King Tut's Leftover Bandages Yield New Clues

//

THE GIST

- An exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art reveals leftover bandages from King Tut's funeral.

- The mummy was wrapped in custom-made bandages, similar to modern first aid gauzes.

- The bandages on display at the museum are actually the best-preserved lot of Tutankhamun wrappings.

King Tutankhamun's mummy was wrapped in custom-made bandages similar to modern first aid gauzes, an exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art reveals.

Running in length from 4.70 meters to 39 cm (15.4 feet to 15.3 inches), the narrow bandages consist of 50 linen pieces especially woven for the boy king.

NEWS: Tut's Funeral: Burying the Boy King

For a century, the narrow linen bandages were contained in a rather overlooked cache of large ceramic jars at the museum's Department of Egyptian Art. The collection was recovered from the Valley of the Kings between 1907-08, more than a decade before Howard Carter discovered King Tut's treasure-packed tomb.

Now on permanent display in the museum's Egyptian galleries and highlighted in the exhibit "Tutankhamun's Funeral," the objects provide important insights into King Tut's mummification.

"The linens on the actual mummy were so much decayed by excessive use of resins that the bandages on display at the museum are actually the best-preserved lot of Tutankhamun wrappings," Dorothea Arnold, curator of Egyptian art at the Metropolitan museum, told Discovery News.

"When the floor was swept after wrapping the body of a king, naturally, there were quantities of pieces of linen, some of them bandages and some wider bits, gathered up," wrote Herbert E. Winlock (1884-1950), the Metropolitan's curator, in a 1941 account of the embalming material.

Bearing inscriptions with dates -- the Egyptians used to write the date the linen was woven so that they knew how old it was -- the sheets provided Winlock with precise evidence for dating the cache's material.

One linen featured an inscription with "Year 8 of the Lord of Two Lands, Nebkheperure [Tutankhamun's throne name.]" Indeed, "Year 8" was the final year of Tutankhamun's life (1341 B.C. - 1323 B.C.).

"Usually bandages to be wound on a body were rolled up to make the wrapping easier," Winlock said. He identified the ends of some six bandages, still tightly rolled.

But the most "curious things among the bandages" were 50 pieces of modern-looking gauze -- narrow linen tape with finished edges on each side.

DISCOVERYnewsletter
 
Invalid Email