Easy digging in Egypt's ancient Valley of the Kings might mean tough problems today for conservation efforts, suggests a mapping study.
Of the 63 tombs in the Valley of the Kings, so far 30 have been identified by Katarin and Richard Parizek of Penn State as lying on rock fractures prone to flooding, damaging the ancient tombs.
"It seems that tomb builders may have intentionally exploited these avenues of less resistant limestone when creating tombs," says Katarin Parizek, in a statement.
Best known for King Tut's tomb, the Valley of the Kings holds at least 63 ancient burial chambers for Egypt's Pharaohs from the 16th to 11th centuries B.C. Four tombs show signs of seven separate floods, according to the report made Friday at Geological Society of America meeting in Portland, Ore.
Floods destroy tomb paintings and trigger wall flaking. "Archaeologists try very hard to mitigate flooding in the tombs, but it becomes even harder if there are tombs flooding that no one knows about," says Parizek. Some archaeologists are looking for other fractures in the search for more hidden burials.