Egypt: The AnteChamber and its Objects

The Antechamber and its Objects

By noon on November 27, 1922, the sealed door at the end of the entrance passage had been recorded and then demolished. Carnarvon's party entered, having to step over the white lotus chalice which stood on the threshold. The initial inspection resolved Carter's doubts about the exact nature of the discovery: this room was most certainly the antechamber to a royal tomb. Moreover, the haphazard placement of it's furnishings indicated that the antechamber had been ransacked by robbers and hastily rearranged by guards.

Carter assigned each object a number for maintaining records and comments; in Burton's photographs, these inventory numbers appear on small cards.

Measuring twenty-six by twelve feet, the antechamber was the biggest room in the tomb. It held a bewildering array of both secular and religious objects. Three large, animal-shaped couches lined it's western wall. Stacked over and under them were several royal thrones as well as ordinary wicker stools. Alabaster vases for precious unguents stood beside common oval containers of cooked duck. Plain chests for bows and arrows alternated with ornate coffers for jewelry and scepters.

Pieces of four chariots were piled up in the southeast corner. The burial party had dismantled these chariots to get them down the narrow entrance passage. Behind the couch in the southwest corner was a plunderer's hole into another small room. Carter decided to delay clearing that room, which he called the annex, until the rest of the tomb was emptied.

The real fascination lay with the north wall of the antechamber. There, two life-size statues of the king stood facing each other, guarding a sealed doorway. As Carter said, "Visions of chamber after chamber, each crowded with objects like the one we had seen, passed through our minds and left us gasping for breath". The contents of the antechamber were incredibly jumbled. After the ancient robberies, necropolis officials had quickly attempted to restore a semblance of order, stuffing items into the nearest containers at hand. Indeed, the officials' carelessness caused almost as much damage as the robbers' vandalism.

Time had taken it's toll. Carter described the leather harness of the chariots as having turned to glue, dripping over their wheels, axles and frames. Cloth had become sheets of dust, and beads had fallen in meaningless heaps after their threading string rotted.

The smaller objects were removed first, making space for the dismantling of the large couches and the untangling of the dismembered chariots. It took seven weeks just to record and clear the objects. Years of treatment and study in the field laboratory would be required before many of the pieces could leave the Valley of the Kings.