A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Museums: Burying Tut
Volume 63 Number 4, July/August 2010
Creating a burial as spectacular as King Tut's required a vast amount of preparation yet today we are only familiar with the end product. The exhibition Tutankhamun's Funeral at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a behind-the-scenes look at the most famous tomb of the ancient world. Dozens of artifacts discovered in a shaft in Egypt's Valley of the Kings in 1908 by retired American lawyer-turned-amateur-archaeologist Theodore Davis are the leftover materials from Tut's mummification and provide insights into the days leading up to his interment. These objects may at first glance pale in comparison to the gold masks and jewelry on display downtown in the blockbuster show, "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs." But they reveal spectacular details about the Boy King's burial.
One intriguing piece is a linen strip that had been used for everyday purposes in Tut's household before it became a mummy wrapping. It is inscribed in ink with "Year 6," meaning it was woven during the sixth year (ca. 1331 B.C.) of his nine-year reign. Another is a sausage-shaped linen pouch filled with sawdust, which would have been used to plump up Tut's body after his organs had been removed. Such artifacts evoke the pharaoh's humanity in a way the idealized image on his death mask cannot. "These are very humble things compared with the treasures from the tomb," says exhibition curator Dorothea Arnold. "But on the other hand, people don't just want to look and say ‘ooh.' They want to think, and that's what this exhibition is for."
Tutankhamun's Funeral is on view through September 6. For more, see TutWatch.Share