Tutankhamun's tomb: Egypt from the tomb of the child king

Tutankhamen's tomb

The ancient Egyptian civilization attracted the eyes of the entire world since its origin, which, as its cosmogony relates, begins in the Nile River. Its pharaohs, its gods, its rites, its art and culture in general, have always aroused the interest of the most. Even those who don't like this piece of the ancient world have heard of it, know about the pyramids, the sphinx and of course the tomb of Tutankhamun, the boy king. Today we come to talk about him precisely: who was he and why is he the best known pharaoh of all.

Who was Tutankhamun?

If we look for information about who Tutankhamun was, Egyptologists agree on the same thing, in life he was a minor pharaoh, little known, who died between the ages of 9 and 11. However, the discovery of his tomb would transform the future of the boy king, since he became the best known pharaoh of all.

No discovery has generated so much excitement like the one in the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1923. Even today new things continue to be discovered about it and about its pharaoh. But... Why is this tomb so special? Why was it hidden for so long?

Tutankhamun's tomb

On the banks of the Nile River stretches the Valley of the Kings, chosen place for about 500 years by the pharaohs for his final rest. It is a vast maze of ancient Egyptian tombs, excavated over 3000 years ago. More than 60 tombs have been found, among which the one of the child king stands out: Tutankhamun.

How are the tombs of the pharaohs normally?

The tombs in this valley contain a similar decoration based on the concern to ensure the safe passage from this life to the next, something well reflected in the book of the dead.

valley tomb decoration

According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, the transition from life to death begins at sunset. At that time the pharaoh follows the path of the sun to the underworld, where You will have to face numerous challenges armed by the spells arranged in the tomb. Among all these tests, the most important was the weighing of souls: weighing their hearts on a scale in front of the feather of the truth of the goddess Maat. The pharaoh was supposed to be exempted from this test and when he reached the end of all the challenges, the gods welcomed him into the afterlife, he transformed into the sun god and rose again out of the underworld.

How is Tutankhamun's tomb?

Tutankhamun's chamber is different to what we have just related, that is one of the reasons why it is special. The most famous tomb in the valley It is located in the center of it, surrounded by the tombs of other pharaohs who lived before him. It consists of 4 small chambers, each 4,2 meters wide. In the center there is a modestly decorated and painted tomb made of wood. Hidden in the walls there are small niches that would keep sacred statues like the one of Anubis. This burial chamber it is full of magical decoration but the rest of the chambers are bare. It is a simple tomb, something that makes it different from the others in the valley and that continues to raise questions.

The discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb

ancient egyptians they firmly believed that they would have life in the afterlife, which is why they did their best to hide their tombs, full of treasures and what they would need in that other life. These treasures were an incentive for looters of graves, which spread throughout the country. It is reflected in that hardly any examples of intact tombs have been found.

The treasure

In the case of Tutankhamun's, a false wall obstructed the burial chamber and a plaster-covered doorway sealed the entrance to the tomb, in front of which 40 tons of rubble filled the access corridor up to the ceiling creating a barrier of more than 7 meters. The protection does not end there, there was another door at the end of that barrier that was marked with the seal of Tutankhamun and again more debris that camouflaged the tomb among the arid landscape of the valley.

To all this, one should add the displacements of earth and debris from other graves that ended up on top of Tutankhamun's, causing the location of his tomb to be forgotten.

In 1923 Howard Carter would make the most important discovery in Egyptology: the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb. An intact tomb, with treasures and items that the pharaoh would need in the afterlife: six disassembled chariots, the throne, and provisions of food and wine.

Two statues of Tutankhamun protected the entrance sealed to the burial chamber, where there was a large sanctuary covered with gold panels and where the mummified organs of the pharaoh were, as well as the tomb itself, sarcophagi, and his mummy.

The curse of Tutankhamen

Beliefs are an important part of any culture. The Egyptians believe that anyone who disturbs a pharaoh's tomb will fall cursed and die after a while.

Of all the curses, Tutankhamun's is the best known worldwide. In the early 1920s, Howard Carter discovers the existence of a hitherto unknown pharaoh and convinces Lord Carnarvon to finance the search for his tomb. A couple of years later, the steps of the tomb and a door with the intact seals of the pharaoh are discovered. On November 26, 1922, a hole was made and it was found to be an intact grave. The cataloging of the tomb and its objects began after its discovery, but when it came to the objects found in the sarcophagus chamber itself, people began to die who had entered the tomb or interacted with it during discovery.

Pharaoh's Curse

the deaths begin

Four months after opening the tomb, Lord Carnarvon, who was already in poor health, was bitten by a mosquito and shortly after cut the bite by shaving, causing septicemia that spread throughout his body. When the infection reached his lungs, it caused pneumonia, causing his death. At the same time, his bitch howled and fell dead in London. It is also said that just at that moment there was a blackout in Cairo. All of this was the perfect breeding ground for the press to start talking about "the curse of Tutankhamun."

This death was followed by others, such as that of Lord Carnarvon's brother, present when the grave was opened. Arthur Mace, whoever struck to enter the chamber, died in a way that the doctors could not explain. Sir Douglas Reid, X-rayed the mummy, fell ill and returned to Switzerland to die two months later. A Canadian professor who studied the tomb with Carter died of a stroke. Carter himself died of a heart attack, and his father committed suicide upon hearing the news.

It must be said, yes, that except for the radiologist, all the others they died years later and had no problem so far. Carter, for example, died of natural causes and his father was not even in the grave. However, in the 30s, more than thirty deaths were attributed to this curse, including Carter's, which, on that occasion, he himself was able to deny because he was still alive.

return the curse

The progressive lack of deaths in Carter's team made the press gradually forget about the matter. However, by the 60s and 70s, with the transfer of various pieces of the tomb from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to temporary exhibitions in European museumsthe curse returned. The directors of the museum at the time died shortly after approving the transfers.

Over time it has been shown that of the 58 people present at the opening of the tomb, only eight died in the twelve years that followed. The rest lived for a long time afterward and most to a great age.

The tomb today: Is it worth seeing if we go to Egypt?

Today you can access the tomb of Tutankhamun, specifically to the burial chamber. There you can see how it is and how it was decorated with mural painting. In addition, we can see the mummy of the child king inside protected by an urn.

Tutankhamen's tomb today

When we travel to Egypt we usually take a pack to enter a set of tombs in the valley, but Tutankhamun's is paid separately. As for whether it is worth paying that extra or not, It is important to make it clear that it is a very small and simple tomb, but it has marked a before and after in Egyptology. If you are a lover of ancient cultures, history, art, you cannot miss it if you go to the valley. If, on the other hand, you have planned a quick visit to Egypt and you have just enough time, you will find other more impressive tombs than this one.

In my case, if I return to Egypt, I will repeat.

Have you traveled to Egypt? Have you seen Tutankhamun's tomb? Tell us about your experience and above all continue to enjoy art, history and travel.

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