The Tomb of Ay - also known as KV 23 - Western Desert, Valley of the Kings, West Bank
I only found out about this tomb recently but really glad I did. Ay was the successor to King Tutankhamun and this tomb was discovered by Belzoni in 1816. It’s located in the Western Valley which branches off at the main entrance to the Valley of the Kings. You have to get your tickets at the central ticket office and the price is around 25 LE £3.
However, you come back outside of the ticket office and take a right turn down a very bumpy dirt track through some rocky mountainous terrain. You cannot walk and will need a car as the journey to the tomb takes around 10 minutes as is well off the beaten track. At times you even feel like you have been transported to another planet and if you get the chance climb up some rocks before the tomb to get fantastic panoramic view of the valley.
This tomb was originally planned for King Tutankhamun, but as he died early into his reign and unexpectedly he was hurriedly buried in another which is now known as KV62 in the main Valley of the Kings. There are bigger tombs with better paintings in the main Valley, but this tomb really is a hidden gem, that not many people know about.
During our visit we were accompanied by a local guard who we found out had worked in the Valley of the Kings for over 30 years. He can’t read or write, and speaks a little English so my Egyptian husband translated for us which was useful.
I was able to open the padlock to the entrance of the tomb and then we descended two relatively steep staircases and corridors which led us into a large rectangular sarcophagus hall. It was great to have the tomb to ourselves it was like having our own private tour. The guard gave us a very insightful, lively and gave an interesting account of the tomb, about Ay and what the hieroglyphics and paintings meant.
The tomb is similar in style to that of Tutankhamun’s in that it depicts twelve baboons which represent the twelve hours of the day and as such Ay is known locally as the ’Tomb of the Baboons’ and the Western Valley is known as the ’Valley of the Monkeys’. We spent about 45 mins marveling at the intricate art work and carvings on the sarcophagus.
I've now been to Ay, three times in the last few months, and every time l find out something new, so if you fancy a private tour without the crowds and for a fraction of the cost of King Tut's tomb, then this is the place for you.
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