What do we learn from the Valley of the Kings about the New Kingdom's economy in ancient Egypt? Did the tombs get more elaborate as the kingdom flourished?

The Valley of the Kings, the burial site of Egypt's New Kingdom pharaohs, reveals the prosperity of the Egyptian economy during that period. As the New Kingdom flourished, the pharaohs' tombs became larger and more elaborate. Economic and political difficulties toward the end of the period, however, led to a decline in the monuments.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Egypt's Valley of the Kings is the burial site of many famous pharaohs from the New Kingdom era (c.1550–1077 BC). This was largely a prosperous period in which Egypt reached the heights of its power and glory. The Eighteenth Dynasty features rulers like Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten, and the famous...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Egypt's Valley of the Kings is the burial site of many famous pharaohs from the New Kingdom era (c.1550–1077 BC). This was largely a prosperous period in which Egypt reached the heights of its power and glory. The Eighteenth Dynasty features rulers like Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten, and the famous Tutankhamun (King Tut), whose tombs are elaborate and beautifully decorated.

In the Nineteenth Dynasty, more pharaohs built tombs in the Valley, and these are just as elaborate as those of the previous dynasty, if not even more so. Ramses I and II and Seti I brought the New Kingdom to its heights, and Ramses II even built an immense burial complex for his sons. These tombs are massive with many chambers, fine furnishings, numerous grave goods, and elaborate artwork.

By the time the Twentieth Dynasty was drawing to a close, though, Egypt was starting to fade, and the pharaohs grew weaker. Early rulers in this dynasty still built fantastic tombs in the Valley. They were still beautifully decorated, but they began to get smaller as the years passed. The economy began to suffer as this dynasty progressed, and food was even rationed for a while as droughts, corruption, and unrest plagued the pharaohs. They had to pay more attention to the health (or lack thereof) of their kingdom than to building monuments for themselves, and the Valley became less of a priority.

But indeed, for much of the New Kingdom period, Egypt's economy did flourish, and that is why the pharaohs could create ever more elaborate tombs that awe visitors even today.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on