The Golden Mask of King Tut: a World-Famous Egyptian Artifact

The gold Egyptian funeral mask of King Tutankhamun is one of the most famous and widely recognized artifacts in the entire world.

The mask, of King Tutankhamun dates back to the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom. It serves as the finest example of art from that period in Egyptian history.

King Tutankhamun’s Golden Mask: Description

The death mask of King Tut is a magnificent sight, gleaming with hammered gold and semi-precious stones. King Tut was buried in three golden coffins, two wooden ones with gold overlay and the third of solid gold. The well-known artifact, the golden mask, covered the head of the mummy on the third and most elaborate coffin.

The impressive likeness of the boy pharaoh, believed to be an accurate but idealized portrait, is composed of 24 pounds of solid gold inlaid with an intricate design of lapis lazuli, carnelian, quartz, turquoise, obsidian, and colored glass.

The royal headdress has upon the forehead a vulture and a cobra. The vulture is a symbol of kingship and the cobra, protection. The stripes of the headdress are made of blue colored glass the shade of lapis lazuli. A Middle Kingdom spell is inscribed on the shoulder and back of the mask.

King Tut: The Boy Pharaoh and Tomb Discovery

King Tuts tomb was discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. It was a fantastic find because unlike many other tombs in the Valley of the Kings, King Tutahkhamuns tomb had never been plundered by tomb robbers, which resulted in a find of great significance.

Little is known about King Tut, who became famous because of the discovery of his tomb. The last of the Amarna pharaohs, he was born around 1370 b.c.e. and died around 1352 b.c.e. He is believed to be the son of Akhenaten and Kiya, one of the kings many wives. King Tut, who is often referred to as the boy king or pharaoh, reigned eight years and was around 18 at the time of his death. It is believe that he had little power as a ruler.

His death, which could have been the result of illness, accident, or injury, remains a mystery which forensic historians are still trying to solve by examining injuries on the mummy.

The Treasures of Tutankhamun and the Golden Mask on Tour

The golden mask was the highlight of the 1972-1979 tour, The Treasures of Tutankhamun. The display, which featured treasures found by Carter, was viewed by eight million in locations including the U.K., the USA, USSR, Japan, France, Canada and West Germany.

The mask is not part of the more recent 2010 tour, Tuntankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, which had a showing in New York, Denver Colorado, and other locations. This exhibition contains more than 50 artifacts from King Tut’s tomb, including golden sandals. Considered too fragile to travel, the mask will remain permanently in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

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