Tutankhamun’s Tomb – interesting facts

September 13, 2010 | In: History facts

The ancient Egyptian pharaohs had magnificent burials, and much in the way of gold and other precious materials was interred with them. Every effort was made to keep the tombs from being rifled and the contents stolen, even to the extent of placing the tomb at the center of a solid pyramid.

All efforts failed. All tombs were burglarized — and a good thing, too. If all the gold had remained buried, it would have ruined the economy of the ancient world. The tomb-robbers did civilization a remarkable favor by restoring the tomb contents to circulation.

By 1000 BC, the great days of the pharaohs were over, and every last tomb was empty — except one. From 1361 to 1352 BC, the pharaoh ruling over Egypt had been Tutankhamun. He was only about 21 when he died, but he was given the usual sumptuous burial. His grave was at once robbed, but for a wonder, the robbers were caught in the act and forced to return the loot.

Perhaps the fact that the grave had been looted had gotten out but the return had been kept quiet. At any rate, no further effort at looting was made for two centuries. Then, while a grave was being excavated for a later pharaoh, the resulting showers of stone chips covered the entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb, hiding it so effectively that it came down to the twentieth century intact.

A British archaeological expedition under George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, Earl of Carnarvon (1866-1923), and Howard Carter (1873-1939) found the first sign of the entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb on November 4, 1922. Three days later they reached the sealed burial chamber, and a rich treasure trove of ancient Egyptian artifacts was uncovered. It gave tremendous impetus to Egyptian studies.

When Lord Carnarvon died five months later of an infected mosquito bite complicated by pneumonia, his death gave rise to the “Pharaoh’s curse,” a belief that anyone who plunders the tomb of a pharaoh will be punished with death. Carter, however, lived for seventeen years after opening the tomb.

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