The Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV 62)
Pharaoh Tutankhamun was probably the son of the heretic pharaoh Amenhotep IV (better known in the history as Akhenaton, founder of one of the first monotheistic religions in human history).
Tutankhamun ascended the throne when he was only nine in 1333 BC and died during the ninth year of his reign in 1224 B.C. Most probably he has been assassinated for unknown reasons.
His tomb KV 62 was discovered in 1922 by the famous British Egyptologist Howard Carter. Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb was sensational at that time because, it is the most complete and intact Egyptian tomb ever found. The treasures that were found in the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamun amazed the whole world for years. You can notice this upon the faces of the tourists in the Egyptian museum when they see the golden mask of Tutankhamun.
Tutankhamun died unexpectedly, so he was buried in haste. This can be seen in the lack of wall decoration in all rooms except the impressive burial chamber. The tomb is the smallest of the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, but is also the most famous.
The treasures from the tomb can be seen in Cairo Egyptian Museum in a newly-renovated exhibition hall and are well worth a visit.
Discovery of The Tomb of Tutankhamun
On 4, November, 1922, the tomb was discovered by Howard Carter who worked with Lord Carnarvon, a wealthy Englishman who was an archaeology enthusiast and he was the one who funded the expedition of Carter.
"At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to nicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold everywhere, the glint of gold", Howard Carter said.
The entrance staircase to KV 62 was discovered by the workmen on 4 November 1922, and the next day they exposed the now-famous sixteen steps that led down to a tomb entrance closed with mud and stone.
Carter waited for Carvarnon's arrival before breaking through the doorway on 24 November. It took ten years of work to photograph, record, remove, and conserve the more than 3000 objects.
The treasures of Tutankhamun are now displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and visitors coming to the Valley of the Kings often expect the tomb to be equally extraordinary.
The Architectutre of the Tomb of Tutankhamun
The Tomb of Tutankhamun had an unusual plan different from any other royal tomb. It consists of four small chambers covering only 110 square meters. Only the Burial Chamber walls were decorated, unlike royal tombs in which nearly all walls were painted with scenes from various books.
At the bottom of the sixteen steps of the tomb lies an entrance corridor. When Carter entered the corridor, it was filled with rubble, though it had been penetrated by grave robbers at least twice. After the first doorway, a descending corridor leads to the second sealed door, and into the Antechamber. The Antechamber measures 7.9 meters by 3.6 meters and its height is about 2.8 meters.
The priests had crammed inside the tomb huge beds, war chariots, chairs, stools, painted boxes, alabaster jars, mummified ducks, and gilded statues.
Tomb KV 62 includes some annexes that can be reached through a small-low door at the left side of the rear wall of the Antechamber. This room contained foods and unguents, jars of oils, bottles of wine, baskets of fruits and vegetables, and there were also pieces of jewelry, clothing, and furniture.
The Burial Chamber of the Tomb of Tutankhamun
The Burial Chamber of the young pharaoh Tutankhamun measures about 6.4 meters long by 4 meters wide and its height is 3.7 meters.
This chamber houses the red quartzite sarcophagus of the young king. It was found inside four gilded shrines, one inside the other. The sarcophagus was placed inside two gilded coffins holding a third, of solid gold, where Tutankhamen's mummy lay.
The sarcophagus is delicately carved and shows four protective goddesses: Nephthys, Isis, Serqet, and Neith, standing with winged arms outstretched around the four sides. The goddesses wear blue-painted necklaces and arm bands.
The Burial Chamber is the only decorated part in the tomb, housing various scenes from the Opening of the Mouth ritual as well as other scenes of the King with different deities.
Generally, on the north wall, Tutankhamun is depicted posing before Nut (goddess of the sky). The west wall is decorated with the first hour of Imydwat. On the east wall, the King spells one of the Book of the Dead, then we have on the south wall representations of the King with various deities (now destroyed) such as Anubis (god of mummification), Isis, Hathor and others. The north wall shows Tutankhamen followed by his Ka and welcomed to the underworld by Osiris. In the scenes of the Opining of the Mouth ritual, King Ay (Tutankhamun's successor) was acting as the King's son, despite the fact that he is older than him.
On the east of the Burial Chamber lies the Treasury, which once filled with boats, a gilded canopic shrine, shabti-statuettes, boxes filled with figures of gods and goddesses, a statue of a recumbent Anubis jackal, and two mummified fetuses (Tutankhamen's unborn children).
Without doubt, the decoration in KV 62 is hastily done and is ill-proportioned. The features of Amarna phase of art can still be seen in the figure of Ay and one of the figures of Tutankhamen. You can note, for example the sagging stomachs, the thin limbs, long fingers, elongated skull and slightly pointed chins.