King’s Tut’s tomb opened (1923)

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Sealed inner chamber of ancient Egyptian tomb opened and king’s sarcophagus found

Facts on discovery

New York, Feb. 16 [1923] – The tomb of Tutankhamen, opened by explorers today in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, is by far the richest treasure trove ever uncovered in the necropolis of ancient Thebes, and in all likelihood, is the richest that will ever be discovered, Ambrose Lansing, acting curator of the Egyptian section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, declared today.

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.

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“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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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The Valley of the Kings is a desolate waste land 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.

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