It’s almost 100 years since ‘Boy King’ Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered. Now’s your last chance to see its treasures before they’re returned to Egypt…
To celebrate the anniversary of the incredible tomb’s discovery, 150 artefacts from the burial site are on display at the Saatchi Gallery in London, more than 60 of which have never been seen outside of Egypt.
Who was King Tut?
King Tutankhamun (King Tut for short!) became ruler of Ancient Egypt when he was just nine years old. The Boy King died just ten years later and he was buried in a golden coffin surrounded by 5,000 priceless treasures, including animal statues, jewellery, clothes, weapons and even toys.
Some Egyptologists believe King Tut may have died in a chariot crash. But the cause of his death remains a mystery today!
Finding Tut’s tomb
Thetomb was found by British archaeologist Howard Carter in November 1922. Howard had spent many years excavating the tombs of Egyptian kings and queens when he came across a cup etched with the name of an obscure pharaoh – Tutankhamun.
Howard became convinced that Tut’s tomb was buried somewhere in the Valley of the Kings. But after 8 years of searching he had found nothing. Then, just when he was about to give up, one of his crew – a young boy who was a water fetcher – found a stair carved into the rock.
When Howard and his Crew entered the tomb, they were greeted with thousands of spectacular treasures that had been left almost untouched, more than 3,300 years after the Egyptian Pharaoh’s death. It was the only Ancient Egyptian royal tomb ever found intact. Wow!
The discovery caused a sensation, and the little-known king instantly became the most famous Pharaoh on the planet.
With the world gripped by Ancient-Egyptian fever, the media were desperate to publish new, exciting stories. So when Lord Canarvon (the wealthy man who financed the search for Tut) died from an infected mosquito bite on his cheek, the newspapers invented a story that it was because Tutankhamun’s tomb was cursed. Eeeek!
King Tut’s Treasures
Wooden Guardian Statue of the King
This life-sized statue of Tutankhamun, with piercing golden eyes, gold clothing and contrasting black skin, was one of two sentries that Howard Carter found guarding the sealed entrance of Tut’s burial chamber. Would you have dared mess with it?!
Miniature Canopic Coffin
The afterlife was incredibly important to the Ancient Egyptians. They believed that by preserving a dead person’s body – through the process of mummification – the soul would live on in the afterlife forever. During the mummification process, the internal organs were removed, wrapped in linen bandages and placed in containers called canopic vessels. Usually these were jars, but sometimes the organs were stored in miniature golden coffins. This beautiful coffin (left) contained King Tut’s liver. Wow!
Gilded Wooden Bed
Experts think this gold-covered bed (below) was made for King Tut’s funeral. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the dead were merely asleep and that they woke up when they were ‘reborn’ in the afterlife. To ensure the Pharaoh’s safe passage into the afterlife and to keep evil forces at bay, divine figures were carved on to the bed – in this case Bes, a god who frightened away evil spirits from newborn babies, and Tauret, the hippo goddess. Sweet dreams!
Silver military trumpet
Two trumpets were found inside the tomb of Tutankhamun. It is said that the trumpets are magical. The first time one was blown after their re-discovery, the lights went out in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum – and a few months later war broke out in Europe. The trumpets were played again before the Six Day War in 1967, before the 1990 Gulf War and the Egyptian revolution of 2011. Some people have blamed these weird coincidences on the curse. Spooky!
Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh was presented by Viking Cruises at London’s Saatchi Gallery in 2019.