” A Pale Green Mermaid Blog “
Howard Carter found that he needed to remove many coffins from the burial sarcophagus (the outer coffin) before the mummy wrapped in linens would appear,
First the lid was removed, –
The original design of the outermost coffin’s lid had incorporated four silver handles, two on each side, which were used to lower the lid into place. Some three thousand years later, these same handles would be used, once more to raise this lid, by Howard Carter and his team.
Egypt Feature Story
King Tut’s Coffins
by Jimmy Dunn www.touregypt.net
Carter tells us that “it was a moment as anxious as exciting”, when he lifted the lid of the outermost coffin. Within, what was expected to be found was indeed found, a second anthropoid coffin.
Once again, the surface was concealed beneath a decayed shroud of linen, which in turn was obscured by floral garlands, and similar to the first coffin, there was a small wreath of olive leaves, blue lotus petals and cornflowers wrapped around the protective deities on the Pharaoh’s brow.
Afterwards, the second coffin was soon revealed as even more magnificent than the first. It measured 2.04 meters long, and was constructed from a still unidentified wood covered as before with an overlay of gold foil. Here, the use of inlays were far more extensive than on the outermost coffin, even though they had suffered considerably from the presence of dampness within the tomb and showed a tendency to fall out.
It is hard to image the amount of work which must have been put into making this coffin. Carved in wood, it was first overlaid with sheet gold on the thin layer of gesso (a sort of plaster). Then narrow strips of gold, placed on edge, were soldered to the base to from cells in which the small pieces of colored glass, fixed with cement, were laid. The technique is known as Egyptian cloisonne work, but it is not true cloisonne because the glass was already shaped before being put in the cells, and not put in the cells in power form and fused by heating.
Many details, such as the stripes of the nemes-headcloth, eyebrows, cosmetic lines and beard were inlaid with lapis-blue glass. The uraeus on the forehead was of gilded wood, with a head of blue faience and inlays of red, blue and turquoise glass. The head of Nekhbet, the vulture, was also of gilded wood with a beak of dark block wood which was probably ebony. The eyes were set with obsidian. The crook and flail, held respectively in the left and right hands, were inlaid with lapis-blue and turquoise glass and blue faience, while a broad “falcon collar” containing inset pieces of brilliant red, blue and turquoise glass adorned the king’s throat. There were also two similarly inlaid bracelets carved onto the wrists.
The Innermost Coffin (no. 255)
The delicate lid of the second coffin was removed in a similar fashion. Eyelets were screwed into the edge of the lid at four points. The silver pins securing the ten inscribed silver tenons were then removed, and the coffin lid, after some initial flexing, was lifted effortlessly into the air. Thus, the third anthropoid coffin was revealed, though covered once again with fine linen in place above the nemes-headdress. It was tightly encased within the second coffin and a shroud of red linen, folded three times, covered it from neck to feet. However, the face of this coffin had been left bare. The breast was adorned with a very delicate, broad collar of blue glass beads and various leaves, flowers, berries and fruits, including pomegranates, which were sewn onto a papyrus backing.
Now this coffin was amazingly different, particularly in one respect, as Howard Carter notes:
“Mr. Burton at once made his photographic records. I then removed the floral collarette and linen coverings. An astounding fact was disclosed. The third coffin…was made of solid gold! The mystery of the enormous weight, which hitherto had puzzled us, was now clear. It explained also why the weight had diminished so slightly after the first coffin, and the lid of the second coffin, had been removed. Its weight was still as much as eight strong men could lift.”
Still more lay in the unwrapped linens of the mummy,
To be continued…
Look at the way that metal has been worked to look as if it is skin…and the expression of melancholy that the artist captured is pure bliss, artistically speaking…Wow. PGM GRRRRRRR technical difficulties! my last attempt!