King Tut’s coffin is uncovered (1923)

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Golden Mask of Tutankhamun

Golden Mask of Tutankhamun

Tut’s coffin is uncovered

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.

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.

Discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt 1920s

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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. 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.

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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.

ALSO SEE: King Tut’s tomb in no-man’s land (1924)

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