Tutankhamen by Joyce Tyldesley

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Authors: Joyce Tyldesley
sealed Chamber should have been fully documented, and nothing in the Antechamber should have been disturbed before it had been fully recorded. Now, not only was the position of the basket in front of the robber’s hole falsified in the official photographs, some of the Chamber contents had been displaced. Lucas was confident that he could identify an artefact that had been taken from the Burial Chamber on that first clandestine visit, and then restored in a slightly different place:
    This perfume box was not found in the sarcophagus, as stated by Mr Carter, but either outside, or inside, the outermost shrine, and I think inside. I saw it at Mr Carter’s house before the official opening of the burial chamber, and evidently it was found when Lord Carnarvon and Mr Carter first penetrated into the burial chamber. 5
    There is no reason to doubt the veracity of Lucas’s statement: he is writing as Carter’s friend and colleague, and he is clearly not overconcerned about the incursion into the chamber. His account leaves two lingering questions. Just how accurate is the official record of the Burial Chamber contents? And, perhaps more importantly, was anything else taken from the chamber?
    The official opening was followed by a series of open days for the great and the good. Already, the excavation was taking on the air of an elite jamboree, as the report in the Illustrated London News of 16 December shows:
    The official opening of the tomb, or funeral chambers, of king Tutankhamen, found by the Earl of Carnarvon and Mr Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor, took place on November 29. Before the opening, Lord Carnarvon’s daughter, Lady Evelyn Herbert,
entertained a large party for luncheon in the valley, among the guests being Lady Allenby and the governor of Kena Province, Abdel Aziz Bey Yehia, who had given invaluable assistance on guarding the treasures.
    The accompanying photograph shows a formal dining table improbably set out in the Valley. As enterprising locals started to hawk Tutankhamen-themed Christmas cards, The Times prepared to break the news to the world. The article, written with Carter’s help in the Valley of the Kings and sent to Luxor by runner, was published in London on 30 November 1922:
    From the manner in which its contents were disposed it is evident that this cache had not remained untouched since it was buried. There seems no doubt that this wonderful collection of objects formed part of the funeral paraphernalia of King Tutankhamen, whose cartouche is seen everywhere, in both its forms, and that they were moved from the tombs where they were originally placed, and in order to preserve them from thieves were transferred for safety to these chambers.
    The sealing and blocking of the doors and passages which have so far been opened suggest that metal robbers had attacked these chambers and that inspectors of Rameses [sic] IX had reason to enter to reclose them. From the famous Abbot and other papyri it is known that these Royal tombs suffered at the hands of robbers. But, whatever the chambers may have contained originally, their contents today are sufficient cause for sensation in the Egyptological world. They considerably increase our knowledge of Ancient Egyptian history and art, and experts who were present at today’s opening consider that the discovery will probably rank as the most important of modern times…
    What adds interest to this discovery is that there is still yet a third sealed chamber, which, significantly, the two figures of the king discovered are guarding, and which may possibly turn out to be the
actual tomb of King Tutankhamen, with members of the heretic’s family buried with him. Until the vast amount of material in the other chambers has been completely removed it will be impossible to ascertain the contents of this third chamber.
    The Times was quite right. The packed Antechamber would have to be cleared before the Burial Chamber

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