Discovery of King Tut’s Tomb (Oct, 1923)
This article was published less than a year after the tomb was discovered.
TREASURES OF ANCIENT THEBES IN NEW-FOUND TOMB
By R.C. Folger
TREASURE that has been variously estimated to be worth from $15,000,000 to $40,000,000, has recently been brought to light upon the opening of a tomb believed to be that of Tutankhamen, who ruled in Egypt over 3,000 years ago.
The first objects to greet the eyes of the entrants to the tomb, were three magnificent state couches, each made of gilt wood with exquisite carvings and decorated with a lion’s head and other emblematic figures. On these rested gilt beds also beautifully carved and inlaid with ivory and jewels, and a number of boxes of rare workmanship. These boxes were inlaid with ivory and ebony with gilt inscriptions. One box, hung with painted hunting scenes, contained royal robes richly embroidered, precious stones, and golden sandals. Beneath one of the couches was the state throne of Tutank-hamen, the first of the thrones of ancient Egypt revealed to modern eyes and reported to be one of the most beautiful objects of art ever discovered. There were also four chariots richly decorated with gold and studded with semiprecious stones, the charioteer’s apron of leopard’s skin still hanging from the seat. Two life-size statues of the king, holding a golden stick and mace, stood facing each other, the features delicately carved and the headdress studded with gems. A number of quaint-looking musical instruments made of gilt bronze were in the rooms. There were also alabaster vases with a very intricate design of an unknown origin, and some handsome pieces of glazed art pottery. Quantities of provisions for the dead were found packed in boxes, according to the peculiar custom of the times. Among these was some embalmed beef, in containers resembling huge Easter eggs, which was in an excellent state of preservation though not wholly palatable. In one of the boxes were rolls of manuscript which are expected to yield much valuable archaeological information.
The second of the two first chambers, connected by an open door-way, was in such a state of confusion as to indicate that the tomb had not remained undisturbed after the doors had been sealed, following the funeral rites to the dead king. Furniture and other objects, similar to those found in the first chamber, were piled high, and closely packed in a manner that led the investigators to believe that part of the funeral paraphernalia had been hurriedly removed to this chamber to keep it from thieves.
What lies beyond the sealed doors of a third chamber lends interest to the discovery, for it is there that the two figures of the king stand guard. It is hoped this may turn out to be the actual burial chamber of Tutankhamen and the members of his family, but until the material has been cleared from the other chambers, this question cannot be settled.
The tomb lies below that of Rameses VI, which was discovered a few years ago, and is chambered out of the rock in a low hill formed at the foot of a cliff in the famous Valley of the Tombs of Kings, located near the site of ancient Thebes. There are also the tombs of other kings that have been discovered in this hill. It is remarkable that the entrance to Tutankhamen’s tomb is so close to grounds where scores of workmen and many a skilled excavator must have passed while engaged in search for the secrets of the Theban necropolis. Perhaps its very nearness to these already explored sites led them to think that there was no need to search the unexplored strata below.
The discovery is the result of the per-sistence of Lord Carnarvon and his two assistants, Howard Carter and B. Callen-der, who for 16 years have been , following the discouraging work abandoned by those who made the earlier discoveries. In digging among the stones below the entrance to the tomb of Rameses VI, they uncovered what was to their experienced eyes traces of an opening in the wall. Continued digging disclosed a carefully hidden and tightly sealed door. This doorway opened into a stairway of some 16 steps, and a passageway, about 25 feet long, at the end of which was another door even more securely sealed than the first. After the second door had with difficulty been opened and the three men managed to squeeze through, they were rewarded by the sight of the first chamber.