email a friend iconprinter friendly iconAt the Tomb of Tutankhamen
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A pile of empty mineral-water bottles, just across the narrow road, marks the spot where Theodore M. Davis and Arthur Weigall, after discovering the tomb of Queen Tiyi (also spelled Taia, Tyi, and Teye), stopped work. Almost in a straight line beyond is the tomb of Horemheb, successor to Tutankhamen, to enter which they hurdled the hidden entrance to the greatest treasure-house that archeologists have ever entered, centuries after grave-robbers had fled in fear. Both in the realm of space and time, the American excavator, Mr. Davis, to whom so many discoveries are due, "bracketed" the tomb which holds the center of the stage to-day.

Tutankhamen was the king who came back to the fold of Ammon, god of Thebes, and reestablished the royal residence there, after his father-in-law, Akhenaton, or Amenophis IV (also spelled Amenhotep), having made a spectacular break with the powerful priesthood, moved his capital to Tell-el-Amarna. In gratitude for this return, which ushered in to Thebes the glories of Seti I and Rameses II and conserved the spiritual hegemony of the local priests until they could seize temporal power as well, King Tutankhamen was sent out on his journey through the underworld equipped with such funeral vessels and mortuary implements as have never before been discovered.

It is unlikely that the comparatively small tomb itself will have more than a passing interest; but the rich store of rare and valuable funeral furniture with which the hiding place of Tutankhamen was packed almost surely contains such wonders from the distant past as have never before been seen by modern man.

On February 17th I arrived in Luxor, crossed the river and started on foot for the Tombs of the Kings. It is nearly eleven years since I last visited them, but my memory of the event is vivid. I still feel that September sun which beat upon us as we climbed the ridge on the way to Deir-el-Bahri and collapsed in the shade of an ancient temple to gulp down great goolahs of Nile water after the water in our bottles was gone. I still remember the fake curios we bought, the hagglings we had, the smell of the hot donkeys' sweat under the saddles.

This time I did not hasten toward my goal. I wanted to plod along on foot, to exchange Arabic salutations with the white-toothed village girls, to feel the African sun on my back, and to watch the camels stalk by on their way to the cane fields.

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