Wednesday, February 17, 2010

King Tutankhamun’s Treasures: Perfumes, alabaster vessels and wine for the afterlife


Dr. Janice Kamrin, head of the Egyptian Museum Database Project, recently discussed some of the lifestyle objects found in Tutankhamun’s tomb by in 1922, and now housed in The Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Board games, and containers for perfumes, cosmetics and unguents, were amongst the objects displayed. These give us an insight into the lifestyles of the rich and famous ancient Egyptians.

Also shown were some of the many unguent and perfumer containers that would have been used by King Tutankhamun. Like many of the calcite vessels in King Tut's tomb, this container originally held some type of unguent, judging from the residue that still remained inside. The double golden containers rest on a silver platform around the border on which the hieroglyphs for "life" (ankh) and "dominion" (was) are incised.
The embossing on the sides of the boxes each depict the god Heh, kneeling on a basket and grasping the notched palm brand. Both in front of and behind his head are cartouches of the king, while directly over head his throne name, Nebkheperura ("Ra is the Lord of Manifestations"), is written without a cartouche, and the traditional beetle, meaning "manifestations" (or "images") is replaced by a winged beetle.

The ibex-shaped unguent container pictured below is a remarkable artefact, with one horn fashioned from real ibex horn, although the second horn is missing. Using real ibex horn would ensure that the content was effective in medicine, magic or both - as was usual in ancient Egypt:


A calcite cosmetic jar in the form of the god Bes is also on display. The container was perhaps intended for a new mother, as Bes was the protector of women in childbirth, and women and children in general.

Kamrin then shows us King Tut's stash of wine jars. The wine jars have their year written as a label on the outside, just as we do it today. The wine jars could be magically refilled in the afterlife.

With perfume, cosmetics, entertainment and plenty of food and drink available, the objects shown here help build up a picture of a rich and comfortable lifestyle for the ancient Egyptians - and a particular insight into the personality of King Tutankhamun.

Taken from: HeritageKey.com.

Source: Paula Veiga, author and Egyptologist.

All photos: Copyright Sandro Vannini. All rights reserved.