When King’s Tut’s tomb was first opened, how the world reacted to the wonders inside (1923)

Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah) February 16, 1923

Treasures of Tutankhamun - King Tut - Egypt Feb 24 1923

Tombs of practically all the early rulers of Egypt have been accounted for, most of them thoroughly looted by native grave robbers, said Mr Lansing, who has spent much time himself with Metropolitan expeditions delving into the old burial places.

“There are only two or three royal tombs left to look for,” he said, “and they are those of lesser kings — for instance, those of Semenkhare, who reigned for a few months before Tutankhamen, and Ay, who reigned for an equally short time after Tutankhamen’s death.

Tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amen in the Valley of The Kings, near Thebes, Egypt
Before us, in the wild and desolate valley of Biban-el-Muluk, lies the tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen, the uncovering of which proved to be one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of modern times. For forty centuries the mummy of this ancient Pharaoh lay hidden from the eye of man. But in 1922, after five seasons of unsuccessful search, Howard Carter, an American archaeologist associated with Lord Carnarvon, who had from the Egyptian government privilege of excavation, finally discovered the long-sought-for tomb buried deep in the rock.
King’s Tut’s tomb: Robbed by vandals

“All the others have been opened, a few by archaeologists, but the most of them by vandals, who left nothing of importance behind them.”

Royal furniture, garments, chariots, ornaments, and works of art or rare beauty and exquisite workmanship already have been found in unprecedented quantities in the outer chamber of Tutankhamen’s tomb. The funeral equipment, much of it heavily encrusted with gold and semi-precious stones, is valued at millions of dollars.

King's Tut's tomb opened (1923)

Of greater value

But treasures of greater value in the eyes of Egyptologists — bits of historical data of the era antedating Christ by thirteen and a half centuries — are hoped for when the heiroglyphic inscriptions within the tomb itself have been translated.

One of the most fascinating theories the records in the tomb may confirm or explode is that advanced by Arthur Weigal, former inspector general of antiquities to the Egyptian government and one of the best known Egyptologists, that Tutankhamen was the pharaoh who oppressed the children of Israel and whose army, pursuing the Israelites at the time of the exodus, is declared in biblical accounts to have been swallowed up in the Red Sea.

The king previously discovered, records show, took the name “Tutenkhaton” when he first ascended to the throne, thus indicating his sympathy with the so-called “heretical” monotheistic worship of Aton, the “all-loving father of all creation” which had been introduced into Egypt under his predecessor, Akhnaton.

In the midst of his eight-year reign, however, he changed his name to Tutankhamen, indicating a return to the polytheistic Ammon worship of his ancestors.

Inside Tutankhamun's tomb - King Tut - March 1 1923 (1)

Teaching of Moses

Mr Weigal’s story is that the “Aton” worship was, in reality, the Jehovah worship initiated in Egypt by Moses, and that when the king returned to the worship of Ammon he began the oppression of the Israelites, including the enforced brick making without straw, which resulted in the exodus.

A comparison of the biblical record with records giving the Egyptian side of the story long has been awaited by critical students of the Bible with keen interest.

Mr Lansing exhibited a series of photographs of the Valley of Kings, one showing the exact location of the tomb. Tucked away in a sandstone cliff, it is but a stone’s throw from the looted tomb of Meneptah, previously believed by Egyptologists to be the “pharaoh of the exodus.”

The tomb of Rameses VI is immediately above it and somewhat higher up the side of the cliff and a little to the left is the tomb of Amenhotep, opened by the French explorer Loret, 20 years ago.

The Valley of the Kings is a desolate wasteland almost wholly made up of limestone, burned brown by ages of blazing suns and is utterly devoid of vegetation. The roads and pathways made by Egyptologists show chalky white, however, where the “burn” has been worn from the white rock.

Treasures of Tutankhamun - King Tut - Egypt Feb 24 1923

“Lost Pharaoh” Defies Scientists to Bring His Mummy to Light

Popular Science – May 1923

How will scientists get at King Tutankhamen’s mummy? What further undreamed-of splendors lie hidden within the inner burial chamber of the great Pharaoh who ruled Egypt more than 3000 years ago-500 years before Solomon?

The world, fired with curiosity and imagination by the richest treasure find in history, must wait in suspense for an answer. For, the last of all the powerful Pharaohs to give up his wealth from the ancient royal burial ground in the famous Valley of the Kings, now defies the world to bring him to light!

For 15 years Howard Carter. noted American Egyptologist, backed by the millions of the Earl of Carnarvon, dug through the Valley of Kings, marching for King Tutankhamen’s tomb. At last they found it, buried by rubbish and sand, at the foot of a stairway leading down beneath the tomb of Rameses VI.

Inside Tutankhamun's tomb - King Tut - March 1 1923 (6)

Two outer chambers gave up amazing treasures of the dim past. Then, piercing a sealed door at the far end of the second chamber and passing between two statues of the ancient king that had stood as sentries for 30 centuries, they came to the supposed royal burial vault. Standing at the threshold of the supreme discovery, peering through a hole in the wall, they found the way to the king barred! King Tutankhamen is barricaded.

Like a nut in a hard shell, his embalmed mummy is believed to lie hidden at the center of a series of screened and canopied shrines. And it will take all the ingenuity of modern science to reach him.

Between the wall of the burial chamber and the wooden screen of the outermost shrine, the passageway is only 18 inches wide. At one side and somewhat lower than the main burial chamber is a small annex packed with added treasure and reached by a small opening. To reach the king’s mummy or to bring out the new treasure., the exploring scientists must reverse the order of the builders.

First, the shell of each successive tabernacle most be removed before the next one within can be opened; and to do this, the outer wall of the burial chamber must be demolished. But the interior of this wall is covered with paintings and inscriptions, all of which must be copied and interpreted by scientists. Yet while King Tutankhamen’s 30-century sleep remains undisturbed, the discoverers have been repaid far beyond their dreams.

Popular Science May 1923 King Tutankhamun's mummy and tomb view
How King Tutankhamen’s tomb was bored into the hillside beneath the tomb of Runes. VI in the Valley of the Kings. Note the burial chamber beyond two outer treasure chambers. Howard Carter, American Egyptologist, who made the discovery, is shown in inset

Tut’s coffin is uncovered

The Meriden Daily Journal (Meriden, CT) December 17, 1923

Resplendent shrine upsets Egyptian theories

Luxor, Egypt, December 17, 1923 – All preconceived ideas of Tutankhamun’s golden shrine were upset by the sight of this impressive coffin for the first time, disclosed in almost its full proportions by the removal of the partition wall when the correspondent visited the tomb today.

The first impression of this gigantic receptacle for the dead, its sides resplendent with chaste decorations of blue and gold set against a background of brightly colored paintings on yellow was almost overwhelming. The feeling was of something incredibly bizarre — something that seemed utterly to banish the presence of death in this casket of wonderful artistry.

Ancient Egyptian gold sarcophagus
Beautiful ceramic and lapis lazuli inlay in an ancient Egyptian gold sarcophagus — Photo by mountainpix/Deposit Photos

One of the first details to catch the eye was the fact that the golden lid of the canopy does not, as one imagines from the view obtained from the opening in the wall, slope down from one to the other. It rises again at the other giving a graceful curved effect which is declared by competent authority to be unique in Egyptology.

The lid is not solid, but hollowed out, roofing over a space of about four feet between the first and second shrines.

In this space the correspondent was able to see — for the doors of the first shrine had been removed — a remarkable species of wooden rack or scaffolding erected, to carry the immense golden spangled linen pall resting over the second shrine. It is very like open wooden cagework, and is painted a glistening black with heavily gilded carved feet.

In the front, where the removal of the doors of the first shrine renders it clearly visible, it is seen to be made of two parts, rather awkwardly bolted together with two large bolts, probably wooden.

Discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt 1920s

From the top hangs the ragged edge of the pall, turned blackish-brown by age, showing where the part which concealed the doors of the second shrine had broken away. This part of the pall, except for a small piece crumbling on the ground, has already been removed to the nearby laboratory.

The golden rosettes about the size of a half dollar, with which the pall is abundantly spangled, still sparkle in the rays of the powerful arc lights used by the excavators. These rosettes are certainly metal, but probably not gold — more likely gilded copper.

Behind the rack, the golden doors of the second shrine glistened dully, the two bolts, one above and one below still sternly guarding the secret tomb.

In the middle, set in either batten of the doors are two metal rings, let into the wood side by side to which were attached seals which Howard Carter, directing the excavating work, had previously removed. The doors are engraved with exquisitely chiseled figures of goddesses in the attitude of prayer, while above them is the projecting golden lintel of the second shrine which is about seven feet high.

Photo by DeniseB via Twenty20
Photo by DeniseB via Twenty20

Crowds swarm Pharoah’s tomb to see rich treasures

Queen of Belgium, Dowager Sultana of Egypt, Accompanied by Notables Inspect Inner Chamber of Tut-Ankh-Amen’s Sepulchre at Opening.

By Arthur Weigall, Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota) February 19, 1923

Luxor, Egypt, Feb. 18.—Today’s official opening of the tomb was a very different affair from that of the secret entrance effected Friday. Then it was an eerie and silent ceremony, today it was a noisy affair, one to make old Tut-Ankh-Amen turn in his cramped golden sarcophagus.

The Valley of the Kings was crowded at an early hour and at mid-morning, when the Dowager Sultana arrived with her ladies, there was a bustle such as the ancient valley has never known in all its modern history. There were soldiers springing to salute, officers with clanking swords shouting orders, cinema opera-tors running up the hilsides like portly gazelles, while native boys climbed behind them with their apparatus.

Inside Tutankhamun's tomb - King Tut - March 1 1923 (5)

Motley crew streams in.

Crowds of European visitors in every kind of costume from equestrian to regatta, Egyptian notables looking very hot in European clothes and red tarboushes, tall black eunuchs in long frock coats, dragomans in bright silken robes—a motley crew all swarmed and buzzed into the valley.

Early in the afternoon Elizabeth, Queen of the Belgians, regally gay with expectancy, arrived accompanied by Crown Prince Leopold, field marshal Viscount Allenby and Lady Allenby, the Marquess and Marchioness Granby, the American and Belgian and French ministers and many of the highest Egyptian officials. With a number of noted Egyptologists, they went down into the brilliantly lighted tomb.

King's Tut's tomb opened (1924)

Elizabeth hushed by splendor.

Queen Elizabeth, silent at first among these treasures of the ancient Theban monarch, at last broke the spell with exclamations of amazement. For nearly an hour, she remained in the sultry heat of the sepulchre examining the strange and glittering possessions of the great Pharoah, and asking questions of the director of the Brussels museum who stayed close at her elbow.

Inside Tutankhamun's tomb - King Tut - March 1 1923 (3)

The Sultana was taken down into the tomb to look over the broken barrier wall into the chamber beyond and everybody photographed her as she went in and again as she came out, and soldiers saluted and dogs harked after he had gone her royal way, with mounted police trotting behind half-smothered in dust.

Gay and animated affair.

Various other important personages were taken down into the tomb and then came picnic lunches. It was a gay and animated affair. I don’t know why it is that disturbing this Pharoah’s long rest has seemed so sad and solemn a business to me, but today, as on Friday, my heart was heavy and my head full of dreams of other days.

The opening of this tomb persisted in seeming to me the disturbing of a sleeping man and forcing some sort of ordeal upon him and my feeling for him was one of intense pity. It was as though he were somebody who had been left behind after all his friends and loved ones became dust, somebody who was all alone in an alien age, who was being awakened to face thousands of staring eyes not filled with reverence but curiosity.

Inside Tutankhamun's tomb - King Tut - March 1 1923 (4)

Sacred paddles for sky boat.

The great canopy is only about five inches from the wall of the room on one side, but there is just room enough to squeeze in on the other side. Near it are several sacred paddles or oars for propelling a barque on which he would sail across the skies, in the train of the sun. The annex rooms are crammed with wonderful objects; sacred boats, chariots, boxes and so on.

Among these are two unique little statues of gold or gilt representing the king wearing a crown and standing with his left foot forward on the back of a ‘walking lion, the whole being but a few inches high. There is also a large gold-covered box six feet high, four feet square, which may contain the royal wigs, judging by similar boxes found in the tomb of Prince Yuasa.

Fine alabaster vases.

Here too are some fine alabaster vases and a great number of boxes. The actual burial chambers are three or four feet lower than the first ante-chamber and one has to step down into it. Both burial chamber and an-nex are now lit by arc lamps, under the glare of which the gold glitters astonishingly. Previous royal tombs which have been discovered have all been robbed and their contents smashed up.

The one most valuable aspect of this discovery is that the objects found in-tact will explain fragments from these other tombs which have been unintelligible. For instance, in the tomb of Amenophis the Second, there was a lion with a wedge on the back projection upwards which we can now see was for supporting a statue of the king.

Inside Tutankhamun's tomb - King Tut - March 1 1923 (2)

Broken parts identified.

Again, curious ornaments in the form of the Ankh or sign of life found on the tomb of Amenophis the Second, are now seen to be candlesticks somewhat like those found in this tomb. I do not think, however, that earlier tombs ever had such magnificent objects, and there can be little doubt that Egypt was enormously wealthy during the reign of Tut-Ankh-Amen and was at the height of her civilization.

I think there is every hope of finding not only state jewels, but also documents which like the famous Harris Papyrus will tell all that Tut-Ankh-Amen did for the glory of the gods.

King's Tut's tomb opened (1926)

Detailed account given.

I am now able to give a detailed account of the gorgeous relics found in the mysterious inner chamber of Pharaoh Tut-Ankh-Amen.

One enters a narrow aperture cut in the wall that separates the two chambers and the first sight that greets the eye is a huge shrine or canopy which occupies almost the entire inner room. It is about 12 feet high, 16 feet long, 12 feet broad, and there is only the narrowest passage around or between it and the walls of the room. It is probably made of costly Cedar of Lebanon, as was the similar canopy we found in Queen Ti’s tomb.

The entire canopy is covered with gold leaf, and at the head, there are a beautiful series of inlaid designs in semi-precious stones and enamel. Wrought upon it with exquisite art arg figures of the goddesses Nephthys and Isis, with wings spread downwards in the manner that the mother bird protects her young.

Figures enfold king.

These figures, so often seen in Egyptian art, are prototypes of the Cherubin and Seraphim on either side of the Ark of the Lord, and they are intended to enfold and mother the dead king, so he might feel that he slept under the eternal protection of their great wings. On either side of this canopy are four gods whose special function was to guard the dead.

King Tutankhamun - Tomb mural

At the other end of the canopy are two folding doors which when found were bolted and sealed with the seal of Tut-Ankh-Amen, whose cartouches were also inscribed on the canopy itself. This great canopy is made in six pieces, four sides, the lid and the stand. The lid curves upward at one end, as In most Egyptian shrines, in fact, one might call the whole thing a great Naos or inner cell or sanctuary of the temple in which the dead king sleeps like a god in his shrine.

Mass of jewelry glitters.

In the space between the two golden doors at the end of the canopy and the sarcophagus, one can see a mass of jewelry, consisting mostly of scarabs beautifully wrought in blue glaze and stone, one big scarab made of jasper being perhaps the most beautiful ever found. The name of Tut-Ankh-Amen is engraved upon them.

King's Tut's tomb opened (1925)

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