Recently the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities has shared it’s worries about the future of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings with the world. Now they share more details on the planned solutions: ventilation systems, special lighting and… well, we expected a replica of KV62, but we’re getting an entire new Valley of the Kings on the cliff side of the real one.
Daily thousands of tourists visit the tombs of King Tut, Seti I, Ramses, Horemeb (recently re-opened) and Queen Nefertari. All well, were it not that the quantity of humidity and fungus generated through breath and sweat is gradually eroding the soft stone of the chambers, slowly destroying paintings and carvings thousands of years old. Dr Hawass has now confirmed that closing Tutankhamun, Nefertari and Seti I’s tombs is the first step in the new plan to protect the Valley of the Kings. Others will get added protection.
As a first step, the SCA is currently installing a cool lighting system in the Valley of the Kings so that people can visit the tombs in the evening. This will help protect the paintings as it will spread the number of visits over the course of the day. “It will also allow the tombs to escape from the extra head and moisture that builds up in them throughout the day,” Dr. Hawass said.
Dr. Hawass tells Al-Ahram that 13 royal tombs – out of a total of 63 – in the Valley of the Kings were open but no one visits them. Once the most popular tombs are closed tourists will be more encouraged to visit the others. The original tombs can still be entered, but at a price. “Whoever wants to visit the original tombs of Tutankhamun, Seti I and Nefertari must pay a huge amount of money,” Hawass says.
As for the tombs of Tutankhamun, Seti I and Nefertari, Hawass said a plan to protect them was now being implemented in collaboration with the British organisation Adam Lowe of Factun Arte. The plan is to create identical replicas of these tombs by making detailed high-resolution copies of the burial chambers, paintings and sarcophagi using laser scanners. After the replicas have been constructed they will be installed on the cliff side of the Valley of the Kings, which will be called “The Replica Valley” where visitors can experience their beauty with the knowledge that the ancient paintings are being preserved. Hawass pointed out that missing fragments from these tombs now held in foreign museum, would also be scanned and added to the overall reconstruction to give a complete picture of the tombs. (Nevine El-Aref for Al-Ahram)
Starting next month tour guides will not be allowed to enter with their groups into the tombs at Beni Hassan in Minya, Giza and Saqqara. A model will be installed at the entrance of each tomb. While you wait for The Replica Valley to be completed, you can still check out our replica KV62 – based on superb photographs of the wall paintings by Sandro Vannini – and Tutankhamun’s treasures by getting yourself an avatar and exploring King Tut Virtual.