Amazing Colorized Photos of discovery of Tutankhamun in 1922

During the early twentieth century, Howard Carter, a British Egyptologist, excavated for many years in the Valley of the Kings—a royal burial ground located on the west bank of the ancient city of Thebes, Egypt. When Carter arrived in Egypt in 1891, he became convinced there was at least one undiscovered tomb–that of the little known Tutankhamen, or King Tut, who lived around 1400 B.C. and died when he was still a teenager. Backed by a rich Brit, Lord Carnarvon, Carter searched for five years without success. In early 1922, Lord Carnarvon wanted to call off the search, but Carter convinced him to hold on one more year.

Finally the wait paid off when Carter came upon the first of twelve steps of the entrance that led to the tomb of Tutankhamun. He quickly recovered the steps and sent a telegram to Carnarvon in England so they could open the tomb together. Carnarvon departed for Egypt immediately and on November 26, 1922, they made a hole in the entrance of the antechamber in order to look in.

Tutankhamun’s burial mask.
Tutankhamun’s burial mask.

 

Chests inside the treasury.
Chests inside the treasury.

Carter recalled: “At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the lights, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold –everywhere the glint of gold”.

When Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered the tomb’s interior chambers on November 26, they were thrilled to find it virtually intact, with its treasures untouched after more than 3,000 years. The men began exploring the four rooms of the tomb, and on February 16, 1923, under the watchful eyes of a number of important officials, Carter opened the door to the last chamber.

Inside lay a sarcophagus with three coffins nested inside one another. The last coffin, made of solid gold, contained the mummified body of King Tut. Among the riches found in the tomb–golden shrines, jewelry, statues, a chariot, weapons, clothing–the perfectly preserved mummy was the most valuable, as it was the first one ever to be discovered.

Carter examines Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus.
Carter examines Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus.
Arthur Mace and Alfred Lucas work on a golden chariot from Tutankhamun’s tomb outside the “laboratory” in the tomb of Sethos II.
Arthur Mace and Alfred Lucas work on a golden chariot from Tutankhamun’s tomb outside the “laboratory” in the tomb of Sethos II.

 

Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus held not one but three coffins in which to hold the body of the king. The outer two coffins were crafted in wood and covered in gold along with many semiprecious stones, such as lapis lazuli and turquoise. The inner coffin, however, was made of solid gold. When Howard Carter first came upon this coffin, it was not the shiny golden image we see in the Egyptian museum today. In his excavation notes, Carter states, it was “covered with a thick black pitch-like layer which extended from the hands down to the ankles. This was obviously an anointing liquid which had been poured over the coffin during the burial ceremony and in great quantity (some two buckets full)”.

 

An assortment of model boats in the treasury of the tomb.
An assortment of model boats in the treasury of the tomb.

The tomb was robbed at least twice in antiquity, but based on the items taken (including perishable oils and perfumes) and the evidence of restoration of the tomb after the intrusions, it seems clear that these robberies took place within several months at most of the initial burial.

Eventually, the location of the tomb was lost because it had come to be buried by stone chips from subsequent tombs, either dumped there or washed there by floods. In the years that followed, some huts for workers were built over the tomb entrance, clearly without anyone’s knowing what lay beneath. When at the end of the 20th Dynasty the Valley of the Kings burial sites were systematically dismantled, Tutankhamun’s tomb was overlooked, presumably because knowledge of it had been lost, and his name may have been forgotten.

 

Ornately carved alabaster vases in the antechamber.
Ornately carved alabaster vases in the antechamber.

n total 5,398 items were found in the tomb, including a solid gold coffin, face mask, thrones, archery bows, trumpets, a lotus chalice, food, wine, sandals, and fresh linen underwear. Howard Carter took 10 years to catalog the items. Recent analysis suggests a dagger recovered from the tomb had an iron blade made from a meteorite; study of artifacts of the time including other artifacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb could provide valuable insights into metalworking technologies around the Mediterranean at the time.

For many years, rumors of a “Curse of the Pharaohs” (probably fueled by newspapers seeking sales at the time of the discovery) persisted, emphasizing the early death of some of those who had entered the tomb. A study showed that of the 58 people who were present when the tomb and sarcophagus were opened, only eight died within a dozen years. All the others were still alive, including Howard Carter, who died of lymphoma in 1939 at the age of 64. The last survivor, American archaeologist J.O. Kinnaman, died in 1961, a full 39 years after the event.

 

A statue of Anubis on a shrine with pallbearers’ poles in the treasury of the tomb.
A statue of Anubis on a shrine with pallbearers’ poles in the treasury of the tomb.
Howard Carter, Arthur Callender and an Egyptian worker open the doors of the innermost shrine and get their first look at Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus.
Howard Carter, Arthur Callender and an Egyptian worker open the doors of the innermost shrine and get their first look at Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus.
In a “laboratory” set up in the tomb of Sethos II, conservators Arthur Mace and Alfred Lucas clean one of the sentinel statues from the antechamber.
In a “laboratory” set up in the tomb of Sethos II, conservators Arthur Mace and Alfred Lucas clean one of the sentinel statues from the antechamber.
Under the lion bed in the antechamber are several boxes and chests, and an ebony and ivory chair which Tutankhamun used as a child.
Under the lion bed in the antechamber are several boxes and chests, and an ebony and ivory chair which Tutankhamun used as a child.
Carter, Callender and two Egyptian workers carefully dismantle one of the golden shrines within the burial chamber.
Carter, Callender and two Egyptian workers carefully dismantle one of the golden shrines within the burial chamber.
Carter, Callende, and two workers remove the partition wall between the antechamber and the burial chamber.
Carter, Callende, and two workers remove the partition wall between the antechamber and the burial chamber.
Howard Carter, Arthur Callender and an Egyptian worker wrap one of the sentinel statues for transport.
Howard Carter, Arthur Callender and an Egyptian worker wrap one of the sentinel statues for transport.
A gilded lion bed and inlaid clothes chest among other objects in the antechamber.
A gilded lion bed and inlaid clothes chest among other objects in the antechamber.
Inside the outermost shrine in the burial chamber, a huge linen pall with gold rosettes, reminiscent of the night sky, covers the smaller shrines within.
Inside the outermost shrine in the burial chamber, a huge linen pall with gold rosettes, reminiscent of the night sky, covers the smaller shrines within.
A gilded bust of the Celestial Cow Mehet-Weret and chests sit in the treasury of the tomb.
A gilded bust of the Celestial Cow Mehet-Weret and chests sit in the treasury of the tomb.
Carter and a worker examine the solid gold innermost sarcophagus.
Carter and a worker examine the solid gold innermost sarcophagus.
A ceremonial bed in the shape of the Celestial Cow, surrounded by provisions and other objects in the antechamber of the tomb.
A ceremonial bed in the shape of the Celestial Cow, surrounded by provisions and other objects in the antechamber of the tomb.
Lord Carnarvon, financier of the excavation, reads on the veranda of Carter’s house near the Valley of the Kings.
Lord Carnarvon, financier of the excavation, reads on the veranda of Carter’s house near the Valley of the Kings.

(Via rarehistoricalphotos)(Photo credit: Harry Burton, The Griffith Institute, Oxford. Colorized by Dynamichrome for the exhibition “The Discovery of King Tut” in New York).

Rare Street vendor selling mummies in Egypt, 1865

During the Victorian era of 1800’s, Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt threw open the Gates of Egypt’s history for the Europeans. At that time, mummies were not accorded the respect that they deserved from the European elites and in fact, mummies could be purchased from street vendors (as shown in picture) to be used as the main event for parties and social gatherings that took place in the 18th century. The elites of the era would often hold “Mummy Unwrapping Parties”, which, as the name suggests, had the main theme in which a Mummy would be unwrapped in front of a boisterous audience, cheering and applauding at the same time.

During that period of time, the well-preserved remains of ancient Egyptians were routinely ground into powder and consumed as a medicinal remedy. Indeed, so popular was pulverized mummy that it even instigated a counterfeit trade to meet demand, in which the flesh of beggars was passed off as that of ancient mummified Egyptians.

As the Industrial Revolution progressed, so Egyptian mummies were exploited for more utilitarian purposes: huge numbers of human and animal mummies were ground up and shipped to Britain and Germany for use as fertilizer. Others were used to create mummy brown pigment or were stripped of their wrappings, which were subsequently exported to the US for use in the paper-making industry. The author Mark Twain even reported that mummies were burnt in Egypt as locomotive fuel.

As the nineteenth century advanced, mummies became prized objects of display and scores of them were purchased by wealthy European and American private collectors as tourist souvenirs. For those who could not afford a whole mummy, disarticulated remains – such as a head, hand or foot – could be purchased on the black market and smuggled back home.

So brisk was the trade in mummies to Europe that even after ransacking tombs and catacombs there just were not enough ancient Egyptian bodies to meet the demand. And so fake mummies were fabricated from the corpses of the executed criminals, the aged, the poor and those who had died from hideous diseases, by burying them in the sand or stuffing them with bitumen and exposing them to the sun.

Interesting facts:

  • Mummy brown was originally made in the 16th and 17th centuries from white pitch, myrrh, and the ground-up remains of Egyptian mummies, both human and feline. As it had good transparency, it could be used for glazes, shadows, flesh tones and shading. Artists believed that when bitumen and mummified flesh were used in oil paint it wouldn’t crack or dry. Mummy Brown eventually ceased being produced in its traditional form later in the 20th century when the supply of available mummies was exhausted.
  • Mummia or mummy is either a substance used in the embalming of mummies, or a powder made from ground mummies, used as a “medical preparation”. Ancient Egyptian mummy-making often utilized asphaltum (Persian: mumiya) as an ingredient for filling the empty body cavities once the organs were removed. In the Middle Ages, the resin that had been used on ancient Egyptian mummies was believed to have superior medicinal and chemical value to regular asphaltum, and the resulting demand for the ingredient caused the term to be applied to the dead bodies required to harvest it as much as to the ingredient itself.

(Via rarehistoricalphotosYou might also like: Headless Photos of the Victoria Era