Egypt archaeologist blown away as 'world's earliest map' exposed construction secrets

The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Thebes, within the heart of the Theban Necropolis. Here, for nearly 500 years, from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock-cut tombs were excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom. And, amazingly, experts know exactly how they did it thanks to a plethora of ancient material uncovered in the years since, including an incredible map.

Egyptologist Professor Joann Fletcher detailed during Odyssey’s ‘The Valley Of Kings: The Egyptian Golden Age’ how the area was used.

She said: “Pharaohs of the New Kingdom chose to be buried in this remote valley where they could lie undisturbed in rock-cut tombs.

“This became Egypt’s most sacred place.

“Such elaborate preparations for the afterlife also fuelled a growing economy and just as in the pyramid age, the industry of death shaped the lives of many ordinary people.

“Not only were there tombs to cut and temples to build, but statues, shrines, coffins, sarcophagi and all the paraphernalia of the afterlife.

“And with this came all the ingenuity of sourcing everything from alabaster to granite, to gold.”

Prof Fletcher detailed how the discovery of an ancient map allowed experts to look back in time.

Showing it to viewers, she explained why it was so impressive to her.

She explained: “This is a copy of the world’s earliest surviving geological map, dating from around 1150BC and the reign of Ramses IV.

READ MORE: Egypt archaeologist rendered speechless by treasure: ‘Never seen anything like it’

Prof Fletcher explained: “Known to be very accurate, the map was made for one specific quarrying expedition, when 8,000 men were sent into a desert valley, 130km (80.7 miles) from Thebes to mine stone for royal monuments.

“What’s special about this map is that it leads us to the ordinary people who were employed by the pharaoh to build tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

“It was discovered by archaeologists at the worker’s village of Deir el-Medina, a purpose-built settlement to house the tomb builders, architects, artists and scribes together.

“It’s one of these workers who made the map.”

The area has been a focus of archaeological exploration since the end of the 18th century, and its tombs and burials continue to stimulate research and interest.

The valley is most famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. 

In 1979, it became a World Heritage Site, along with the rest of the Theban Necropolis.