tomb of tutankhamun

Detail of the Little Gold Shrine found in the Tomb of Tutankhamun, which is covered in scenes of the Pharaoh with his wife, Ankhesenamun.

This scene shows the royal couple out hunting ducks together. Tutankhamun is seated behind Ankhesenamun, taking aim at the birds in flight. His wife sits in front of him, pointing to where the ducks are and heady to hand him another arrow.

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The golden mask of Tutankhamun is back on public display after a much-needed makeover.

The 3,300 year-old mask has returned to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo after being painstakingly restored following a botched attempt to glue its beard back on.

The beard was hastily stuck back on to the mask  after it was accidentally knocked  during work at the museum in August 2014.

At the time, the blue and gold braided beard was glued back on with the wrong adhesive, damaging the priceless relic and prompting uproar among archaeologists.

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In Egypt, 2 native species of lotus grew, white and blue. A 3rd type, the pink lotus, was introduced from Persia during the Late period. All 3 species were depicted in Egyptian art, with pink lotus featured more in work of the Greco-Roman period under the reign of the Ptolemies. The sacred blue lotus was the flower most commonly used in earlier times and the one depicted in the hieroglyph word for lotus (Seshen). White lotus blooms during the evening, giving it strong lunar associations. The flowers of the blue lotus seemed to close at night and sink beneath the water, in the morning they seemed to rise again, opening to the sun. The lotus was the only flowering plant in Egypt that bloomed continously throughout the year. Because of this, the blue lotus became a solar symbol and was corresponded to the process of creation and the continuance of life.

In Hermopolis, it was believed that a giant lotus blossom was the first expression of living form to emerge from the primordial waters. From this flower, the sun-god then came forth. Among works of art found in the tomb of Tutankhamun is a wooden carving of the head of the young king, represented as a boy of about 10, depicting him as the Reborn Child, or Sun God, rising from the petals of the sacred blue lotus, thus illustrating one of the most ancient Egyptian texts. In describing the creation of the cosmos it says, “He who emerged from the lotus upon the High Mound, who illumines with his eyes, the Two Lands.

Lotus was a favorite ingredient in aromatic baths and used along with coriander to expel fever. In the temples, scenes of lotus being held to the nose of royalty by gods and goddesses are common. It’s scent was considered restorative and protective. The Egyptians lived in a narrow strip of fertile land that bordered the Nile. Every plant that could be utilized in some way as food, eventually found it’s way to the table. Flower heads of lotus were soaked in wine to prepare a special intoxicating and fragrant drink for banquets and festivals. The root could be eaten raw or cooked; seeds were ground into flour for bread. Herberlists used lotus to increase libido. Seeds & pods were used as antidotes to love spells, and any part of the lotus carried upon the person ensured divine blessing and good fortune.

Homes were graced with arrangements of flowers, including lotus. The ancient Egyptians were considered masters of the art of perfume making and their products were known throughout the Mediterranean area. Perfume containers were sometimes carved in feline form, royal perfume jars have been found featuring lions. Ointments containing lotus, myrrh, cumin, and juniper in moringa oil were used to keep hair and scalp in good condition. Oil of Lilies was considered by many to be the Egyptian perfume. Lotus oil was said to restore a happy disposition when its fragrance was inhaled. It was used by Cleopatra VII to scent the sails and draperies of her royal barge. She was also reputed to bathe in a lotus bath daily. Lotus, cinnamon, and marjoram were among the most commonly used ‘top notes’ in perfume production. The Ptolemies built perfume laboratories at the temples of Edfu and Dendera where ritual oils, perfumes, and incense were processed. During their dynasty, Alexandria became the perfume manufacturing center of the world.

Detail of one of the scenes on the side of the little golden shrine, found in the Tomb of Tutankhamun. The scene is described as follows in the book “The Small Golden Shrine from the Tomb of Tutankhamun” by Marianne Eaton-Krauss:

Ankhesenamun anoints Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun sits on a high-backed, armless chair with lion legs. A patterned cushion covers not only the seat, but the back of the chair as well. The design of the chair includes the “union of the Two Lands” motif in open-work between the legs above the strut. The king’s attitude, with his elbow resting on the chair back, is a mirror image of CR4. His feet, which are unshod, rest on a low footstool.

The king wears the same kilt, with the addition of a crimped sash and sporran, as in all the other panels on the shrine. His costume includes wristlets, armlets, a broad collar, and a shebyu-necklace. An unusual feature is the depiction of the rectangular clap at the nape of the neck, a detail sometimes included when the necklace is displayed but not usually shown when it is depicted worn. The blue crown with uraeus and streamers completes the king’s regalia. A vulture hovers protectively above and behind the king’s head. The shen-sign held in its talons is augmented by the addition of an ankh. In front of the king’s face is written:

“the Perfect God, Nebkheperure, Son of Re, Tutankhamun, Ruler of Upper Egyptian Heliopolis, give life like Re.”

Behind the throne one reads:

“all protection of life is around him like Re”

The queen stands before her husband and inclines towards him. With her far hand, she touches his far upper arm. In the other hand, she elevates above her shoulder a footed dish containing a garlanded ointment cone. Draped over the cone are two lotus blossoms: two more blossoms and three buds hand behind her hand, presumably to be understood as also held in it.

Ankhesenamun, like her husband, is barefoot. Her jewelry includes wristlets, a broad collar, and a stirrup earring with dangling pendants. She wears the Nubian wig with an elaborate uraeus diadem, as in CR 4, and with streamers. Her modius is adorned with a frieze of uraei with sun disks; a garlanded ointment cone sits at its centre, flanked by four feathers. Two vertical columns of hieroglyphs behind the queen identify her as:

“hereditary princess, great in favours, Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt, possessor of charm, sweet of love, the great wife of the king, beloved of him, Lady of the Two Lands, Ankhesenamun, may she live forever and ever.”