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March 16, 2002
The American Getty Institute along with the Egyptian Antiquities Organization spent six million dollars and seven years restoring and preserving this tomb. It was opened to the public in 1995 at the cost of 200 pounds per person. Years later the number of people allowed to visit is still restricted to 150 per day, but the price has dropped to 100 pounds ($35 US)for the ten minute visit.
It is worth every pound!
Queen Nefertari was Ramses II favorite wife. When she died in her early forties, Ramses had this tomb lovingly created for her. She was a beautiful queen, and her image throughout the three chambered tomb reflects this. Wearing a soft white gown, she looks pure, confident, graceful and exquisite.
Colorful scenes, nearly life-sized, abound of her interacting with gods, illustrating Nefertari's journey into the afterworld. She appears before gods to receive their blessings, then waits for her rebirth on the eastern side of the heavens. Apparently she decided which chapters from the Book of the Dead she wanted painted in her tomb, carefully selecting the concepts she believed would facilitate her rebirth.
My favorite chamber was to the right as we entered. A huge bright yellow sun disc with orange falcon gods brightly filled the doorway. Scenes of polka dotted folkartsy cows she apparently adored filled the walls. (Remember her temple in Abu Simbel was dedicated to the cow goddess Hathor?) It was stylistically unique and playful to see the elongated spotted creatures.
In the burial chamber, there are many squared pillars. Each side is decorated with life-sized pictures of Nefertari communing with a different god or goddess. A striking one of her with Isis wearing her orange sun disc headpiece immediately greets you upon entering. Isis is presenting Nefertari with an ankh, the symbol of life. The ceiling is dark blue with stick figure yellow stars painted closely together, representing the heavens. It is in poorer shape that the three outer chambers, and no sarcophagus remains.
No photos were allowed in the tomb, in fact we couldn't even take our cameras inside. We were the only visitors in the tomb at the time. It was very difficult to fully absorb this fantastic masterpiece because the minute we stepped inside, attendants followed us, pointing and talking and pestering us to look here and there, with a smile and outstretched hand for tips. They insisted on leading us elsewhere before we had time to see what was before us. I just wanted to be left alone to immerse myself in the incredible artwork, to appreciate and remember the vivid details.
From journal Honeymoon in Luxor
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
November 20, 2000
Nefertari means 'the most beautiful of them.'
From journal The apogee of ancient Egypt