Rulers of Egypt still used the Valley of the Queens after the fall of the New Kingdom
For over two-thirds of his thirty-year reign, Ramses III fought invasions by the Sea Peoples and the Libyans, which drained the royal treasury. Crop failure increased grain prices, weakening the country’s ability to feed its people. The tomb workers at the Valley of the Queens went on strike, refusing to continue construction over non-payment and supply delays, in what was the first recorded worker’s strike in history. After the death of Ramses III, political instability worsened the crippled economy as Ramses’ heirs fought each other for influence, and his heirs struggled to maintain control of the country for most of the next century.
Ramses’ heirs used the Valley of the Queens for royal burials until the reign of Ramses VI from the mid-to-late twelfth century BCE. Tensions between workers and the state continued for more than fifty years, with documented disputes in the reigns of Ramses IX and X in the late twelfth century BCE. Tomb robberies increased throughout the economic decline of the Twentieth Dynasty with the help of corrupt royal officials who enriched themselves and the declining royal treasury until all of the tombs in the Valley of the Queens were emptied out.
The last New Kingdom pharaoh, Ramses XI, completely lost control over the country, with the elite priests the High Priests of Amun conquering Upper Egypt, ending the New Kingdom period. The rulers of the Third Intermediate Period no longer reserved the Valley of the Queens for royalty or the elite, enlarging the tombs to make room for the extra bodies by opening them up and digging new burial shafts. There was a resurgence of burials at the site during the Roman period until the fourth century.
After the Roman period, the Christian Copts used the Valley of the Queens as a religious settlement until the seventh century. They inhabited some of the tombs, including those of two of Ramses II’s daughter-wives, Nebettawy and Henuttawy; the Christians ruined some of the tombs by burning them down and plastering over many of the wall paintings, replacing them with Christian symbols and art. The Copts occupied the Valley of the Queens until the seventh century until the Arab conquest of Egypt.