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Jewels fit for an Egyptian King

King Tut

The 4th and 26th of November 1922 are dates that all historians will recognise. The 4th was the day that Howard Carter discovered the entrance to King Tutankhamen's tomb, complete with valuable jewels and gold furniture, chariots and riches historians had previously only guessed at, and the 26th marked the day the interior chambers of the tomb were entered for the first time in centuries by Carter and his financial backer and fellow archaeologist, Lord Carnarvon.

Carter had been working in The Valley of The Kings since 1914, employed by Lord Carnarvon. Interrupted by the World War until 1917, Carter continued to search for anything of significance in the desert whilst Carnarvon grew tired and impatient, not getting a return on his investment - although this was soon to change with the discovery of a mysterious set of steps previously undiscovered - lucky really for Carter, as Lord Carnarvon had stated his previous payment was the last he was willing to invest in what was looking increasingly like a failed dig.

Those steps have since become famous in history as they turned out to lead down to King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Significantly, the tomb was the best preserved tomb ever found in The Valley of the Kings, and has changed our ideas and perception of life in ancient Egypt ever since, as well as given rise to various curse and demise theories of the boy king.

When Carter realised the impact of where those steps led, he immediately contacted Lord Carnarvon and urged him to travel to Egypt to see what had been found, and on the 26th November 1922, he arrived with his wife and daughter to see the tomb unveiled.  Once the group had assembled at the steps, Carter made the “tiny breach in the top left hand corner” of the doorway sealing the entrance into the tomb, and via candlelight was able to peer inside.  Already at this stage, Carter was able to identify items made of gold and ebony.  Breaking into the tomb further with a chisel that was given to him by his grandmother on this 17th birthday, Carter moved further into the tomb of the young King.  When asked from the party above whether he could see anything, Carter utter the famous line, “yes; wonderful things.”

Over the next few months, Carter spent his time cataloguing the items found in the many rooms inside the tomb, before reaching the burial chamber which contained the sarcophagus of King Tutankhamun himself.

howard carter Howard Carter in the tomb

Items that were recovered from the tomb of Tutankhamun include:

  • A large shrine, made from cedar wood and covered with gold.
  • A silver trumpet
  • The famous and iconic burial mask, made of gold and inlaid with semiprecious stones and glass
  • The solid gold inner coffin in which the king was laid to rest, measuring 72” long and 20” wide.
  • Delicate gold circlet inlaid with semiprecious stones found on the head of the mummy
  • Gilded statue of Tutankhamen on a skiff found in the treasury
  • White and gold chest found in the tomb, decorated with gilded aknh
  • Gold dagger and sheath, with the king’s cartouches embossed in gold on the pommel
  • Golden five-finger rings, 23 in total (2 on the mummy), including a bipartite ring consisting of two loops joined at the bezels only
  • Triple string necklace with gold beads, found around the neck of the mummy

 

Unfortunately, Lord Carnavon, without whose money the excavation would not have been possible, died before the full treasures and the mummy were found, leading to the “Curse of Tutankhamun” stories that are prevalent to this day. Upon closer inspection of the tomb and the contents within, it is also believed it had been robbed not long after the funeral, although not touched for centuries before Carter made his discovery.

In the 91 years since the tomb was excavated and the treasures slowly removed and in part exhibited around the world, the collection is now no longer all together, further prompting rumours of the curse affecting all who handle the items, although this has never been proven.