“Oh Mother Nût! Spread thy wings over me as the Imperishable Stars.”
I am sorry for the delayed blog post! With going to Egypt at the start of March to other issues arising in my personal life, there’s been a lot going on and I have struggled to find the mental space to be able to write these reviews.
“In this sad world it would seem that triumphs have to be paid for in weariness of soul and body.”
I lived my best nerd life in Egypt and I’m so lucky to have been able to do it with my soulmate and love of my life. I love Ancient Egypt and saw some fabulous sites including Abu Simbel, pyramids of Giza and the valley of the kings. Within the valley of the kings, we went into some of the pharaohs tombs including that of Tutankhamun. Whilst in Egypt I read Howard Carters three diaries.
For those of you who don’t know, Howard Carter was an Egyptologist and in November 1922, he discovered an almost in tact of tomb of King Tutankhamun, in the valley of the kings. It was a find unlike any other.
“Can you see anything?” It was all I could do to get out the words, “Yes, wonderful things.”
In 1923, Howard Carter published the first of his diaries, documenting his frustrations in trying to find the burial site, to his elation at discovering it and his wonder at the treasures found inside; the search, the discovery and the clearance of the antechamber. A task which took many years but the rewards were second to none.
“I suppose most excavators would confess to a feeling of awe – embarrassment almost – when they break into a chamber closed and sealed by pious hands so many centuries ago.”
In the second of his diaries, Howard Carter details his discovery of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, the breakthrough of each of his four protective shrines that nearly completely filled the chamber, the quartz-sandstone sarcophagus, the three coffins made of pure gold, the famous death mask of the king himself and the bejewelled mummy that lay beneath it.
“It was then that the wonder and magnitude of our last discovery more completely dawned upon us. This unique and wonderful monument – a coffin over 6 feet in length, of the finest art, wrought in solid gold 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 millimetres in thickness – represented in enormous mass of pure bullion.
How great must have been the wealth buried with those ancient Pharaohs! What riches that valley must once have concealed.”
In the third and final diary, Howard Carter accounts his experience of reaching the treasury and the annexe in the tomb and the treasures and wondrous riches that he found there including the canopic jars of the king. Canopic jars were ceramic jars, each with an organ of the pharaoh inside – the brain, the stomach, the intestines etc. The treasures found in this chamber were those which were left with the Pharaoh to take with him into the afterlife – treasures which were once thought lost forever.
Strange and beautiful objects call for wonder, conjecture and fair words, but are they not all signs of the thought and progress of the age to which they belong? Facts, too, also give food for reflection.”
These diaries provide us will a real insight into Howard Carters true thoughts and feelings about the initial discovery as well as each discovery of individual items found within in the tomb, from the chariots and canopic jars, to sandles, a chair, a trunk and even the sarcophagus and mummy itself. For a ancient Egypt nerd like myself, these books are a must! My favourite diary was the burial chamber (the second diary).
King Tutankhamun has achieved what every pharaoh aimed to achieve – eternal life. His name now made to live by countless millions.
Until next time,