Iconic Photos

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Opening King Tut’s Tomb

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November 26th 1922. When the broken lid of the golden sarcophagus of King Tut in his tomb was slowly lifted away from its base using an elaborate pulley system, there was an audible gasp from the crowd of dignitaries who had assembled for this very event. What they found, underneath two sheets of linen, was a splendid coffin covered with now famous golden mask. The tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of Kings was discovered by Egyptologist Howard Carter on November 4th 1922.

The mummy itself was anatomically examined only three years later, on 11th November 1925. The autopsy by Douglas Derry, the Professor of Anatomy at the Egyptian University, was a total disaster. Although the mummy was intact, the unguents made it stuck to the bottom of the coffin and dried it to a stony hardness. They decided to cut the bandages and saw off the body, and thus released “King Tut’s curse”. The death of Carter Expedition leader Lord Carnarvon set the media on fire.Much to Carters displeasure, he began receiving letters from spiritualists from around the world. Faux legends claimed that by 1929, eleven of the people connected with the discovery of the tomb had died, including two of Carnarvon’s relatives, and Carter’s personal secretary, Richard Bethell. This would spawn a widespread interest in mummy movies and merchandise ever since. It was an amazing legacy–or call it afterlife if you may–for an unimportant puppet king who died under dubious circumstances.

Above, Howard Carter examines the triple coffin of Boy Pharaoh.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

June 30, 2009 at 4:31 am

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