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Valley of the Kings

Ancient Egyptians implemented flood control systems to protect tombs

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Egyptian archaeologists have recently announced that there are many more tombs still to be found in the Valley of the Kings . But as part of the same extensive excavation project, which took place between 2007 and 2010, researchers have also announced the discovery of an ancient flood control system that was put in place to protect tombs from becoming flooded.

The excavation project produced a massive corpus of data that is still being analysed and researchers are only just starting to release some of the incredible discoveries that were made. One of those includes the discovery of a flood control system that the ancient Egyptians created but, mysteriously, failed to maintain. The system was designed to prevent tombs from being damaged by water and debris but it was falling apart by the time of King Tutankhamun.

The archaeologists found a deep channel that would have through the valley about 10 metres below the current surface level. It is believed that side channels were built to divert water into it, allowing water and debris to pass through the valley without causing damage and destruction in its wake. The Egyptians would have them emptied the channel of debris.

For reasons that are unknown, the ancient Egyptians allowed the system to fall into disrepair, and by the time Tutankhamun was buried, flooding in the valley had become a problem again.  "That was bad for most tombs, but good for Tutankhamun since, at least according to one theory, flooding events effectively sealed the tomb and made it inaccessible to later tomb robbers," said Afifi Ghonim, who was the field director of the project.

Today flood control is still a problem in the Valley of the Kings, and scientists are looking at ways to protect the tombs. Many studies with recommendations have been put forward, however, the costs involved remain a problem.

By April Holloway

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