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Web: A Walk Through the Valley of the Kings Volume 55 Number 6, November/December 2002
by Mark Rose

Egypt's Valley of the Kings is the subject of countless publications, in print and on the web, produced with different purposes and audiences in mind. The newest is the Theban Mapping Project's website (www.thebanmappingproject.com), which combines features geared to the general public with an adaptation of a scholarly work.

At its heart is a tomb-by-tomb description, based on a survey of the valley that began in 1978 and is directed by the American University in Cairo's Kent Weeks. Each entry includes basic information, such as the tomb's location and dimensions, summaries of who investigated it and what was found there, its condition, drawings and photographs, bibliography, and more.

You access this information by clicking on tombs designated on a map or by clicking on the "Launch Atlas" button, which also gives you narrated "tours" of the tombs. But many of these are too brief--a few sentences and one or two images--to be real tours. Much more elaborate is the single "3-D" tour in which you move along the length of tomb KV 14, viewing images of the decorated walls in synch with the narration.

If the website isn't yet a one-stop source on the tombs for the general public, perhaps that's because it is an outgrowth of the Atlas of the Valley of the Kings, the project's monumental scholarly publication. For example, the website's entry for KV21 has a terse description of the tomb and the mummified remains of two women, possibly royal, found in it, along with data like the tomb's elevation (180.654 meters above sea level) and area (120.29 square meters). By contrast, Nicholas Reeves and Richard Wilkinson's Complete Valley of the Kings (New York: Thames & Hudson, 1996) has a longer description of the tomb, interior photos, and quotes explorer Giovanni Belzoni, who saw the mummies in 1817: "their hair pretty long, and well preserved, though it was easily separated from the head by pulling it a little."

The Theban Mapping Project's website is an outstanding source for basic information, and provides useful stand-alone articles (on tomb robberies, exploration of the valley, and funerary equipment, to name a few), a timeline, and searchable text and image database. Adding more "tours" like the KV14 one and more general descriptions of the tombs, their contents, and decoration, would take it to an even higher level.

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© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America
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