Howard Carter’s house is located on the west bank of Luxor just before you enter the Valley of the Kings. Unfortunately, it was neglected for a long time and was not being used for anything except collecting dust. I decided that this was unacceptable and that the house of Howard Carter should be returned to its former glory.
I designated a team to develop this area to think of how it could be used in the future as a valuable asset for the Valley of the Kings. I hired an excellent architect who has transformed the run-down house into a beautiful museum. Tourists can now walk through Carter’s kitchen, dining room, bedroom, office and photography studio. The most impressive thing in my opinion is a film with a real Howard Carter lecturing you. This 20 minute film is presented by a holographic Howard Carter who transports you back to the time of the discovery and shares the excitement of the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Around the same time that the Carter House project started, I began a very important project with a foreign team to make laser scanning of three tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. The three tombs are: Seti I, Tutankhamun and Nefertari. (Go here to view short videos on how this work was carried out.) I chose these tombs because they are unique and can never be repeated again. Therefore we have to preserve them. Currently the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Queens are visited by thousands of tourists each year. If this situation is not changed the tombs will be irreversibly damaged and eventually completely destroyed.
My plan then is to finish the laser scanning and make a replica valley to the north-west of Howard Carter’s house. This replica valley will have the three tombs of Seti, Tutankhamun and Nefertari and we will be closing the original three tombs to the public (Nefertari and Seti’s tombs have been closed off to the public for several years now). Some visitors might think that this is denying them the chance to see these tombs. However, this is the only away of preserving the tombs for humanity. As of right now visitors cannot see Nefertari or Seti’s tomb at all, so in fact the replica valley will provide access to these tombs that have been closed off completely.
The other important thing that we are doing is lighting the mountain of Qurna in the west bank from the Valley of the Kings to Deir el Bahari. This lighting will help us to make the west bank accessible to visitors at three times of the day: morning, afternoon and evening. By breaking the visitors into three time periods we will stop the habit of hordes of tourists pouring into the west bank every morning and overcrowding the monuments. Because of the large number of tourists it is impossible for the guards to keep a close eye on everyone, making sure that they don’t take pictures with their cameras or scrape their bags across the fragile walls of the tombs. Therefore it is very important to break the overwhelming number of tourists into three separate, more manageable groups. This will be of great benefit to the monuments and will also provide tourists with a more enjoyable and less crowded experience. We hope to have this in place by October 1, 2010.
As part of this new plan for the west bank of Luxor, we are building a tourist center next to Howard Carter’s house. This center will not only serve as the hub for tourist activity with a nice cafeteria, ticket office, restroom facilities and gift shops, but will also serve as the offices for site management of the west bank. Through this center we can control tourist activity, plan restoration and conservation projects, and plan for the future of tombs and temples in Luxor.