In search of Tutankhamun's tomb
Among the tombs discovered in the excavations at the “Kings’ Valley”
of Egypt, the tomb of Child Pharaoh - Tutankhamun occupies a special
place. This is simply because it is the only tomb which remained
unplundered by ruthless treasure hunters. His tomb was comparatively a
small one cut out of rock far below the ground level and the explorers
had frightful experiences when they saw the priceless treasure on
opening the tomb after 3,000 years.
As soon as the child king rose to power in Egypt (1354-1343BC) he
began cutting his bomb but the work of constructing the tomb was left
uncompleted as he died prematurely. However Carter, a British
archaeologist who had been engaged in excavations in the “Kings’
valley”, strongly believed that Tutankhamun's tomb had to be trapped
under the thick layers of sand in the “King's Valley”.
As the tomb had not been discovered by the year 1817, However Carter
launched the basic excavations in search of the mysterious tomb. For
this project, Carter managed to obtain financial support from Herbert
Carnavan, an affluent Englishman who showed keen interest in whatever
discoveries that Carter would have made.
In the course of futile attempts for almost five years, Howard Carter
succeeded in uncovering a flight of rock steps leading to a corridor
underground on November 4,1922. Hearing the exhilarating news, Herbert
Carnavan arrived in the city of Luxor accompanied by his daughter
Howard Carter and Herbert Carnavan sensed that they were very close
to the ‘spectacular find’ beyond the stone door when they saw the royal
stamp of Tutankhamun carved on the main door of the tomb. They opened
four stone doors before they entered a parlour. Carter had to have
sufficient proof that the rooms that were sealed with massive stone
tablets, contained no toxic gas that could have been produced in the
course of centuries of being sealed up. For this, they made a hole in
On opening the fourth door, they saw the stone coffin in Tutan
Khamen. The wooden boxes inside the coffin were coated with gold and
were exquisitely embellished with colourful paintings. The Pharaoh
King's face was covered with a golden mask of 10 kilograms and his whole
body was decorated with gold jewellery.
Articles and furniture decorated with gold and precious stones
together with other articles loved by the child king were kept along
side the mummy. The sorrowful royalty had placed gold, precious stones,
ivory and priceless furniture near the mummy that the dead King might be
able to cross the ‘river of death’ with the selfsame majesty. Inside the
other halls of the tomb were deposited the throne, toys, chairs, beds
and tables that Tutankhamun had cherished during his brief lifetime.
The explorers saw some wooden paddles on the floor of the narrow
passage to the tomb meant to signify that they were for the use of the
king in his voyage from the river of death into the nether world.
Moreover, the explorers made an exciting discovery of two mummies of new
born infants (most probably still births) kept alongside the stone
coffin of Tutankhamun suggesting that they were Tutankhamun's children
born of the sixteen year old queen.
Parts removed from the Pharaoh's head (brain) and his stomach were
deposited in gold coated vessels in a special box. The mummy of
Tutankhamun, his golden mask, coffins and all the articles found inside
the tomb were later kept in an exclusive compartment in the museum of
Followed by the discovery and removal of the mummy of Tutankhamun,
there came strange reports of deaths that were popularly assumed to be
caused by the “curse’ of the mummy. It was reported that Herbert
Carnavan, an outstanding figure in the discovery of the mummy, fell
seriously ill until he died in the course of six months. The strange
reports claimed that Carnavan's body had turned bluish brown at the time
of death and his own dog too died after howling throughout the night.
Within the few months that followed, several people who had worked in
the excavation of the tomb, died and a widespread fear about the ‘curse’
of Pharaoh's reigned supreme in the world media. Scientists who probed
deeper into the nature of the deaths and the interior of the tombs
concluded that Herbert Carnavan and many others had succumbed to the
intense damage caused to lungs. The lungs bore marks of having been
infected by a microscopic fungi that had possibly grown on the wrapped
mummies inside tombs with certain humidity
The plight of the Pharaoh
The eighteen-year-old Pharaonic child king who flourished in Egypt
some 3,000 years ago, was suddenly thrown in to a premature death for
some unexplained reason. How and why Tutankhamun, the legendary child
king fell prey to the tragic death is a mystery that baffles us the move
we think about it.
The most momentous events of his life are revitalised on highly
decorated altars, well carved chairs, elegant chests of drawers and
stone tablets found intact in his tomb. What we know of him has come
from epigraphs, tomb paintings and other royal articles found in his
tomb excavated 90 years ago.
The impression conveyed by his mummified body and all the priceless
items used and loved by him evoke mysterious feelings mixed with a sense
of awe and transports us immediately to the grandeur and majesty that
once touched the Egyptian Palace. This youth in every way can be easily
identified as an ordinary youth who valued living with nature and was
honoured as the “messenger of the sun god Ray”.
The fragmented pottery and artists’ own representations on the tomb
walls bespeak Tutankhamun's romantic moments with his queen, his
appetite for hunting and other simple habits peculiar for an
eighteen-year-old boy and a sixteen-year-girl. His period of rule has
been proved to be six or seven years.
Anyone who enters the dismal tomb is continually obsessed with the
feeling that the child king was lost in untimely death. The decorated
golden cup with a funeral message on it, the wreath of lotus and water
lilies all kept beside his mummy show the severe sorrow felt by those
who came to pay their last respects.