This seal belonged to King Tut’s fifth shrine. The king was interred in a series of four sarcophagi, which were  in turn kept inside a series of five shrines. This unbroken seal has been preserved for 3,245 years. Tut’s tomb was discovered late because it was covered by debris from Ramesses IV’s tomb, which was located directly above its entrance.

While the outermost shrine of the pharaoh’s youth had been opened not once, but twice in ancient times, the doors of the second of the massive gilded wood shrines containing the royal sarcophagus still bore the necropolis seal, indicating that the pharaoh’s mummy was untouched and intact.

Howard Carter, a famous archaeologist and Egyptologist, opened the boy-tomb king’s in the early 1920s. The treasure in the tomb was more spectacular than any previous find. Howard Carter discovered three more shrines shortly after removing the lid of the outermost shrine in Tutankhamun’s Burial Chamber.

Harry Burton photographed the second shrine’s ornately decorated doors while they were closed, their simple copper handles held tightly together by a rope tied through them. The cord was accompanied by a delicate clay seal depicting Anubis, the ancient Egyptians’ jackal god entrusted with the cemetery’s protection.

Carter and his financier, Lord Carnarvon, were aware from the start that the tomb had been compromised due to a re-plastered and sealed hole in the outer doorway (not on the fifth shrine).

Furthermore, the disorganized state of the material, the damage sustained by several objects, and the discernible lack of solid metalwork, bedding, glass, oils, and unguents all suggested that the tomb had been robbed during antiquity.

According to legend, he also discovered an ancient clay tablet in the antechamber. When he later translated it, it said, “Death will slay with his wings whoever disturbs the pharaoh’s peace.”

This became the famous “Curse of the Pharaohs,” which is actually a myth. The curse, which does not distinguish between thieves and archaeologists, is said to bring bad luck, illness, or death.

Tutankhamen was a minor king during his lifetime, but because his tomb was hidden beneath another tomb and grave robbers never discovered it, it became one of the most valuable archaeological finds. B

The tomb’s entrance was sealed by rocks and mud from flooding due to its lower location in the Valley of the Kings, and the location was lost until Carter’s discovery.

Tutankhamen was a minor Pharaoh who died suddenly at a young age, so whatever wealth he was buried with (and that archaeologists discovered) was a fraction of what it could have been had he lived a full life. So imagine the enormous wealth that must have been buried with great Pharaohs like Ramesses II.

How did the rope survive for 3,200 years without deterioration?

Rope is one of the most basic human technologies. Two-ply ropes dating back 28,000 years have been discovered by archaeologists. Egypt was the first civilization to use specialized rope-making tools. The aridity of the desert air is one of the keys to its longevity, not the rope itself. It both dries and preserves things.

Another key is oxygen deprivation. Tombs are closed off from the outside world. Bacteria can break down things as long as they have oxygen, but then they suffocate. Rope, wooden carvings, cloth, organic dyes, and other materials that would not have survived elsewhere in the world are not uncommon in Egyptian pyramids and tombs. Egypt’s desert conditions allowed for the preservation of far more organic material than would have been possible otherwise.

This in contrast to, say, Maya sites in Central America which are far younger, but from which almost no organic material has been recovered. The main difference is jungle versus desert conditions.

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