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Sunday, 31 March 2013





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Government Gazette

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 Emmalin.

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 each door.

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 Cairo.


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.



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