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The entrance stairway of 16 steps viewed from the point where Howard Carter uncovered the first sealed doorway

Robbing Tutankhamun: Greed for Gold, Linen, Cosmetics and the Good Life—Part II

Against all odds, Tutankhamun’s tomb survived the ravages of time; when the magnificent burial places of his predecessors and successors were ransacked in antiquity, and their treasures stolen. However, the boy king’s crypt was not unmolested, as Howard Carter discovered, as it had been subjected to robbery more than once. The perpetrators most probably suffered a gory end. But the treasures that remained have provided us a unique glimpse into the life and times of a virtually unknown ruler of ancient Egypt; bringing him unprecedented global fame that would be the envy of even the most illustrious pharaohs.

(Read Part I here)

Tutankhamun as Amun wearing the tall twin plumes that were part of this state god´s iconography. His face shows a gentle childlike quality, and we can assume it was carved quite early in his reign. From Karnak Temple. Luxor Museum.

Tutankhamun as Amun wearing the tall twin plumes that were part of this state god´s iconography. His face shows a gentle childlike quality, and we can assume it was carved quite early in his reign. From Karnak Temple. Luxor Museum.

Far from an Intact Tomb

Some objects discovered during the clearance at the bottom of the lower staircase-fill of KV62, apparently relating to the plundering of the tomb, were amongst the most interesting found during the entire excavation. A number of antiquities bearing the names of several kings, including – Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, Neferneferuaten, and the great royal wife Meritaten surfaced.

Naturally, Howard Carter was baffled by this: “Why this mixture of names? The balance of evidence so far would seem to indicate a cache rather than a tomb, and at this stage in the proceedings we inclined more and more to the opinion that we were about to find a miscellaneous collection of objects of the Eighteenth Dynasty kings, brought from Tell el Amarna by Tutankh.Amen and deposited here for safety.” However, Carter initially dismissed these finds as suggesting that the tomb (like KV55) contained a cache of Amarna material rather than a burial.

Inscription from the lid of a box (Carter No. 001k) discovered during the clearance at the bottom of the lower staircase-fill of Tutankhamun’s tomb. (From left) Col 1: King Neferkheperure-Akhenaten; Col 2: King Ankhkheperure-Neferneferuaten; and Col 3: Great Royal Wife Meritaten. (Public Domain)

Inscription from the lid of a box (Carter No. 001k) discovered during the clearance at the bottom of the lower staircase-fill of Tutankhamun’s tomb. (From left) Col 1: King Neferkheperure-Akhenaten; Col 2: King Ankhkheperure-Neferneferuaten; and Col 3: Great Royal Wife Meritaten. ( Public Domain )

After the entrance corridor that was filled to the roof with rubble was cleared; the outer doorway of KV62 was now clearly visible. However, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon were in for a shock, as Peter Clayton explains: “Contrary to popular belief, Tutankhamun’s tomb was not intact when Carter found it….”

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Independent researcher and playwright Anand Balaji is an Ancient Origins guest writer and author of Sands of Amarna: End of Akhenaten.

[The author thanks Dr Chris Naunton and Heidi Kontkanen for granting permission to use their photographs. Photographic records of the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb by Harry Burton are available for free here.]

Top Image: The entrance stairway of 16 steps viewed from the point where Howard Carter uncovered the first sealed doorway (Public Domain)

By Anand Balaji

Comments

Dumb question (Egypt is not my area but interesting), is there any evidence that might suggest that the royal houses intermarried with Minoan stock? The reason I ask is that the culture seems to have very similar underlying belief systems (it looks different, but the roots on which they are based seem to be common). They obviously traded together, is there any evidence to suggest they were politically and economically related?
Also linen would have been incredibly at the time, we tend to think of this today as a cheap commodity, largely due to the automation, but cloth would have been incredibly expensive to produce by largely hand at the time. SO what we would pay today would have been two orders of magnitude at expensive, 100 times more expensive, e.g. more like $1000 per metre (in modern day terms) for linen. The Egyptians seem to use it for big ticket transactions like property purchases in the same way as the Minoans would use metal for such exchanges. Egypt is wonderful as so much is preserved, it should be possible to work out where clothes and woods are coming from, and with this, it might paint an entirely different picture of long-distance trade over the amber, silk and across the med. It may also explain some of the out of place artefacts, e.g. Egyptian glass in England, amber and tin (bronze) in Egypt and so on. At least the elites, seem to be able to hold of anything from anywhere, e.g. lapis lazuli from Afganistan (and in some volume) which is on the other side of the world. The trade connections actually seem well established and may go back much further into antiquity than we currently believe.

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