Egypt: Tomb of Tutankhamun (King Tut)

Egypt Feature Story

The Tomb of Tutankhamun (King Tut)

by Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews

Floor Plan of the Tomb of King Tut

It is not the grandest tomb in Egypt, and was certainly not occupied by one of Egypt's most powerful rulers. But in general, the population of the world know the tomb of Tutankhamen (KV 62) better than any other, because of all the royal tombs, it was found mostly intact. What was found in this tomb surely gives us pause to understand the motive behind ancient tomb robberies. If such a vast fortune in treasure (in all, some 3,500 items were recovered) was found in this tiny tomb owned by a relatively minor king, what must have dazzled the eyes of the thieves who first entered the huge tomb of Ramesses II, or one of Egypt's other grand kings? Of course, the list of funerary equipment was very useful to Egyptologists, giving them an idea of what had been removed from other royal tombs.

Alabaster Canopic figure from the Tomb of Tutankhamun

Wonderful Artwork found in the Tutankhamun Tomb
A top from one of the Canopic Jar

The tomb, which lies in an area that was not normally used for royal burials in the Valley center, was apparently quickly buried deep below the surface of the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes). It was forgotten about until Howard Carter discovered it on November 4th, 1922. Part of Howard Carter's luck was that it was not discovered earlier when, his predecessor in the Valley, Theodore Davis who was American, came within little more than a meter of finding it himself.

It is a little known fact that Howard Carter did not excavate every part of the Kings Valley, down to bedrock in his search for Tutankhamun. Having identified the area, in the centre of the Valley, most likely to produce the sort of find his patron desired; & which would indeed do so, many years before he seems to have expended much of his efforts in the search for answers to much more academic questions; such as the hunt for foundation deposits in order to clarify which king was actually responsible for the construction of which tomb, & only went flat out in his search for Tutankhamuns tomb, when it became apparent that his source of funds might be about to dry up.

From "Recent Excavations in the Valley of the Kings by the Amarna Royal Tombs Project" by Glen

Howard Carter was told, prior to finding the tomb, that Lord Carnarvon was withdrawing from the project, but after pleading his case, was given one more season of excavation in order to find it.

Artwork found in the Tutankhamun Tomb 3

Actually, we are told that after having initially discovered the steps of the tomb on November 4th, Carter initially telegraphedLord Carnarvon, who was still in England at his Hampshire estate, after which Carter refilled the stairway to await his benefactor's arrival. Upon Lord Carnarvon's arrival on November 24th, work was resumed and by November 26th, the interior was observed for the first time since antiquity.

After its discovery, the worldwide media spectacle the discovery created along with movies about the curse of the mummies which are still produced every so often, is probably as interesting as the actual tomb itself. What many people do not realize is that it took Carter, with his attention to details, another ten years to fully explore, excavate and clear the tomb. Legend has it that Carter posted the first notice of discovery of the tomb on the bulletin board at the Old Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor.

Tutankhamen was certainly not one of the greatest of Egyptian pharaohs. In fact, prior to the discovery of his tomb in 1922, little of his life was known. Today, we know much more about this king, but surprisingly little of that knowledge comes from the treasures of his tomb. Tutankhamen died about 1325 BC, after only nine years of rule. Apparently he died fairly suddenly, because a proper royal tomb, to our knowledge, was never prepared for this pharaoh. Instead, the tomb of Tutankhamen is relatively small and follows a design more often found in non-royal tombs. Some scholars believe that the tomb that King Ay was eventually interred in was actually begun for Tutankhamen.

Actually, Tutankhamen's tomb is not nearly as interesting as other tombs in the Valley of the Kings. It consists of an entrance leading to a single corridor, followed by several annexes for funerary equipment. At a 90 degree right angle is the small burial chamber, with another annex attached leading back in the direction of the entrance. This is not much of a tomb compared to other royal tombs, and most all of thefunerary equipment will not be found here, but rather in theEgyptian Antiquities Museum inCairo, if it is not elsewhere on exhibit.

Artwork found in the Tutankhamun Tomb 2

Artwork found in the Tutankhamun Tomb 1

Only the burial chamber received decorations. Here, all of the walls have the same golden background. On the west wall we find scenes depicting the apes of the first hour of theAmduat. On the south wall the king is followed by Anubis as he appears beforeHathor. Here, there is also a scene of the King being welcomed into the underworld by Hathor,Anubis andIsis. The north wall depicts the King beforeNut with the royalka embracingOsiris. On the same wall, we also find the scene of Ay performing the opening of theMouth ritual before the mummy of Tutankhamun. Finally, on the east wall, Tutankhamun's mummy is depicted being pulled on a sledge during the funeral procession. Within the procession are twoviziers to the king, and a third person who might beHoremheb.

It should be noted that this tomb was not found completely intact. In fact, there had been at least two robberies of the tomb, perhaps soon after Tutankhamen's burial, probably by members of the tomb workers.

Tutankhamun's Gold Inner Coffin

Tutankhamun's Gold Inner Coffin

See Also:

  • King Tut Main Page
  • Who Was King Tut
  • The Death of King Tut
  • The Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld
  • The Happiest Pharaoh
  • The Tutankhamun Collection
  • Tutankhamun's Perfume
  • The US Tut Exhibit (Coming in 2005)
  • Tut's Tomb

  • The Tomb of King Tut
  • Detailed Floor Plan with Explanation

  • King Tut's Shrines
  • King Tut's Coffins
  • The Treasures of King Tut's Mummy
  • King Tutankhamun's Children
  • Howard Carter
  • The Life of Lord Carnarvon
  • The Robbery of King Tut's Tumb
  • Excavating the Tomb of Tutankhamun
  • Politics of the King Tut Discovery
  • The Mummy's Curse
  • General Site Information

    • Structure: KV 62
    • Location: Valley of the Kings, East Valley, Thebes West Bank, Thebes
    • Owner: Tutankhamen
    • Other designations:
    • Site type: Tomb


    • Axis in degrees: 271.68
    • Axis orientation: West

    Site Location

    • Latitude: 25.44 N
    • Longitude: 32.36 E
    • Elevation: 170.55 msl
    • North: 99,572.277
    • East: 94,069.638
    • JOG map reference: NG 36-10
    • Modern governorate: Qena (Qina)
    • Ancient nome: 4th Upper Egypt
    • Surveyed by TMP: Yes


    • Maximum height: 3.68 m
    • Mininum width: 0.66 m
    • Maximum width: 7.86 m
    • Total length: 30.79 m
    • Total area: 109.83 m
    • Total volume: 277.01 m

    Additional Tomb Information

    • Entrance location: Base of sloping hill
    • Owner type: King
    • Entrance type: Staircase
    • Interior layout: Corridor and chambers
    • Axis type: Bent


    • Painting

    Categories of Objects Recovered

    • Accessories
    • Clothing
    • Cosmetic equipment
    • Furniture
    • Game components
    • Human mummies
    • Lighting equipment
    • Models
    • Mummy trappings
    • Scarabs and seals
    • Sculpture
    • Tomb equipment
    • Transport
    • Vegetal remains
    • Vessels
    • Warfare and hunting equipment


    History of Exploration

    • Burton, Harry (1923): Photography (of objects for the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
    • Carter, Howard (1923-1932): Excavation (conducted for Earl of Carnarvon)






    Reference Number

    Ancient Egypt The Great Discoveries (A Year-by-Year Chronicle)

    Reeves, Nicholas


    Thmes & Hudson, Ltd

    ISBN 0-500-05105-4

    Atlas of Ancient Egypt

    Baines, John; Malek, Jaromir

    1980 Les Livres De France

    None Stated

    Chronicle of the Pharaohs (The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt)

    Clayton, Peter A.


    Thames and Hudson Ltd

    ISBN 0-500-05074-0

    Complete Valley of the Kings, The (Tombs and Treasures of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs)

    Reeves, Nicholas; Wilkinson, Richard H.


    Thames and Hudson Ltd

    IBSN 0-500-05080-5

    History of Ancient Egypt, A

    Grimal, Nicolas



    None Stated

    Monarchs of the Nile

    Dodson, Aidan


    Rubicon Press

    ISBN 0-948695-20-x

    Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

    Shaw, Ian


    Oxford University Press

    ISBN 0-19-815034-2

    Tutankhamun (His Tomb and Its Treasures)

    Edwards, I. E. S.


    Metropolitan Museum of Art; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

    ISBN 0-394-41170-6

    Valley of the Kings

    Weeks, Kent R.



    ISBN 1-5866-3295-7

    Valley of the Kings

    Heyden, A. Van Der

    Al Ahram/Elsevier


    Last Updated: November 9th, 2011