After three years of closing for restoration the tomb of King Ramses II’s beloved son, King Merenptah was officially inaugurated in an attempt to provide more tourist attractions and in a step forward to regain Egypt’s tourism industry, after turmoil in Egypt since the 2011 January revolution
Restoration works aims at counteracting the deterioration of architectural features and decorations of the tomb resulted from natural causes or the misuse of the tomb visitors. The walls were reinforced, cracks removed, reliefs and colours consolidated. Since then new wooden stairways, flooring, lighting and special ventilation systems have been installed. Glass barriers that cover the tomb reliefs were cleaned or replaced.
Merenptah tomb is one of the most impressive royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings not only for its length, which reached 164,5 metres, but for its distinguished reliefs and the biggest granite sarcophagus ever found in the Valley.
The tomb was discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1903. It consists of three slopping corridors; the first one lead to the ritual shaft and the pillared hall with two pillar annex. The second corridor has a stairway.
The tomb is decorated with scenes from the Litany of Ra, Book of Gates, Imydwat, Book of the Dead, and scenes depicting the deceased, opening of the mouth rituals, along with several deities and members of his family.
It has also a very beautiful ceiling painted with golden stars on a blue background and the columns of the burial chamber are decorated with fine religious scenes.
On the footstep of the tomb Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of State for Antiquities, told Ahram Online that although he ruled Egypt for only a decade after the death of his father King Ramses II, Merenptah is a very important king. He protected Egypt’s border from an invasion by the people of the sea as well as Libyans.
Merenptah is the only king's name mentioned in association with Israel. On display at the Egyptian museum in Tahrir, Ibrahim continued, there is the famous “Stelae of Victory." Its text reads, “Israel has been destroyed and their women no longer conceive.”
“This is the only ancient Egyptian artifact that mentions the word "Israel,” asserted Ibrahim.
Mansour Boreih, head of Luxor antiquities, said that the sarcophagus has been also restored and put on show for the first time at the burial chamber inside the tomb.
He pointed out that when the tomb was discovered the mummy of the king was not inside it. However in 1898, the mummy was found among the mummies discovered inside the tomb of King Amenhotep II.