April 18, 2012

The Tomb Robberies in Ancient Egypt

The Tomb Robberies 
Contrary to popular belief, Tutankhamun’s tomb was not intact when Carter found it: only the burial was undisturbed. The tomb had been robbed twice in antiquity, quite soon after it was sealed. The first robbery was for the gold and precious jewellery, most of which the robbers got away with except for a notable group of seven solid gold rings found still wrapped in the robber’s kerchief and stuffed into a box in the Annexe. The jewellery now displayed in the Cairo Museum was mainly recovered from the body of the king, on which there were over 170 items.

Tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings
After the priests and guards had resealed the tomb, it was broken into again, this time to steal the precious oils and unguents (largely stored in tall rather ungainly alabaster jars) which the thieves had left behind the first time. On this occasion they came equipped with empty goatskins. The tomb was resealed once again, this time for good: the entrance disappeared from view, hidden in the floor of the Valley. Debris from the construction of Ramses Vi’s tomb buried the entrance deeper still, and there it lay for over 3000 years, until Carter rediscovered the tomb in 1922.

The succession in question

Tutankhamun receives flowers from Ankhesenpaaten as a sign of love
Tutankhamun's early death left his wife Ankhesenamun a young widow in a very difficult situation. Obviously hemmed in on all sides by ambitious men much older than herself, she took an unprecedented step and wrote to Suppiluliumas I, king of the Hittites, explaining her plight. The evidence comes not from the Egyptian records but from excavations at Hattusas (Boghazkoy) in Turkey, the Hittite capital, where a copy was found in the archives. She told him her husband had died and she had no sons while he had many, so would he send one to marry her and continue the royal line. The Hittite king was highly suspicious and made enquiries,- messengers were sent to check the details and reported back that such was the case. A Hittite prince, Zannanza, was therefore sent to Egypt to take up the queen's offer. It seems that he got no further than the border before he was murdered, and the deed can easily be laid at the door of Horemheb: he had the means as commander-in-chief of the army, the opportunity and certainly the motive.


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