Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Life, Death, and Modern Discovery of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, Part IV

INTRODUCTION

Tutankhamun died while still a teenager, was buried with all the regal pomp befitting a king of ancient Egypt, and was later written out of history by subsequent kings because of his association with Akhenaten, the heretic pharaoh who had preceded him. The Orwellian efforts of these kings, combined with Tutankhamun’s short and relatively insignificant reign, succeeded in removing knowledge of Tut’s existence from the population-at-large during later eras of ancient Egypt. Within two hundred years, the location of his tomb was no longer remembered, and another king built his own tomb right over the top of Tut’s, burying any possible sign of its entrance with construction rubble and builders’ huts.

As a result, Pharaoh Tutankhamun rested, undisturbed and forgotten, inside his crypt in the Valley of the Kings for the next 3,200 years. Knowledge of his existence would not come to light until the 20th century.

THE RESTORATION STELA

From my research, the earliest clue to the existence of a New Kingdom pharaoh called Tutankhamun occurred with the discovery of the so-called Restoration Stela in 1905.


The Restoration Stela

This stela, discovered near the temple complex at Karnak by French Egyptologist Georges Legrain, described Egypt’s religious downfall during the time of Akhenaten and the subsequent restoration of the traditional gods by Tutankhamun. The name of Tutankhamun, however, had been erased and covered over with the name of Horemheb. We will recall from the previous installment that Horemheb, while attempting to erase the memory of Akhenaten and Ay, does not appear to have included Tut in his revenge. Horemheb’s own rise to the throne had been made possible by Tut, who had named him as his successor. For this reason, many historians believe the replacement of Tut’s name with Horemheb’s occurred during the time of Seti I and Ramesses II, as they continued, on a much larger scale, the rewriting of Amarna period history begun under Horemheb.

Whatever the case, this stela gave modern Egyptology its first clue to the existence of a previously unknown 18th dynasty pharaoh named Tutankhamun, who had somehow been caught up in the Amarna period heresy. Another clue corroborating Tut’s existence would come less than two years later, in the Valley of the Kings.

TOMB KV55

In January of 1907, American Egyptologist Theodore M. Davis, who financed excavations in the Valley of the Kings for most of the 1910’s, uncovered a royal tomb which came to be designated KV55. As discussed in the second installment of this series, KV55 contained a male mummy which may have belonged to either Akhenaten or Smenkhkara – Tut’s predecessors. Most historians believe the tomb originally belonged to Akhenaten’s mother, Queen Tiye.


The entrance to tomb KV55


The layout of tomb KV55 ("A" represents the entry staircase)

Regardless of who the tomb was originally built for, the seals on the door belonged to Tutankhamun, causing Davis to initially suspect he had found the tomb of this little-known king. However, because of the objects found inside, it quickly became apparent that the tomb had not belonged to Tut. In addition to the male mummy, the tomb included magical bricks with the name of Akhenaten, funerary equipment of Queen Tiye, canopic jars of Akhenaten’s secondary wife Queen Kiya, and other items bearing the names of Amenhotep III and one of his secondary wives, Queen Sitamun. It became clear very early on that the tomb’s history was convoluted.

Modern analysis suggests that KV55 originally belonged to Queen Tiye and that Tutankhamun, in attempting to protect his relatives’ tombs from desecration in Amarna (Akhetaten), moved a quantity of funeral equipment and mummies to this location, creating a veritable Amarna period cache inside Queen Tiye’s tomb. This, then, explains the existence of Tut’s name on the sealed doors – they were sealed under his supervision. His attempts, however, failed. The tomb was ransacked and robbed many times, and by the time Davis discovered it in 1907, it was largely in shambles.


An interior view of KV55, showing its ruinous state

As with the Restoration Stela, the primary thing of importance for this study is that KV55 gave Egyptologists yet another clue to the existence of an 18th dynasty king named Tutankhamun.

TOMB KV54

Though numbered sequentially before KV55, the “tomb” known as KV54 was discovered by Theodore Davis some eleven months after KV55, in December of 1907. KV54 is not really a tomb at all, but a shallow pit about three feet deep.

Inside lay a jumble of jars and pottery, many containing dishes, desiccated foodstuffs, discarded embalming products, and a strip of linen with Tutankhamun’s name on it.


Items discovered in KV54


A funerary wreath discovered in KV54


KV54 linen containing Tutankhamun's name

This proved to be clue number three in the rediscovery of Tut’s existence.

TOMB KV58

This is yet another tomb discovered by Theodore Davis. Excavated in 1909, it was a small, 1-room tomb that contained very little of significance.

However, gold chariot foil was found among the rubble, containing the names of both Tutankhamun and his wife. Once again, evidence of Tut’s existence was falling into the historical record, and Davis believed that this small tomb had actually belonged to Tut.


Furniture knobs discovered in KV58

In 1912, Davis published an account of his findings during his period of excavation in the Valley of the Kings, and in this book he claimed to have found the tomb of Tutankhamun. However, he made a number of factual errors in making this claim. Primarily, he indicated that the items found in KV54 (the embalming refuse and pottery) were found together with the gold chariot foil in KV58. He seems not to have realized that there were two locations (a pit and a small tomb), and that they were excavated separately, in separate years, by different archaeologists working for Davis.

Others did, however, recognize Davis’ error, and among them was a prominent Egyptologist who had supervised on Davis’ own excavations from 1902 to 1904. His name was Howard Carter, and he would eventually become obsessed with proving Davis wrong, and finding the real tomb of the newly discovered 18th dynasty king named Tutankhamun.

HOWARD CARTER

Howard Carter was a self-taught archaeologist who first came to Egypt in the late 19th century as a painter and draftsman.


Howard Carter

He worked on various excavations, including excavations in Amarna (Akhetaten) for most of the 1890’s, before being appointed the Chief Inspector of Antiquities for southern Egypt in 1899. It was in this role that he first worked with Theodore M. Davis. Carter held this post until 1905, at which time he resigned to return to painting. He met his future benefactor and patron George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, in 1907.

Lord Carnarvon was a collector of ancient relics and owned one of the largest private collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world.


A famous image of George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, taken in Egypt

He was eager to find a good archaeologist to do work for him in Egypt, and Carter needed a financier for his own efforts. As such, the two began a business association almost immediately. They spent most of the years between 1907 and 1914 working in various spots throughout Egypt, from the northern delta to the southern cataracts. Both, however, were primarily interested in obtaining Theodore M. Davis’ concession in the Valley of the Kings.


Carter and Carnarvon together

Their patience paid off. In mid-1914, after infamously declaring his belief that the Valley of the Kings was “exhausted,” Davis abandoned his concession there. Lord Carnarvon, shrewd and financially powerful, immediately moved on the Egyptian government to take over the work, and by the beginning of 1915, Carter – under the financial guidance of Carnarvon – was at work in the Valley of the Kings.

CARTER’S CONCLUSIONS ABOUT DAVIS’ CLAIMS

From the time of the aforementioned book by Davis, declaring that he had uncovered King Tut’s tomb, Howard Carter recognized that Davis’ conclusions were inaccurate. Not only had Davis erred in suggesting that Tut’s artifacts all came from the same place, but the two excavations in question were both far too small for either to have been a legitimate royal tomb. KV54, as noted above, was nothing more than a shallow pit, and KV58 was not only missing the wall paintings and texts integral to a pharonic tomb, but it was also comprised of only one room accessible by a vertical shaft.

Tutankhamun’s tomb, Carter reasoned, must surely have been larger and better decorated. In a book he wrote about the discovery of Tut’s tomb, Carter stated: “[Davis’] theory was quite untenable, for [tomb KV58] was small and insignificant, of a type that might very well belong to a member of the royal household in the Ramesside period, but ludicrously inadequate for a king’s burial in the Eighteenth Dynasty.” The items found inside, Carter reasoned, had simply been placed there at a later time.

As for the funeral objects found by Davis in the pit KV54, Carter stated: “[the cache represented] the materials which had been used during the funeral ceremonies of Tutankhamun, and afterwards gathered together and stacked away within the jars.”

And finally, in regards to tomb KV55 – the one with the unknown mummy and the cache of Amarna period artifacts – Carter said: “…it was Tutankhamun himself who was responsible for [the artifacts’] removal and reburial, [and] we can be reasonably sure [of this] from the fact that a number of his clay seals were found.”

Putting these conclusions together, Carter not only determined that Tut’s tomb had not yet been found, but that if it did exist, it must be somewhere near the center of the Valley of the Kings. His reason for believing this was because all three excavations – KV54, 55, and 58 – had been found near the valley’s center, with less than 350 feet separating any one from the other. Additionally, a cup with Tutankhamun’s name on it had also been found by Davis in the 1910’s, located “under a rock” in the same area as KV58.

THE SEARCH FOR TUTANKHAMUN

Carter’s work for Carnarvon in the Valley of the Kings began in 1915, but did not initially last long. Demands from World War I, which was by then raging in Europe, took Carnarvon and Carter away to more important duties, and it was not until 1917 that they were able to return to the valley to commence the search for Tutankhamun.

As mentioned previously, Carter believed Tut’s tomb, if it existed, lay somewhere beneath the unexcavated rubble scattered about the center of the Valley of the Kings. As such, he began working there from the beginning, clearing out rocks and debris and searching for any sign of a hidden tomb. One of the first places he began was near the tomb of Ramesses VI. A large amount of debris from the tomb’s construction layered the ground below and in front of it, and Carter put his men to work there. In time, they reached the ruins of the huts that had belonged to the builders of Ramesses’ tomb. Fearing he had reached a dead-end, Carter moved his efforts elsewhere.


Ruins of a Ramesside workman's hut

For six seasons Carter and his workers toiled, moving from region to region throughout the center of the valley, and always coming up empty-handed. Of course, Carter made a number of significant finds during these years, but never found any trace of Tutankhamun.

By the end of 1921, both Carter and Carnarvon were becoming disillusioned. Carter writes: “Six full seasons we had excavated there…we had worked for months at a stretch and found nothing, and only an excavator knows how desperately depressing that can be.”

Carnarvon approached Carter around this time and made it clear that he felt their time in the valley was over. He did not want to fund any further excavations. However, Carter pressed him for one more season, promising to finance the enterprise on his own if Carnarvon backed out. Carnarvon was either impressed with Carter’s tenacity, or feared that Carter would succeed without him, leaving Carnarvon in the shadow of obscurity. Whatever the reason, Carnarvon agreed to finance one more season’s excavation in the valley, making it clear that he was through with the enterprise if nothing turned up.

THE DISCOVERY OF THE TOMB OF TUTANKHAMUN

Howard Carter arrived for his seventh and final season in the Valley of the Kings on October 28, 1922. After a few days of preparation, excavating commenced on the following Wednesday. Of that day, he wrote: “I began by continuing the former excavation where it had stopped [near] the entrance to the tomb of Ramesses VI, trenching southwards. At this point there were some ancient stone huts…” He goes on to say: “These ancient huts were soon cleared of the rubbish covering them,” and he points out that the undertaking of moving the debris took three days.

On the fourth day of excavations – Saturday, November 4, 1922 – Carter and his team made a startling discovery. In his diary from that day, Carter wrote the simple, yet provocative phrase: “First steps of tomb found.”

While digging in the foundations of the first ancient hut, about twelve feet below the entrance to Ramesses VI’s tomb, Carter discovered what appeared to be a carved block sunken into the ground. He quickly cleared away the dust and pebbles and found that it had a 90-degree edge, like the top of a step. After a bit more digging, Carter realized that he had discovered the top step of a staircase descending down into the bedrock.


The still-covered entrance of King Tut's tomb

For the rest of that day, and all of the following day, Carter and his workmen dug out the staircase. By the time they had reached the twelfth step, their excavation had removed enough debris to uncover the top portion of an intact, plastered doorway at the bottom of the stairs.


The top portion of the sealed door, revealed by a partial excavation of the staircase

This doorway bore the ancient seal of the Royal Necropolis (a seal which depicted the underworld god Anubis in victory over nine enemies). In his diary, Carter wrote: “Found tomb under tomb of Ramesses VI. Investigated same and found seals intact.”

At this point, Carter did not know whose tomb he was excavating. It could have been a king or a royal family member, or it could simply have been a cache or the tomb of a noble. What Carter did know, however, was that the intact doorway, and the presence of the undisturbed Ramesside workmen’s huts right over the top of the entrance, indicated that the tomb had not been touched since the era of Ramesses VI in the 1100’s B.C.E. This belief was further solidified when he cut a small hole in the top of the sealed door and looked into the area beyond. There, he saw a passageway filled to the top with rock and debris – a backfill used to secure the tomb, and yet another indication that the tomb had not been touched since it was last sealed, sometime prior to the era of Ramesses VI.

Carter later wrote: “It was a thrilling moment for an excavator…suddenly [to] find himself, after so many years of toilsome work, on the verge of what looked like a magnificent discovery – an untouched tomb.”


The tomb entrance, with rubble completely removed

Not wanting to leave his patron out of the thrill of discovery, he refilled the excavated stairs with rubble and sent a telegram to Carnarvon in England that stated: “At last have made wonderful discovery in Valley [stop] a magnificent tomb with seals intact [stop] recovered same for your arrival [stop] congratulations.”

What Carter did not know at the time was that if he had simply dug a few more feet into the ground before filling the excavation back up, he would have seen the seal of Tutankhamun, positioned low on the plaster doorway.

THE OPENING OF THE TOMB

In the 1920’s, traveling from England to Egypt was no small task, and Carnarvon did not arrive on site until November 24, nearly three weeks later. During the interim, word of Carter’s discovery began to spread, and “treasure fever” was already beginning to seep through the world of Egyptology. Once Carnarvon arrived, Carter immediately recommenced the excavation, once again digging out the stairwell, and going this time all the way down to the bottom.

There proved to be sixteen stairs in all, and with the entire door free of debris, Tutankhamun’s name was clear.


A portion of the first sealed door, showing the seal of the Royal Necropolis, and Tutankhamun's name

However, this still did not prove that Tutankhamun’s tomb had been discovered. It should be recalled that tomb KV55, discovered by Theodore Davis, was an Amarna period cache, evidently secreted away during the reign of Tutankhamun. And that tomb, like the one Carter had discovered, bore sealed doors with the name of Tutankhamun. Was this yet another cache of Amarna period artifacts, stored under the orders of King Tut?

The evidence, at the time, pointed in that direction. Among the debris in front of the sealed door was an array of strewn artifacts – potsherds, shattered boxes, jewelry. Throughout these fragments the names of Akhenaten, Smenkhkara, Tutankhamun, Amenhotep III, and Thutmosis III all appeared. Except for the latter, all these kings were Amarna period pharaohs, and all four had also been associated with the cache in tomb KV55. About these speculations, Carter wrote: “These conflicting data led us for a time to believe that we were about to open a royal cache of the El-Amarna branch of the 18th dynasty monarchs.”

On the following day, November 25, Carter and his team took down the first door and began excavating the rubble-filled passageway beyond. It proved to be an undecorated corridor roughly 25 feet in length and descending at a 17-degree angle. More random artifacts were discovered amongst this rubble, and the team began to fear that whatever lay inside had been plundered many times.

At the end of the corridor, they found another sealed door. This door also bore the name of Tutankhamun.

One can only imagine the feeling of suspense and excitement that must have pervaded the gathered adventurers as a small hole was made in the upper left corner of the second door. Carter obtained a candle and lit it. Not only would its illumination help him to see into the area beyond, but the flame would help test the viability of the air. With the candle in hand, Carter reached up to the tiny opening, put the candle next to it, and peered inside.

“EVERYWHERE THE GLINT OF GOLD”

What Carter saw in the dim illumination of the candle was a trove of ancient Egyptian treasures, some stacked neatly, others cast wildly along the ground. As Carter stared, speechless, Lord Carnarvon – who was standing with his wife and several others behind Carter – said, “Can you see anything?” Although Carter’s famous reply is said to have been, “Yes, wonderful things,” he later wrote that what he actually said was, “Yes, it is wonderful.”

About that famous moment, Carter later said: “With trembling hands, I made a tiny breach in the upper left hand corner. Widening the hole a little, I inserted the candle and peered in. At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle to flicker. Presently, details of the room emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold.”

Carter later gave a more detailed description of what he saw:


Two strange ebony-black effigies of a King, gold sandaled, bearing staff and mace, loomed out from the cloak of darkness; gilded couches in strange forms, lion-headed, Hathor-headed, and beast infernal; exquisitely painted, inlaid, and ornamental caskets; flowers; alabaster vases, some beautifully executed of lotus and papyrus device; strange black shrines with a gilded monster snake appearing from within…


The first chamber, looking right.

After investigating the first chamber, it became clear to Carter that, in fact, they had discovered the unmolested tomb of Tutankhamun, and not a mere cache.

The tomb proved to have four rooms.


The layout of Tut's tomb, KV62

Carter dubbed the first room the “antechamber.”


The antechamber, looking left. Dismantled chariots lay at the left side of the picture.


The antechamber, center rear wall. The round, white containers beneath the cow-shaped bed contained food.

A small hole in the rear wall of this room led into another chamber that Carter called the “annex.”


Entrance to the annex, rear left of the antechamber


A closer shot of the annex entrance, after some of the artifacts had been removed

A sealed door on the right of the antechamber led into the burial chamber, and an open doorway off the right wall of the burial chamber led to what Carter dubbed the “treasury.”


Inside the antechamber, looking right, toward the sealed door leading to the burial chamber


Inside the treasury

Each room was filled with artifacts, including furniture, clothes, jewelry, games, chariots, food, models, weapons, and statues.


One of three beds taken from the tomb


A model boat


The canopic shrine, containing the remains of Tut's mummified internal organs


One of Tut's four chariots


Tut's throne, depicting the king with his wife

Furthermore, the burial chamber contained – in addition to the paintings detailed in previous installments – a large golden shrine.


The shrine inside the burial chamber, as seen from the antechamber


Close-up of the shrine, seen through the open doorway from the antechamber


The top of the shrine. Note the wall paintings.


A famous image taken as Carter first opened the shrine


Color photograph of the shrine today

Inside the shrine was Tut’s sarcophagus, and inside the sarcophagus were Tut’s three coffins, each stacked inside the previous one like a Marushka doll.


Carter used a pulley system to remove each successive coffin


Tut's mummy inside the third coffin, covered with a linen cloth

Interestingly, the lid of the sarcophagus showed obvious evidence of having been broken in half and then resealed. Apparently the lid was dropped during the burial.


The broken sarcophagus lid, most likely repaired by the priests who presided over Tut's funeral

Within the last coffin, with a magnificent golden death mask covering the head, was Tutankhamun’s mummy, lying where it had been placed more than 3,000 years earlier.


In addition to the death mask, the mummy had a funeral wreath around its neck, similar to the one found in KV54 (pictured above)







Of first seeing Tut’s mummy, Carter wrote: “The penultimate scene was disclosed – a very neatly wrapped mummy of the young king, with golden mask of sad but tranquil expression, symbolizing Osiris. The similitude of the youthful Tutankhamun until now known only by name, amid that sepulchral silence, made us realize the past.”


A pictured taken just as the sarcophagus lid was raised for the first time. Inside are Tut's three coffins, covered by a linen cloth.


Carter removing the linen cloth


Tut's coffins revealed to human eyes for the first time in more than 3,000 years


The lower portion of Tut's mummy, unwrapped. Note the shoes on the feet.


The mummified face of Tutankhamun

In all, Carter spent nearly ten years excavating Tut’s tomb. He was so methodical, in fact, that he did not even open the sarcophagus to take a first peek at the mummy until 1925. Though he never published a scholarly account of his findings, he did write a book together with one of his co-workers, entitled “The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun.”

ANCIENT ROBBERIES

Despite finding literally thousands of artifacts in the tomb of Tutankhamun, and despite the popular idea that Tut’s tomb was found intact, Carter realized almost from the beginning that the tomb had been robbed at least twice in antiquity.

His first clue came from the very first sealed doorway – the one found at the bottom of the entrance stairs. It had the undeniable marks of two separate repairs, one along the middle left side of the door, and the other above, in the top left corner. The second sealed door – the one leading into the first chamber – showed identical repairs. Furthermore, the corridor in between, which was backfilled with rocks, also showed evidence of a breech. In the upper left corner of the wall of debris, the backfill was of a different substance – instead of chipped, white stones, it consisted of large, dark rocks.


The entrance corridor after the removal of the first sealed door. Note the different rock types filling the upper left corner.

This area of different stone corresponded to the resealing in the upper left corner of the two doors. Also, there were broken artifacts both on the bottom of this backfill, and scattered throughout it at the level of the refilled backfill. Finally, evidence of plundering was apparent inside the tomb. Many of the treasures had been rifled through, and a number of items were broken, lying where the ancient tomb robbers had cast them.


Evidence of the presence of tomb robbers

Carter brought in a criminal investigator to look at the tomb and determine if, in fact, it had been robbed, or if it had simply been carelessly assembled to start with. This investigator concluded that the tomb had, without a doubt, been robbed. In his report, the investigator stated: “…objects were overturned (i.e. the carved wood chair and various boxes); objects were carefully thrust out of the way; objects had been deliberately broken; boxes had been opened and their contents roughly turned over, or more probably turned out, and carelessly replaced, since sometimes part of an object was found in one box and part in another…; an alabaster box was found near one end of the antechamber and the lid at the other end…”

Evidence suggested that every room had been entered by looters, and they appear to have been especially interested in oils and unguents, which could have been sold for a high price on the black market, and which are otherwise absent from the tomb.

The modern theory about the robberies suggests that the first robbery took place a very short time – perhaps only months – after Tut was buried, during the reign of Ay. Following this robbery (which the thieves appear to have gotten away with), the tomb was hastily put back in order by the priests, the breached doors were resealed (including the sealed door between the antechamber and the burial chamber), and the entry corridor – which had been empty before – was completely backfilled with chipped, white rock. Broken artifacts dropped by the thieves inside the corridor were simply covered over by the backfill.

Sometime later, in the reign of Horemheb, the tomb was breached again. These thieves cut through the top left portion of the outer door, tunneled through the top left portion of the chipped rock, broke through the top left portion of the second door, and entered the chamber. These looters appear to have been looking for anything of value they could take. In addition to ransacking the antechamber, they broke through the sealed door at the bottom of the rear wall and entered the annex.

It appears that these second robbers were caught in the act, because a number of objects had been dropped right in front of the antechamber doorway, including a cup that was still lying there when Howard Carter first entered. Additionally, items from the tomb, including jewelry, were found broken and scattered amongst the rubble covering the outside stairs, and in the refilled backfill inside the corridor. These discoveries indicated that whoever had dropped the items had been attempting to leave in a hurry.

After this robbery, the priests again resealed the doorways, but they left the breech between the antechamber and the annex open. The tumbled plaster blocks were still lying scattered inside the annex when Howard Carter entered it, and several jars had been moved and placed on top of the fallen blocks, probably by the looters. The priests also refilled the tunnel the second group of looters had made through the backfilled entry corridor, but used larger, darker rocks to refill it. After that, the tomb was apparently never breached again.

As stated earlier, the first robbery is believed to have occurred within months of Tut’s death. Oils and unguents were conspicuously absent from the tomb, and for these to have been of importance to thieves, the thieves would have needed to obtain them very quickly, before they spoiled. The second robbery, however, is believed to have occurred some years later, during Horemheb’s reign. The primary reason for this is because the name of one of his priests was found on a jar inside Tut’s tomb. This same person is known from the historical record to have been in charge of repairing Thutmosis IV’s tomb, which was robbed during Horemheb’s reign. The evidence, then, suggests that this same priest was in charge of resealing Tut’s tomb, and left his mark by signing his name on one of the jars inside the tomb.

EGYPT’S LONGEST REIGNING KING

The ancient Egyptians believed that their mummified kings, if deemed worthy in the afterlife, would become gods and live forever, ruling from the divine realm. They also believed that the king, in his divine afterlife, would need all the trappings of his earthly life. For this reason, kings were buried with furniture, clothes, food, dishes, chariots, weapons – all the things the king used on a daily basis during life. Ancient Egyptians did not kill and bury servants or slaves with their kings as some ancient cultures did; instead, the Egyptians built small statues – called ushabtis – which represented the king’s servants, and who would subsequently accompany him on his journey through the underworld.


One of Tut's ushabtis, situated inside a niche in the burial chamber

The tomb of every New Kingdom pharaoh, other than King Tut, was looted and cleaned out in antiquity. Ancient priests even removed many of the kings’ mummies from their tombs and stored them in caches, hoping to save the precious body (which was necessary for survival in the afterlife) from destruction by thieves. These kings’ mummies exist in museums today because the protective caches were found. Only Tutankhamun’s tomb was never emptied out; only Tutankhamun’s mummy was never stolen from its coffin and either moved or destroyed; and only Tutankhamun continues to lie in his own tomb in the Valley of the Kings, even to this very day.

In that sense, one of the least significant kings of the New Kingdom era has become, for us, the most enduring and best remembered.

“Three thousand, four thousand years maybe, have passed and gone since human feet last trod the floor on which you stand, and yet, as you notice the signs of recent life around you – the half-filled bowl of mortar for the door, the blackened lamp, the finger mark upon the freshly painted surface, the farewell garland dropped upon the threshold – you feel it might have been but yesterday. The very air you breathe, unchanged throughout the centuries, you share with those who laid the mummy to its rest. Time is annihilated by little intimate details such as these…”

~ Howard Carter



* In writing this series of essays, I have used a number of online and print resources. Among the most prominent online resources were www.touregypt.net, www.kingtutone.com, www.griffith.ox.ac.uk, and www.wikipedia.org. Print resources included Howard Carter's book "The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun," and "Ancient Egypt: An Illustrated Reference to the Myths, Religions, Pyramids, and Temples of the Land of the Pharaohs," by Lorna Oakes and Lucia Gahlin. Perhaps the best resource I found was the Theban Mapping Project's website at www.thebanmappingproject.com. The Theban Mapping Project is a foundation dedicated to electronically mapping all the tombs and temples of Thebes, including the Valley of the Kings. This website has fully interactive 3D images of all the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, complete with descriptions, dimensions, and color images. It is an absolutely wonderful resource.

10 comments:

Sniderman said...

I found that a really wonderful read. Informative and well put together. It was something I came across in a news article and wanted to extend my knowledge of and you done it without me having to refer to numerous sources.

Thank you very much lid.

Scott said...

Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting together so much information. This has made my lesson planning for tomorrow so much easier!!!

Scott said...

Thanks for reading, Anonymous, and you are very welcome!!

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely wonderful. I'm a school teacher teaching 6th graders about Egypt. I will show them your work. Thank you

Scott said...

Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment. I'm glad my work was useful for you!

Anonymous said...

I'm in Brazil, I've just finished to read your work. Excellent, I
liked it very much.

Scott said...

Great! Thanks for reading it.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful information put together in a way that is easy for my students to understand...do you have any more sites?

Scott said...

Glad you liked it, Anonymous. I have a Tumblr page, but it's not educational the way this blog is :)

If you're interested in searching more information on this site, you can click on the label that says "History" and it will show you all my posts about historical events. The labels are all on the lower right portion of the page.

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