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Golden mask of Tutankhamun

Ahmed Samir
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Tutankhamun Golden Mask

Tutankhamun's mask is a gold mask of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun (reigned 1334–1325 BC) from the 18th dynasty. Howard Carter uncovered it in tomb KV62 in the Valley of the Kings in 1925, and it is presently on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The death mask is one of the most well-known works of art and a powerful symbol of ancient Egypt. 

It is 54 centimetres (1.8 ft) tall, weighs over 10 kilogrammes (22 lb) or 321.5 troy ounces, and is adorned with semi-precious stones in the figure of Osiris, Egyptian god of the afterlife. On the shoulders of the mask is a hieroglyphic inscription of an old spell from the Book of the Dead.

In 2015, the mask's 2.5-kilogram (5.5-pound) plaited beard fell off and had to be urgently put back on by museum personnel.

The mask is "not only the archetypal image from Tutankhamun's tomb, but it is possibly the best-known object from ancient Egypt itself," according to Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves.

Some Egyptologists have speculated since 2001 that it was initially intended for Queen Neferneferuaten.


Golden mask of Tutankhamun
Golden mask of Tutankhamun


Discovery

Tutankhamun's tomb chamber was found in the Thebes tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 and opened in 1923. It took an additional two years before the excavation group, led by English paleontologist Howard Carter, had the option of opening the heavy stone. Ark containing the mummy of Tutankhamun. On October 28, 1925, they opened the deepest of the last three resting places to reveal the Golden Veil, seen without precedent for nearly 3,250 years. Carter wrote in his journal:


Golden mask of Tutankhamun


The staples were removed, and the lid lifted. The penultimate scene is revealed - a perfectly encased mummy of the young ruler, with a gleaming veil of wretched and serene expression, representing Osiris ... The veil bears the credit of this deity, but the likeness is that of Tutankhamen - calm and magnificent, with similar elements as we find in his sculptures and chests. The veil has receded somewhat backwards, so its appearance is sky-high.


In December 1925, the lid was removed from the burial chamber, encased and transported 635 kilometers (395 miles) to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where it remained in the open.




Description

The mask is 54 cm (21 in) long, 39.3 cm (15.5 in) wide, and 49 cm (19 in) deep. Made of two layers of karat gold, it is 1.5-3 mm (0.059-0.118 in) thick and weighs 10.23 kg (22.6 lb). A 2007 X-ray crystallography study revealed that the cap was made primarily of 23 karat gold alloy to work with the virus that forms the veil. The outer layer of the veil is covered with an exceptionally light layer (about 30 nanometers) of two different blends of gold: the lightest 18.4 karat concealment for the face and neck, and 22.5 karat gold to the end of the mask.


The obverse handles the standard image of a pharaoh, and a similar image has been found by excavators elsewhere in the burial chamber, specifically in statues of the gatekeeper. He wears the headdress of a mongoose, and is adorned with the emblems of the imperial cobra (wadget) and the eagle (nekhbet), which represented Tutankhamun's standard in both Lower and Upper Egypt separately. Ears were pierced to hold buttons, an ingredient that appears to have been preserved for royalty and children in almost all of ancient Egyptian artwork. Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, a former Egyptian minister of antiquities, told Al-Monitor, "The hypothesis about ear piercing is not justified in light of the fact that all the rulers of the Eighteenth Dynasty wore collars during their reign."


The veil is decorated with shaded glass and precious stones, including lapis lazuli (includes eyes and eyebrows), quartz (eyes), obsidian (students), onyx, amazonite, turquoise, and faience.


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