Monday, July 26th, 2010
When Howard Carter opened King Tut’s tomb in 1922, he found 4 chariots in the south-east corner of the antechamber (2 more were found in the treasury room). The chariots had been dismantled at the time of the King’s funeral. One of the chariots stood out not because of any elaborate decoration, but because of its lack thereof. Unlike the others, it was small, lightweight, and entirely undecorated. It also showed signs of regular use, again unlike the other more ornamental chariots.
Carter deduced from its open design that it was used for hunting and/or quotidian exercise. Since a recent study of the king’s mummy found that he suffered from a severe leg fracture right above the knee from a fall taken shortly before his death. Septicemia from the injury might have contributed to his death, and he could even have been hunting with this chariot when he took that fatal tumble.
There’s no way of knowing, of course. Still, it adds a little spice to the artifact which for the first time in its long life has left Egypt and is now winging its way to New York City where it will be added to the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit at the Discovery Times Square Exposition.
The chariot will arrive in New York on Wednesday, accompanied by a conservator and the Director of the Luxor Museum, where the chariot is permanently displayed.