to accommodate 8,000 tourists/day, with peaks of 1,000 tourists/hour.

6.5.3        Construction of the Visitors Center

One of the most important plans to consider was where the Visitors Center should be built. The Center had been built away from any archaeological monuments, down the slope from KV to protect accidental leakage of water or sewage into the site in an area large enough to accommodate the component parts in an aesthetically acceptable manner. We believe the site of the present cafeteria and parking lot is an acceptable building site.

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Figure 67: Outline of the Visitors Center

A topographic map of the area of the new Visitors Center has been made. The area covered extends from the present entrance to the bus parking lot south to the entrance to KV and to the hills and cliffs on either side of the wadi.

An architect, chosen in conjunction with the Japanese government (which has played a lead role in the design and construction of the Visitors Center), will oversee the entire project. Using the topographic and geological maps, the architect has now draw up a general site plan showing the location of the various component parts of the Center, the layout of the parking lot, and the route of the tramline, keeping in mind comments of the various stakeholders.

There is to be no additional charge for visiting the interpretive center or the theatre because this would discourage tour guides from making use of the facility. The interpretive center has been designed for a visit of about 15 minutes’ duration, including the film. In order to minimize linguistic problems, the film should not be narrated but have silent-film-type multi-lingual subtitles. The film might use a clip from the Metropolitan Museum film on the opening of KV 62. Displays in the interpretive center will be in English and Arabic, but texts will be minimal; tour guides can augment material; the displays will be visually intuitive. Visitor cards can be made available to present the text in other languages, such as French, German, Russian, and Spanish. The contracts for the design and preparation of the interpretive center installations will be let for the design of signs, models, photographs, maps, etc., all of which will be included in the cost of the project.

The other components of the Center—the cafeteria, vendors’ area, etc.—will be designed following the completion of the interpretive center. The cafeteria should be no more than a place to buy water. Snack foods can be sold, but we do not want to encourage people to spend a long time there. The cafeteria must be able to handle up to 1,000 people/hour. Seating should be minimal— about 50 seats. Packaging of food and drink should be environmentally friendly. A system of trash disposal and removal must be designed for the cafeteria and the entire KV area. The vendor’s area should be designed after discussions with the relevant stakeholders. An SCA shop should be considered.

The sewage line can be laid and a holding pump-out tank installed at least 500m down the road from the Center. The tank should be designed to handle waste from 8,000 persons/day and the tank size and pump-out schedule should be planned accordingly. An environmentally-sound waste disposal should be chosen.

The entire area should be cleaned of debris and rubbish and simply landscaped. An environmentalist or landscape architect should be sub-contracted by the architect to design and oversee these activities.

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Figure 68: KV Visitors Center (1)

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Figure 69: KV Visitors Center (2)

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Figure 70: KV Visitors Center (3)

6.5.4        Installations in the Visitors Center

Design and production of the displays in the Visitors Center are to be undertaken by the TMP. Content is to be approved by the SCA; Japanese text is to be approved by JICA. Panel labels are to be in Japanese, Arabic, and English. Material on the 10 computers will be in English only. The subjects to be treated are listed below. They are deliberately selected so as not to duplicate information available on the already existing signage in KV. Each of the following “panel subjects” will occupy one or more panels in the Visitors Center. The design of the panels will emphasize graphics instead of lengthy text.     Panels

1. Timeline. A chart covering the whole of Ancient Egyptian history, from the Neolithic to the early modern period, with expanded emphasis on the New Kingdom.

2. The Valley. The location of KV and the likely reasons for choosing it as a burial place as well as the relationship between royal tombs and memorial temples and its evolution in the New Kingdom.

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Figure 71: “The Valley” Visitors Center Panel

3. Hieroglyphs. An introduction to the way in which royal names were written and to the hieroglyphs used to write them. Two royal cartouches are shown, along with an explanation of how they are to be read.

4. The Gods. Images of major deities in KV scenes are depicted and their functions described. These include Hathor, Isis, Osiris, Horus, Anubis, Amun, Thoth, and Ra.

5. Royal Tombs. Based on artwork supplied by the National Geographic Society (NGS), the process of cutting a royal tomb is explained. Close-up thumbnails illustrate the stages of work, from rough quarrying to final painting.

6. Tomb Scenes. A painting of a tomb scene is accompanied by an explanation of its symbolism and function.

7. Mummies. The purpose and process of mummification are explained. Tomb robberies and the priests’ desire to protect the bodies of the pharaohs, which resulted in caches of mummies in the Valley of the Kings and Deir el-Bahari are discussed.

8. Explorers. Exploration and tourism of KV from Graeco-Roman times to the present is presented. Important archaeological figures in these activities are noted. KV numbering is explained.

9. Protecting KV. Problems of heat and humidity are explained and visitors are encouraged to exercise care when visiting the tombs. The SCA’s proposals for tomb protection are discussed.

10. Grave Goods. Some of the more common items found in tombs, including canopic jars, shabtis, statuettes, boat models, furniture, clothing, and jewellery are described.

11. Map of the West Bank.     Other Exhibits

1. Model of KV. A 3-D model of the Valley has been prepared and installed by JICA. This shows the tombs’ relative geographic positions and provides a sense of scale for visitors.

2. TV Monitor #1. A four to five minute film on KV, prepared by the National Geographic Society will be shown on a loop, approximately every seven to eight minutes.

3. TV Monitor #2. Four minutes of black and white silent film, shot by Harry Burton, of the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun and Howard Carter’s excavations in KV in the 1920s. The footage is in possession of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and will be shown continuously.

4. Computer Information Screens. A simplified version of the TMP website will be available on eight terminals in the Visitors Center. They will provide information on each tomb in KV.

6.5.5        TMP Proposals

The effect of the Visitor Centre on the movement and flow of visitors into KV needs careful study. We propose that for a period of six months from the center’s opening a study should monitor:

  • The time taken to enter the VC
  • The numbers entering the VC
  • The time spent by visitors in the VC
  • The access to the centre by guides
  • Numbers trying to re-enter the centre
  • Flag any potential problem areas

6.6           Tramline and Road from Visitors Center to KV

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Figure 72a and b: Tramline

Between the parking area and the KV entrance gate, diesel-powered trams (Figure 70a and b) now serve as the principal transport (the “tuf-tuf”). They run along a path currently paved with asphalt, and that paving extends into the Valley, nearly to the entrance of KV 6.

The existing tramline in KV is environmentally unfriendly, unattractive, and inefficient. The present “tuf-tuf” system is operated under contract issued by the Luxor City Council to a private company. Tourists pay LE 1 for the round trip. Approximately 4,000-6,000 tickets are sold each day (about 98 percent of all visitors use the service). Tickets are sold at the parking area and an honour system is employed for those using the tram when returning from the Valley. It is the responsibility of the contractor to maintain the vehicles and to pay a percentage of the revenue to the City Council (for the support of the Luxor Youth Clubs, it is said). Its engines burn diesel fuel, belch smoke, leak oil, and make noise. In addition, advertising posters (sold by the contractor to various companies) cover their sides and their painted decorations are embarrassingly bad. There are five two-car units, each pulled by a tractor. The tramline employs about 10 people.

6.6.1        TMP Proposals

A.We propose replacing the “tuf-tuf” with a new tramline, powered by rechargeable batteries, that is attractive, quiet, non-polluting, and efficient. The tram will travel between the south entrance of the Visitors Center to the turn-around point at the current entrance to the Valley of the Kings and back again, a loop approximately 1km in total length.

We should plan now for a tramline that can carry about 10,000-12,000 passengers daily. Assuming we are successful in distributing tourists more or less evenly throughout the day, that means that trams must be able to carry about 1,400 persons per hour to the Valley, and 1,400 back to the Visitors Center. The German-built “Still” trams now in operation at Deir al-Bahari (Figure 71) each consist of two passenger cars pulled by a battery-powered electric engine. Each passenger car can carry a maximum of 24 persons, and each unit therefore can transport 48 persons per one-way trip. The units we propose for the Valley of the Kings would be similar in design and carrying capacity. The colour and design of the carriages and engines of the new units should be similar to those of the Still models—plain, tan earth colours—with no decorative touches or advertising.

Assume that each tram consists of one engine and two passenger cars; that each two-car unit will carry 48 passengers per one-way trip; that each trip, including loading and unloading time, will take 10 minutes; and that each unit will make five one-way trips per hour. That is 200 persons per hour per train. To carry 2,000 persons/hour (1,000 coming, 1,000 going) will therefore require 10 tram units, or, allowing for maintenance, down time, and delays, and a branch line into the West Valley, a total of 14 engines and 26 passenger cars.

To service the trams, a recharging unit and maintenance garage must be built. These should lie away from the Valley of the Kings and the Visitors Center, in the next wadi down where plans call for a new and enlarged parking lot to be constructed.

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Figure 73: Hatshepsut Tramline 

Tickets generate about LE 6,000 per day, LE 42,000 per week, LE 2,280,000 per year. We estimate operating expenses to be less than LE 200,000 per year. Whether this plan should be maintained, or whether the SCA should take control of the tram service and contract it out to a (high bidder) private operator, must be decided by the SCA and the Luxor City Council. Alternatively, the carts of the tramline can be factored into KV admission ticket charges.

B. The road between the Visitors Center and KV is currently paved with asphalt, and that paving extends into the Valley, nearly to the entrance of KV 6. We suggest that this asphalt be removed and the road between the Center and the Valley be left as a natural surface. Beyond the Visitors Center, the idea is to have KV look as much as possible as it looked a century ago, with minimal modern intrusions. To eliminate problems with blowing dust, wear, and flood damage, the roadway, and also the footpaths throughout KV, should be sprayed with a liquid copolymer soil stabilizer such as Soiltac (Appendix V). We tested Soiltac on the dirt road running north to south immediately west of Carter House and have found that, 10 months later, in spite of regular use by lorries and tractors, the track remains dust-free and undamaged. Soiltac should also be used on the footpaths in KV itself, both to reduce dust and to create a waterproof surface that, by careful grading, can be used to safely deflect flood water from tomb entrances and direct it out of KV, around the Visitors Center and bus park, and into the desert.

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Figure 74: Existing Road Surface

C. In addition to regular tram service between the Visitors Center and the East Valley of the Kings, a less frequent tramline should run between the Center and the tomb of Ay in the West Valley. This track, too, should be sprayed with Soiltac or the equivalent. The tramline can provide an on-demand service, ferrying people into the West Valley, waiting for them to visit the site (about 15 minutes) and then return them to the Visitors Center. They can then ferry with another group into the Valley. Initially, units should consist of an engine and a single 24-passenger carriage. If demand increases, two two-carriage trams can be operated and the services run every 30-45 minutes. Making the tomb of Ay (and eventually Amenhetep III) more accessible to tourists will help reduce the number of tourists visiting tombs in the East Valley, and/or reduce the amount of time they spend there.

6.7           Security Entrance and Camera Rules

The “tuf-tuf” drops its passengers at a gate that marks the official entrance to KV. (It lies about 20m south of what was probably the ancient entrance, a narrow place in the wadi originally blocked by a 3m high face of bedrock.) The road is barely wide enough for the “tuf-tuf” to turn around and the area where passengers wait before returning to the parking lot is covered with leaked oil and tourist refuse. VIP buses and automobiles and security vans also park here, creating severe congestion when tourists arrive. The gate into KV has a single entrance on its left and a single exit on its right; a gate for vehicles lies between, open only when security officers allow traffic to enter or leave the Valley. Beside the entrance is a ticket office where tickets can be purchased for the tomb of Tutankhamun (currently LE 70, in addition to the LE 55 KV admission). Tickets are checked and torn by an SCA employee as tourists pass through the gate.

Like all major archaeological sites and museums in Egypt, KV has security guards posted at its entrance. These guards are part of the Tourism and Antiquities Police, which itself is part of the Ministry of the Interior, over which the SCA has little direct authority. At the Valley of the Kings entrance, the security officers man a metal detector through which each visitor must pass. (Tourists coming to KV over the hill from Deir al-Bahari or Deir al-Medina do not pass through such a checkpoint until they walk through KV to its entrance and purchase tickets to the tombs. Then they will return to the Valley through the entrance checkpoint.) The amount of time spent passing through this checkpoint is generally minimal, although a large number of arriving tourists can create congestion and a significant backlog.

A major part of the delay is due to the rule that visitors must check any video cameras at a booth at the entrance. Video cameras are not allowed inside KV. However, video filming is sometimes allowed but this requires a special ticket only available with the prior permission of the Director of the SCA in Cairo.

Several reasons have been given to explain this rule: video cameras could be used by filmmakers who want to produce films without paying a fee to the SCA; video users would try to film inside tombs (where all cameras are banned); video users would create congestion in the valley. None of these explanations is valid. Professional filmmakers cannot use small hand-held videos to produce acceptable commercial footage; the rule banning any photography inside the tombs is already in effect, but still camera users are allowed to photograph outside tombs. Video owners are annoyed by the nuisance of having to check their camera and retrieve it when they leave. It is especially annoying to tourists who want to walk over the hill after visiting KV because they cannot retrieve their video camera and then re-enter the Valley. Today, even mobile phones can take video clips, and the ban is becoming increasingly unenforceable. Our survey of visitors to KV found that tourists find this ban the most annoying part of a visit to KV.

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Figure 75a and b: Security and Camera Check

Security checks of tourists made by Tourist Police and ticket collecting by the SCA currently require a minimum of six seconds per tourist to perform. That is 10 tourists per minute. In the proposed new Visitors Center, there are three security lanes. These three lanes can handle 30 tourists per minute (10 x 3), an hourly total (30 x 60) of 1,800 tourists. If the number of security lanes is increased to four, then the hourly total (40 x 60) rises to 2,440 tourists. Five lanes could accommodate 50 x 60, or 3,000 per hour. But these numbers are significantly reduced, perhaps even halved, if one must factor in checking of video cameras at the KV entrance.

Security rules in KV seem arbitrary and sometimes seem to be frivolously enforced or needlessly changed. Two years ago, security briefly forbade workmen from entering the Valley if they carried picks, trowels, or shovels, arguing these could be used as lethal weapons. Three years ago, workmen in the Valley had to provide four copies of their identity card at the gate. Last year, only foreigners were forced to pass through the metal detector; local workmen walked around it. Rules were each enforced for two or three days, then ignored. Recently, after the hotel bombing in Taba, security forces banned taxis and private vehicles from the KV parking lot. Now, taxis are again allowed. The result of such inconsistency is that security personnel are ignored, their rules laughed at, and repeat visitors to KV take pleasure in becoming scofflaws.

Security is considered essential by the Egyptian government, as indeed it must be. But rules must be regularly applied, be demonstrably logical and fair, and to the extent possible unobtrusive and efficient. The existing security entrance will move to the new VC building.

6.7.1        TMP Proposals

A review of security procedures in KV has been carried out by DEFEX, under the auspices of the SCA and funded by Spanish Aid. Their key recommendations are the installation of:

A. A perimeter detection system, which can consist of either a microwave barrier, an infrared barrier, a fiber optic intrusion detection system, or a buried electromagnetic cable.

B. Access control system, which should consist of a road barrier to control vehicle access, and a tripod turnstile (card swipe and ticket swipe) to control visitor access.

C. Security inspection equipment, consisting of an X-ray luggage system, an Arch metal detector, and/or a hand-held metal detector.

D. Video surveillance system, to consist of cameras with colour capability, indoor and outdoor cameras, thermal cameras, digital motion detectors, and a recording system to store images.

E. Digital mobile radio communications network.

F. A control center to monitor all of the above.

6.8           Toilets

The toilets in KV that are in use today are unacceptable. Since the closing of the rest house over five years ago, the only toilets are four women’s units and three men’s units in a PortaCabin parked on the pathway into KV just before KV 5. The number of units is hopelessly inadequate for the number of visitors each day. There is no piped water available and it is therefore brought three times weekly by a tractor and tank carriage. The water always runs out before a new supply becomes available and the holding tanks, which are pumped out by a pumping lorry about once a week, overflow. The results are toilets that are unclean, unsanitary, producing foul odours, noise and air pollution, and an ugly building resides in the middle of what should be an impressive panorama of KV.

The toilets are currently operated by local individuals who, in exchange for the tips they receive from visitors, are required to keep the toilets clean and supplied with paper and water. We estimate that on an average day, the toilet attendants receive over LE 1,000 from tourists, making them among the best-paid individuals in KV. However, the system does not work, largely because the facilities themselves are unsuitable, and because there is inadequate water and infrequent pump-out. There also exist no toilet facilities for the staff of KV who are barred from using the visitor toilets. This results in nearby wadis being used as makeshift latrines and in some cases, closed tomb doorways are used for the same purpose. This is clearly unacceptable both from a point of view of conservation of the site and the welfare of KV employees.

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Figure 76 Current Toilet Facilities

6.8.1        TMP Proposals

A. The new Visitors Center will have toilets in it: four stalls and four urinals for men, six stalls for women. This is not adequate for the number of tourists, and an additional toilet facility will have to be built somewhere in the parking area with at least six more units each for men and women. Another facility for bus and taxi drivers should be attached to the tramline garage and recharging center, to be constructed in the large wadi east of the current parking lot. In addition, there must be a further toilet facility closer to KV. A significant number of tourists to Egypt suffer from minor intestinal problems during their visit, and a mad dash to reach a facility 10 to 15 minutes away is unacceptable. We propose building a third toilet facility near the entrance to KV, downhill and away from any archaeological features. The building can be semi-subterranean so as not to spoil the landscape, with four units each for men and women. Two possible locations are: at the entrance to the side wadi beside the current tramline parking area, beside the KV entrance gate; or at the start of the pathway to  KV1. We have surveyed these areas and are confident that there are no archaeological features there. They lie far enough from any tomb, and far enough downhill, that any accidental spillage will be deflected away from KV, not into it.

B. To replace the unacceptable water tanker and pump-out lorry, all toilets will have to be connected to water and sewage lines. The water line should run from near Carter House, 5km along the road to the KV Visitors Center and parking area, cafeteria, first aid station, and tram maintenance shop, and a smaller spur line should extend to the toilet near the KV entrance. Two or three booster pumps will be needed en route to maintain water flow. The sewage line should run from the KV toilet, connect to those in the Visitors Center and the parking area, and then extend down the road to a holding tank 1-1.5km away, where pump-out lorries can perform their work out of sight and hearing and smell of tourists and others. These two lines, for water and sewage, will cost about LE 500,000 to install, but that is a small price to ensure better site protection and visitor comfort. Provisions should also be made to connect water and septic lines to Davis House, at the entrance to the West Valley.

6.9           Shelters and Rest Stops

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Figure 77: KV Shelter Used for Guiding

Buildings and shelters: The SCA have built small, wooden shaded areas near several tombs in which tourists can find relief from the sun while listening to their tour guides. In many cases, signs describing the adjacent tomb or showing a map of KV have been installed within them. Their locations are as follows:

  • Beside entrance of KV 1
  • Beside entrance of KV 2
  • In central part of KV, serving KV 6, 9, 62, 11
  • Above the central part of KV, serving KV 16
  • Beside entrance of KV 8
  • Near entrance of KV 35 and KV 57
  • Between KV 14, 15, 47

Benches also can be found at the base of cliffs (which provide adequate shade) beside KV 34 and KV 43.

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Figure 78: Location Guide to Shelters

6.9.1        TMP Proposals

The number and location of these shelters seem adequate and no more need be built. Additional shelters would also add to the visual pollution in KV.

6.10         Tomb Interiors

6.10.1      Tomb Interior Protection

KV tomb interiors are protected in a variety of ways. Traditionally, wooden floors, handrails, and central balustrades (Figure 78) were installed in open KV tombs. These, however, afford little protection to the walls and reliefs; for example, visitors with backpacks could still lean against the walls or accidentally damage the walls if the tomb is crowded. Therefore, in the last decade, large glass panels (Figure 79), some 1.5m wide and 3.5m high, were installed 20cm in front of the walls of some of the tombs in an attempt to deter visitors from touching the reliefs. The panels, however, have caused damage because the brackets needed to support their weight were sometimes plastered directly into the very walls they were supposed to protect. Worse, because the glass is permanently fixed and cannot be moved easily, workers armed with a bottle of Windex and a cloth must slide between the wall and the glass panel in order to clean it. They rub against the painted relief and spray chemicals that raise the humidity and stick to the painted walls. The damage done is greater than any tourists might have inflicted.

In this report, we have identified several problems in the protection and care of KV tombs.

These include:


  • Infrequent and improper cleaning of tomb floors;
  • The lack of a program for cleaning and checking the condition of decorated walls;
  • Irregular replacement of burned out fluorescent tubes;
  • Continued use of inappropriate and dangerously heavy glass panels in front of decorated walls;
  • The performance of work inside tombs (such as sanding wood floors and varnishing their surfaces) that should be done outside.


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Figure 79: Protective Walkway

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Figure 80: Full Size Glass Panels, KV 11   TMP Proposals

The present system is ineffective at preventing damage to the interiors of KV tombs and in some cases exacerbates the situation. New designs of protective barriers should be considered and before these are installed throughout the Valley should be beta-tested in one or two tombs.

A. As noted in Chapter 8 below, a schedule should be developed to ensure that tombs are regularly vacuumed to prevent a buildup of dust that damages decorated walls, creates an unpleasant environment, and covers glass panels through which wall decoration must be viewed. The TMP has donated an industrial vacuum to the SCA, but it has yet to be used. Its use should be restricted to qualified conservation personnel, not untrained site guards, and vacuuming should only be done of the floor, not wall surfaces, and only after a careful inspection of the floor at the base of walls has been made to ensure that there are no fragments of decoration that have flaked off the walls. The wooden walkways that have been installed in many tombs to provide a safer, less slippery surface for tourists, serve to trap dust. In future, they should be designed so that sections of them can be raised and the floor beneath them can be vacuumed.

B. Walls, too, should be cleaned by specially trained conservators at the same time that a regular program of conservation inspection is undertaken.

C. It is essential that environmental monitors be installed at several places in each tomb in order to monitor changes in temperature and humidity.

D. The glass panels that have been installed in many tombs are a serious problem. They are very heavy (supports have been drilled into some walls to keep them from falling over), they are highly reflective, making them difficult to see through, and they collect dust, making viewing of tomb decoration even more difficult. They are a special-order glass that can no longer be bought in Egypt and when they break (several of them have), they cannot be replaced. Some of them (in KV 1, for example) are so large and fragile that they cannot be removed from their iron mounts. When they are cleaned, only the front surface can be easily accessed. Cleaning the back requires that someone slide into the 20cm space between the glass and the decorated wall the glass is meant to protect. The cleaner cannot help but rub against the wall, causing damage, and the Windex that he often uses splashes onto the paint and causes further damage. This is not acceptable. We have proposed a new combined system of walkway and protective panels that calls for a 40-50 cm. tall Plexiglas barrier installed by a handrail at elbow level, creating a barrier against accidentally touching walls, but otherwise leaving nothing between viewers and the decoration they have come to admire. A kick plate at floor level will also prevent accidental contact.

E. It must be emphasized that sanding, cutting, or varnishing wooden floor boards for installation in a tomb should be done outside. This was not the case recently in KV 8, when a new walkway was installed, and sawdust can still be found on walls and floor, as can varnish stains.

F. Individual Tomb Recommendations:

KV 1: Rameses VII  Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Replace flooring, glass panels

Install T& H controls in chambers B & K


KV 2: Rameses IV   Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Replace flooring

Install T& H controls in chambers B, C & K

KV 6: Rameses IX   Add rope lines outside and in “A” for crowd control

Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Replace flooring, glass panels

Install T& H controls in chambers B, E & J

KV 8: Merenptah   Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Replace flooring, glass panels

Install T& H controls in chambers B, F, H, J & K

KV 9: Rameses VI   Add rope lines outside and in “A” for crowd control

Install new lighting Install HVAC system Replace flooring

Move sarcophagus pieces in “J” and “Ja” to permit walkway room

Install T& H controls in chambers B, E, G, J, & K

KV 11: Rameses III Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Replace flooring, glass panels

Install T& H controls in chambers B, D1, Fa, H & J

KV 14: Twosret/Setnakht

Add threshold for flood control at entrance Install new lighting

Install HVAC system Replace flooring

Install T& H controls in chambers C, F, J1 & J2

KV 15: Seti II           Add threshold for flood control at entrance Install new lighting

Install HVAC system Replace flooring

Install T& H controls in chambers B, E & J

KV 16: Rameses I   Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Install T& H controls in chambers A, B & J

KV 17: Seti I            Install new lighting Install HVAC system Install new flooring

Install T& H controls in chambers B, F, G & J

KV 19: Mentuherkhepeshef

Install new lighting Install HVAC system

Replace flooring, glass panels Install T& H controls in chamber C

KV 34: Thutmes III Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Install T& H controls in chambers B, D, F & J

KV 35: Amenhetep II Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Install T& H controls in chambers B, D, F & J

KV 43: Thutmes IV Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Install T& H controls in chambers B, D, F, G & J

KV 47: Siptah         Install new lighting

Install HVAC system Replace flooring, glass panels

Install T& H controls in chambers B, F, I & J2

KV 57: Horemhab  Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Install T& H controls in chambers B, D, I, J & Jc

KV 62: Tutankhamun Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Install T& H controls in chambers B, J, Ja & Ia

WV 23: Ay               Add threshold for flood control at entrance Install new lighting

Install HVAC system

Install T& H controls in chambers B, D & J

6.10.2      Tomb Lighting

The current system of lighting in KV tombs is unsatisfactory. Forty-watt fluorescent tubes sit on the tomb floor along the wall, some exposed, some covered by a wood and plastic box. These tubes produce an inappropriate and uneven light, electro-statically attract large quantities of dust, and generate heat. In the tomb of Rameses VI (KV 9), for example, 196 fluorescent tubes generate not only 8000 watts of light but 8,000 watts of heat, raising the ambient temperature significantly. The wiring in many tombs is a potential source of electrical fire and electrocution.   TMP Proposals

A. Until such time as LED lighting can be installed in the KV tombs, fluorescent bulbs should be replaced when they burn out, and the Plexiglas boxes in which they sit should be dusted on a regular basis.

B. In Appendix V, we suggest how the chambers of KV tombs that are open to the public should be lit. We also suggest that a test of LED lighting be conducted in KV 9 for a period of one year. The tomb should be closed to tourists for half that time, open to tourists the other half. Temperature and humidity should be monitored throughout the period. LED lighting has many advantages: it provides an excellent source of adjustable and appropriate light, it does not attract dust, it does not generate heat, it is relatively inexpensive, and it is long-lasting. If the one-year test proves satisfactory, LED lighting should be installed in all tombs open to the public.

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Figure 81: One Type of Proposed Walkway and Lighting

6.11         Site Utilities

By contractual agreement with the SCA, the Japanese have built a Valley of the Kings Visitors Center and are providing its necessary internal electrical and plumbing fixtures. The Theban Mapping Project have designed its display panels. It is the responsibility of the SCA to connect the building’s water and electrical lines to external sources, and to deal with the disposal of sewage. Unfortunately, the SCA have decided not to upgrade either water or electrical systems, and to rely on pump-out lorries to remove waste. Sewage from the toilets will go to a holding tank immediately beneath the Visitors Center’s exit path and will have to be pumped out while tourists are present. Water will be delivered by tanker, as is being done now, not by piping fresh water from the Nile Valley. Electricity will continue to depend upon existing power lines, the size and condition of which may not be adequate to supply the needs of the Visitors Center air conditioning and lighting, as well as power for the recharging of tram line batteries, lights in KV tombs, and other fixtures. However, the SCA says it intends to upgrade these systems within one year. That upgrade should also include new telephone lines.

The electrical system in KV is over 60 years old. To accommodate a new lighting system, the proposed area-wide lighting of KV hillsides, the air conditioning units in the new Visitors Center, and the recharging units for the new tram line, new cable should be run underground from the Nile Valley to KV, and new wiring installed in all KV tombs. In addition, the existing old, unreliable emergency generator should be replaced by a new, on-demand generator to ensure that tourists are not stranded in total darkness at the bottom of KV tombs. The possible use of solar panels to provide at least a part of KV’s electrical needs should be seriously examined. Such panels would have to be installed in an environmentally-friendly, aesthetically-pleasing manner, of course. They probably could not satisfy all KV’s needs (temperature and humidity controls have high energy demands), but they might provide adequate power for all tomb lighting.

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Figure 82: Existing Back-up Generator

6.11.1 TMP Proposals

Any new electrical lines should be laid below ground from the Nile Valley to the Visitors Center, car park, KV, and WV, as opposed to the current overhead power lines and street lighting. Water should be piped to KV from the Nile Valley, and a sewage line installed to carry sewage to a holding tank at least half a kilometre downhill from the Visitors Center as soon as possible. Failure to upgrade these installations will result in poor service to tourists and regular power failures.

If the planned night-time opening of the site takes place, then the lighting system installed should be discreet, eco-friendly, and low-maintenance.

Solar energy may provide a useful and cost-effective source of power for KV tomb lighting. It could be a supplement, but not a replacement, for electricity carried to the Valley by new cables (see section XXX). Any installation of solar panels, however, must be done in such a way that it does not alter or adversely affect the Theban landscape.

6.12 Site Fabric

The existing geological, topographical, and meteorological conditions in KV are covered in some detail in Chapter Two above. However, it should be noted that these surveys are increasingly becoming redundant by changes to KV’s morphology and simply by the age of the studies.

6.12.1 TMP Proposals

Detailed studies of topography and hydrology should be commissioned and take into account any further changes in flood protection measures or debris clearance, see below

A weather station in the Valley of the Kings (along with at least one other elsewhere on the West Bank), is essential if temperature and humidity control in KV tombs is to be successful.

There are three types of hillside debris in KV: debris left by the ancient excavators of tombs, debris left by archaeologists, and debris borne by floodwaters from the hillsides above the Valley. It has been suggested that all of this debris be removed in order to better explore the Valley. (This was done several years ago in the Valley of the Queens.) It should be noted that any excavation must be carefully done, for it is known that much of this debris contains artefacts. (Clearance around the entrance of KV 17 in 2004-2005 yielded several hundred potsherds, dozens of ostraca, and two mummified human heads.) Such clearing will require preparation of a new hydrological survey because it will dramatically alter the character of the existing KV watershed.

Geological fractures on KV hillsides should be filled. During rainstorms, these fractures serve as pathways through which water can pour into tombs. Several years ago, the fractures in the hillside above KV 5 were cleaned and filled with sand, stone, and cement. A similar project should be conducted on other KV hillsides.

6.13         Summary of Proposals

  • Carter House to become a museum
  • Signage to be installed at road near Carter House
  • Road from Carter House to KV to be landscaped and graded for flood control
  • Maintenance and cleaning schedule of roadway to be established
  • Water mains and electrical cable to be installed
  • Footpaths from Deir el-Bahari and Deir el-Medina to KV to be improved
  • Rest stops for visitors and watering trough for donkeys on approach to KV
  • Illegal vehicles (horse carriages, e.g.) to be stopped at Carter House
  • New car park to be constructed
  • New vendors’ kiosks to be built
  • SCA sales desk to be included
  • Tramline from VC to KV and WV to be installed and support facilities
  • Asphalt road from Visitors Center to KV to be removed and replaced with Soiltac
  • Update KV security installations
  • Install additional toilets for visitors and staff in parking area and at KV entrance
  • Implement programs for regular tomb cleaning and conservation monitoring
  • Replace walkways and remove glass panels in tombs
  • Install new lighting system within tombs and meanwhile maintain existing system
  • Conduct trial lighting, temperature and humidity control schemes within tombs
  • Install exterior KV lighting
  • Upgrade KV utilities
  • Explore possible use of solar power
  • Conduct new hydrological studies
  • Clear hillside debris and repair hillside fractures
  • Install weather stations on West Bank


Certain fixed entities & capacities—vehicle parking, security, Visitors Center, and tramline—all suggest that 1,000 visitors per hour is the maximum number that can enter the Valley of the Kings without significant changes being made to the system’s infrastructure. The question one now must ask is: can the Valley of the Kings itself handle this number of people?

7.1           Carrying Capacity

Carrying capacity is a term used to describe the optimum visitor level at an attraction or location. Above this level, the quality of visitor experience declines and the fabric of the site may be adversely affected. Once the carrying capacity is calculated, a management plan is needed to maintain visitor numbers at or below that level. The use of carrying capacity as a management tool is normally achieved by restricting access, increasing the resource capacity, or a combination of the two.

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Figure 83: KV 9 Overcrowding

Often, the calculation of carrying capacity is simply a guesstimate of the number of visitors that would cause crowding or other problems at a site. These physical capacity measurements, along with methods of control, such as pricing and ticketing, are often the only the considerations taken into account. However, one should also consider the “social carrying capacity” of a site, because it helps determine the quality of visitor experience. Social factors affecting carrying capacity are more difficult to quantify and are therefore often ignored, but visitor experience and opinion must be considered. One should try to determine, for example, at what point a site is perceived by the visitor to be overcrowded, and when the number of visitors begins adversely to affect individual visitor experience.

There are also factors that determine the number of tourists who can even reach a site, and these numbers will play a role in setting the parameters of carrying capacity by setting the practical limits of visitor capacity. The practical limit of visitor capacity in the Valley of the Kings can be defined in several ways, but all definitions are affected by the physical limitations of transportation, space, site administration, education, and environment.

The carrying capacity of site facilities such as toilets, catering venues, and car parks, because they have well-defined holding capacities, are easier to quantify than the actual heritage attractions of which they are a part. When visitors to these facilities exceed the permitted numbers, they can sometimes be directed to other facilities. The heritage attraction does not have this option: people have come to see it.

“You can’t have unlimited access, unlimited hours, and unlimited numbers. You can’t because the tourism reality of the 1990s is not the reality of the 1940s and 1950s. If we fail to apply sensible limitations in the visiting of cultural sites, many sites will not last another generation.” GCI Director Miguel Angel Corzo, 1992

7.1.1        Defining KV Carrying Capacity

One way of defining a sites’ carrying capacity is to begin with the various elements of its physical structure. For example, the present KV tour bus parking area can hold no more than 70 buses at a time. Assuming an average load of 30 passengers per bus (buses vary in size—from 12 to 50 passengers—but 30 is the average size of a tour group), a total of 2,100 persons (70 x 30) can be delivered into the KV parking area before some buses must leave to make way for others. Since the average tour group spends 90 minutes in KV (and an additional 30 minutes leaving and returning to the bus, making a total of 120 minutes), that means that buses can bring no more than 1,050 visitors per hour to the site. Add to this figure, visitors who come by taxi, private car, bicycle, donkey, or on foot, and we reach about 1,200 tourists per hour. That number can be increased only if bus parking spaces are increased, tour groups become larger, more tourists use other means of transportation, or changes are made to the parking system.

However, the carrying capacity of KV is a number that can only be determined by subjective observation. Does KV appear too full? Does it feel too crowded? Is the movement of individuals and groups being hindered? Are lines forming at the entrances of tombs? Are rest areas fully occupied? Are there long lines at the toilets? Are crowds blocking the gate at KV’s entrance? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then the optimum carrying capacity has probably been exceeded. Observations of KV on the busiest days of the week suggest that these adverse conditions appear when there are more than 1,000 visitors in the East Valley of the Kings. Unfortunately, this figure is now being greatly exceeded on at least three days every week (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), when KV regularly hosts 1,700 visitors per hour between 0700 and 1100.

(The carrying capacity of the West Valley has not been tested, but, since its main attractions are silence, solitude, and natural beauty, subjective observation suggests that any number of visitors in excess of 30—one busload—would be the maximum desirable.)

Barring major shifts in tourist management or changes that are forced upon travel operators by the SCA, it seems likely that there will continue to be an unequal distribution of tourists to KV throughout the day, with the heaviest crowds in early and mid-morning, the lightest in the late afternoon, and the most visitors arriving on Friday and Monday.

7.1.2        Controlling Visitor Flow into and within KV

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Figure 84: TMP Surveying

Visitor movement through a site is controlled at some level in nearly all cultural heritage sites, and is referred to as visitor flow management. This can be as simple a process as directing visitors through a site using signage or stewards, or it can be more sophisticated, involving the planning of visitor access routes and the use of computer ticketing systems.

To understand visitor behaviour in KV, the TMP carried out various studies looking at the numbers of visitors entering the site within one hour, the number entering the site in one day, the duration of their visit, the time spent in individual tombs and the numbers of visitors entering these tombs.

At present, KV tombs are open from 0630 to 1700, a total of 11 hours a day. Recent TMP surveys show that the number of tourists per hour in KV varies by hour and by day of the week. A survey we conducted in October 2004 gave the following figures:

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Table 62: KV Visitor Numbers by Time Slot

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Table 63: KV Visitor Numbers, Oct. 23, 2004

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Table 64: KV Visitor Numbers, Oct. 24, 2004

As we can see from these results, visitation to KV is not evenly spaced. There are peak periods during the day when visitor numbers become dangerously high. These occurred at approximately the same time each day, between 08.00-08.30 and again from 11.20-11.50. On October 23rd, 34% of the total visitor admissions for that day entered within these peak periods and on the 24th October, 22% of the total visitor admissions for that day entered within these two 30 minute time slots. These results show the urgent need for a crowd control system to be implemented within KV.

As discussed above, fluctuations in the temperature and humidity within KV tombs are affected by a rise in visitor numbers. The data collected in KV 9 on October 23 and 24, 2004, shows quite clearly how these peaks in visitor numbers affect the tombs’ microclimate. The tables below illustrate this danger.

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Table 65: Temperature and Humidity, KV 9, Oct. 23, 2004

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Table 66: Temperature and Humidity, KV 9, Oct. 24, 2004 

However, understanding how visitors use the site and how different groups move throughout the site is essential.

As discussed above, almost all visitors to KV come as part of organized tours led by government-licensed tour guides. These groups vary in size from one or two persons to as many as 40-50. Informal surveys indicate that the average group size is about 23. The tour guide buys the tickets for his group and usually delivers a brief introductory lecture about KV somewhere near the entrance to the Valley, or in the shaded visitor rest area at its centre. The guide then takes the group to two tombs, in front of which he delivers a brief talk using the tomb’s sign as a backdrop. The guide remarks on features of interest in the tomb then waits outside while the group walks through it. This is repeated at a second tomb of the guide’s choosing. Normally, the two tombs chosen are tombs near the centre of KV: KV 6, 9, or 11; less frequently, KV 1 or 2; still less frequently, KV 14, 15, 34, or 43. The guide then gives the group 30 minutes on their own, to visit a third tomb of their choice. Most tourists, not knowing the valley, will opt for a tomb whose entrance is visible from where they are standing at that moment. Few wander into the Valley’s recesses. Some will have paid the extra money for a ticket to the tomb of Tutankhamun and will visit there instead of selecting a third tomb that is permitted on their general admission ticket. A few will choose to do nothing, and will sit in the visitors’ rest area until the group returns to their bus.

Guides usually choose the tombs they visit based on three criteria: 1. the tomb must be close by, to minimize the time it takes to get to its entrance; 2. the tomb must be one they can talk about comfortably (and not one about which they know little or nothing); 3. the tomb must be easily accessible, with few staircases, if any, and with a large amount of painted decoration. Large, level tombs are preferred over small or deep ones. In addition, time constraints notwithstanding, the fact that a tomb meeting these criteria is already crowded with tourists seems not to be a major concern. For instance, tourists often will stand in line in front of KV 9 for 15-20 minutes waiting to enter because their guide has told them that the tomb is especially beautiful.

7.1.3        TMP Proposals, Visitor Flow into KV

Our surveys have shown that visitor numbers in KV need to be managed to protect the fragile environment and to enhance visitor experience. Therefore, we need to address how to manage the number of visitors entering KV at any one time.

There are two points at which it is possible physically to control the number of visitors to KV:

1. Before driving to KV tour leaders can be informed even before their vehicle turns at Carter House toward the Valley of the Kings that the valley is near full capacity and that buses continuing into the valley at this time will be forced to wait in the parking area before offloading their passengers.

2. Tourists can be informed at the Visitors Center that the valley is full and there will be a delay of X minutes before they will be permitted to board the tram. Visitors can occupy themselves while they wait by shopping in the vendor’s bazaar, sitting at tables in the cafeteria, or spending more time in the Visitors Center, viewing its exhibits and using its computers.

Methods used at other heritage attractions to control and regulate visitor numbers include the following. After each method, the effectiveness of the application to KV is considered.

A. Restrictions on physical numbers allowed on site or composite parts:

Visitor numbers can be controlled at the entrance to each tomb, with electronic counters or guards keeping a record of the number of tourists in the tomb at any point in time and temporarily stopping more visitors from entering if the carrying capacity has been reached. This was informally tried in the tomb of Rameses VI (KV 9) over a period of one month, with a single guard tallying visitor numbers. It worked well and met with no complaints from tourists or their guides. If electronic counters replace the guard, the counters selected should be aesthetically appropriate and able to withstand the harsh KV environment.

B. Restrictions on group sizes:

If no more than, say, 30 tourists were allowed to be in the hands of a single guide, the size of groups standing in KV for lectures or waiting in line to enter a tomb could be reduced. In fact, this is probably the case now, except for visitors coming from the Red Sea, who arrive in very large groups under the control of only a few guides.

C. Opening hours:

One way to reduce the number of tourists in KV at any one time is to extend visiting hours in the valley and encourage tourist guides to go there at off-peak hours. At present, KV is open from 0600 to 1700. That could be extended from 0600 to 2100, since tomb interiors depend entirely on artificial light, and plans are now being made to illuminate the valley exterior after sunset. This time extension must be coordinated with the Security Police, since it was they who imposed the 1700 closing time and they who also enforce a rule prohibiting foreigners from crossing the Luxor Nile Bridge after sunset. This extension would increase opening time in KV from 11 hours to 15 hours daily and, theoretically, it could mean that fewer tourists would visit during peak hours, 0700 to 1100. If we assumed a constant maximum of 1,000 tourists/hour, this extension would allow 15,000 visitors each day, a figure unlikely to be reached for at least a decade.

Alternative visiting times would require the cooperation of tour guides and operators. They would have to be convinced that it is in their best interest to visit the West Bank in the evening, for example, not in the morning. Such a change in itinerary might entail extra costs for the tour operator: it might require additional bus hire time, a re-arrangement of well- established tourist itineraries, or changes in dining schedules on tour boats. Indeed, perhaps only independent travellers and those staying in Luxor on cruise boats or in hotels for two- or three-days tours might have the flexibility to adjust their itineraries. However, the possibility of visiting un-crowded tombs in a more leisurely fashion might in itself be sufficient incentive for such changes to standard schedules. Offering discounted tickets to monuments in off-peak hours would also be a possible way to encourage change, but this is not acceptable to the current SCA administration, which fears any loss of revenue. (Perhaps one should offer not a discount for off-hours, but charge a premium for peak hours.)

Such scheduling changes might not be acceptable or even possible for day-trippers coming from Hurghada. These groups depart the Red Sea at about 0430, arriving in Luxor at 0900. They spend three hours on the West Bank before driving to Luxor for a visit to Karnak Temple and lunch. They leave for Hurghada at about 1630. So brief a visit leaves little chance for schedule adjustments. This sector of the West Bank visitor pool is growing rapidly, especially among the thousands of Russian and East Europeans who visit the Red Sea. As many as 100 buses, filled with about 3,000-4,000 tourists, have been known to make the trip to Luxor in a single morning. On a few occasions in 2004, they constituted over 50 percent of the total number of visitors to KV.

Reversing their schedule so that day-trippers would visit Karnak in the morning and the West Bank in the afternoon might alleviate some of the crowding in the Valley of the Kings, but it would only exacerbate the already intolerable early-morning crowds in the Karnak. Perhaps, since time constraints on these day-trippers is so great, they could purchase a special KV ticket that allows a visit to only two tombs instead of the current three, thereby reducing their impact on the tombs and reducing their time in KV from 120 minutes to 90 minutes. Our surveys suggest that this would be an acceptable alternative for many tour groups.

There is a similar problem for tourists who arrive or depart Luxor by Nile cruiser. Because of the scheduling of charter flights to and from Europe, most Nile cruises depart Luxor for Aswan on Saturday or Wednesday and most return to Luxor on Sunday or Thursday. This means that Mondays and Fridays are two of the busiest days in KV, as these tourists make it the first stop on their Luxor tour. Again, it would require complex negotiations with tour operators to change these schedules. It is unlikely that European operators would be willing to switch to mid-week flights instead of flights that take advantage of their customers’ week-ends. (A holiday package that extends from Friday evening of Week One to Sunday evening of Week Two allows for a 10-day holiday with only 5 working days being missed.)

Group tourists and independent travellers who stay in Luxor hotels for several days or longer have the greatest flexibility in their schedules, and it is they who might be encouraged to visit KV at off-peak hours. This can be done by posting notices in hotel lobbies, notifying travel agencies and publishers of guidebooks, and urging local guides to suggest alternate visiting times. We are not yet able to determine what percentage of visitors to KV fall into the Luxor hotel-resident category; it is likely to be only about 40 percent of the total number of visitors. But even this number could make a difference to conditions in the KV tombs.

D. Restrictions of parking:

Signs on the West Bank might indicate by means of flashing lights or a number board that the parking area at KV was full. Currently, that would mean there were over 50 buses in the area. If the parking area is moved down the road and enlarged, it might mean 100 buses. Drivers and guides would know that they will be forced to wait several minutes before being allowed into the parking area to offload passengers and should visit other, less crowded, West Banks site before proceeding to KV.

E. Economical restrictions through pricing:

Some KV tombs are more popular with guides and visitors than others. Probably the most visited are KV 8, 9, and 11. An extra charge could be made to visit these tombs, thereby reducing visitor numbers without reducing income. Another option is to arrange KV tombs into three groups based on their popularity and ease of access. Visitors would be allowed to visit only one tomb in each of these three categories on a single 3-tomb ticket. The tombs might include KV 9 (Rameses VI, most popular); KV 1 (Rameses VII, moderately popular); and KV 19 (Mentuherkhepeshef, less popular).

F. Closure of part or all of site at specific times:

Tombs could be temporarily closed when carrying capacity has been reached. Tomb openings could rotate, with, for example, KV 9 being opened MWF 0600-1100 and TThSS 1100-1700; KV 8 being opened MWF 11-1700 and TThSS 0600-1100. Guides would be informed of this schedule in advance so they could plan their timing and visits appropriately.

G. Provision of replicas:

Preparation of full-size replica tombs has often been discussed, either making them from full-colour photographs or carved and painted plaster or plastic. Most proposals have not been cost effective. And where can one put a full-size model of a large tomb without doing serious aesthetic damage to the landscape? Making the floors of replicas level, instead of steeply sloping as the original might do, could alleviate some of the problems. Adding a rear exit would also help reduce congestion. For some visitors, the lower price charged to visit a replica might be an attractive option if it were emphasized that the experience is little different from viewing the original. Replicas could easily be made of the tomb of Tutankhamun and the QV tomb of Nefertari since complete photos of both are available. The Theban Mapping Project has now acquired comprehensive photographic coverage of most decorated KV tombs, and these images could also be used to create replicas. The desert edge south of Malkata on the West Bank might be a suitable location for their exhibition.

H. Diversion to nearby sites or other parts of KV:

Signs at the approach road, the entrance to KV and at junctions of pathways inside it could indicate the status of tomb carrying capacity within KV, letting visitors and guides know in advance whether a tomb has exceeded its carrying capacity and is temporarily closed. The levels of congestion can be set at levels and given a colour code:

  • Green: operating normally, visitors free to enter site
  • Amber: Levels rising, may be some congestion, suggest alternative options
  • Red: Site temporary full, please go elsewhere and try again later

Therefore, a visitor counting system needs to be installed and a record kept of the number of visitors in KV at any time and also within individual tombs.

7.1.4        TMP Proposals, Visitor Flow within KV

Managed visitor flow within KV is essential if we are to avoid congestion and overcrowding within certain areas and tombs. Current visitor and guide behaviour patterns make the central area of KV very overcrowded while other areas are deserted.

Some examples of crowd control options include:

  • Information on open tombs
  • Signage
  • Pathways
  • Physical barriers
  • Ticketing systems     Information on Open Tombs

If the three-tomb-per-ticket ticketing system is retained, tourists ideally would see a tomb from each of the three New Kingdom dynasties (Table 67). Tombs varied over time in plan and content, and their evolution is important for an understanding of Egyptian religion and religious architecture. That would mean that tourists would choose one tomb from each of these three dynastic lists. However, because of the unequal number of tombs from the three dynasties, the fact that several tombs are closed, and their scattered locations, variable size, and relative difficult access (because of stairs and ramps), such an archaeologically informative itinerary is rarely possible.

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Table 67: KV Accessible Tombs, by Dynasty

An alternative would be to have tourists visit one of each of three different groups of tombs based on geographical location and tomb popularity. If one considers the central zone to be the area adjacent to the main resthouse, then the farther two outlying zones would go out in concentric circles from that area. Under this plan, visitors would only be able to visit one tomb from each zone (Figure 79).

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Table 68: KV Accessible Tombs, by Zoning 

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Figure 85: KV Zone Map     Signage

The Theban Mapping Project installed new signage in KV in 2000. The previous signs were inadequate, with poor information, and could not withstand the harsh environment (Figure 86 and 87). We obtained the permission of the Egyptian Government to design, produce, and install new signs in the Valley. Our goal was to make accurate information available to tourists and to help ensure that tourist guides make their presentations outside the tombs, not inside. We believed that this would help alleviate the dangerous overcrowding in tombs that threatens their decorated walls. It also made the visitors’ experience more meaningful. The signs we installed are laser-printed on aluminium sheets, guaranteed to last at least 40 years, even in the Valley’s harsh conditions. They were designed to a high aesthetic standard and produced by a firm in Switzerland.

We installed 20 signs—general interpretive signs, signs specific to each of the 11 tombs that are now open to the public, and six others for tombs scheduled to be open during the next few years. They were installed in purpose-built, shaded pavilions erected by the Egyptian Antiquities Department beside each tomb entrance. They also include seven maps that show the topography of KV and the location and plans of its tombs. The signs were installed at the KV entrance and at the intersections of footpaths. The signs list the tombs currently open to the public, those that are wheelchair accessible, and those that have steep stairways. Signs describing individual tombs were placed in front of each open tomb and they give an axonometric plan of the tomb, information about its date, discovery, significant features, and photographs of its principal scenes and texts. The signs are designed to serve as a backdrop to the lectures of tour guides, and to provide basic information to independent travellers.

When the signs were installed, the SCA announced that guides would henceforth be banned from lecturing inside the tombs. Although at first opposed to the signs, guides quickly came to approve of them when they discovered that tourists liked the quieter, less hectic time in the tombs the absence of lecturing encouraged. Guides also like being able to remain outside the tomb, smoking and talking to colleagues. Tourists, too, approve of the signs, and often photograph them to be used as aides memoires when they return home. The signs are in English only (at the request of the SCA), and the TMP therefore published a 36-page, illustrated pamphlet in Arabic intended for the use of school groups and teachers who visit KV. An initial printing of 7,500 quickly sold out (at LE 1 per copy), and additional printings are planned. The booklet is sold at SCA sales desks at various Theban sites but, unfortunately, it is not yet available in KV itself. An English language version of the guide is also planned.

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Figure 86: KV 15 Signs, Before & After

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Figure 87: KV 62 Signs, Before & After

There are three different kinds of maps now posted in the Valley, each giving different information. All are drawn to scale (shown on each map) and oriented so that the direction in which you look when facing the sign is always at the top of the sign. Thus, if you are facing east when looking at the map, then east is at the top of the map. Some maps show the elevation of the surrounding hills by means of contour lines that give a general impression of the terrain. Others include plans of principal tombs, drawn as if one could see them through the bedrock. Some maps show only tombs entrances; tombs are identified by their number and, on some maps, also by the name of their owner. These map-signs are installed at several places in the Valley to help direct tourists to the tombs.

• This is a general map that shows both the East and West Valleys. It is posted in the parking area west of the cafeteria, where the dirt road into the West Valley begins. This map shows the location of tombs on a topographic map of the area. It also shows roads and principal pathways. Contour lines indicate the shape and elevation of the hills surrounding the two valleys. One is looking toward the west, and west is at the top of this map.

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• This is a topographic map of the East Valley, showing not only the entrance of each tomb, but also the plan of each tomb. Pathways are shown and contour lines indicate the shape and elevation of the hills around the Valley. Tombs are identified by their number and there is a list giving both the numbers and the names of the owners of the principal tombs. East is at the top of these signs, and east is the direction you are looking when you face them. One copy of this map has been installed in the shaded sitting area behind the ticket office at the entrance to the Valley, and two others are mounted in the rest area in the center of the Valley.

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• This is a simpler version of the East Valley map showing paths and tomb entrances but not topographic features or tomb plans. The principal tombs are indicated by tomb number and owner’s name. Each tomb is dated to Dynasty 18, 19, or 20.

Tombs with steep stairways are noted to warn infirm travellers, and tombs accessible to wheelchairs are also marked. Copies of this sign is installed in several places within the East Valley. Depending on its location and orientation, either south or east will be at the top of the map. Dotted lines indicate the paths over the gebel to Deir el-Bahri and Deir al-Medina. The sign also has a list of the principal tombs in the Valley, indicating which tombs are currently open to tourists and which are not.

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Figure 88: General KV Signage     Pathways

The management of crowds of tourists in KV can only be done effectively if some of the Valley’s pathways are widened. This is particularly true of the path between KV 11 and KV 57, where a traffic bottleneck occurs nearly every day. The newly- opened path from KV 3, 46, and 4 to KV 21 has helped alleviate some congestion. Now that a steep and awkward staircase has been installed in the pathway immediately east of KV 18, the new pathway should be made wheelchair accessible and a sign should be installed near KV 3 indicating that the path leads to several open tombs.

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Figure 89: Visitors Hiking from KV to Deir al-Medina     Physical barriers

Crowd control in front of KV 6, 9, and 11 is a serious problem because these tombs draw large audiences. Ropes and posts could be used to create aisles similar to those used at airport check-in counters to ensure that long lines of tourists do not snake out into the valley, posing serious problems of congestion.     Ticketing systems

Discussed below.

7.2           Carrying Capacity of KV Tombs

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Figure 90: Overcrowding in Tombs

Tombs in the Valley of the Kings vary considerably in size and plan. Of the tombs open to the public, the smallest is KV 16: Rameses I, which occupies 254m³. The largest is KV 8: Merenptah, with 2,742m³. Tomb plans vary from steeply sloping 18th Dynasty tombs with curving axes (e.g., KV 34: Thutmes IV) to nearly level, single-axis tombs (e.g., KV 1: Rameses VII). Tombs can accommodate different number of tourists depending on size and plan, and it is important to determine the optimum carrying capacity of each tomb. Exceeding this capacity is likely to damage the fabric of the tomb, exacerbating environmental and tourism problems.

By carrying capacity, we mean the maximum number of persons who can occupy a tomb at any point in time without causing unacceptable changes in the physical environment or a decline in the quality of visitor experience. Too many persons in a tomb can result in unacceptably high ambient temperatures and humidity, awkward feelings of crowding, and damage to decorated walls.

How is carrying capacity to be determined? One could monitor a tomb’s temperature and humidity and temporarily close the tomb when those reach unacceptable levels. However, this assumes a close and almost immediate correlation between occupancy levels and environmental factors, and this has been shown not to be the case.

Another method is to allocate to each visitor one linear meter of space as they walk through a tomb. This is an arbitrary number, of course, but on-site observations suggest that it is meaningful. We have observed that people walking in queues feel uncomfortable with less separation than this, and will naturally try to establish at least this spacing if other factors do not intervene. Thus, we could argue that a tomb with a visitor-accessible corridor 80m long can accommodate 80 persons walking single file into the tomb and another 80 walking out, giving it a maximum carrying capacity of 160 persons. Some architectural features require that adjustments be made to this “one-meter rule.” For example, if a tomb has steep staircases (as in KV 57, Horemhab), visitors move more slowly and require greater linear space, and the number of visitors should therefore be reduced. (Tombs with wide corridors could conceivably accommodate visitors walking in pairs, but we have not allowed this because our studies show that it will result in congestion as tourists walking into a tomb block tourists trying to leave.)

Calculations based on this “one-meter rule” provide the following figures (table 69) for each of the open tombs in ICV. Tombs with steep stairs, unusually narrow corridors, or other mitigating features are given adjusted figures.

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Table 69: TMP Proposed KV Tomb Carrying Capacity

The next stage of the process is to measure the actual number of visitors to KV tombs. In fact, in several tombs, currently the number of visitors greatly exceeds the ideal carrying capacity, in some cases to a dangerous degree.

Figures are available for the Valley as a whole, however the numbers entering individual tombs has not been previously recorded. In an attempt to quantify this and address the scale of the over­crowding, the TMP monitored the numbers of visitors in three tombs on two consecutive days. Below are the number recorded for visitors to tombs KV 6, KV 9, and KV 11, counted at ten-minute intervals between the hours of 07.00 and 13.00 on Monday the 20th and Tuesday the 21st September 2004, by the TMP survey team.

7.2.1        Tomb Visitor Numbers     KV 6 Survey

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Table 70: KV 6 Visitor Numbers, Sept. 21, 2004

Tables 70 and 71 clearly illustrate that from 07.40-09.30 nurnbe1s in KV 6 exceeded our recommended carrying capacity of 116 visitors present at any particular time within the tomb. At their peak, the numbers present exceeded recommended levels almost three-fold.

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Table 71: KV 6 Visitor Numbers, Sept. 21, 2004

KV6 (Ramesses IV) is a popular tomb with visitors due to its convenient location to the central resthouse and its excellent state of preservation with many fine reliefs on its walls. The simple layout of the tomb, without many levels and stairs, makes it accessible for a wide range of visitors.

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Figure 91: Plan of KV 6, Ramesses IX     KV 9 Survey          

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Table 72: KV 9, Proposed Carrying Capacity, Sept. 20-21, 2004 

During the peak periods of occupancy, numbers within KV 9 exceeded the recommended carrying capacity of 132 persons by over 250%. Throughout both mornings visitor numbers rose until a peak of 307 was reached at 09.40-09.50 on the 20th and a peak of 303 visitors was reached at 09.20-09.30 on the 21st, almost immediately resulting in a large increase in the temperature and humidity levels (tables 73 and 74).

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Table 73: KV 9 Visitor Numbers

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Table 74: Temperature and Humidity, KV 9, Sept. 20, 21, 2004

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Figure 92: Plan of KV 9, Rameses VI

KV 9’s popularity with visitors (not unlike KV 6) stems from the nature of the tomb’s layout, its fine reliefs, and its position in the central zone of the Valley. This was one of the main reasons the TMP selected the tomb for environmental monitoring.     KV11 Survey

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Table 75: KV11 Visitor Numbers, Sept .21, 2004

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Table 76: KV11 Visitor Numbers, Sept .21, 2004

The recommended carrying capacity of 101 was exceeded in almost two-thirds of the time slots recorded by the TMP. At the peak time slot, occupancy exceeded recommended levels by 80%. This tomb is like KV 6 and 9, situated in the central zone of KV.

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Figure 93: Plan of KV11, Rameses VI

7.2.2        Tomb Visit Duration

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Figure 94: TMP Surveying

How long does the average tourist spend in a tomb? This is an important consideration because it allows us to determine the maximum number of tourists who can comfortably visit a tomb per hour and per day. The following figures are based on TMP surveys in undertaken in September 2004. We tallied the duration of visits in three tombs, KV 6, KV 9, and KV 11 (monitored above for carrying capacity). Every tenth visitor to the tomb was handed a card as they entered the tomb on which the time of day was written. The card asked (in five languages) that the visitor return the card upon exit. When it was returned, the time was noted and the duration of the visit then calculated. Times were arranged in ten-minute intervals, so that the duration of visits could be tabulated for the periods 0700 to 0710, 0710 to 0720, and 0720 to 0730, and so on. The duration of visits to each of the three tombs is shown in the following tables (Tables 74-81).     KV 6 Survey

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Table 77: KV 6 Visit Duration, Sept. 21, 2004

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Table 78: KV 6 Visit Duration, Sept. 21, 2004

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Figure 95: KV 6 Tomb Plan     KV 9 Survey


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Table 79: KV 9 Visit Duration, Sept. 20, 2004

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Table 80: KV 9 Visit Duration, Sept. 20, 2004

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Table 81: KV 9 Temp & Humidity, Sept. 20, 2004

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Table 82: KV 9 Visit Duration, Sept. 21, 2004

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Table 83: KV 9 Visit Duration, Sept. 21, 2004 

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Table 84: KV 9 Temp & Humidity Sept. 21, 2004     KV 11 Survey

Table 85: KV 11 Visit Duration, Sept. 20, 2004 


Table 86: KV 11 Visit Duration, Sept. 20, 2004

Unsurprisingly we found that the more crowded a tomb was, the longer the tourist’s visit. This is because visitors are forced to move more slowly along corridors that are packed with people. Longer visits also occur early in the morning, when tourist numbers are relatively low, and people are able to move leisurely through the corridors. (We have not been able to determine if there is a correlation between the duration of visits and types of visitors. Perhaps group tourists spend less time in tombs than independent tourists; perhaps returning visitors spend more time than first- timers. Perhaps less-visited tombs receive longer visits than more popular ones. We could not investigate these possibilities.)

7.2.3        TMP Proposals

From the work conducted above the TMP was able to suggest a manageable carrying capacity for every open KV tomb. We have shown however that this safe level has is being exceeded on a daily basis. In addition, overcrowding tends to occur mainly in the peak morning hours. However, the picture is not that bleak, many tombs receive few visitors, mainly due to their physical location. The central zone of the valley around the main rest house is massively overcrowded during the peak period, yet other parts can be relatively quiet. The main problem therefore appears to be one of visitor flow management.

A system to control and manage visitors’ numbers to the tombs in the Valley of the Kings is an essential part of the site management masterplan. The system needs to be fully integrated into any tomb protection plans, the ticketing system and infrastructure plans.

This system could be relatively low tech, using KV personal as stewards and marshals and using a zoning system as described above to even the flow of visitors around the site and its tombs.

High tech solutions could be linked to the ticketing system (more below) and display information on the level of overcrowding from a central operations room to information panels in the visitors centre and rest houses. Tourists can be informed at the Valley entrance and at the entrance to each tomb how many visitors are inside and the length of wait if applicable. Thus, if KV 9 is full and there is a line already waiting to enter, red lights and, possibly, an indication of the length of the wait, will be posted. In the meantime, visitors can wander through the Valley or visit another tomb.

Other options to be considered regarding restricting or diverting entry to KV tombs include

  • Groups to be assigned tombs on arrival
  • Restriction of entry to popular tombs
  • Rotation of tombs on daily/weekly basis
  • Human intervention: guard controlling access
  • Temperature/humidity alarms
  • Rest days

7.3           Ticketing Procedures

Tickets for admission to KV can now only be purchased in the parking area. They are not available at the main West Bank ticket office, as the SCA are currently unable to sell tickets at multiple locations. The tickets are currently sold in a temporary structure until the completion of the new Visitors Center, which will have a purpose-built ticket sales area.

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Figure 96: Current Ticket Facilities

For groups, entrance tickets are purchased by their tour guide while the groups navigate through the retail sales area. However, independent travellers purchase their own rickets. The current pricing structure consists of four levels of general entry: one for foreigners, another for foreign students, one for Egyptians, and finally one for Egyptian students (Table 87). This general admission ticket allows entry to three tombs in the Eastern Valley. A further ticket is required for the tomb of Ay in the Western Valley. Another ticket is needed for the Tomb of Tutankhamun again in four different price categories.

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Table 87: KV Ticket Prices

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Figure 97: Current Ticket Design

Admission tickets are checked once at the main security gate and again at the entrance of each tomb, where a comer is torn off by the guardian to indicate one tomb has been visited. This system is inadequate. Some guards tear very small corners from the tickets, some rip the tickets in certain places. There is no common system. Therefore, there is often confusion over how many tombs have been entered, and disputes can arise. During our stakeholder consultation, visitors also expressed unease over this practice, and of particular concern was the fact that the ticket stub, which was to be retained as a memento, had been damaged.

7.3.1        TMP Proposals

Any new ticketing design must take into account the desire of the visitor for a record of their visit and the fact that over 7,000 tickets are currently handled at least four times in each visit by site personnel. What is needed is something that can easily be checked by the guards and can be retained by the tourist as a souvenir.

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Figure 98: Front and Back of Proposed Ticket

Alongside general ticketing issues, discussed below we feel that to build in capacity for the future, any ticketing system should be part of a larger management information system. The issue of cash handling must be also addressed; it would benefit the SCA if facilities accepting payment in dollars and credit cards were installed in the new Visitors Center. This would be particularly beneficial if in the future the SCA decides to sell merchandise, such as guides maps and souvenirs. However, the handling of foreign currency is strictly regulated by the Ministry of Finance therefore this may prove difficult to implement.

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Figure 99: Proposed Visitors Center Interior with Ticketing Office

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Figure 100: Visitors Center Ticket Window

One of the easiest ways to tally and control visitor numbers in KV and its tombs is by varying ticketing procedures. The possibilities range from simple to complex, from cheap to costly, and all offer both positive and negative features.

A new ticketing scheme should be implemented in KV alongside the opening of the Visitors Centre. This plan should utilize coded tickets and automatic ticketing machines to dispense tickets at various points of sale (East Bank of Luxor, West Bank ticket office, the entrance to KV and a central location within KV). A general ticket for KV will be purchased from a teller using an automatic codebar ticket machine, allowing any specifications to be made at the time of purchase. (This is a viable option only if it is possible for guides to purchase large quantities of tickets in advance, and for day-trippers from the Red Sea to be able to buy tickets on the day of their arrival without fear of tickets being gone for a certain time.) After the tickets are collected, the tourist will visit a specific number of tombs, passing through turnstiles at the entrance to KV and in the entryway of each selected tomb. This will allow an accurate count of visitors in the Valley as a whole and in each tomb particularly. The turnstiles can be connected to a larger network that will broadcast how many visitors the Valley is supporting at one time, allowing guides and individual travellers the opportunity to go elsewhere until the crowding has subsided. A downside to the turnstiles, however, would be the maintenance infrastructure that would have to be implemented, in order that the mechanics involved be maintained in the harsh desert environment, as well as their cumbersome appearance.

Other possibilities include the following (it is important to keep in mind that more than one of the following options may be implemented at one time):

A. Individual Tomb Tickets. Instead of selling a single ticket that offers admission to several tombs, one could sell tickets to individual tombs. It would be up to the tourist or his tour guide to decide which tombs should be visited and how many should be included. It is likely that some groups, such as day-trippers coming from the Red Sea, would probably visit only two tombs; amateur Egyptologists might want to visit eight or nine. Individual tickets could each be for any one tomb in the Valley or for a specific tomb, to be specified at time of purchase.

1. Variable prices. One could charge differently for individual tombs depending on their popularity. KV 9 (Rameses VI), for example, is consistently one of the Valley’s most- visited tombs because of its well-preserved decoration. One could charge more for its ticket than for KV 19 (Mentuherkhepeshef), a small, out-of-the way, and seldom-visited tomb. KV 62 (Tutankhamun) could continue to have its own specially priced ticket.

B. Multiple Tomb Tickets. At present, visitors buy one ticket that allows access to any three tombs except Tutankhamun and Ay, both of which require separate, specially-priced tickets. There are several possible variations, all of which would probably assume the continuance of the separate tickets for Tutankhamun and Ay.

1. One ticket could allow access to any two tombs. This might appeal to day-trippers from the Red Sea who are travelling on very tight schedules.

2. One ticket could allow access to more than three tombs.

3. One ticket could allow entry to all KV tombs. This would appeal to that small number of amateur Egyptologists determined to see everything, and to tour guides who want the great flexibility in itinerary it would offer. But, obviously, the price of such tickets would have to reflect these different numbers of tombs, and their cost might be a negative factor.

4. As discussed above one ticket could allow access to one tomb in each of three different groups of tombs. For instance, the tombs could be grouped into three categories depending on their popularity, thereby taking some of the strain off the more-visited tombs and encouraging tourists to see some of the out-of-the-way tombs, spreading out the crowds. These groups could be: KV 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 11 (the most popular); KV 14, 15, 34, 43, 47 (the middle range); and KV 16, and 19 (the least visited). Another possibility would be to have one ticket allow access to one tomb from each dynasty represented in the Valley.

C. Timed Tickets. Whether they were for one, two, three, or more tomb visits, timed tickets would allow the visitor access to KV at pre-determined times during the day. By allocating a fixed number of tickets to each time slot (7:00-8:00, 8:00-9:00, 9:00-10:00, for example), one can control the number of visitors in KV at any one time. The tickets would have to be purchased in advance, of course, and therefore a ticket sales office would have to the established on the East Bank (perhaps at the Luxor Museum, Luxor Temples, or the Museum of Mummification), where guides and tourists could purchase tickets up to 24 or 48 hours in advance of their visit. Such tickets would not be exchangeable or refundable. For day-trippers from the Red Sea, such timed tickets might prove difficult, since their schedules are so tight and their stay in Luxor so short. For those who cannot purchase timed tickets in advance, the SCA could set aside a number of “open” tickets that permit the user to visit KV at any time of a specified day—for the payment of an additional charge.

D. Passes. Some tourists, especially amateur Egyptologists whose stay in Luxor is for longer than one or two days, a special pass could be sold that offers access to all Theban monuments for a fixed period of three or four days or one week. These could be sold in Luxor and would have a photo ID affixed to them. Their price would be as high or slightly higher than the sum of individual monument tickets (to cover production costs), but the additional cost would be offset by their convenience, status, and the ability to visit monuments multiple times within the validity of the ticket, without regard to timed-visit slots. The SCA could insist on payment in foreign currency or by credit card.

E. VIP Tickets. Some individuals will visit KV without paying for a ticket. These might include VIPs, dignitaries, and scholars. In order to maintain accurate records of the number of persons in a tomb at any one time, they should be given a free ticket that would be tallied with all other tickets when statistics are compiled.

F. Electronic Tickets. Any consideration of new ticketing methods must consider the introduction of bar-coded tickets. These will assist in crowd control, site management and financial management.

Ticket sales points should be located in the Visitors Center at KV, at a centralized sales office on the West Bank (at Beit al-Medina, for example), and in an office on the East Bank in Luxor. Tickets should be available up to 24-48 hours in advance of visiting, if a system of timed tickets is used. Tickets should be non-refundable and not exchangeable. Payment for tickets should be possible in Egyptian pounds or by credit card. Ticket prices should be agreed upon by the SCA and any changes announced publicly at least nine months in advance of the change, to allow travel companies to adjust their fees accordingly.

Therefore in summary, the decisions to be made regarding the ticketing system are:

  • The cost of tickets
  • Timed ticketing
  • How many tombs are accessible on one ticket
  • Sell one tomb only tickets
  • Sell -one ticket for all KV tombs
  • Variable ticket prices for popular/ less popular tombs
  • Site zoning
  • Site scheduling
  • How many ticket options will be available
  • Off peak tickets
  • Place of purchase
  • Credit card processing
  • Longer opening hours
  • Management of ticketing system
  • Investment in system

7.4           Visitor Experience in KV

The overall visitor experience of KV is affected by many factors: time of visit, both seasonally and time of day, method of transport, climatic conditions both externally and within tombs, first impressions of site, level of customer service, travelling companions, level of interpretation available, etc. The management of KV can try to affect in a positive way some of these factors and in doing so manage the visitor experience, others, however, are outside their control.

From the stakeholder surveys carried out by the TMP in KV we received a lot of responses from the visitors regarding positive and negative aspects of their visit. Without repeating here what is covered above in Chapter 4, we can summarise some of the main factors which influence the overall experience of KV:

Positive aspects:

  • Overwhelmed at being there
  • Tombs and their decoration
  • Visiting Tutankhamun
  • The natural environment of KV
  • Guides and their telling of the history of KV

Negative aspects:

  • Numbers of visitors and feeling of overcrowding
  • Noisy and lack of atmosphere in tombs
  • Lack of site personnel able to provide information
  • Lack of visitor control
  • Harassment by guardians, traders, and hawkers
  • Lack of interpretive material, i.e. guidebooks, leaflets, etc.

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Figure 101: Visitors Harassed by Illegal Vendors

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Figure 102: Varying Visitor Experience in KV

7.4.1        TMP Proposals

There are so many factors affecting visitor experience, that each of the TMP proposals in this report, if implemented, would have a positive effect on visitor experience.

7.5           Summary of Proposals

  • Visitor number in KV and in individual tombs should be monitored
  • Display panels in KV and its approaches should inform guides of current capacity
  • New systems of ticketing should be studied and tested
  • Multiple locations of ticket sales should be explored
  • Crowd control
  • KV opening times should be extended


The preparation of any future proposals, and the acceptance of the proposals contained in this report by the stakeholders responsible for the management of KV, is essential. These stakeholders include:

  • Office of the President
  • Ministry of Culture
    • Supreme Council for Antiquities
  • Ministry of Tourism
  • Ministry of Housing, Reconstruction and Urban Communities
  • Ministry of Local Development
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation
  • Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation
  • Ministry of Finance
  • Luxor City Council and High Council of Luxor

However, within the borders of the Arab Republic of Egypt, all archaeological sites are owned by the state and administered on its behalf by the SCA, therefore making this organization the major stakeholder and consequently the focus of this chapter.

The successful management of KV requires the co-ordination of planning and information sharing procedures to be in place. The success or failure of any management plan will lie with its ease of implementation and the successful training of the mangers that will have to carry out its execution. With this in mind, we have studied the existing management framework and suggested an alternative approach below. We have also addressed the issue of site funding, site personal levels and training and maintenance levels. Finally, we have investigated how all this information can be managed and successfully utilized.

8.1           The SCA

In Egypt, the SCA under the Ministry of Culture is the official government agency responsible for the registration, preservation and management of the cultural heritage. However, to understand fully how this works in practice we need to look at the structure of the organization and its legal codes. The service began in 1858 during the colonial era, it was originally named the Service des Antiquites, was run by the French, and had control of all archaeological excavations in the country. After Egyptian independence in 1922, the service was increasingly brought under the control of Egyptian government officials and was renamed the Egyptian Antiquities Organization in 1971.

The current headquarters of the SCA is in Cairo in Zamalek. The organization is headed up by a Secretary General, currently Dr. Zahi Hawass, and a permanent committee, and has 19,000 employees.

Its main roles in relation to archaeological sites in addition to the recording, management and preservation of these sites are to:

  • Approve all excavation concessions and personnel
  • Stipulate conditions under which foreign missions carryout archaeological work in Egypt

A note here should be made here about the legislative framework in which the SCA operates (Appendix V). Legislative development regarding antiquities protection in Egypt was meagre until Law 215 of 1951 was passed, this was considered the first piece of legislation that covered all aspects of antiquities protection, however it contained many loopholes and was superseded in 1983 by Law 117.

The main points of Law 117 are:

  • The SCA was made the legal guardian of antiquities
  • “Antiquity” was defined as any object movable or immovable over 100 years old, or objects or sites selected by prime ministerial decree and therefore public property
  • The prohibition of the trade in antiquities
  • The banning of the exportation of cultural property

8.1.1        Administrative Division of the Theban Necropolis

By any standard, the Antiquities Zone on the West Bank is a large area. At a minimum (the 1926 decree definition, for example), it covers about 10km². By some measures (such as the 1980 decree), it covers twice that. Add to it the 2004 “buffer zone,” and its size again doubles or even trebles. However it is defined, the Theban Necropolis must also be divided into smaller administrative units if it is to be adequately administered and protected.

The West Bank has within its boundaries archaeological sites, agricultural land, touristic facilities, highways and roads, canals and irrigation channels, old villages and new ones. Therefore, officials from such diverse ministries and departments of Agriculture, Irrigation, New Towns, Environment, Culture, Tourism, Interior, Power, Luxor city council and others all have a stake in its administration. Often, the goals of these agencies are in conflict.

The West Bank can be divided in several ways into broad zones. These divisions can be based on environment, ethnographic, sociological, historical, archaeological or administrative boundaries.

Environmentally, from east to west, they are:

a. An agricultural zone, also containing modern villages and archaeological remains. This zone can be sub-divided into irrigation basins called “hawds,” that are natural depressions used from ancient times to the 1960s as part of the annual flood irrigation system. Hawds are defined by dykes that today, many decades after basin irrigation was abandoned, serve as the foundations of the roads on the West Bank.

b. Low-lying desert along the edge of the cultivation. This relatively level area of rolling sand and stone, with occasional small hillocks rising from it, lies only slightly higher than the elevation of the agricultural zone. It is seriously affected by changing levels of ground water. The water has caused serious damage to the many temples and small tombs that lie here. The area various from a few hundred meters to a kilometre or more in width, and extends the entire length of the Necropolis.

c. High desert and complex wadi systems, in which lie the East and West Valleys of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, and many small outlying wadis used as burial sites, work stations, or quarries.

Ethnographically, there are four areas of desert lands, generally called al-Qurna. Each one is associated with founding families whom local tradition says came from south Arabia and who settled here in the 15th century AD. These are the Hurubat, the Hasasna, the Attiyyat, and the Ghabat. They were called Troglodytes by early European travellers and lived in the nobles’ tombs at al-Qurna. The agricultural lands of the West Bank have been occupied by an indigenous local agricultural population, some of them Muslim, some Christian, that claims descent from the ancient Egyptians.

Sociologically and bureaucratically, the West Bank can also be divided into a series of about 20 villages, including: al-Gezirat, al-Qariya Hassan Fathy, Naga Kom Lola, Naga al-Qatr, Naga Medinat Habu, Qurnet Mara’i, al-Bairat, Naga al-Rasayla, Naga al-Ramesseum or al-Sahal al-Sharqy, Ezbet al- Ward, Suwalim, al-Qabawy, al-Suyul, al-Genina, al-Tarif, al-Rawagah, Ababda, and Qamula. Nearly all lie within the agricultural zone. These villages and hamlets are recognized by the government as quasi-independent entities, governed by a locally chosen sheikh and a committee of elders who decide on matters of local importance. Some villages lie away from archaeological sites (al-Gezirat, for example); others lie directly atop them (Naga Kawm Lola, for example, or al-Kawm).

Historically, the archaeological zone (mainly desert areas) has been divided into 10 parts (from north to south). The number of tombs in each counts only those that have been catalogued by the SCA. In fact, at least two or three times this number are known to exist.

a. al-Tarif (“the limit”), at the northernmost end of the Necropolis, heavily damaged by modern building; site of many Middle Kingdom tombs and shrines, Old Kingdom mastabas, and prehistoric work stations.

b. The Valleys of the Kings, actually two valleys, East and West, containing the tombs of Egypt’s New Kingdom rulers and others. There are 62 tombs in the East Valley, four in the West. This is arguably one of the best known and most important archaeological sites in the world.

c. Dira Abu al-Naga, between the Hatshepsut causeway and al-Tarif, a hill with tombs of 17th Dynasty rulers, their families, and New Kingdom Priests.

d. Deir al-Bahari and Birabi. A natural amphitheatre in which the memorial temples of Mentuhetep II, Thutmes III, and Hatshepsut were built.

e. al-Asasif (meaning “interconnected tunnels”), the area north and south of the Hatshepsut causeway, contains about 40 New Kingdom tombs.

f. al-Khokha (meaning “hill of vaults”), a small hill north of Sheikh Abd al-Qurna and east of al-Asasif, with five Old Kingdom and 53 New Kingdom tombs.

g. Ilwet al-Sheikh Abd al-Qurna, a small hill south of the Hatshepsut causeway and west of the Ramesseum, named for a mythical local Muslim sheikh. A modern wall divides the hill into an upper and lower enclosure. These, plus a third, smaller, area contain about 100 New Kingdom tombs.

h. Qurnet Mara’i (“the peak of Sheikh Mara’i”), southernmost of the private tomb complexes, with about 17 New Kingdom tombs.

i. Deir al-Medina. Workmen’s village and necropolis, home to the New Kingdom craftsmen responsible for carving and decorating royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings and other royal projects.

j. Valley of the Queens. Burial place of various New Kingdom queens and royal family members. About 82 tombs are known here.

k. Medinat Habu. The memorial temple of Rameses III, a townsite occupied until the 9th Century AD, and a complex array of other New Kingdom memorial temples.

l. Malkata and Birkat Habu. The palace complex of Amenhetep III and a huge harbour dug by him for celebration of his several jubilees, lying at the southern-most limit of the Theban Necropolis.

m. Outlying areas. A series of small wadis to the north, west, and south of the Necropolis proper contain small tombs of royal family members, Christian hermitages, prehistoric work stations, quarries, graffiti, and Graeco-Roman temples.

Archaeologically, the Necropolis contains several types of monuments. These tend to distribute themselves within the Necropolis in geographic clusters.

a. Memorial temples, found mostly along the edge of the cultivation. Before the New Kingdom, such temples lay adjacent to their pharaoh’s tomb. At Thebes, however, they were separated. This was because, while the king’s tombs had to be dug in isolated, dry, and well-protected places, his temple had to be accessible to religious processions coming by boat from temples across the river.

b. Nobles’ tombs, in the low-lying desert and in some wadis. At least 2,000 such tombs, most of them small, many well-decorated, were cut into hillsides along the Nile floodplain.

c. Royal tombs, in the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. 62 tombs are known in KV, 82 in QV. All date to the New Kingdom. They vary considerably in size, preservation, and quality.

d. Habitation sites, between the memorial temples and in Deir al-Medina.

e. Prehistoric work stations, surface sites lying largely on top of the gebel or to the north of Thebes proper.

f. Graeco-Roman monuments, including temples and tombs, on hillsides and within ancient structures.

g. Christian monasteries and hermitages, scattered in several different localities. Several dozen such sites are known, and one of them, founded in the 7th Century, is still in operation.

h. Graffiti, stelae, rock-cut chapels mostly in or on low gebel cliffs. Thousands have been recorded.

i. There is also archaeological material buried beneath agricultural lands, including ancient temple buildings, villages, canals, and landing stages.

Administratively, four different categories of land are recognized on the West Bank:

a. An archaeological zone under the control of the SCA. Surprisingly, the boundaries of this zone are vague. A line was drawn on the 1925 Survey of Egypt maps purporting to show its eastern extent, but that line in some cases runs through archaeological sites, not around them. The SCA is currently trying to develop legally-binding definitions of the West Bank land under its control, but these have not yet been published. It is likely they will result in disputes, court cases, and sequestrations.

b. Non-archaeological areas, under the control of the Luxor City Council or other governmental agencies. These lie mainly in undeveloped desert land, owned by the state, and on the banks of the River Nile.

c. Privately owned lands, mostly agricultural.

d. Illegally occupied lands in both archaeological and non-archaeological areas.

8.1.2        Current SCA Administration of the Thehan Necropolis

Since about 1998, the SCA has divided the Theban Necropolis into three sub-areas for administrative purposes. Each area is under the supervision of an inspector of antiquities who reports to the Chief Inspector of the West Bank.

a. North Thebes, including the Valleys of the Kings, the Thoth Temple, al-Tarif, Seti Temple, Dira Abu al-Naga, and adjacent archaeological areas

b. Central Thebes, including everything between North and South Thebes

c. South Thebes, including Malkata, Medinat Habu, Valley of the Queen, Deir al-Medina, Qumet Mara’i, Colossi of Mernnon, and adjacent archaeological areas

The rationale for this division is that it divides bureaucratic and archaeological tasks into smaller and more manageable units than those that preceded its implementation.

Chart Graph Placeholder

Figure 103: Current Division of the SCA Adrninis1:1.ation

8.1.3        Current KV Staffing Levels

The valley is managed on a day-to-day basis by a chief inspector and three inspectors working for him/her, however the management of KV and its workforce involves many different agencies, and no single individual has overall control of the site. SCA staff includes inspectors, guards, cleaners, restorers, security, ticketing, and engineers. The toilets are managed by a concession and security is covered by the tourist police and the internal security police.

The guards or guardians make up the bulk of the employees, some 134 guards work in two shifts of 24 hours, and they are headed up by two head guards for each shift. The guardians are the cornerstone of the management of KV. They are in regular contact with the visitors and are the effective police force of the tombs. They can prohibit entry due to overcrowding etc, they have to deal with ticketing issues, disputes over camera use and manage tour leaders and guides.

The inspectors in KV apparently have no set responsibilities, their management style is reactive not a proactive one. Issues that they can be expected to deal with include crowd control, disputes between visitors and or guides and guardians, emergencies, requests for entry to closed tombs and enquires re concessions.

8.1.4        TMP Proposed Division of the SCA Administration

 Chart Graph Placeholder

Figure 104: Proposed Division of the SCA Administration

We believe that the archaeological administration of the West Bank would be better served by dividing it into areas that are defined both geographically defined and by monument type.

The SCA Administrative Areas we would propose to establish are:

a. The Valleys of the Kings, East and West Valleys, approach, and surrounding hillsides.

b. Malkata and the western outlying wadis, Valley of the Queens, Deir al-Medina, Qurnet Mara’i, Mentuhetep Cirque, Hekanakht Cirque, Cachette Cirque, High gebel (Village de repos).

c. Deir al-Bahari and Birabi, al-Asasif, al-Khokha, Sheikh Abd al-Qurna, Deir al-Medina, Christian remains on hills above these areas.

d. Low-lying desert adjacent to the cultivation (and largely but not exclusively east of the main north-south, paved road) in which most memorial temples are located, extending from the northern limit of al-Tarif in the north to the temple of Deir al-Shelwit in the south. The area along the cultivation presents special problems: ground water, boundary disputes, and structural problems among them. The area includes most West Bank memorial temples, and has few monuments of other kinds. The inspector in charge should develop a specialized knowledge of these problems in order to prepare both monument-specific and area-wide solutions to them

8.1.5        SCA and KV Funding

As is the situation in most heritage sites worldwide, revenue from ticket sales from KV goes directly to the Egyptian treasury. Funding of the running of the site is via an annual grant allocation from the Minister of Finance to the Ministry of Culture, which in turn make a budget allocation to the SCA. The SCA then grants funds to regional centres for the running of particular sites and activities. Ticket sales at SCA sites throughout Egypt generate a large amount of cash for the Egyptian economy. However, these revenues are not directly linked to the amount of funding the SCA receives. Recent price increases have seen ticket prices rise substantially, however these are not excessive when compared with similar attractions in other countries.

Recently the management of some heritage sites have questioned this system of funding by central government. For example, at the site of Pompeii in Italy, the management have formed a trust to manage the site and ticket revenues stay with the site and are used for the site’s management and conservation. Calls have been made in Egypt by representatives of the SCA for ticket prices to rise 25% across the board to fund ongoing conservation projects. This action would find public backing, many of the responses in our stakeholder surveys indicated a willingness to pay higher ticket prices as long as funds went into site conservation.

8.2           Site Management and CRM Training

Currently the inspectors working in KV receive little or no site management training. What is available in Egypt is well planned but only provided on an ad-hoc basis by outside agencies. Effective management of the site is essential if long-term goals of this masterplan are to be achieved. Many of the site staff are keen to learn more about the work they do and wish to work more effectively.

8.2.1        TMP Proposals

A. Development and Implementation of a Training Program in Cultural Resource Management:

Cultural Resource Management (CRM) seeks to locate, identify, evaluate, preserve, manage, and interpret qualified cultural resources in such a way that they can be enjoyed and learned from in the present and be handed on to future generations unimpaired. Unfortunately, although Egypt’s cultural heritage is among the most extensive in the world, very few of it numerous cultural sites or monuments are “unimpaired” today due to their great age and the various environmental pressures to which they are being subjected. What is worse, only a small percentage of them has ever been adequately documented: deterioration means their total and irretrievable loss.  Egypt’s cultural heritage is thus becoming increasingly fragile and finite, and the need for CRM training programs has accordingly become vital if this heritage is ever to be preserved in a sustainable and unified manner. Management and documentation must increasingly provide improved interpretation and enhanced experience among those who visit cultural sites.

There is a need for a CRM program that will produce a cadre of trained Egyptian site managers and support staff who can deal with problems of site management and preservation today and in the future. This CRM training program will approach the problems of Egypt’s antiquities synergistically, concentrating on the training of young Egyptians who are in, or about to enter, the Supreme Council of Antiquities and other relevant agencies. They will be trained in the planning, management, and monitoring processes that are common to any kind of cultural site, thus allowing them to deal effectively with many kinds of periods, monuments, or archaeological materials. In turn, they will train the future generations of site managers who will inherit the responsibility to preserve Egypt’s past.

During the past few years, many agencies in Egypt and American have developed CRM programs at both national and international levels. These agencies are all generally agreed as to what CRM is and what is should accomplish. The United States Office of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS) states the consensus well in describing one aspect of CRM, Archaeological Resource Management (ARM) as a system to “actively promote the preservation, conservation, and management of the world’s archaeological sites and monuments, both excavated and un-excavated, through international cooperation, the sharing of information and technical expertise, and education.”

US/ICOMOS, as well as the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), the US National Park Service, and numerous other agencies acknowledge that a host of factors determine the effectiveness of the CRM. However, no factor is thought more likely to determine the success of specific CRM programs, than the roles of archaeological sites managers, storeroom and database mangers, and their support staff. The duties of these persons are broadly similar:

  • To collect all available information on the physical and cultural history of the site or monument in their charge;
  • To determine the site’s significance and value;
  • To document its physical conditions and recognize the implication of these conditions for conservation and preservation;
  • To take into consideration the legal, social, and environmental factors that will affect management responsibilities;
  • To preserve and protect the site, also taking into account the needs of tourism, scholarly research, and socio-economic development.

No CRM program can hope overnight to make major changes in any government’s policies or procedures. To realize our goal of maximizing site protection, we propose to initiate a training program consisting of: Mid-level site management and supervisor-level CRM training for promising young employees in various government agencies, especially the Ministry of Culture, the SCA, and the liaison officers in other agencies who deal directly with them.

The primary reason that CRM problems have not been more effectively deal with in Egypt is the lack of on-site managers and administrators who are sufficiently trained in CRM that they can allocate funds and staff-time wisely and plan for and supervise their proper use. Thus in the CRM training program which we propose, each site manager should develop the skills and understanding needed to:

  • Identify CRM problems;
  • Supervise appropriate solutions to small problems of protection, site development and administration, and work knowledgeably with specialists to treat the larger ones;
  • Help the local public realize that it is in their own social and economic interest to protect local archaeological sites and historical documents;
  • Work with tourists and tour guides both to protect the sites and ensure visitors a sense of learning and satisfaction;
  • Maintain a database to ensure regular monitoring of a site’s changing condition and to improve management decisions;
  • Understand their country’s laws and regulations to help prevent potential problems at a site, and improve their ability to work with local groups, administrative agencies, and ministerial representatives.

In short, what is needed are managers who have the training to monitor, preserve, and manage this fragile, irreplaceable, and increasingly threatened cultural heritage, and to do so within the constraints of existing Egyptian bureaucracy.

B. Secondly, a training schedule for all KV site staff should be implemented immediately, not just the ones involved in site management. There is a serious need for training programs in site management at KV, and such programs should be offered and tailored to the needs inspectors, security personnel, guards, conservators, and maintenance staff.

C. Thirdly, a site management plan should be draw up by the inspectors in KV, taking account of the suggestions in this masterplan. A suggested template for management activities and goals in KV is also suggested by the Unesco model below.

Unesco Suggested Site Management Checklist

  • Do you have a management plan for the maintenance strategy of your World Heritage site, and is this plan regularly updated?
  • Have long-, medium- and short-term objectives been clearly defined?
  • Have the values, priorities and the least harmful action been taken into consideration in this plan?
  • Is there an inventory, and has the resource been adequately recorded and documented?
  • Is the relevant documentation concerning the site accessible?
  • Has the site documentation been duplicated in a safe place?
  • Is there a fire protection plan, and is it practiced on a regular basis?
  • Do you have the disaster hazard plan for your region?
  • Have a disaster response officer and alternate been designated?
  • Have contacts for effective research programmes been established with universities and other institutions?
  • Do the laws and regulations that are being applied reflect the latest technical knowledge and attitudes to conservation?
  • Is their application effective? If not, where do they fail?
  • Is the management infrastructure adequate and effective in fulfilling its role?
  • Have lines of communication been established with international organizations concerned with preservation of World Heritage?

D. Fourthly, one further point to be made re site personnel is their visibility to visitors and workers in KV. It is important that inspectors of antiquity assigned to the Valley of the Kings be properly attired. In this way, they can be identified by tourists and guides as the responsible authority in KV and can be seen to speak with the authority of the SCA behind them. Such uniforms also bestow a sense of pride on the wearer that is reflected in his work attitude and dealings with foreign and local tourists and tour guides. Such a uniform can also be worn by an individual who would operate an enquiry desk in the Visitors Center. Maintenance staff can wear boiler suits like those worn by private maintenance contracting companies such as Amon or Care Services. Tram drivers should be attired in uniforms that are of a colour or design that cannot be confused with the inspectors’ uniforms. Security personnel should be appropriately dressed as well and especially those inspecting tourists’ bags at the Visitors Center should not wear informal civilian clothes. First Aid personnel should be appropriately dressed.

8.3           Emergency and Disaster Planning

Provisions must be made for an adequate response to such emergencies as flash flooding, earthquakes, illness, accidents, theft or vandalism. A Necropolis-wide Emergency Conservation Response Team should be designated and trained to handle these rare but serious problems and necessary equipment and supplies should be stored in one of the SCA warehouses for easy access. Debris that has washed into tombs must be removed, small pumps used to remove any accumulated water, and blowers installed to reduce moisture levels. Screwjacks and other engineering devices should be available to shore up fractured or collapsed walls and ceilings until more permanent repairs can be made. Conditions must be carefully monitored.

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Figure 105: Emergency Response

8.3.1        TMP Proposals

A risk assessment plan similar to the one shown below (by Unesco) should be developed alongside a disaster action plan. All managers and staff should be trained in the procedures to be carried out in the event of such a disaster.

Unesco Principles of Risk Preparedness

  • The key to effective protection of cultural heritage at risk is advance planning and preparation.
  • Advance planning for cultural heritage properties should be conceived in terms of the whole property, and provide integrated concern for its buildings, structures, and their associated contents and landscapes.
  • Advance planning for the protection of cultural heritage against disasters should integrate relevant heritage considerations within a property’s overall disaster prevention strategy.
  • Preparedness requirements should be met in heritage buildings by means which will have least impact on heritage values.
  • Heritage properties, their significant attributes and the disaster-response history of the property should be clearly documented as a basis for appropriate disaster planning, response and recovery.
  • Maintenance programs for historic properties should integrate a cultural- heritage-at-risk perspective.
  • Property occupants and users should be directly involved in development of emergency-response plans.
  • Securing heritage features should be a high priority during emergencies.
  • Following a disaster, every effort should be made to ensure the retention and repair of structures or features that have suffered damage or loss.
  • Conservation principles should be integrated where appropriate in all phases of disaster planning, response and recovery.

8.4           West Bank Conservation Office

The West Bank at Luxor is a densely packed and varied archaeological zone and in such represents a unique challenge to conservators and archaeological site managers. Recognizing this fact, the SCA, in 2005, established an office (in Davis House, at the entrance to the West Valley of the Kings) that would act in concert with the West Bank Inspectorate to manage and protect the area. We strongly support such an office.

Although not yet in operation, when open the West Bank Archaeological Management Center is intended to be both an archive and an active centre for monitoring and management of the archaeological Zone. It will act as a co-ordination centre for all agencies involved in work in the Luxor area.

The centre will house copies of records relating to the history and condition of the West Bank, including records of excavation, conservation, epigraphy, and modern construction. It will monitor conditions on the West Bank, including weather, geology, agriculture, modern construction, and all other activity that might have an effect on the archaeological monuments there. It will oversee all archaeological, engineering, and other work on the West Bank. In addition, it will implement the Valley of the Kings management plan and develop a broader plan for the entire West Bank.

Agencies with an active involvement in the scheme include:

  • Supreme Council of Antiquities
  • Theban Mapping Project
  • Getty Conservation Institute
  • American Research Center in Egypt
  • Egyptian Antiquities Information System
  • World Monuments Fund
  • Centre National Recherche Scientific
  • Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago

8.5           Site Maintenance

Maintenance—keeping a site clean, safe, and in proper order—involves tasks that overlap conservation, clearing, and security efforts. Here, we refer specifically to the cleaning of the site, including rubbish and dirt removal, and to the cleaning of tourist and administrative facilities. A program of maintenance in the Valley of the Kings must be organized as part of one for the entire Necropolis. Here, we will concentrate on the Valley of the Kings. To ensure the safety of its tombs, the aesthetic appearance of its hillsides, and the quality of tourist experience, the Valley of the Kings should be subject to regular cleaning.

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Figure 106: Rubbish Dumped in KV 27

There are five different staff groups who take part in maintenance programs:

1. General maintenance staff of local-hire employees responsible for cleaning the footpaths, roadways, and hillsides in and around KV

2. General maintenance staff responsible for the paved roadway leading from Carter House to KV, who are part of the Necropolis-wide maintenance staff

3. Toilet attendants

4. Visitors Center employees

5. Conservation staff who are trained conservators responsible for the well-being of KV tomb interiors. These groups, which may include persons from private contractors, are under the joint supervision of the SCA Inspectorate and the Conservation staff.

8.5.1        TMP Proposals

A. A training program should be required of each employee involved in maintenance programs. It should explain the importance of this work and the care needed for its successful performance. Supervisors should demonstrate proper techniques and emphasize to what not to do on site. Employees’ work should be regularly evaluated.

B. Maintenance employees should wear an appropriate uniform, designed and provided by the SCA.

C. Rubbish bins should be placed at appropriate locations throughout the Valleys of the Kings, parking area, the Visitors Center complex, the paths and roadways between them, and the rest stops along the road from Carter House. Ashtrays should be provided in each KV shelter.

D. Work schedules. At the outset: Before the regular schedules outlined here are implemented, a major cleaning operation must be conducted. Hundreds of piles of construction and excavation debris line the road from Carter House to the Visitors Center, and should be removed to an approved dumping site; raw sewage has for years been dumped here and must be removed; KV tomb entrances are filled with rubbish and human waste; hillsides are littered with plastic bottles and bags.

On a daily basis:

  • Rubbish—water bottles and soft drink containers, paper, cigarette butts, and the like— should be collected throughout the working day from the pathways, public facilities, and tomb entrances.
  • Rubbish bins should be emptied at least once daily and, when necessary, temporarily removed to be washed and cleaned.
  • The SCA should acquire a small lorry for rubbish removal as part of its Necropolis-wide maintenance plan.
  • Public areas and offices—covered rest stops, the main KV rest area, security checkpoints, the inspector’s office, and tram stops—should regularly be swept, wastebaskets emptied, and windows washed.
  • Toilets should be cleaned throughout the day by the toilet attendants using water, approved solvents, and other cleaning aids. These, together with toilet paper, are to be provided by the attendants, if the current system of awarding maintenance and operation rights to private contractors is to be continued. At present, individuals are awarded this concession by the SCA in exchange for paying all operating costs plus a fee.
  • The cafeteria will be run as a private concession under license to the SCA. The concession contract should stipulate that high standards of hygiene and cleanliness must be maintained, and that items sold be in containers that are as environmentally friendly as possible. Rubbish removal either should be the responsibility of the concessionaire or, if handled by the SCA rubbish lorry, should be charged for.
  • The Visitors Center should be thoroughly cleaned each day by its own staff.
  • Tomb interiors should be checked for rubbish each morning and at midday by the guards assigned to each tomb. Any other cleaning, however, should be performed by the conservation staff.
  • Archaeologists working in KV must remove their excavation debris and cart it from the Valley to an SCA-approved dumping site outside the West Bank archaeological zone. They should ensure that their concession is clean, safe, and orderly throughout their field season. A check of the excavation site should be made by the inspector at the end of the field season and a report filed on its condition.
  • The security offices and visitor checkpoints should be cleaned by the staff of the Tourism and Security Police.
  • The First Aid station and ambulance should be cleaned by their employees and the highest standards of cleanliness adhered to. Appropriate supplies and equipment should be on hand and in proper condition at all times. This includes wheelchairs, stretchers, oxygen tanks and masks, and bandages.

On a weekly basis:

  • Wind-blown debris often litters the hills in and around KV, and tourists toss litter along the tram route. The hillsides in KV and between it and the Visitors Center, the road from Carter House, and the footpaths between KV, Deir al-Bahari, and Deir al-Madineh should be examined weekly and any rubbish carried away.
  • Regular monitoring of the roadway from Carter House to KV should be undertaken to prevent illicit dumping of raw sewage, construction debris, excavation backdirt, hospital waste, and other materials that have ruined the landscape in years past. Evidence of such illicit dumping should immediately be reported to the SCA’s West Bank office.
  • An inspection tour of the KV tombs open to the public should be made by the inspector and a member of the conservation staff each week.

On a quarterly basis:

  • The interiors of KV tombs in both the East and West Valleys should be regularly inspected by an inspector and a member of the conservation staff at least once every quarter, more often if conditions warrant. Staff members should check for damage, changes in the structure of the bedrock, changes in paint and plaster, broken electrical or HVAC equipment, and the like. Using a low-power vacuum, the conservation staff member should remove accumulated dust from the wooden walkways and steps. The bedrock floor at the base of walls should be closely examined for traces of fallen plaster or stone before vacuuming. Any problems should be immediately reported to the SCA inspector.
  • Until they are permanently removed and replaced by new walkway systems, glass or plastic panels in tombs should be cleaned as necessary by employees under the direct supervision of the conservation staff. Large glass panels should be removed from their mounts before cleaning, and the cleaning should be done outside the tomb. Cleaning should be done with treated rags. Sprays like Windex or the like, which can attract dust and affect walls, should not be used. Containers of water and other liquids should never be brought into the tombs.
  • HVAC equipment should be inspected and cleaned according to manufacturer’s instructions. Lamps should be cleaned or replaced as necessary.
  • The aluminium signs in KV should be dusted or washed. Signs at the KV entrance and in the rest area should be checked to ensure that “closed” labels are in place adjacent to tombs temporarily closed to the public.

On an annual basis: a survey of the cleanliness of KV, its tombs, and the surrounding area should be conducted annually by the head of the maintenance staff and a conservation staff member to ensure that work has been properly performed and future needs identified. A report should be made to the office of the Chief Inspector.

E. When rubbish has been collected, it should be taken by lorry to an approved dump site outside the archaeological zone. There should be separate sites for rubbish disposal, excavation debris, and garbage.

F. Necessary Equipment and Supplies:

  • Store room in the Visitors Center area for cleaning supplies
  • Rubbish bins, they should be of a neutral colour
  • Industrial brooms
  • Two industrial vacuums with speed controls (like that supplied by the TMP)
  • Cloth for cleaning of glass panels
  • Cleaning solvents for glass panels
  • Toilet cleaning equipment (to be supplied by contracted toilet attendants)
  • Uniforms for staff, to be designed by the SCA.
  • Small lorry for removal of rubbish. This should be a small, neutral-coloured vehicle, identified by Arabic and English sign and SCA logo. Like the trams, it should be electric powered so as not to create noise or air pollution.
  • Small portable pumps for flood emergencies. To be kept on site and checked every few months to be sure they are in working order. No more than three would be needed, and there should be several hundred meters of hose available. Over long distances, and in some tombs, the pumps would have to be used at intervals along a long uphill line in order to extract water from inside tombs.
  • Small, low power, portable blowers to dehumidify flooded tombs. Flexible tubing should also be available to control the direction of air movement.
  • Screwjacks to provide temporary structural support
  • Mouse traps to discourage vermin attracted by tourist litter
  • Fire extinguishers

G. Maintenance Personnel Requirements:

  • Inspectors, appointed by SCA, to supervise the Valley of the Kings
  • Conservators, to oversee cleaning of tombs and their condition
  • Driver for rubbish lorry
  • Four or five local hire men to collect and remove rubbish

It is likely that a part of the maintenance staff will be contracted by the SCA to the private sector, as is already the case at Giza and Karnak. Private sector employees could perform such tasks as those outlined above in programs (1)-(4). However, they cannot be expected to perform adequately the tasks of program (5), which requires trained conservators.

8.6           Site Management Information Systems

An effective visitor management system requires full integration with many other key areas of the overall site management plan. The decisions to be made and questions answered about the system include:

1. The infrastructure requirements the system will need, e.g., electricity consumption

2. Level of integration with the main Valley ticketing system

3. The feasibility of linking of any visitor number controls to internal environmental conditions, e.g., humidity, temperature, and visitor levels

It will be necessary to decide, at the outset, the level of sophistication and integration of the management information system. Should all management systems be inter-linked? How should they be linked to other information and environmental systems? These issues are discussed in the Spanish technical proposal (Appendix V).

8.7           Summary of Proposals

  • Effect changes in management structure
  • Establish a program in site management training
  • Establish a West Bank site management office
  • Develop plans for emergencies and disasters
  • Establish maintenance program
  • Feasibility study of information technology needs is needed


“There is a desperate need in Egypt for the regular monitoring of archaeological sites…these sites have survived in various degrees of preservation for millennia…each one of them today is threatened by vandalism, theft, encroaching development, deteriorating environmental conditions, or neglect. If these sites are to be protected it is essential that they be recorded and inspected in a regular and systematic fashion.” Weeks 1996

Conditions in KV need regular monitoring and review if this masterplan is to be successful and the future of the valley secured. Therefore, a system of regularly monitoring factors affecting the integrity of KV needs to be developed. Such factors include general environmental conditions both externally and within the tombs, groundwater conditions, geological stability, and the effects of visitation.

In the preceding chapters we have outlined some of the problems facing KV and we have proposed various solutions or interventions. These include:


  • Increasing numbers of tourists, resulting in more vehicular traffic and crowding in the valley and in individual tombs, and the need for traffic controls and the monitoring of carrying capacity in tombs
  • Greater variation in temperature and humidity in tombs, the result of tourist numbers, lighting systems, and the environment, require new systems of environmental controls and lighting in the tombs.
  • The need for regular monitoring of environmental and structural conditions in tombs and a program for their conservation.
  • The need for a program of regular cleaning of general KV and KV tomb interiors
  • Controls to ensure the safety and security of the monuments and visitors
  • Hydrological surveys and engineering works to prevent damage from flash flooding.
  • Facilities, including a Visitors Center, signage, and brochures, to enhance visitors’ experience and to ensure that tourists treat KV properly and with respect.
  • Regular programs of training for all involved KV personnel under professional supervision and with regular inspection and monitoring.


Such programs require that all KV stakeholders be involved and work cooperatively to achieve these goals.

Of all the proposals outlined in this masterplan, none is more important—or more costly and difficult to design—than ticketing procedures in the Valley of the Kings. These procedures will help control carrying capacity limits, affect tomb environment, and influence the quality of visitor experience. We recommend that the SCA commit the necessary money to hire an outside ticketing consultation firm to develop these procedures, and devote at least one year to their monitoring and adjustment. Such studies will cost about $500,000, but they ultimately will prove a sound investment.

At the same time, outside consultants should determine the best means of temperature and humidity controls in at least one tomb, and new systems of lighting should be tried out. We have recommended LED lighting because of its low heat output, low electrostatic charge, ease of installation, long life, and the quality of its illumination. Here, too, we estimate about one year of testing at a cost of about $500,000 will be required.

All three of these projects—ticketing, lighting, and environmental controls–must be conducted simultaneously, because each of them so heavily influences the others: for example tourist numbers and the kind of lighting used will affect temperature and humidity in the tombs.

9.1           KV Masterplan Work Schedule

For planning purposes, a single schedule of work to be done should be prepared for the entire area from Carter House into the Valley of the Kings. For construction purposes, the work can be divided into two geographical areas: work done in the Valley of the Kings and work done outside it. For example, we must know at the beginning the precise needs of all electrical installations, from a/c to footpath lights, but we can install lights in the Visitors Center area before we turn to individual KV tombs. The budget for TMP proposals contained in this Masterplan are to be found in Appendix V.

1. Hydrological studies and recommendations for flood protection, updating of the plans made before recent KV excavations

2. Decide on design and number of tramline vehicles, contract to build

3. Determine approximate location of toilet, garage, cafeteria, first aid station; decide if Davis House is to be connected to water, septic, electrical systems; decide which utilities are required in each area; determine size and location of parking, roads, pathways

4. Septic line

a) Specifications of Visitors Center septic system reviewed

b) Plans drawn up for additional toilet facility at entrance to KV

c) Need for additional toilets in garage determined

d) Location of septic holding tank determined

e) Size of tank and of pipes determined

f) Determine type of pipe and connections to be used

g) Route of septic pipe to be surveyed, asphalt removed where necessary

h) Channel dug from toilet and Visitors Center, garage, to holding tank

i) Construct holding tank

j) Pipe installed and connections checked

k) Septic line joined to Visitors Center, toilet, garage, cafeteria

l) Determine schedule of pump-outs, number of pump lorries required

5. Toilet facility at entrance to KV

a) Precise location of facility determined

b) Geological and archaeological tests conducted

c) Size of facility determined

d) Plans drawn, specifications written

e) Contracts let

f) Work performed

g) Facility connected to Visitors Center septic system

h) Water supply installed

i) Electrical system connected

6. Water supply

a) Specifications of Visitors Center, cafeteria, garage, KV toilet, water supply

b) Source of water determined

c) Route of pipe surveyed

d) Size of pipe determined

e) If holding tanks are required, select location, size, and design

f) Determine need, size, and location of intermediate pumping stations

g) Channel to be dug and pipe installed

h) Water line made ready to be joined to Visitors Center, cafeteria, toilet, first aid station, garage

i) Connections made, water supply made functioning

7. Electrical System

a) Determine capacity of system needed: KV tomb lighting and a/c; KV exterior lighting (Italian plan plus footpaths); Visitors Center lighting, a/c, computers; offices, sales shops, parking areas, garage, first aid center

b) Can solar panels be used in any part of this system?

c) Determine source of power

d) Determine size of cables, transformers, other equipment

e) Survey route of wiring, decide which parts are to be strung above ground, which are to be buried cables (nothing from new parking area to KV or inside KV should be above ground)

f) Determine locations of transformers, other equipment

g) Channels to be dug, cable to be strung or laid

h) Locations of road and path lights to be marked and connections prepared; in

i) KV, appropriate connections and facilities for a/c, exterior lighting, and tomb lighting to be planned

j) Note electrical needs of all structures

k) Connections made

8. Design a system of monitoring and controlling foot traffic in KV and limiting the number of visitors allowed in KV tombs. A system of lights should inform guides and inspectors of tomb congestion or serious changes in temperature and humidity.

9. Environmental Controls in Tombs

a) Testing and demonstration model

b) Temperature control

c) Humidity control

d) Monitoring conditions

10. Lighting in Tombs

a) Testing and demonstration model

b) Contract and implementation

11. Exterior Lights in KV

a) Testing and design

b) On hillsides

c) On footpaths

d) In parking and facilities areas

12. Roadway and pathways

a) Work cannot be undertaken until all channels are dug, water, sewage, and electrical cables and a/c facilities have been installed, and channels filled in.

b) Remove asphalt from entrance to KV to Visitors Center in a series of 2-3 strips (so as not to interfere with continuing tourist traffic) and lay down Soiltac or equivalent

c) Parking lot at Visitors Center to be improved, lines painted, directional signs installed

d) New parking area downhill from Visitors Center to be planned, perhaps in 3-4 expansion stages, with only the first one or two to be built now

e) Location of garage for trams to be determined and plans drawn (with toilet, office?)

f) All cables, lighting, a/c equipment to be installed below surface of roads, footpaths

g) Leveling of footpaths in KV to be determined and mapped according to hydrological studies in order to ensure proper flood protection

h) Footpaths treated with Soiltac or equivalent

13. Implementation of rubbish collection, cleanliness programs

14. Study alternative ticketing policies and procedures

15. Implement proposals on a trial basis

Chart Graph Placeholder

Figure 107: KV Masterplan Critical Pathway


KV Historical Background

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Scott, N., B. McKercher (ed.), and H. du Cross (ed.). “Cultural Tourism: the Partnership between Tourism and Cultural Heritage Management.” Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management (2003).

Simon, F., Y. Narangajavana, and D. Marques. “Carrying Capacity in the Tourism Industry: a Case Study of Hengistbury Head.” Tourism Management 25 (2004): 275-283.

Sonmez, S., Y. Apostolopoulos, and P. Tarlow. “Tourism in Crisis: Managing the Effects of Terrorism.” Journal of Travel Research (Aug. 1999).

Steele, K. An Assessment of Tourists Carrying Capacity in Resort Areas via a Tourism Impact Analysis: A Case Study of Jamaica. Guildford: University of Surrey (unpublished dissertation): 1994.

Successful Tourism at Heritage Places. Australian Heritage Commission, 2001.

Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas: Guidelines for Planning and Management. The World Conservation Union, 2002.

Wall, G. “Tourism Cycles and Capacity.” Annals of Tourism Research 10 (1983): 268-70.

Wanhill, S. “Charging for Congestion at Tourist Attractions.” International Journal of Tourism Management 1.3 (1980): 168-174.

Westover, J., and G., Collins. “Perceived Crowding in Recreational Spaces.” Leisure Sciences 9 (1987): 113-27.

Williams, P., and A. Gill. “Tourism Carrying Capacity Management Issues.” Global Tourism: The Next Decade. Ed. W. Theobald. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1994. 174-187.

—. Carrying Capacity Management in Tourism Settings: A Tourism Growth Management Process. Simon Fraser University: Center for Tourism Policy and Research, 1991.

Cultural Resource Management in Egypt

Adams, M. “Lake Nasser: A Unique Opportunity for the Study of Submerged Terrestrial Sites.” (unpublished)

Adam, S. “Problems Related to the Preservation of Egyptian Antiquities in Egypt.” Prospection et Sauvegarde des Antiquites de l’Egypte. Ed. N. Grimal. Cairo: IFAO, 1981.

Assman, J., ed. Problems and Priorities in Egyptian Archaeology. London: Kegan Paul, 1987.

Bell, L. “The Epigraphic Survey.” Problems and Priorities in Egyptian Archaeology. Eds. J. Assman, G. Burkard, and V. Davies. Kegan Paul: London, 1987.

Billard, T., and G. Burns. “Solution of the Continuity Equation for the Karnak Area.” Nature 285.5767 (June 1980): 654-655.

“Conservation of the Sphinx Project.” Prepared by Consortium for the Conservation of the Sphinx for Egyptian Antiquities Organization. Cairo, 1993.

Davies, R., and M. Jaquinta. Egypt National Action Plan: Enhancement of the Organisation and Capabilities to Preserve the Cultural Heritage Assets of Egypt (mission report). Luxor: ICCROM, 1994.

“Egypt: National Environmental Action Plan, Cultural Heritage.” Prepared for World Bank (unpublished). 1992.

“Environmental Action Plan.” Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt (unpublished). 1992.

Esmael, F. “Response Report: Integrated Environmental Management of Cultural Heritage Sites.”

Unpublished report, 1991.

—. “Towards an Environmental Strategy for Development in Egypt: Natural and Cultural Heritage.” Unpublished report, 1991.

Fahmy, H., et al. “Environmental Protection of Egyptian Cultural Heritage.” Cairo: Cairo University, 1992.

Gauri, K. “The Deterioration of Ancient Stone Structures in Egypt.” Prospection et Sauvegarge des Antiquites de l’Egypte. Ed. N. Grimal. Cairo: IFAO, 1981.

Ghali, H. “The Luxor Temple: Between Improvement Visions and Probabilities of Falling.” Submitted to Z. Hawass (unpublished).

“Giza Plateau Masterplan.” West Sussex: The Conservation Practice, 1991.

Gosline, S. “The Conservation of Intaglio-Relevato Plaster Scenes in an 18th Dynasty Egyptian Tomb Chapel (unpublished).”

Grimal, N. Prospection et Sauvegarde des Antiquites de l’Egypte. Cairo: IFAO, 1981.

Habachi, L. “Collaboration of Egyptian Egyptologists with Foreign Expeditions in Facing Problems Threatening the Pharaonic Monuments.” Prospection et Sauvegarde des Antiquites de l’Egypte. Ed. N. Grimal. Cairo: IFAO, 1981.

Hawass, Z. “The Egyptian Monuments: Problems and Solutions.” Conservation of Stone and Other Materials. Ed. M. Thiel. London: E & FN Spon, 1993.

—. “The Egyptian Monuments: Problems and Solutions.” International Journal of Cultural Property 1.4 (1995).

—, ed. The First International Symposium on the Great Sphinx Towards Global Treatment of the Sphinx Cairo, Feb.-Mar. 1992.

—. “History of the Sphinx Conservation.” Proceedings of the Conservation of the Sphinx. Ed. Z. Hawass. Cairo: Egyptian Antiquities Organization, 1992.

—. “Saving the Monuments of Egypt, Now and Forever.” Minerva 6.5 (1995).

—. “Site Management and Conservation.” Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century. Ed. Z. Hawass. Cairo: AUC, 2003.

—. “Touristic Management of the Giza Plateau (abstract).”

Helmy, E., and C. Cooper. “An Assessment of Sustainable Tourism Planning for the Archaeological Heritage: The Case of Egypt.” Journal of Sustainable Tourism 10.6 (2002).

Hobbs, J. “Sacred Space and Touristic Development at Jebel Musa (Mt. Sinai), Egypt.” Journal of Cultural Geography: 99-113.

—. “Speaking with People in Egypt’s St. Katherine National Park.” Geographical Review 86.1 (Jan. 1996).

El-Iraqi, D. Management of Cultural Heritage: A Goal of Programming Approach. Unpublished dissertation, Cairo: Cairo University, 2002.

Jaeschke, R. “The Role of Conservation in Egyptology.” Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Egyptologists. Ed. C. Eyre. Leuven: 1998.

Johnson, E. “A Reassessment of the Conservation of Egyptian Monuments.” Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Egyptologists. Ed. C. Eyre. Leuven: 1998.

Leishman, K. “The Future of the Past.” Atlantic (Jan. 1985).

McManamon, F., and J. Rogers. “Developing Cultural Resource Management in Egypt.” (unpublished)

Miles, S., and R. Antonius. “Environmental Sustainable Development in Egypt: A Strategy for Guiding CIDA’s Interventions.” Report to the Canadian International Development Agency, 1992.

Moser, S., et al. “Transforming Archaeology through Practice: Strategies for Collaborative Archaeology and the Community Archaeology Project at Quseir, Egypt.” World Archaeology 34.2 (2002).

Parcak, S. “Finding New Archaeological Sites in Egypt Using Satellite Remote Sensing: Case Studies from Middle Egypt and the Delta.” Presented at International Conference on Remote Sensing Archaeology: Beijing, 2004.

“Recommendations of the Cairo University Second Symposium on the Scientific View on Site Conservation.” (unpublished). Cairo, 1992.

Rodenbeck, J. “Politics and Vision: Rethinking Conservation in the Historic Zone of Cairo.” Presented at ARCE meeting: Baltimore, 1992.

Sadek, H. “Our Common Past: Conserving our Cultural Heritage.” International Environment Report 13.7 (July 11, 1990).

Saleh, F. “SCA Archeological GIS Center: A Strategic View.” Cairo: 2001.

“Siwa Oasis.” Prepared by German Institute of Archaeology, Cairo. 1992.

Smith, S. “An Assessment of Structural Deterioration of Ancient Egyptian Monuments and Tombs in Thebes.” Journal of Field Archaeology 13 (1986).

“Strategic Approach to Egypt’s Cultural Heritage.” National Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage. 2001.

Supreme Council of Antiquities. “Project for the Egyptian Antiquities Information System.” Cairo, 1998.

“Using Modern Technology to Preserve the Past.” Regional Information Technology and Software Engineering Center. (Unpublished). Cairo.

Weeks, K. “Changing Egyptian Archaeology.” Anthropology News (April 2003).

—. Conserving Egypt’s Cultural Heritage: Priority Sites Needing Restoration and Protection. Washington: PRIDE, Chemonix, 1993.

—. “Conserving Egypt’s Cultural Heritage: Terms of Reference for a National Action Plan.” Prepared by PRIDE for USAID. Washington: 1993.

—. “A Paper on the Antiquities of Thebes, Presented to the Climate Institute Cairo Conference on Climate Change, December 1989 (unpublished).”

—. “Toward the Establishment of a Pre-Islamic Egyptian Archaeological Database.” Studies in Honour of William Kelly Simpson. Ed. D. Manuelian. Boston: MFA, 1996. 834-854.

Wilson-Yang, K., and G. Burns. “Electron Microprobe Studies of Chemical Reactions in Ancient Painted Murals: The Beni Hasan Tombs, Egypt.” Canadian Journal of Chemistry 66 (1988): 2348 2361.

Wüst, R., and C. Schlüchter. “The Origin of Soluble Salts in Rocks of the Theban Mountains, Egypt: The Damage Potential to Ancient Egyptian Wall Art.” Journal of Archaeological Science 27 (2000): 1161-1172.

Cultural Resource Management in Luxor

Abraham, G., et al. “The Comprehensive Development of the City of Luxor Project, Egypt: Final Structure Plan, Volume 1: Technical Report.” Abt Associates Inc., 2000.

—. “The Comprehensive Development of the City of Luxor Project, Egypt: Final Structure Plan, Volume 2: Supplementary Documents.” Abt Associates Inc., 2000.

—. “Comprehensive Development Plan for the City of Luxor, Egypt: Investment Project #1, Investment Portfolio for Proposed Grant of US $40 million to the Arab Republic of Egypt for the Restoration of the Avenue of the Sphinxes.” Abt Associates Inc., 1999.

—. “Comprehensive Development Plan for the City of Luxor, Egypt: Investment Project #2, Investment Portfolio for the Development of the Destination Resort of El-Toad in Luxor City.” Abt Associates Inc., 2000.

—. “Comprehensive Development Plan for the City of Luxor, Egypt: Investment Project #3,

Investment Portfolio for the Development of The New City of New Luxor, Egypt.” Abt Associates Inc., 2000.

—. “Comprehensive Development Plan for the City of Luxor, Egypt: Investment Project #4, Investment Portfolio for the Development of Infrastructure serving New Luxor and El Toad.” Abt Associates Inc., 2000.

—. “Comprehensive Development Plan for the City of Luxor, Egypt: Investment Project #5, High Value Agriculture and Agroprocessing Industries in Luxor City.” Abt Associates Inc., 2000.

—. “Comprehensive Development Plan for the City of Luxor, Egypt: Investment Project #6, Investment Portfolio for the Creation of an Open Museum and Heritage District in Luxor City, Egypt.” Abt Associates Inc., 1999.

—, and J. Tilney. “The Role of Cultural of Cultural Heritage in Development: A Case Study of Luxor.” Development Brief 3.2 (Summer 1998). Online at www.abtassoc.com.

Cain, K., and P. Martinez. “Multiple Realities: Video Projection in the Tomb of Ramsses II.” INSIGHT, San Francisco.

Chase-Harrell, P. “The Use of Interpretive Techniques to Increase Visitor Understanding and Reduce Pressure on Fragile Resources: The West Bank of the Nile at Luxor.” International Perspectives on Cultural Parks: Proceedings of the 1st World Conference. Mega Verde National Park: 1984.

Curtis, G. “Deterioration of the Royal Tombs.” Valley of the Sun Kings: New Explorations in the Tombs of the Pharaohs, Papers from The University of Arizona International Conference on the Valley of the Kings. Ed. R. Wilkinson. Tucson: University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition, 1995.

Esherick, J. “A Proposal for an Environmental Master Plan for the Valley of the Kings.” Brooklyn Theban Royal Tomb Project.

Gamblin, S. “Luxor: A Tale of Two Cities.” Upper Egypt: Identity and Change. Cairo: AUC, 2004.

El-Gammal, M. “Luxor, Egypt: Balancing Archeological Preservation and Economic Development.” Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania (unpublished thesis), 1991.

Hegazy, E. “Saving the Theban Necropolis: An Emergency Documentation Proposal.” KMT 10.1 (1999).

Hetherington, N. J. “Is there a Future for the Past? An Assessment of the Role of Archaeological Site Management in the Valley of the Kings.” London: UCL (unpublished thesis), 2003.

El-Kholei, A. “Comprehensive Development for Luxor City Project (Heritage Work Paper 1).” 1997.

Levin, J. “In the Tomb of Tutankhamun.” The Getty Conservation Institute Newsletter 7.3 (1992).

Meyer, E., P. Grussenmeyer, T. Tidafi, C. Parisel, and J. Revez. “Photogrammetry for the Epigraphic Survey in the Great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak Temple: A New Approach.” ISPRS.

Mora, P., G. Torraca, E. Schwartzbaum, E. Smith. Luxor West Bank Visitor Management Study: Possible Impact of Increased Tourist Numbers on the Tombs of the West Bank at Luxor. ICCROM Mission Report. Rome: ICCROM, 1981.

Preston, D. “All the King’s Sons.” Cairo: AUC Press, 1996.

Romer, J. “History and Experience in the Valley of the Kings.” Theban Foundation: California.

—. Theban Royal Tomb Project of the Brooklyn Museum Theban Expedition: A Report of the First Two Seasons. San Francisco: Scope, 1979.

Rutherford, J. “Tomb of Rameses II: Why Save It?” KMT, A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt 1.3 (Fall 1990): 46-51.

—, and D. Ryan. “Tentative Tomb Protection Priorities, Valley of the Kings, Egypt.” Valley of the Sun Kings: New Explorations in the Tombs of the Pharaohs, Papers from The University of Arizona International Conference on the Valley of the Kings. Ed. R. Wilkinson. Tucson: University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition, 1995.

Ryan, D. “Further Observations Concerning the Valley of the Kings.” Valley of the Sun Kings: New Explorations in the Tombs of the Pharaohs, Papers from The University of Arizona International Conference on the Valley of the Kings. Ed. R. Wilkinson. Tucson: University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition, 1995.

Van der Speek, K. Making a Living in the City of the Dead: History, Life and Work at al-Hurubat in the Necropolis of Thebes, al-Qurna, Luxor (abstract). Canberra: Australian National University (unpublished thesis), 2004.

Weeks, K. “Anatomy of a Concession.” KMT 1.1 (Spring 1990): 42-47.

—. “The Antiquities of Thebes.” Presented to the Climate Institute Cairo Conference on Climate Change, Dec. 1989, Cairo. Reprinted in the NARCE, 1990.

—. “An Archaeological Map of the Theban Necropolis.” 1st International Conference of Egyptologists 1976 (Cairo). Berlin: 1979.

—. The Berkeley Map of the Theban Necropolis: First Preliminary Report. Berkeley. Reprinted in the NARCE, 1979.

—. The Berkeley Map of the Theban Necropolis: Report of the Second Season. Berkeley. Reprinted in the NARCE, 1980.

—. The Berkeley Map of the Theban Necropolis: Report of the Third Season. Berkeley. Reprinted in the NARCE, 1980.

—. The Berkeley Map of the Theban Necropolis: Report of the Fourth Season. Berkeley. Reprinted in the NARCE, 1981.

—. The Berkeley Map of the Theban Necropolis: Report of the Fifth Season. Berkeley. Reprinted in the NARCE, 1982.

—. The Berkeley Map of the Theban Necropolis: Report of the Sixth and Seventh Season. Berkeley. Reprinted in the NARCE, 1985.

—. The Berkeley Map of the Theban Necropolis: Report of the Eighth Season. Berkeley, 1988.

—. “The Berkeley Theban Mapping Project.” Acts of the 3rd International Congress of Egyptologists, Munich, 1985. Studien zur Altagytischen Kultur, 1985.

—. “Protecting the Theban Necropolis.” Egyptian Archaeology 4 (1994): 23-27.

—. “Recent Work in the Valley of the Kings.” Egyptian Archaeology 4 (1995): 23-26.

—. “A Theban Grid Network.” MDAIK 37 (1981).

—. The Theban Mapping Project: Report of the 1994 Field Season. Cairo: 1994.

—. “The Theban Mapping Project and Work in KV 5.” After Tutankhamun: Papers from an International Conference on the Valley of the Kings. Ed. C. Reeves. London: 1991.

—. “Theban Necropolis.” Oxford Encyclopaedia of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: OUP, 2001.

—. “Tombs: An Overview.” Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: OUP, 2001.

—. “Valley of the Kings.” Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: OUP, 2001.

—. “The Work of the Theban Mapping Project and the Protection of the Valley of the Kings.” Valley of the Sun Kings: New Explorations in the Tombs of the Pharaohs, Papers from The University of Arizona International Conference on the Valley of the Kings. Ed. R. Wilkinson. Tucson: University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition, 1995.

—. “Work in the Valley of the Kings.” Minerva (Summer 1995).

Welbank, M. “Luxor, Ancient Thebes.” A report to Unesco. London.

KV Condition Reports

Abdallah, T., and H. Helal. “Risk Evaluation of Rock Mass Sliding in El-Deir El-Bahary Valley, Luxor, Egypt.” Bulletin of the International Association of Engineering Geology 42 (200): 3-9.

Abdel Aziz, O., and E. Khalil. “CFD-Controlled Climate Design of the Archaeological Tombs of KV.” Cairo University.

Abdel Aziz, O., and E. Khalil. “Mathematical Modeling of Air Flow and Heat Transfer: Predictions of Archaeological Tombs of KV.” Cairo University.

Abel, J. “KV 5 Tomb Stability and Rehabilitation.” KV 5: A Preliminary Report. Ed. K. Weeks.

Cairo: AUC, 2000.

Advanced Terra Testing, Inc. “Mineralogical Analysis.” KV 5: A Preliminary Report. Ed. K. Weeks. Cairo: AUC, 2000.

Bukavonsky, M, and D. Richards. “Slope Deformations in the Valley of the Kings.” KV 5: A Preliminary Report. Ed. K. Weeks. Cairo: AUC, 2000.

—, D. Richards, and K. Weeks. “Influence of Slope Deformations on the Tombs in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt.” Proceedings, International Symposium, Engineering Geology and the Environment: Athens. Rotterdam: A. A. Balkema, 1997.

Canuti, P., et al. “The IGCP-425 Project on Landslide Hazard in Cultural Heritage Sites.”University of Firenze.

Ciccarello, M., and J. Romer. A Preliminary Report of the Recent Work in the Tombs of Ramesses X and XI in the Valley of the Kings (unpublished).

Curtis, G. H. “The Geology of the Valley of the Kings, Thebes, Egypt.” Theban Royal Tomb Project, The Brooklyn Museum Theban Expedition, Report to Egyptian Antiquities Organization (unpublished report 28): 1979.

El-Didy, S. “Hydraulic Response of the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.” KV 5: A Preliminary Report. Ed. K. Weeks. Cairo: AUC, 2000.

Esherick, J. “A Proposal for Environmental Master Plan for the Valley of the Kings.” Theban Royal Tomb Project, The Brooklyn Museum Theban Expedition, (unpublished report 6): 1979.

Hamza Associates. “Lithologic, Petrographic, and Mineralogic Identification of Two Surface Samples (Indurated Rocks).” KV 5: A Preliminary Report. Ed. K. Weeks. Cairo: AUC, 2000.

—. “Mineralogy of the Esna Shale Sample (KV 20).” Cairo, 1994.

—. “Rock Mechanics Index Tests.” KV 5: A Preliminary Report. Ed. K. Weeks. Cairo: AUC, 2000.

Lorenz, S. Project Design for Climate Control in Tombs of Pharaoes [sic]. Weisbaden: ISL, 1999.

McLane, J., and R. Wüst. “Flood Hazards and Protection Measures in the Valley of the Kings.”CRM 6 (2000).

Monaghan, M. “Surficial Geology of the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt.” The Brooklyn Museum Theban Royal Tomb Project, (unpublished report): 1979.

Richards, D. P., M. Bukavonsky, S. El Didy, M. Hamza, J. Triplett, and C. Wienicke. “Engineering and Geology Studies for Tomb KV-5.” Cairo: AUC, 1996.

Richards, D. “Geotechnical Studies for KV 5.” KV 5: A Preliminary Report. Ed. K. Weeks. Cairo: AUC, 2000.

—. “KV-5 Geotechnical Study for Dr. Kent Weeks.” Cairo: AUC, 1994.

Romer, J. “A History of Floods in the Valley of the Kings.” Final Report of the Theban Royal Tomb Project: 1979.

Rutherford, J. Valley of the Kings Tomb Flood Protection Project. Submitted to ARCE: Cairo, 2001.

—, M. Chekene, J. Romer, and A. Gribaldo. “Damage in the Royal Tombs in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes.” The Egyptian Organization of Antiquities, (unpublished report 58), 1977.

Szczepanowska, H. and A. Cavaliere. “Tutankhamun Tomb: A Closer Look at Biodeterioration Preliminary Report.” VD Schriftenreihe. Ed. A. Rauch, et al.

Wüst, R. A. J., and J. McLane. “Rock Deterioration in the Royal Tomb of Seti I, Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt.” Engineering Geology 58 (2000): 163-190.

—, and C. Schlüchter. “The Origin of Soluble Salts in Rocks of the Thebes Mountains, Egypt: The Damage Potential to Ancient Egyptian Wall Art.” Journal of Archaeological Science 27 (2000): 1161 1172.

Environmental Data—Tomb of Nefertari, Valley of the Queens

Afshar, M. Source materials for the study of wall paintings in the tomb of Nefertari. Marina del Rey: Getty Conservation Institute, 1991.

Agnew, N., and Shin Maekawa. “Preserving Nefertari’s Legacy.” Scientific American 281.4 (Oct 1999): 74-79.

El-Baz, F. “Geoarchaeologists Use Remote Sensing Tools to Study Ancient Life, Landforms.”Geotimes (July 1990): 16-18.

—. “Geographic and Geologic Setting of the Tomb of Nefertari, Egypt.” Boston University Center for Remote Sensing.

Burns, G., and K. M. Wilson-Yang. The Tomb of Nefertari, Valley of the Queens and its Conservation Problems. Preliminary Report, Archaeometric Laboratory. Toronto, 1981.

—, and J. E. Smeaton. “Archaeological Sites as Physiochemical Systems: The Tomb of Nefertari, Egypt.” Archaeological Chemistry IV: Advances in Chemistry Series 220. Washington: 1988. 289 310.

Cather, S., ed. “Scientific and Technical Examination of the Tomb of Queen Nefertari at Thebes.”The Conservation of Wall Paintings. London: Getty Conservation Institute, 1987.

Conservation vol. VII, no. III (Fall 1992). Marina del Rey: Getty Conservation Institute, 1992.

Corzo, M. A. ed. Wall Paintings of the Tomb of Nefertari: First Quarterly Report. Marina del Rey: Getty Conservation Institute, 1986.

——. Wall Paintings of the Tomb of Nefertari: Scientific Studies for their Conservation. First Progress Report. Cairo: 1987.

Gauri, K. L. “The Deterioration of Ancient Stone Structures in Egypt.” Prospection et Sauvegarde des Antiquites de l’Egypte 17. Cairo: Egyptian Antiquities Organization, 1981.

Getty Conservation Institute. In the Tomb of Nefertari: Conservation of the Wall Paintings. Santa Monica: Getty Conservation Institute, 1992.

——. Nefertari Project Logbooks, 1989-1992.

Iskander, Z. “Some Restoration Problems in Egypt and their Treatment.” Recent Advances in Science and Technology of Materials 3. New York: Plenum, 1974. 1-8.

Maekawa, S., Z. Yongjun, W. Baoyi, F. Wenli and X. Ping. “Climate and Micro Climate at the Mogao Grottes.” Postprint of International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, Conservation of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes and the Related Studies, Tokyo National Research Institute of Cultural Properties (1997): 53-82.

——. Environmental Monitoring at the Tomb of Nefertari. Final Report, 1993.

——. “Environmental Monitoring at the Tomb of Nefertari.” Art and Eternity: The Nefertari Wall Paintings Conservation Project 1986-1992. Santa Monica: Getty Conservation Institute, 1993.

——. Trip Report for Field Work at the Tomb of Nefertari. Report for the SCA, 1996.

Majewski, L. J. “The Conservation of Wall Paintings in Archaeological Excavations.” Preservation of Clay Tablets and the Conservation of Wall Paintings. London: B. Quaritch: 1966.

McDonald, J. K. The Tomb of Nefertari: House of Eternity. Cairo: AUC, 1996.

Michalowski, A., ed., and S. Rakowski, trans. The Tomb of Queen Nefertari: Problems of Conserving Wall Paintings: Diagnosing the State of Preservation and Conservator’s Proposals. Warsaw: Working Group of the State Ateliers for the Preservation of Historical Property, 1973.

Mora, P., G. Torraca, P. Schwartzbaum, and E. Smith. “Luxor West Bank Visitor Management Study: Possible Impact of Increased Tourist Numbers on the Tombs and the West Bank of Luxor.” ICCROM Mission Report. Rome, 1981.

Plenderlieth, H. J. United Arab Republic Conservation Problems: April 1970. Paris, UNESCO report, sect. 2, serial no. 1914/BMS.RD/CLT.

Schiarparelli, E. Relazione sui lavori della missione archeologica italiana in Egitto (1903-1920) vol. I: Esplorazione della “Valle delle Regine” nella necropoli di Tebe. Turin, 1923.

Siena, J. S., ed. “Final Conservation Treatment on Tomb of Queen Nefertari.” Getty Conservation Institute Newsletter 3.1 (1988): 1-2.

Smeaton, J. E., and Burns, G. “The Physicochemistry of the Tomb of Nefertari, Egypt.” Proceedings of the Material Research Society 123 (1988): 209-304.

Stanley Price, N. P. “Preventive Measures during Excavation and Site Protection: a Review of the ICCROM University of Ghent conference, November 1985.” In Situ Archaeological Conservation 71. Century City: GCI, 1987.

Stopperlaere, A. “Degredations et restaurations des peintures murales egyptiennes.” In Annales du Service des Antiquites de l’Egypte 40 (1940): 941-50.

Torraca, G. ICCROM Mission to the Tomb of Queen Nerfertari, February, 1978: Conclusions of the Report. Rome, 1978. International Center for the Study of the preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property report no. 35, GT/EA.

Wilson-Yang, K. M., T. C. Billard, and G. Burns. “Chemistry and Physics in the Tomb of Nefertari.” Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities 12 (1982): 9-11. Universtiy of Toronto report, 1977-1981.

—. “The Stability of the Tomb of Nefertari 1904-1987.” Studies in Conservation 34 (1989):153-170.

Reviewed Management Plans

Avebury Stone Circle World Heritage Site Management Plan. English Heritage. 2004.

Chaco Archeological Protection Site System Joint Management Plan. United States National Park Service. 1983.

Chaco Culture Archaeological Protection Site System Joint Management Plan (final plan amendment). United States National Park Service, Department of the Interior. 1990.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park. United States National Park Service. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2003.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park General Management Plan/Development Concept Plan. United States National Park Service, Department of the Interior. 1985.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park Land Protection Plan. United States National Park Service, Department of the Interior. 1985.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park: Statement for Interpretation and Interim Interpretive Prospectus. United States National Park Service. 1991.

De la Torre, M., ed. The Conservation of Archaeological Sites in the Mediterranean Region: Proceedings from an international conference. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 1995.

De la Torre, M., ed. Heritage Values in Site Management: Four Case Studies. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2005.

Durham World Heritage Site Management Plan. Presented at World Heritage Sites: Managing Conflict and Change Conference by Chris Blandford Associates. Durham, 2003.

Gwynedd: The Castles and Town Walls of Edward I in Gwynedd World Heritage Site Management Plan. Welsh Assembly Government (Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru).

Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site Management Plan (draft pp. 1-18). Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site Strategy Group.

Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site Management Plan. English Heritage. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2003.

Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site Management Plan 2002-2007. English Heritage. SPD Limited, Gateshead.

Jordan: Cultural Resources Management and National Inventory of Archaeological and Historic Sites: The Jordanian Experience. Presented at the V Conference on the History and Archaeology of Jordan. Irbid, 1992.

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Boston: MainStreet Design, 1999.

Petra National Trust UNESCO Management Plan (abstract). 1994.

Petrified Forest National Park General Management Plan/ Development Concept Plans/Environmental Impact Statement. United States National Park Service, Department of the Interior. 1992.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, World Heritage Site Management Plan (summary). Chris Blandford Associates. 2002.

Stonehenge World Heritage Site Management Plan. Chris Blandford Associates. English Heritage: 2000.

Teutonico, J., and G. Palumbo, ed. Management Planning for Archaeological Sites: Proceedings from the international workshop. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2000.

Thailand: Protected Areas Planning and Management Program for Thailand. United States National Park Service, Department of the Interior. 1989.

Toms Cove Visitor Center Relocation Project. Assatigue Island National Seashore.

Tower of London World Heritage Site Management Plan. Chris Blandford Associates. Historic Royal Palaces, 2003.

Westminster World Heritage Site Management Plan. English Heritage. Atkins, 2004.

Unesco Documents

Lettier, R. “Recording, Documentation and Information Management: Guidelines for World Cultural Heritage Sites.” ICCROM, 1994.

Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. Unesco. World Heritage Center, 2005.

State of Conservation Reports: Egypt. Unesco, 1998.

Pressouyre, L. “The World Heritage Convention, Twenty Years Later.” Unesco, 1996.

Whitburn, P. “World Heritage Sites: The First Thirty Years.” Presented to the Society of Antiquaries of London. London, 2002.

World Heritage Manuals 1: Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites. Unesco, 2002.

World Heritage Papers 2: Investing in World Heritage: past achievements, future ambitions. Unesco, 2002.

World Heritage Papers 8: Mobilizing Young People for World Heritage. Unesco, 2002.

World Heritage Papers 10: Monitoring World Heritage. Unesco, 2002.

World Heritage Reports 11: Periodic Report and Regional Programme, Arab States 2000-2003. Unesco, 2004.

World Heritage Papers 13: Linking Universal and Local Values. Unesco, 2003.

WHC Nomination Documentation: Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis (ICOMOS documentation). Unesco website, 1979.

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