The Lost Treasure of the Golden Pharaoh
By Shani Asokan Ceylon Today Features
Way back in 1922, a British archaeologist discovered the ‘Boy King’ Tutankhamun’s tomb. That was almost 100 years ago. The search for the tomb began all the way back in 1915 and after the discovery in 1922, it took several months to clear away the sand and debris. Finally, the tomb was unsealed in February of 1923, a landmark in human history. So, in line with the upcoming 100 year anniversary of this discovery, let’s take a look at who this boy king was, and what was found in his tomb.
Who was the boy king?
King Tutankhamun, or King Tut as he is often known became the ruler of Ancient Egypt when he was just a little boy. He was nine years old. His rule was short, the boy king died just ten years after his rule began.
To pay respect, he was buried in a golden coffin surrounded by 5,000 priceless treasures, including animal statues, jewellery, clothes, weapons and even toys. It is unknown how the young king met with his untimely death, but many believe that he may have been in a chariot crash. Still, his death is a mystery to us, even today.
Discovering the tomb
It was British archaeologist Howard Carter who found Tut’s tomb. He had already spent many years excavating the tombs of Egyptian kings and queens when he came across a mysterious symbol. It was a cup with a name etched across it, a name of an unfamiliar pharaoh: Tutankhamun.
Upon his discovery, Howard was sure that this King Tut’s tomb was somewhere in what is known as the Valley of the Kings. However, he searched for eight years and found nothing. Then, just as he was about to give up, one of his crewmen found something. A stair carved into the rock.
Operations began then, and slowly but surely the entrance to the tomb was cleared. When Howard and his team entered the tomb, they found thousands upon thousands of amazing treasures, all untouched for over 3,300 years! This was indeed a special event, as it was the only ancient Egyptian tomb to have been found completely intact.
The curse of Tut
Howard’s discovery was so big that it got a lot of attention from around the world. Soon, this little-known boy king was a world famous figure and the most famous Pharaoh ever to be talked about.
Soon, however, the media ran out of stories to publish on King Tut. They were desperate to keep the stories coming, seeing as people loved reading them. So, when Lord Canaryon, an incredibly wealthy man who had financed Howard’s search for Tut’s tomb died from an infected mosquito bite, the newspapers seized up this opportunity to invent what became known as King Tut’s curse. The story that emerged was that Canaryon’s death was linked to the reopening of Tut’s tomb, because the tomb had been sealed with a curse!
The treasures within
The tomb contained a vast amount of treasures, so many, that it would be impossible to describe them all within this short article. But here are a few more famous ones.
Wooden guardian statue of the King
This is a life-sized statue of Tutankhamun, made of wood and painted gold, with piercing golden eyes, gold clothing and black skin. It was one of two statues Howard found guarding the sealed entrance of Tut’s burial chamber.
Miniature canopic coffin
The ancient Egyptians believed in the afterlife and it was an important part of their culture. Hence they believed that preserving the bodies of their dead (through the process of mummification) would allow the soul of the dead to live on in the afterlife forever. In the mummification process, the internal organs were removed and wrapped in linen cloths. They were then placed in containers called canopic vessels. There was usually jars, but sometimes, like in the case of King Tut, they were placed in miniature coffins. One such golden coffin that was discovered, contained King Tut’s liver!
A historic discovery
King Tut may not have been well known in his time, due to his young age and short reign, but the discovery of his vast and rich tomb definitely placed him on the map of ancient history. The circumstances of the discovery of his tomb and what was found within, allows him to live on, well after his journey into the afterlife.