From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Embalming Cache of Tutankhamun (KV 54), Davis/Ayrton excavations, 1907–08
L. 165 cm (64 15/16 in.); W. 6 cm (2 3/8 in.)
Gift of Theodore M. Davis, 1909
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 122
In December 1907 Theodore M. Davis, a wealthy American who was funding excavations in the Valley of the Kings, discovered a small pit near the tomb of Seti I. Inside the pit were approximately a dozen large sealed whitewashed storage jars (09.184.1). Among other things, the jars contained bags of natron (a kind of salt), pieces of linen with hieratic inscriptions dated to Years 6 and 8 of a king named Tutankhamun (throne name Nebkheperure). At the time, almost nothing was know about Tutankhamun, and Davis declared that he had discovered the king's tomb.
Davis received a number of the jars and their contents in the division of finds and, in 1909, he gave most of his share to the Metropolitan Museum. It was only later that Herbert Winlock, the field director of the Museum's excavations at Thebes, realized that the natron and linen were embalming refuse from the mummification of Tutankhamun.
In ancient Egypt, linen was a valuable commodity used for clothing, bedding, blankets, cushions and other purposes. when it became too worn to be used by the living, it was put asside and used for mummification. In general, the bandages used to wrap a mummy were torn from old old linen sheets, but a number of the bandages from Tutankhamun's embalming cache, including this one that has a selvedge edge on both sides, were specially woven for this purpose.
Excavated by Theodore M. Davis in the Valley of the Kings (KV 54), 1907. Received by Davis in the division of finds. Given by Davis to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1909.
Winlock, Herbert E. 2010. "Materials Used at the Embalming of King Tutankhamun." In Tutankhamun's Funeral, edited by Herbert E. Winlock and Dorothea Arnold. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 36, fig. 30.