Monday, 1 December 2008

T for king Tut on ABC Wednesday

Coming back from Egypt I Cannot but begin to tell about my trip. Only I must confess that we were not allowed to take photos in the Cairo Museum, so I used these pictures from my newspaper and the text from Google.

The funeral of pharaoh Tutanchamon
When Tutanchamon became pharaoh of Egypt, about 3300 years ago, he was only nine years old. The young pharaoh was hardly given time to show who he was. Tutanchamon died at the age of no more than nineteen; he was buried in the 'Valley of the Kings' in Luxor - Egypt.

Howard Carter en Lord Carnavon

'The London Times' of Thursday, November 30th 1922 reported a sensation, the 'Egyptological finding of the century'. These were significant words, but, as at the end of the last century, they are still valid. At that time two English archaeologists, Howard Carter and his financial partner, Lord Carnavon, found the grave/tomb of Tutanchamon.
What was found there was overwhelming. It took almost ten years to give all the archaeologic material from the grave a place in the Egyptian National Museum in Cairo. After intensive research the mummy was placed back into the grave and still rests there.


From research it became clear that Tutanchamon, at the moment of his decease, was between eighteen and twenty years old. Thanks to the flowers and fruits that were placed on his sarcophagus, it was possible to deduct in what season the pharaoh died. Tutanchamon was buried probably at the end of March or the beginning of April. However, the exact moment of death must have been about seventy days earlier. That means the beginning of the time of mummification. So the pharaoh must have taken his last breath around January.

Period of mourning

At the moment of Tutanchamon's decease, all of Egypt was dejected. The news had spread quickly and people said, "Horus had unified with the solar disk". Everywhere work was laid down. Everybody squatted down, with the head of the knees, to utter lamentation. After his mortal remains where placed upon a bier, the country went through a long period of mourning. The people abstained from any festivity, any pleasure was forbidden. The men within the environment of the deceased pharaoh were not allowed to shave until the day of the funeral.

Building of the grave

Like with his predecessors, the building of his rock-grave was started on the moment of Tutanchamon's accession of the throne. Firstly a big rock was excavated in the 'Valley of the Kings" near Luxor. Then the furnishing of the grave-chamber was started and the application of holy writing on the walls.

Tutanchamon's sudden death did not allow his tomb to be finished. Therefore he was buried in a small grave, originally planned for another member of the royal family. This small grave, which impresses for its soberness and little decoration, was known to only a few people. Not even the ancient Egyptians knew about it, this is obvious because the grave of a more recent pharaoh was built right next to the grave of Tutanchamon. For the construction of this later grave the gravebuilders threw the debris right on top of the entrance of Tutanchamon's grave. This way, unwillingly, a good protection was offered against possible grave-robbers. Until the beginning of this century.


All precautions, taken to be prepared for the eternal life, could only be effective if the mortal remains were transformed into a mummy. For seventy days the deceased would be treated by priests and specialists. Through the nostrils a great deal of the brains were removed with a special hook. Following this, the remains of the brains still present in the skull were dissolved with aromatic fluids. Through an opening, made in the side of the body, the priests removed the bowels and the various organs from the body. Then the cavity of the chest and abdomen were also rinsed with aromatic fluids. After this the created cavities were filled with good-smelling compounds like pulverised mirth. Nothing that was subject to decay, remained in the body.

The organs, like heart, liver and kidneys, were prepared and put in small sarcophaguses. Then these sarcophaguses were stored in four big-bellied vase-urns, or 'canopes'; they had a lid in the form of a human head with the features of the deceased pharaoh. Magic hieroglyph inscriptions were engraved on the sides. The body, without anything that could decay, and completely shaven, was put in dry lye (NaOH) and salt. This mixture made sure that any body-fluid still within the body, was absorbed. After this, the mortal remains were washed and put on a bed to dry.

Now came the bandages, the last stage of mummification. Hundreds of yards of fine linen were necessary to entirely encapsulate the body of the pharaoh. One started with each separate finger and toe, further each limb and finally the whole body. While speaking proverbs and prayers, ointments were spread on the mortal remains. The mummy was now literally covered with tens of treasures. He wore, for instance, a golden sheath on each finger. A priest had put golden seal-rings on the ringfinger and the middle-finger of the left hand. Also on the toes the priests had put golden sheaths, Between the linen more then hundred-and-forty amulets were hidden. They were made out of gold and the most beautiful gems, like the dark blue lapis lazuli.

Lying in state

It was the night before the burial. The mummy was stretched out on a large golden bed. The sensitive golden mask of the pharaoh expressed perfect tranquillity. At the feet of the pharaoh his widow recited proverbs to resuscitate rebirth. Then the priest came in striding and the mummy was taken, to be put in a catafalque. This catafalque now was placed on a sled.

Tutanchamon's last journey

The next morning holy red oxen drew the mortal remains to his grave. The mourning women lamented, while the men carried long papyrus stems.

The mood in the 'Valley of the Kings' was still nervous, one had hardly finished the grave. The paintings on the three walls of the chamber, where the deceased was to be interned, were only just dry. The fourth wall could only be painted and plastered and closed after the stone sarcophagus with the coffin was installed.

The mummy was taken from the catafalque and the priests put the mummy straight up in front of the entrance of the grave. Now a number of ritual acts were performed, like the reciting of proverbs. Following this the mummy was laid in a solid golden sarcophagus. This sarcophagus was put in a wooden chest that was laid in with gold-leaf.

Thanks to Denise Nesbitt, who has hosted this ABC game for the third round to the letter T for ABC Wednesday. For more ABC posts click on ABC picture in my side bar.Join us in this wonderful meme!


RuneE said...

A very interesting post. A pity (again) that you were not allowed to take pictures, but I suppose they need the extra money.

A very clear and concise rendering of the story both of his death and the discovery of the tomb. That is the of post I enjoy!

Dina said...

Wil, welcome back! Looks like you have been busy in Egypt with King Tut. What a story.
The photos of his feet and face make you sit up and notice!

mrsnesbitt said...

Welcome Back! This story fascinates me, the strange deaths of those involved in particular! Indeed, a tragic young age!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Lovely to have your blog back reader wil. I have missed reading you. Good to read the story too and to know that you had a wonderful time.

Liz said...

It must have been fantastic to see for real.

Glad you had a good time.

antigoni said...

Thank you for sharing all these information. I would like to visit this place one day. Awesome trip!
The email you wrote isn't working.

JoAnn's-D-Eyes said...

wow! R Wil,
I knew that Egyppt was and still is a great country to visit, I am not surprised and Tank you for your really great post!

To answer your suggetion Chinese lanteren) its a christmas Tradition, I show NOW the outcome of the yesterdays post.

My Abc is about Traditions;

Greetings and happy ABC

fishing guy said...

Wil: Too bad that we didn't get this onto My World.

Sorry that Mr. Linky was goofy this week. Thanks for sharing your world. FG MW Team

Gramma Ann said...

Glad you arrived home safe and sound. I enjoyed reading about King Tut. How sad he had to die at such a young age. The commentary was educational as well as fun to read.

I hope you are feeling much better since you arrived home. I hope your week goes well for you.

Janice Thomson said...

I have always always wanted to visit Egypt. I look forward to reading more about your trip Wil. Welcome back and thanks for this wonderful info on King Tut.

babooshka said...

Welcome back with a bang. This is a wonderful post. Extremely fascinating people way ahead of their time.

ChrissyM said...

Very interesting post! Awesome post!

mirage2g said...

Nice sometimes is annoying when photos aint allowed...

I remember reading that the cause of his death was something like a broken bone...

thanks for the added info! -

Leslie: said...

I'd love to see that some day! :D

Life with Kaishon said...

Welcome Back! I missed you! Love this post and loved the education I always!

Can you believe I haven't thought of my T yet? Me either : ).

Sara G said...

Very Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing!!
We got home late last night from our trip to Iowa. Spent the Thanksgivng holiday with my Grandma!! Thanksgiving is the Fourth Thursday in November. So, it won't fall on the same day each year.
You take care and from the pics it looks like you had a nice holiday. I need to get caught up on my blogs!!

Powell River Books said...

I was lucky enough to see the King Tut exhibition when it came to Los Angeles many years ago. It was really amazing. Thanks for visiting my post about the Hulks in Powell River. -- Margy

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Thanks for the great lesson. I always learn something when I visit here!

Rinkly Rimes said...

I learned a lot from your text. Without blogs I'd be even more ignorant than I am at present!

JoAnn's-D-Eyes said...

Hi R-Wil I came back again to admire your post (2tth time) and saw youir header very lovely! waiting for more...

JoAnn Holland

photowannabe said...

Interesting information about a fascinating King Tut. Thanks for sharing and its a perfect post for the letter T.
Welcome back too.

Bear Naked said...

Of course Kikg TUT for the letter T.
A regal and unique post.

Bear((( )))

kjpweb said...

Wonderful! That sure is an experience of a lifetime, that I envy you for! Very interesting!
Cheers, Klaus

Gramma Ann said...

Hello Reader Wil,

Please stop by my blog: for a well-deserved award. Thank you.


Middle Ditch said...

You're back!!!

I loved the sinterklaas post, yes I'm Dutch and I do miss it. I'm still not used to Christmas celebrations here after nearly 30 years. Strange isn't it.

Thank you for that wonderful Egyptian journey. I watched it recently on TV. I'm always very interested in that kind of history.

Denise said...

Totally fascinating post, the young Pharoah's story was well told.

Brenda said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing all this. My husband and I stood in line forever to see King Tut's traveling exhibit in Chicago about 31 years ago, and had to give up and get out of line because we had to come home to go back to work. Very disappointing, but we have a book about it. Glad you are home safe and full of stories to tell!

Mary said...

Don't you hate it when you can't take your own photos of places that cool and interesting?? That always drives me nuts.

The Tile Lady said...

This was a fascinating post, Wil. I really enjoyed learning about Tutankhamen and his burial. I know how much you must have LOVED seeing the museum and all its artifacts! What a GREAT trip!!! I envy you!

Thank you for visiting my three blogs and commenting! I appreciate it so much!