Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Large Storage Jar from Tutankhamun's Embalming Cache

New Kingdom
Dynasty 18
reign of Tutankhamun
ca. 1336–1327 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Embalming Cache of Tutankhamun (KV 54), Davis/Ayrton excavations, 1907–08
Pottery, whitewash
H. 71.5 cm (28 1/8 in.); Diam. 48 cm (18 7/8 in.); Diam. of rim 35 cm (13 3/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Theodore M. Davis, 1909
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 122
In December 1907 Theodore M. Davis, a wealthy American funding excavations in the Valley of the Kings, discovered a small pit (KV 56) near the tomb of Remesses X (KV 18). It contained a dozen or so large sealed storage jars, including this one. Inside the jars was an assortment of objects carefully packed in chaff. These included: broken pottery (09.184.21); linen bags of natron, the salt used in mummification; animal bones; floral collars (09.184.216); linen kerchiefs (09.184.217); pieces of linen with hieratic dockets dated to Years 6 and 8 of a little-known king named Tutankhamun (09.184.693); and mud sealings stamped with the seal of the royal necropolis (09.184.261) and cartouches of the same king (09.184.260).

Careful study of the material found in the jars suggests that the natron and linen were unused embalming materials from from the mummification of Tutankhamun. The broken pottery, animal bones, and floral collars may have been used in the offering and purification ceremonies performed at the king's funeral. Fifteen years after Davis found the embalming cache, Tutankhamun became famous when his tomb, KV 62, was discovered by Howard Carter and the Earl of Carnarvon who had begun work in the Valley of the Kings after Davis gave up the concession.
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, pp. 26–27, fig. 17 (right).

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