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Secrets of the Valley of the Queens

An Egyptian princess, daughter of Ramesses IIIn the Egyptian desert west of Ancient Thebes, a little south of the famous Valley of the Kings, lies the lesser known Valley of the Queens, final and secret home for the wives of New Kingdom Pharaohs. These tombs were cut into the rock in a similar fashion to those of their husbands, on a smaller scale. Although most tourists to Egypt miss them, the tombs of the Queens contain art of great beauty, including fascinating glimpses of the styles of noble women in the Court of the Pharaoh.

The Ancient Egyptians were great lovers of beauty and the dresses and jewelry worn by the queens is certainly a reflection of that. Soft Egyptian linen was favored, loosely flowing as would be expected in a hot climate, with a seemingly endless variety of patterns formed by pleats in the fabric and colored borders.

The vulture was highly regarded in Ancient Egypt for its excellent care of its young, thus it was the symbol of maternity. Mut the vulture was the mother goddess of Thebes. Vulture head gear was seen as the goddess protecting the mother of the future king and these winged coverings are often seen.

These portraits, except where noted, were copied from the tomb walls by Giuseppe Angelelli, Gaetano Rosellini and Salvador Cherubini, and engraved by Carlo Lasinio as part of the Champollion/Rosellini expedition, published in Paris in 1844. These fine works remember the art and beauty of the New Kingdom, hidden deep in the Valley of the Queens.

Queen Tamon Mai.
Queen Tamon Mai

The Egyptians were always concerned with symbolic meaning. Paintings and carvings on tomb walls were meant to have magical effects toward the comfort and spiritual progress of the deceased in the afterlife. The hand is seen as the connector between the self and the outside world, spiritual and mundane. The left hand is the receiver, the right is the giver, so to picture someone with two right hands accentuates the idea of the Queen as giving, here most likely giving honors to the gods.

Queen Titi Queen Iside

On the left is Queen Titi, and on the right Queen Iside.

Queen Amonmai Queen
On the left is Queen Amonma, wife of Meritamon, and on the right an unidentified Queen
who carries a papyrus flower fan and an incense burner
and wears the head dress of the god Amun.

Queen Nefertari Queen Tascia Takhat
On the left is Queen Nefertari, favorite wife of Pharaoh Ramesses II,
and on the right is Queen Tascia. Queen Nefertari holds two sistrums,
metal rattles favored by temple chantresses.
Women played an important part in temple ceremonies and
many Egyptian queens held high rank in the temple.

Queen Taia Queen Nebto
These two portraits are the work of Prisse d'Avennes, published in 1878.
On the left is Queen Taia, wife of Pharaoh Amenopolis III,
and on the right Queen Nebto, wife of one of the Ramesses Pharaohs.

Queen Senseneb
Senseneb, the mother of Thutmose I, copied by Howard Carter, 1905.


The Tomb of Nefertari
Special Page

Nefertari, photo from the Yorck Project
~~~ Entrance ~~~
a rarely seen treasure

Secrets of the Valley of the Queens

Lost paintings of Egyptian Queens
Part 2

wings of the Sun.

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and 75 pages of architecture, art and mystery
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