King Tut: The Pharaoh Returns!

An exhibition featuring the first CT scans of the boy king's mummy tells us more about Tutankhamun than ever before

Tut's head, scanned in .62-millimeter slices to register its intricate structures, takes on eerie detail in the resulting image. With Tut's entire body similarly recorded, a team of specialists in radiology, forensics, and anatomy began to probe the secrets that the winged goddess of a gilded burial shrine protected for so long. (CT Scanning equipment by Siemens AG; Data courtesy, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Arab Republic of Egypt; National Geographic magazine, June 2005)
Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

(Continued from page 3)

It took another two years and eight months of removing and cataloging objects before the ever-meticulous Carter raised the lid of the third and final coffin (245 pounds of solid gold) inside the sarcophagus and gazed at the gold and lapis lazuli mask atop Tut’s mummy. Three weeks later, after cutting away resin-encrusted wrappings from the mask, Carter was able to savor the “beautiful and well-formed features” of the mummy itself. Yet it was not until February 1932, nearly a decade after opening the tomb, that he finally finished photographing and recording all the details of Tut’s treasures, a mind-boggling 5,398 items.

Just eight years before Carter’s discovery, American lawyer and archaeologist Theodore Davis, who had financed numerous expeditions to the Valley of the Kings, had turned in his shovel. “I fear the Valley is now exhausted,” he had declared. Mere feet from where Davis had stopped digging, the dogged Carter, quite literally, struck gold.

About Richard Covington

Richard Covington is a Paris-based author who covers a wide range of cultural and historical subjects and has contributed to Smithsonian, The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, among other publications.

Read more from this author

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus