Tutankhamun's tomb theories debunked by expert

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Tutankhamun is one of the most famous and well-known of the great pharaohs that ruled Ancient Egypt. Known as the boy king, he took the throne when his father, Akhenaten, died in around 1334 BC. Because of his age ‒ Tutankhmaun was around eight or nine when he became the pharaoh ‒ he had advisers around him that wielded great powers, making many of his decisions for him.

Much of the religious and social change Akhenaten had implemented was quickly reverted, with things like polytheism and traditional art reintroduced.

Tutankhamun went on to rule for roughly ten years until dying aged 18 or 19, and was buried in the Valley of the Kings, the vast expanse of desert that was home to the tombs of Ancient Egypt’s great rulers.

While his fellow pharaohs’ tombs were pillaged by grave robbers and later excavated by archaeologists and explorers, Tutankhmaun’s remained untouched, and it was not until 1922 that his tomb was discovered by British Egyptologist Howard Carter.

Yet, what Mr Carter found was not a tomb fit for a great king, but one that was small, shoddily fitted and extremely obscure — the very reason why it had not been found by anyone for thousands of years.

More recently, “strange” black spots were identified inside the tomb, which was explored during the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary ‘Secrets: Tut’s Tomb’.

Here, Dr Chris Naunton, director of the Egypt Exploration Society, explained that there was ordinarily a “very clear articulated process for burying the king and making sure everything was perfect”.

Yet, as the documentary’s narrator noted: “It appears that this was not the case for Tut.”

Dr Naunton examined an interesting feature of the walls, what he described as “strange spotty marks” seen all around the walls.

The spots are mould, an organic matter that appears nowhere else in the Valley of the Kings.

Conservationists were at first concerned that the mould was being caused by the breath and sweat of countless tourists visiting the tomb.

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But, studying Mr Carter’s original photographs, the black spots were clearly already on the walls, proving that the hordes of visitors were not responsible.

Adam Lowe, director of Factum Arte, claims that the black spots are the result of the tomb being sealed before the paint had even dried.

This is significant because it suggests that the painters who decorated the tomb were in a rush to get the job done — a bizarre way to treat a king’s place of rest.

Mr Lowe and his team took high-resolution photographs of the burial chamber’s paintings, which included the black spots, revealing each individual brushstroke of the painters, clearly showing traces of brush marks that were made in haste.


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Mr Lowe said: “The application of the ochre colour is done very fast with bigger brushes.

“My estimate is that it wouldn’t have taken a team of skilled painters much over a week to paint Tutankhamun’s tomb.”

Painting a king’s tomb normally took years of work, so the question of why Tut’s tomb was knocked-up so quickly remains.

His mummified remains show that he died unexpectedly, which could go some way to explain this, as according to ancient tradition only 70 days can elapse between the moment of a king’s death and the sealing of his tomb.

Other theories have been floated as to why King Tut’s tomb was not up to the standard it should have been.

Aliaa Ismail, an Egyptologist speaking during National Geographic’s documentary ‘Lost Treasures of Egypt’, said she believed Tutankhamun’s successor, Ay, had taken Tut’s tomb for his own.

Examining both tombs, she found a number of similarities between the two, with much of the wall paintings almost identical, and said: “Both Tut and Ay opted for the same scene, almost like the same person chose what goes in each tomb.”

It suggested that a common hand had been at work in both tombs.

However, only Ay’s tomb was fit for a pharaoh.

Ms Ismail said: ‘It’s very similar to the tomb of Tutankhamun — the style, the artwork, the sarcophagus.

“But, it’s so much bigger.”

She added: “Ay buried Tutankhamun in the smaller tomb, so he could have the bigger tomb for himself.

“This is the tomb that was intended for Tutankhamun, the tomb of Ay.”

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