Chapter 25 - The Magpie

The Coffins

Not surprisingly, I based my description of the contents of Hatshepsut's sarcophagus - the coffins and treasures - on those of Tutankhamun. It seems all the pharaohs of this period had a similar style of burial, with the mummy bedecked in amulets, bracelets and so on, encased in two or three coffins and then the stone sarcophagus.

Tutankhamun's sarcophagus was also surrounded by three huge wooden shrines coated in gold. I omitted this, partly because it would have slowed down my story, but also because it looks to me like there was no room for such shrines in KV20. The room had three pillars and both the sarcophagi of Hatshepsut and her father. Perhaps the tradition of using the large wooden shrines came about later. We have only ever found the ones belonging to Tut. They are now in the Cairo Museum.


The inscriptions on the sarcophagus are the same as the ones written on Hatshepsut's sarcophagus found in KV20.

The silver tenons I mention were also used to fix together Tut's coffins - see picture left.


Howard Carter developed a very elaborate way of raising the sarcophagus and coffin lids using ropes and pulleys. Tomb robbers, however, were not so careful when robbing pharaohs' tombs, and damage can be seen on the lid of Thutmose III's sarcophagus where it was roughly handled. In fact the thieves threw gold objects at the walls so hard that you can still see traces of gold there.

Face of inner coffin


The gold mask

Hatshepsut's sarcophagus



Ropes used to raise lids



Carter examining middle coffin



Middle gold coffin with vulture-feather pattern



Inner solid gold coffin




The Amulets

143 pieces of jewellery were found on Tutankhamun's mummy, tucked into the six layers of linen wrappings. Most had some magical power of protection, in some way helping him get to the afterlife or preserving his body. Many had hieroglyphic components, so they actually said something, like his name. Here we see some pictures of some of these treasures. They are made of gold, silver, and various stones like lapis lazuli, carnelian, turquoise, jasper, quartz, and feldspar, and of course faience.


Scarab bracelet





Scarab pectoral



Pectoral with winged scarab, eye of Horus on a boat, sun and moon, divine cobras, and lotus flowers