Tutankhamun’s tomb (14th century BC)
One of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century was the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh.
Tutankhamun, Nebkheperure, pharaoh, burial chamber, Egypt, ruler, death mask, Nile, Valley of the Kings, World Heritage, sarcophagus, Lord Carnarvon, Howard Carter, rock-cut tombs, Thebes, Necropolis, artefact, dynasty, coffin, archaeology, excavation, curse, 14th century BC, antiquity, legend, wall painting
Valley of the Kings
- burial chamber
- First (outer) shrine
- Second shrine
- Third shrine
- Fourth (innermost) shrine
- Red quartzite sarcophagus
- First (outermost) anthropoid coffin (gilded wood)
- Second anthropoid coffin (gilded wood)
- Third (innermost) anthropoid coffin (solid gold)
- Golden mask
- Tutankhamun’s mummy
Tutankhamun’s death mask
- 39 cm
- vulture (Nekhbet)
- lapis lazuli stripes (the sky)
- quartz and obsidian eyes
- headcloth (nemes)
- golden hawk’s head clasps
- cobra (Uto serpent goddess)
- golden stripes (sunshine)
- Eyes of Horus (Wadjet)
- face made of golden sheet metal
- golden collar (usekh) consisting of 12 rows of beads (lapis lazuli, amazonite, quartz, glass paste)
- braided beard made of gold and glass (divine immortality)
- hieroglyphs (prayer from the Book of the Dead)
- 54 cm
Situated in the middle of Egypt, on the left bank of the Nile, the Valley of the Kings formed part of the Theban necropolis, where pharaohs were buried between the 16th and 11th centuries BC. Apart from pharaohs, numerous queens and nobles were also laid to rest in the rock-cut tombs. The rocky valley was an ideal place for the pharaohs, who were in search of more secure burial places than the pyramids. However, despite the natural environment and the strict protection, some tombs were already plundered in ancient times.
The first people to explore the Valley of the Kings were Greek scholars of antiquity. A new era of scientific exploration started in the modern period, so in the past two centuries the valley has become one of the most important sites in ancient Egyptian research. Although the area had already been explored extensively by the 20th century, it was only after the excavation of tomb no. 62, in 1922, that the burial site attracted public attention.
Commissioned by the wealthy antiques collector Lord Carnarvon to search for the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, the British archaeologist Howard Carter conducted a number of excavations in the area. His efforts were crowned with success: he made one of the richest and most famous discoveries in the history of archaeology. The tomb of Tutankhamun, an Egyptian Pharaoh from the 18th dynasty who died early, was the only intact tomb of a pharaoh. The simple tomb consists of an entrance facing East with a stairway leading to a descending corridor.
At the end of the corridor there is an antechamber, connected to an annex on one side and to the burial chamber on the other side. The burial chamber leads to the treasury. During eight years of excavation, many extraordinary findings came to light. Preserving Tutankhamun’s mummy, the burial chamber is decorated with wall paintings and texts from the Book of the Dead.
The embalmed body was encased in several nested sarcophagi and coffins. Today, the mummy still rests in the Valley of the Kings, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The other objects from the tomb are exhibited at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The pharaoh’s wonderful golden funeral mask is one of the most famous works of art in the history of mankind. This is not only due to its beauty and Carter's fantastic dig, but it also owes much to the legend of the pharaoh’s curse.
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