A Royal Necropolis
The desert valley on the west bank of Thebes near Luxor is best known as Valley of the Kings, Egypt. The location was the political and religious capital of the New Kingdom, and was first used as a royal necropolis by Thutmosis I, although it was his predecessor, Amenhotep I, who was considered the patron-god of the valley by the actual builders of the tombs.
Two Main Branches
The Kings Valley has two main branches: the East Valley, where most of the royal tombs are situated, and the West Valley, which contains only the tombs of Amenhotep III and Ay, and some pits.
Tombs of the New Kingdom
The tombs of most of the New Kingdom kings have been discovered over the years; some were already open to public during the Greek-Roman era, others have only recently been unearthed.
All of the tombs have fallen victim to one or several visits by tomb robbers, even the famous tomb of Tutankhamun that was discovered almost intact in 1922 by Howard Carter.
Finding and Saving the Mummies
In an effort to save the royal mummies of these attractions from destruction, and to salvage the remaining treasures of the royal tombs, the priests of the end of the 20th and the 21st Dynasty opened the tombs, collected the mummies and buried them in two or more "caches".
The first "cache" was a rock tomb high up in the mountains of Deir el-Bahri that was probably intended as the family tomb of the 21st Dynasty king-priests. The second "cache" was the tomb of 18th Dynasty king Amenhotep II.
Not every royal mummy of the New Kingdom has been found, so there is room for the hypothesis that there may have been a third "cache" which has not yet been identified as such or which has not yet been discovered.
The only royal mummies to have been found in their own tombs were those of Amenhotep II, who was re-buried in his own tomb by the 21st Dynasty priests, and Tutankhamun, whose tomb lay undisturbed from the middle of the 20th Dynasty.
The Valley of the Kings is an attraction included in all Luxor Tours and most Egypt tours.