Tutankhamun's Casket

The Painted Casket of Tutankhamun

Various chests were discovered in the tomb of King Tutankhamun, they were more than 50 boxes and they ranged in size from the smallest and most delicate to hold jewelry and cosmetics, to large and more functional sizes, some of them even fitted with poles to be held by priests during funerary processions. This magnificent casket was found in the Antechamber of the tomb of Tutankhamun.It is considered one of the masterpieces of the collection of King Tutankhamun because of its excellent state of preservation and its fine quality of painting.


 It is made out of wood covered with a layer of plaster or stucco then painted. The box consists of four sides: two long one, two short ones and a lid. It is mounted on stubby legs and has two knobs for closing the box by means of tying a rope around them then sealing it. The decoration on the chest represents the official theme of triumph over chaos.It took Carter and his men more than 3 weeks to empty the contents of the box due to the fragile state of the contents.

Tutankhamun's Casket

When this box was discovered it contained:

1-    A pair of papyrus sandals.
2-    3 pairs of gilded sandals.
3-    One gilded headrest.
4-    Necklaces.
5-    Labels.
6-    Embroidered ceremonial robes belonging to the king, one of them was studded with over 3000 golden rosettes.

What do the words “Painted Casket” mean?

The word casket means box or chest (all of these words have the same meaning). The word painted relates to its many colours.

Tutankhamun's Casket  Description:

The two Long Sides of the box:

They have identical scenes; the only difference is that on one of them the enemies are Nubians while on the other they are Asiatics. This could be recognised from the difference in the skin colour and hairstyles of the enemies. The scene is enclosed by a geometric then a floral border. 

 Beneath the pt sign, the king is represented riding his chariot, where the horses are shown at full gallop. He is shown shooting an arrow while controlling the horses by means of ropes of the reins tied around his waist which left his arms free to attack the enemy. He is wearing the blue crown of war xprS (khepresh) crown. 

Tutankhamun's Casket

He is protected on either side by the vulture goddess Nekhbet who is represented holding the Sn sign and he is followed by his fan bearers, and 3 sections of the Egyptian army, which are represented very well organised in contrast to the enemies on the other side facing the king who are in full disorder and among them we can see some of the men and hounds of the Egyptian army. This was one of the main features of the ancient Egyptian art; organized Egyptian army and on the contrary the enemies are in chaos.

 The two short sides:

On each side there is a double scene showing the king in the form of a sphinx trampling his enemies one Nubian and one Asiatic, surmounted by the pt sign. At the back of the sphinx we can see the war fan also Nekhbet, the vulture goddess protecting the king with her outstretched wings holding the Shen sign, and the king himself is wearing a composite crown consisting of 2 feathers and horns with the sun disk. In the middle we have the cartouches of the King Niswtbity name: nb xprw ra : lord of the existence of re and the Sa Re name: twt anx imn hKA iwn rsyt

Tutankhamun's Casket

The lid :

The scenes on it represent the king while hunting; the idea of all scenes is confirming the victory upon the chaos. Here the king is shooting wild animals with his arrow instead of the enemies. He is shown on one side attacking lions and lioness while on the other side he is attacking other wild animals e.g. antelopes, ostriches, hyenas and wild donkeys who are skilfully represented fleeing the arrows of his majesty.

All animals are pierced by arrows and fall victim to the king’s irresistible attack and he is accompanied by his hunting hounds. On either side of the lid, there is a representation of the winged solar disc symbol of Horus of Behdet. The army in Ancient Egypt was divided into four divisions from the time of Ramesses II: the heart, the two wings and the rear. Each division carried the name of a certain god. 


 Before Ramses II, namely since Thutmosis 3rd introduced the divisions, they were three: Amon-Re, Ptah, Re-horakhty then since the time of Ramses II Seth was added. The king always led the heart division, which was called Amon-re while the 2 wings were Ptah and Rehorahty and the rear was Seth.

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