Major Archaeological Discovery Tomb of Tutankhamen Part 2

About the major archaeological discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen the Eypytian ruler, history of the dig and findings.


The climax was yet to come. Before the sarcophagus lid could be raised, the shrine had to be taken apart and removed from the room. Its transfer from the burial chamber took 84 days of struggle, almost a full day for each of its component parts, all of them heavy, hard to handle, and very fragile. Ironically, Carter discovered that while the artisan craftsmanship used to build the shrine had been superb, the assembly laborers had left a good deal to be desired. Ignoring the markings that indicated the proper assembly sequence, the workers had put the shrine together backward, with the doors facing east instead of west and the side panels reversed. And they had pounded reluctant joinings into position with heavy hammer blows, leaving noticeable dents.

The opening of the sarcophagus gave the final surprise. An outer anthropoid coffin concealed a second, and the second a third. The innermost coffin was the most amazing find of all: a solid gold case, 6 ft. 1 3/4 in. long and nearly 1/4 in. thick, worth a princely sum. Within the final coffin lay the goal of the dig--the mummy of King Tut.

Carter soon learned that the king's embalmers had erred in seeking to preserve the corpse for the ages. They had poured a tarlike unguent between the gold coffin and the wooden (middle) coffin as well as over the wrapped mummy. During the centuries, a chemical reaction had carbonized the bones and tissues beyond any hope of salvage.

The mummy's bindings hid 143 pieces of jewelry, which joined the treasures already found. Tut's body was returned to the tomb, where it rests today. The valuable treasures, however, are on display at the Cairo Museum. On rare occasions, the Egyptian authorities permit exhibitions of them outside the country, as in 1972, when the British Museum held a showing, and in 1977-1978, when an exhibit traveled to American museums.

King Tut himself was probably insignificant, dying at the age of 18. But the riches found in his tomb gave the world its first glimpse of a complete funerary assemblage for an Egyptian pharaoh, objects previously described in religious texts and contemporary writings.

Opening the tomb gave rise to a press-inspired "pharaoh's curse." Carnarvon had died almost immediately, and allegedly a score of other individuals were struck down because of their involvement with dismantling the shrine. The legend is false. Of the ten principal diggers at Tutankhamen's tomb, two were alive 40 years later and another five lived an average of 20 years beyond its opening.

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