Tutankhamen was only a child when he became king of Egypt in 1333 B.C. His reign ended early, however, when he died at age 18. Ancient Egyptians honored the boy king by burying his body in a tomb with an array of priceless treasures. In the 12th century B.C., King Tut's tomb was accidentally covered up by workers as they built a tomb for Ramses VI. It remained there, riches undiscovered, for thousands of years more.
The Discovery of King Tut's Tomb
British archaeologist Howard Carter arrived in Egypt in 1891. He made a name for himself by finding the tombs of King Thutmose IV and Queen Hatshepsut. In 1907, he met the Earl of Carnarvon, an antiquity collector. Carter uncovered King Tutankhamen's tomb on November 4, 1922. At first, it seemed that robbers had broken into the tomb and pillaged all of its valuables. On November 26, though, Carter and Lord Carnarvon broke into the antechamber of King Tut's tomb. This room was littered with untouched treasures. During the excavation, Carter discovered the solid-gold coffin of King Tut himself.
Jewelry and Adornments
Inside the tomb, Carter's excavation revealed hundreds of pieces of jewelry. Many of the bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings were made of solid gold. The pieces contained precious stones and gems, such as ivory, turquoise and lapis lazuli. Excavators found 20 amulets wrapped around the neck of King Tut. One of these was a cobra made of thin sheet gold. Eleven broad collars also adorned the king's mummy. Three of these collars, made of gold and colored glass, depicted Egyptian gods and goddesses such as the vulture of Nekhbet, the falcon of Horus and the cobra of Wadjet.
Furniture and Funeral Items
King Tut's tomb contained dozens of pieces of furniture, including his own bed. The bed was made of gilded wood and had a headrest instead of a pillow. Also uncovered was a wooden throne, intricately made with gold plating, ebony, ivory and inlaid precious stones. An elaborate chest displays scenes of animals fighting or hunting. The chest was empty when found, but it is thought to have contained King Tut's clothing. Perhaps the most priceless item found was a stone sarcophagus that contained three nested coffins. The final solid-gold coffin held the mummified body of King Tut. On his head rested a golden mask thought to depict a likeness of the king's face.
Statues and Other Items
King Tut's tomb contained many statues, vases and other decorative items. These statues typically depicted Egyptian gods, such as Ptah and Ihy, or King Tut himself. Some of the vases and chalices were made of alabaster, ivory and gold. Excavators found several boards for a two-player game called Senet, which King Tut probably played. Other items included an ivory fan made with ostrich feathers, model boats, golden daggers and a gilded wood chariot. Also found was a cache of military equipment, including bows, arrows, boomerangs and a leather cuirass.
- History: Archaeologists Enter Tomb of King Tut
- BBC: Treasures of Tutankhamun Gallery
- Tour Egypt: The Tut Collection
- Tour Egypt: Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Jewelry - Falcon Collar Representing King Tutankhamun
- Tour Egypt: Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Jewelry - Cobra Amulet Representing King Tutankhamun
- Tour Egypt: Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Furniture and Boxes - Elaborately Decorated Chest
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