Ancient history

Tutankhamun's tomb

Most of the Egyptian pharaohs are remembered because they were great conquering soldiers or because they built gigantic temples and tombs. Tutankhamun was neither a great soldier nor a great builder, however he is the best known of the pharaohs .
This circumstance is due to the dramatic discovery of his tomb in 1922. Unlike the other royal tombs, it was never looted and was therefore full of magnificent treasures.
Tutankhamun was born approximately 1341 BC He only reigned for nine years and died before he was 20 years old. Although it is not known for sure who his parents were, the most likely candidates are Amenhotep IV (later known as Akhenaten) and his queen, Nefertiti.
Under the name of Tutankhaton, the boy was raised in the new royal capital - Akhetaten. His likely father had rejected the traditional gods of Egypt in favor of a new god, Aten, and moved the court from the ancient capital, Thebes. Unlike the ancient gods, the Aten was not represented as a person or animal, but as the Sun. Tutankhaten's close relationship with the royal family is emphasized by his marriage to Akhenaten's daughter, Ankhesenpaaten, who was much older than him and probably his sister. This marriage gave more consistency to Tutankhaton's aspirations to the throne.
When Akhenaten died, Tutankhaten's brother Esmenkhare appears to have sat on the throne for a brief period before the nine-year-old succeeded him. His name was changed to Tutankhamun and the city of Akhetaton was abandoned . The move of the royal court to Memphis and the restoration of Amun as Egypt's chief god suggest that the young king's advisers opposed his father's ideas and wanted to return to traditional ideology.
Tutankhamun died when he was about 18 years old. It is unknown if it was as a result of a conspiracy against him, but his body does not show unusual signs of violence. His death was certainly unexpected, since no tomb had yet been prepared for him in the Valley of the Kings. Instead, a small non-royal tomb - perhaps intended for a prized courtier - was quickly converted, and during the 70 days that the mummification of the body lasted, its walls were decorated.
The unassuming nature of the tomb meant that, unlike some of the larger and more magnificent tombs in the Valley of the Kings, Tutankhamun's was first ignored and then forgotten, especially after rubble from the blast was thrown over its entrance. excavation of the nearby tomb of Ramses VI. The pharaoh-boy remained undisturbed for more than 3,500 years, until his tomb was discovered by the English archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922.

The discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb

Patronized by the aristocrat Lord Carnarvon, Carter had been working in the Valley of the Kings since 1915. On November 4, 1922, his workers discovered a set of steps leading to a blocked entrance. The access seals were intact and mentioned the owner of the tomb:Tutankhamun. Behind this entrance, a corridor led to a second door. Carter cut a small hole in it to see what was behind it. What he saw was, in his own words, "everywhere the glitter of gold." He was looking into the first of the nimba's four rooms, which, while small, were packed with treasure.
The first room, the Antechamber, measured 7.8 x 3.5 meters. The most notable objects were three gold-plated rhymal beds in the shape of sacred animals stacked against the rear wall and, to the left of the entrance, a group of six disassembled chariots. Two doors led out of the Antechamber. The first, on the left, led to a small room called the Annex, which appears to have been where food, wine, and oils for the king were stored. The other entrance, to the right, was completely blocked off and guarded by a pair of life-size statues of the king. This entrance led to the burial chamber .
Like the other rooms, the Burial Chamber was very small for a pharaoh's tomb, measuring only 6.37 x4.02 meters. It is the only room of the four with painted decoration on the walls. But what is more important, it was there that Tutankhamun himself rested.
Past the Burial Chamber was yet another small room. It was called the Treasury, mainly because of the superb quality of the objects found inside, which included ship models, gold altars and jewelery boxes. In the Treasury there were also two miniature coffins, each with a mummified fetus inside. Are these the unborn children of the pharaoh and was that why Tutankhamun left no heirs to succeed him? The mystery may never be solved.
Unfortunately, Lord Carnarvon did not get to know what was hidden inside Tutankhamun's sarcophagus, as he died earlier, in April 1923, and by then the long task of emptying the tomb and preserving the objects inside had only just begun. The work was finally completed in 1932 by Carter, who died seven years later. Carnarvon and Carter's memorial is the wonderful collection of artifacts from Tutankhamun's tomb that they discovered, plus the story of what is surely one of the most exciting and spectacular archaeological discoveries to date.

The funeral mask

The mask is only part of the great treasure found in the burial chamber. The mummified body was kept inside several sarcophagi, one inside the other, as if it were a Russian doll. Inside a quartzite sarcophagus was a coffin made of cypress wood covered in a thin layer of gold. Inside was a second gold-plated wooden coffin, elaborately decorated with precious materials, including faience, obsidian, and lapis lazuli. Finally, there was a solid gold coffin weighing 110 kg. When the latter's lid was lifted, he revealed the mummified body and gold funerary mask of Tutankhamun. The king's hands were also covered in gold and the bandages hid an impressive amount of jewels.