The Tomb of Tutankhamun: The Other Side of the Story

Review by Hilary Forrest

Oh no – not another book about Tutankhamun! This one, however, is rather different. The first sections of the book cover the history of the Valley of the Kings, the early desecrations of the tombs, and the two robberies of the Tomb of Tutankhamun that occurred in antiquity. There is also a section on Howard Carter, with an account of his attempts to find the tomb, which he was convinced was waiting to be discovered.

The latter part of the text takes a more shocking turn. We live now at a time when human remains are considered to be real people who were once living and breathing individuals, and so deserve to be treated with respect. This slim volume (only 116 pages long) contains some horrific and generally unknown material about the poor treatment of the young pharaoh’s fragile remains at the hands of those who investigated his tomb. Much has been written about this discovery, mostly in a respectful tone. What is rarely described in detail is the state of the king’s remains following all the indignities to which he was subjected while being studied. The head was detached from the body, to free the golden mask; the hands removed from the arms to release the jewellery; and the feet cut off so that they could be photographed more easily. The teeth are described in such studies, yet the mouth was not opened: they were accessed by means of an incision made in the neck, which was later hidden. There is no mention of these procedures in Howard Carter’s otherwise careful and detailed notes.

Now, a hundred years on from the great discovery, the author has been brave enough to put the record straight. May the young pharaoh at last rest in peace.

You can read an article on the KV62 robberies by Amandine Marshall in AE 133.

The Tomb of Tutankhamun: The Other Side of the Story
by Amandine Marshall
Mondes Antiques, 2022
ISBN 978-2956-88286-2
Paperback £19