I guess everyone who knows me (and who reads my blog) knows what a nerd I am. I love medieval warfare, the Borgia Pope, all kinds of history etc etc. Information of any kind is heaven for me!
Well, Tutankhamun is arriving in Stockholm in November and I already have tickets to go and see him! I have already seen him in London and Berlin but I am so looking forward to seeing him on home ground!
King Tut’s gold coffin is made of almost 111kg of solid gold! The gold coffin was the last of three coffins which were in a sarcophagus which itself was inside four shrines!
History in an Hour says:
Howard Carter was born in Britain in 1874 and developed a passion for Egypt in his youth. He first journeyed to the Land of the Pharaohs at the age of seventeen and in 1907 began working for Lord Carnarvon, a British aristocrat who often passed the winter in Egypt due to ill health. Carnarvon provided funding for excavations and was granted a license to dig in the Valley of the Kings, where Carter believed the tomb of Tutankhamun was located.
Work was put on hold during World War One, but Carter maintained that several funerary items he had uncovered, all bearing the name Tutankhamun, constituted strong evidence that there was a tomb to be found. Excavations continued from 1917 to 1922, but after five years no significant discoveries had been made. Carnarvon was losing faith and interest in Carter’s endeavours, but granted him funding for one last season in the Valley of the Kings. On 1 November 1922, Carter’s men set to work.
The First Step
Howard Carter was both methodical and meticulous in his techniques, dividing the area into rectangles and marking them off one by one. On 4 November, his patience and logic were finally rewarded, as a stone step was uncovered in one of the final spaces to be excavated. Removal of sand soon revealed fifteen more steps, at the bottom of which stood a sealed doorway.
On 23 November, Carnarvon and his daughter, Lady Evelyn, arrived in Egypt. Carter had resisted opening the door until they were present and it was now removed, giving way to a long passage filled with rubble. Disturbances to these stones suggested the presence of ancient grave robbers, but once the passage was cleared, another door bore seals demonstrating that the attempted pillaging had not been entirely successful. The anticipation of what might lie beyond this doorway was immense.
‘Everywhere the glint of gold’
On 26 November, with Lord and Lady Carnarvon by his side, Carter broke a small hole in the top left corner of the doorway and held a candle to it. At first he saw only darkness, but as his eyes adjusted to the dim light provided by the flickering flame, shapes of statues and animals began to emerge. He later described ‘being struck dumb with amazement’ as he saw ‘everywhere the glint of gold’. As the tension mounted, Carnarvon asked Carter if he could see anything, to which the archaeologist gave the famous response ‘Yes, wonderful things’.
The following day the second doorway was removed and the treasure of this antechamber was fully revealed, including life-sized statues, alabaster vases, couches, dismantled chariots and a golden throne. It took until February 1923 to clear this space of the hundreds of items it contained, after which Carter and his team were able to access the other rooms in the tomb, which had been named KV62.
On 17 February 1923, Carter broke through the door on the right of the antechamber, which had been ‘guarded’ by two large statues. He was confronted by what appeared to be a solid gold wall. He had reached the pharaoh’s burial chamber and the gold was one side of an enormous shrine, over five metres in length and nearly as high as the ceiling. This would turn out to be the first of four nesting shrines, in which lay Tutankhamun’s quartzite sarcophagus.
As had been the case in the antechamber, removal and conservation of other items had to take place before the shrines and then the sarcophagus could be opened. Within the quartzite lay three further coffins, the last of which held the preserved mummyof Tutankhamun, undisturbed for over three thousand years. The solid gold death mask of the boy king, inlaid with lapis lazuli and other precious stones, remains one of the most iconic and fabulous items to be recovered from the tomb. There were two further rooms filled with ancient Egyptian treasures and the process of emptying KV62 and carefully categorising and conserving every artefact was not completed until 1932.
I have read various books and seen television programmes but nothing compares to seeing the boy king and his finery in real life.
Looking at the poster above they will have the room set up just like this sketch by Howard Carter on what the chamber looked like when they opened it.
An excellent post Janet, and with the potted history and original photos, thank you. I hope you enjoy your day. We had it in London in 1972 and I saw it then, followed by the Moody Blues at the Empire Pool in the evening. What a day that was.
I should have said that we have just had a four part dramatisation on ITV here in England, and whilst watchable on a Sunday evening, it was no more than a distraction. The real thing is something else!