What Was Inside Tutankhamun's Tomb?

A sign showing the Tomb of King Tut in Egypt.
A sign showing the Tomb of King Tut in Egypt.

Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled during the Eighteenth Dynasty, between 1332 BC and 1323 BC. Often referred to colloquially as King Tut, Tutankhamun's name was also written as Tutankhamen, Tutankhamon, Tutankhaten, or Nibhurrereya. Additionally, his original name was Tutankhaten, which translates to "Living Image of Aten." It is estimated that Tutankhamun died in 1323 BC at the age of either 18 or 19, and was buried in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, which is located on the bank of the Nile, near Thebes, and contained the tombs of pharaohs and other nobles of the Eighteenth Dynasty. It is believed that Tutankhamun's tomb was robbed at least twice soon after his burial, and items taken included oils and perfumes. However, since then King Tut's tomb was lost and largely forgotten about until its discovery in 1922. It has since been associated with rumors of the "curse of the pharoahs" that is linked to the early deaths of those who enter Tutankhamun's tomb. As a result, King Tut has become one of the most well-known pharaohs.

Discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb

Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered in 1922 by British archeologist Howard Carter, who had been unconvinced that all tombs in the Valley of the Kings had been found. After beginning his search in 1915, Carter found King Tut’s tomb in November 1922, and later unsealed the burial chamber in February 1923. The tomb was found to be nearly intact, and contained all the treasures the king was buried with, which included paintings, canopic jars, gold, model boats, and chariots. While considered relatively small for a pharaoh, the tomb had an antechamber, a treasury, an annex, and a burial chamber. In total, the tomb contained more than 5,000 objects, which took the exploration team ten years to catalog.

Rumors about the "curse of the pharaohs" were fuelled after the death of George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who died of a mosquito bite 5 months after entering Tutankhamun's tomb. Additionally, other stories that suggested Carter’s pet canary was eaten by a snake. In a bid to increase sales, newspapers emphasized the deaths and rumors of the curse.

However, eventually scientists claimed to have discredited such rumors. Of the 58 people that entered the tomb during the expedition, only eight died within twelve years, while all others, including Howard Carter, remained alive. Carter later died of lymphoma in 1939 at the age of 64. Other members of the expedition included Lady Evelyn Herbert and J.O. Kinnaman, who died 57 and 39 years after the expedition, respectively.

Items in Tutankhamun's Tomb

Tutankhamun's tomb contained a total of 5,398 items, including the following: a solid gold coffin; Tutankhamun's chest; Tutankhamun's burial mask, which is one of the most well-known items discovered; a gilded bier; a pectoral indicating Tut’s prenomen, or name; archery bows; trumpets; a lotus chalice; food and wine; and the mummy of Tutankhamun.


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