Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tutankhamun's Leftover Linens Give New Insight Into Mummification

Leftover linens used to wrap the body of King Tutankhamun are the highlight of the "Tutankhamun's Funeral" exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The bandages run from 15.4 feet to 15.3 inches (4.70 meters to 39 centimeters) and consist of 50 linen pieces that were woven especially for King Tutankhamun upon his death and mummification.

Now, after a century of being stored in large ceramic jars at the museum's Department of Egyptian Art, the bandages have been put on permanent display at the museum's Egyptian galleries. 

Dorothea Arnold, curator of Egyptian art at the museum told Discovery News that the linens used on King Tutankhamun's actual mummy were decayed because of the excessive use of resins.  The linens on display at the museum were not exposed to the resins and are the best-preserved lot of Tutankhamun's wrappings.

The linens look a great deal like modern-day gauze bandages.  They bear an inscription containing the date the linens were woven.  One linen features the inscription "Year 8 of the Lord of Two Lands, Nebkheperure".  "Nebkheperure" was Tutankhamun's throne name and "Year 8" was the final year of his life (1341-1323 B.C.).

The jars containing the leftover linens were discovered in a pit 110 meters (360.8 feet) away from the undiscovered tomb of King Tutankhamun.  The jars also contained bits and pieces of pottery, animal remains, dried flowers, kerchiefs and embalming material leading the discoverer, Theodore M. Davis to believe he'd uncovered the tomb of a poor man.

For more information about the linens, their discovery and to see a couple of photos of them you can check out the Discovery article or the article from's Technology and Science section.

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