Tutankhamun was a short lived pharaoh and is yet probably the most famous. Little is known about his life as a ruler of Egypt but the discovery of his undisturbed tomb in Luxor made him world renowned in his death.
He was the son of Akhenaten and called Tutankhaten. In c.1333BC when he was about seven years old his father died and he became Pharaoh. He reinstated Amon as the chief god of Egypt, changed his name to Tutankhamun, and moved the court from el-Armana back to Thebes (Luxor) and his father’s new capital and religion were abandoned.
Only 10 years later Tutankhamun died and his early death continues to be debated although many believe he was murdered by Aya who married his wife and succeeded to the throne.
Due to this early death his tomb in the Valley of the Kings was not ready and so a small tomb probably being cut for Aya was hastily decorated for Tutenkahmun. Then precious objects were crammed into the rooms and sealed. Subsequent landslips and the building work for the tomb of Ramesses VI buried the entrance which was to ensure its protection from Tomb Robbers for the next 3300 years.
Howard Carter had been excavating in the Valley of the Kings since 1917 and no unrobbed tomb had ever been discovered by him or any other archaeologist. He almost gave up when in November 1922 a rock-cut step was found and when the sealed entrance was discovered at the bottom of the stairway, Carter sent this to his sponsor and patron, Lord Canarvon;
“At last have made wonderful discovery in Valley a magnificent tomb with seals intact…’
Howard Carter’s telegram to Lord Carnarvon on 5 November 1922
When the tomb was opened they found the antechamber filled with what Carter described as “marvellous objects”. There were statues, furniture, thrones, chests, alabaster vases, gold jewellery and bronze trumpets. However the greatest treasures were found in the burial chamber itself with four gilded shrines, one inside the other with the sarcophagus inside the last one. The mummy was protected by three coffins and in between each one there were dried lotus flowers, willow and olive leaves. The third coffin was made of gold and weighed 1,140kg and the mummy itself with its beautiful golden portrait mask.
It took 10 years to catalogue and clear the tomb of its treasures and many of these are now on display in the Cairo museum. These amazing items along with the Valley of the Kings are some of the most visited sites in Egypt. To protect Tutankhamun’s tomb which is being damaged by the increased humidity caused by visitors there is now a newly opened replica of the tomb on the West Bank of Luxor. It is an exact replica of the original with the paintings and hieroglyphs painstakingly recreated to enable a new generation of visitors to see the tomb of the most famous pharaoh.
We can of course help you to discover these treasures yourself on our Egypt tours plus the replica tomb of Tutankhamun and a visit to Howard Carters house is included in our Dahabiya Dream Nile cruise holiday.
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