Gilded Statuette of Tutankhamun with a Harpoon

 Gilded Statuette of Tutankhamun with a Harpoon

Collection of hardwood figures buried with Tutankhamun (about 32 statues in total) were found divided between the Antechamber, Burial chamber and the Treasury. Seven of them represented the king himself while the rest included a strange group of divinities or maybe representing the king himself in the form of those divinities maybe to acquire their blessings. These statues were mostly gilded or black in colour, both colours are associated with regeneration and rebirth. They were wrapped in linen shawls with the manufacture date of the 3rd year of Akhenaten’s reign.

The greater number was recovered from the Treasury, where they had been crammed into 22 double-doored shrines of black resin-coated wood mounted on sleds and with sloping roofs. The doors of only one of those shrines had been opened by tomb robbers while the seals of the remainder had survived untouched since king Tutankhamun’s funeral.

 Gilded Statuette of Tutankhamun with a Harpoon
 Gilded Statuette of Tutankhamun with a Harpoon

They were mainly made out of wood covered with gold leaf. The eyes of all figures are framed in bronze and inlaid with glass or semi-precious stones except for Qebehsenewef and Dwamwtef whose eyes are simply painted in black. The fittings, including the objects they carry and their sandals are of gilded copper-alloy.

The bases of the majority of the statues are inscribed with the coronation name (niswt bity) of Tut: Nebkheperure, beloved of “the appropriate diety”.

The function:

According to HOWARD CARTER, these figures of gods or divinities represent a record of myths and beliefs, ritual and custom, associated with the dead and the afterlife. But their exact meaning in the burial is not clear to us, they might have represented good or evil and or they may have some form of magic associated with them.

Some scholars suggested that TUTANKHAMUN is represented in the form of these deities but we don't have a strict meaning for that. Maybe he wanted to embody some of their aspects in the afterlife. Others suggest that the reason for placing them in the tomb might be that due to the fact that the ancient Egyptians were religious people so they were hoping for these deities to accompany them in the afterlife?!

The statue itself:

Many scholars accused the ancient Egyptian art of being static i.e. the statues were always either seated or standing and especially those of kings. But this statue of Tutankhamun harpooning made them reject this idea; it is an exception of the rules of traditional art. The king is represented in full action just about to hurl a harpoon into the flesh of an invisible enemy, which in our case is probably a hippopotamus lurking in the swamps.

It is one of a pair discovered in the Treasury. It was coated with gesso and gilded. The eyes are inlaid with calcite and obsidian, set in bronze sockets, same metal being used for the eyebrows. The king is shown standing on a papyrus boat made out of wood painted dark green with some parts gilded. Below the boat there is a black wooden pedestal. He is wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt, a wide collar, pleated kilt with central tab and sandals. He is holding a harpoon in his right hand and a coil of rope in his left hand with which he would tie his captured enemies. The uraeus, sandals, harpoon are made of gilded bronze but the rope is not gilded. 

How did ancient Egyptians hunt hippos?

In Pharaonic times hippopotami were spotted frequently at the swamps and papyrus marshes of the lower Nile. Ancient Egyptian nobles hunted them and representations of such hunts were sometimes included among the wall decorations of the tombs. The method employed was to attach a cord to a barb and to project it by means of a harpoon towards the victim. When several barbs entered the body of the animal so that it had become weak through loss of blood, it was pulled to the bank by the ropes and killed.

This statue can be associated with the legend of Horus of Behdet (or Edfu): According to a legend preserved in a late text on a wall of the Temple of Edfu, the god Re-Horakhty when he ruled on earth conducted a military campaign into Nubia accompanied by his son, Horus. While still away from home he received news that his throne was in danger and he decided to go back to Egypt. On reaching Edfu he instructed Horus to attack the enemy, whose identity is not at that point specified, though subsequently reference is made to Seth and his followers. Horus carried out the attack by first flying to the sky in the form of the winged solar disk and then swooping down on the enemy, killing very many, though a number seem to have escaped. Thinking that his victory was complete, he returned to the boat of Re-Horakhty. The surviving enemies however changed themselves to hippopotami and crocodiles in order to attack the sun-god in his boat. Once more the battle was taken up by Horus and this time he and his followers slaughtered the enemy with harpoons, pursuing them down the Nile until they were completely destroyed.

Why was the hippopotamus not included in this statue?

It is obviously for magical reasons because he is one of the forms of the god Seth so his presence might be a source of danger to the king in the afterlife.

The Walking Sticks

The Walking Sticks of King Tutankhamun

This showcase is housing the walking sticks and the canes or the staffs of king (Tutankhamen). Most of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs and nobles were represented holding a cane or a staff as it was a sign of nobility as well as helping him to kneel upon it during the old age. 

The Walking Sticks of King Tutankhamun

 In the tomb of Tutankhamen we found around 130 complete and fragmentary examples of sticks and canes from the Antechamber, the annex and the burial chamber. This led Carter to believe that Tutankhamen was an amateur collector of walking sticks or canes.

In the light of the recent DNA examination performed early in 2010 on the mummy of Tutankhamun, scientists discovered that he suffered from a disease (Avascular bone necrosis), which caused him to have a lame foot. This evidence gives a logical explanation for the presence of this vast collection of walking canes and sticks recovered from his tomb.

 The Walking Sticks of King Tutankhamun

Many of the canes were clearly ritualistic while others showed signs of use. There were different types such as long staffs with knobbed and forked tops used for killing snakes, crooked sticks…etc

Some of the canes and sticks in this showcase are made out of wood; some of them gilded and other sticks were just the upper part of the ceremonial fans held by attendants. The latter ones contain cartouches of King Tutankhamen; the coronation name and sometimes the birth name.

The Walking Sticks of King Tutankhamun

We can see here there are several sticks or canes having curved ends these curved ends were decorated with enemies most probably these enemies were depicted upside down in order to ensure that they are under the subjugation of the king and that he has full control on them.

The most important cane or stick here is the Cane with two prisoners. It was discovered among others and some bows and arrows inside an oblong box found in the Antechamber at the foot of the lion-headed funerary couch. It is made out of gilded bronze.

Enemies were traditionally represented bound on temple walls, around bases of statues or even stretched out on the kings’ footstools. But here they are shown on the handle of the cane to be held in the hand of his majesty. The fertile imagination of the skilful artist has mixed the two enemies or prisoners together in a rare piece of art.
The Walking Sticks of King Tutankhamun

The Walking Sticks of King Tutankhamun

The Walking Sticks of King Tutankhamun

The end of the cane takes the shape of two traditional enemies: one Nubian and the other Asiatic. The Nubian’s face, hands and feet are made out of ebony and he is represented wearing a short curly hair wig and a pleated garment with multicoloured streamers. While the Asiatic’s face, hands and feet are made out of ivory and he is represented with a beard and straight long hair while wearing a costume ornamented with ribbons and circular and floral motifs.

 When the king grasped this cane, the prisoners were turned upside down and rendered harmless.

At the other end of the cane, there is a papyrus umbel made of blue faience and inscribed on it a representation of the cartouche of the king (nb xprw ra)

There are 2 theories about the way these sticks were held:
1-    The king held the stick with the representation of Libyan and Nubian enemies under his hand in order to use the lower part of the stick to stamp his name on the ground. Some scholars refused this as the king will stamp his name everywhere in the ground and could be stepped on which is not acceptable as it will be under the people’s feet.

2-    The king held the stick from the end where the stamp is, while the part with the Nubian and Libyan was on the ground as another way of humiliation.

The Ceremonial Throne of Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun Ceremonial Throne

The chair in ancient Egypt, as in many eastern countries, was considered the symbol of authority and prestige. Six chairs were buried with Tutankhamen in his tomb, scattered throughout the Antechamber and the Annexe.

This chair was found in the Annexe and it was tied up with strips of linen. The original plan for this chair that it was supposed to be a folding stool but it seems that it was not successful, so the back and supporting pieces of wood were added later. It’s mainly made out of ebony covered with gold leaf and richly inlaid with ivory, coloured glass, faience and semi-precious stones. 

 Tutankhamun Ceremonial Throne

It is often called ‘Tutankhamun’s Ecclesiastical throne’ in association with the Bishop’s seats of the Middle Ages in Europe.

It was most probably used by the king during hunting and we deduce this from the decoration especially on the seat of the throne. We can see that, it is decorated with an imitation of a spotted animal skin, may be cheetah or a Nubian goat complete with representations of the animal tail and legs under the seat providing an excellent hunting atmosphere.




The back of the chair is decorated at the top with a frieze of cobras “Ureaus” with the sun disk above their heads. The centre is interrupted by the “Aten” disk under which there are its divine cartouches. This shows an obvious Amarna influence and also indicates that this chair dates from the transitional  stage between the worship of Aten and the Amun revolution. Below this frieze, the vulture goddess Nekhbet spreading her wings holding the Shen sign and a fan. She is flanked on both sides by the cartouches of the king carrying the names: “Nebkheprure” and “Tutankaten”. The geometric inlays of the back contain three vertical columns of text, in which the king is also referred to as Tutankaten. The only representation of Tutankamun’s name on this chair is present in two horizontal rows made of ebony and enclose the decoration. These names were possibly added after the Amon revolution.

 Tutankhamun Ceremonial Throne

The double curve of the seat is decorated with imitations of a wild animal skin (probably a cheetah or a Nubian goat) complete with representations of the animal tail and legs under the seat providing an excellent hunting atmosphere. The double curve was intended to provide the most comfortable way of seating for the king, which also mean adding a cushion.

 The folding mechanism is decorated with geese heads may be either a symbol for god Amon (as the goose was one of his sacred animals) or to signify ‘fear’ which was a word represented in ancient Egyptian language with the determinative of a slaughtered goose (snD). To the front and the back of the folding mechanism, there once existed an open work pattern of smA tAwy partly broken by tomb robbers.


The Ceremonial Throne of Tutankhamun

The Ceremonial Throne of Tutankhamun

  The rectangular footstool is similarly made out of wood or ebony inlaid with ivory, coloured glass and semi-precious stone. Its top surface is divided into two parts, each stacked horizontally with alternating Nubian and Asiatic bound captives, which denotes the nine traditional enemies of Egypt. They are imprisoned under the ‘sandals’ or feet of His majesty for all eternity.

 At the back there is a representation of the vulture goddess Nekhbet and the Udjat eyes of Horus sign of protection.

 P.S. The –aten form of Tutankamun’s name is again found in the texts on the back of the chair.

Tutankhamen lying on a bier

The Ba bird , the falcon and Tutankhamen - Tutankhamen lying on a bier

·        This miniature statue of the king was found in the treasury room in a small oblong chest, carefully padded with linen, which had disintegrated over the centuries.

·        The beauty of this statuette lies in the fact that it was carved of a single piece of wood. It represents the king in mummified form lying on a funerary bier of lion form.

Tutankhamen lying on a bier

·        This Osiride figure of the king lies stretched out at length upon the bed, his head covered with the Nemes headdress bearing the royal Cobra at his forehead, his hands free from wrappings grasp the emblems of Osiris now unfortunately missing.

·        The first evidence of this kind of statues come from the 13th dynasty belonging to king Khen-nedjer, it is displayed in the atrium of the museum.

·        On the left side there is a figure of the Ba bird or soul, which is often depicted in the form of human headed hawk. When a man died it left him and went to heaven, where it lived with the gods and with the souls of the righteous but it was believed that the Ba descends from time to time to visit the body in which it formerly dwelt.

·        The Ba bird protects the mummy with its left wing opposite to the figure of a falcon maybe representing god Horus, protecting the mummy with its right wing and they seem to be no less than manifestations of divine protection. The falcon (among other birds e.g. the phoenix) is one of the forms that the deceased hopes to be transformed into as described in some chapters of the Book of the Dead.

·        This statuette could be closely linked with the Book of the Imy-dwat, as according to some texts of the Imydwat, which is the afterlife book concerned with the eternal cycle of death and rebirth which in turn is closely associated with the setting and the rising of the sun. The principal aim of the sun god Re in the underworld is to be united with Osiris in order to receive the power to be reborn every day. The Ba bird or the soul of the deceased is identified with the sun god Re while the body of the deceased is linked with Osiris, so the union between Re and Osiris in the underworld was paralleled by the union of the soul and the mummy which leads to the resurrection of the king. Once the king is resurrected he becomes Horus (falcon headed bird), who is the renewed manifestation of the deceased.

·        If we look at the statuette from behind the head of the king while lying on the bier. His head is represented between the two lions, which look like a representation of the Akhet sign (sign of the horizon) in such a way that his head signifies the rising sun between the two mountains (represented as the lions’ heads). It also reminds us of the Aker legend.

·        This statue is believed to be related to the shawabti figures as a set of miniature implements: a pick, a hoe, a yake and two baskets of copper, similar to the equipment found with the shawabti figures was placed with this statue.

·        Another interesting and historical point regarding this statue which confirms its association with the ushabtis is that it was made by the overseer of the works in the place of eternity, Maya who has dedicated a shawabti figure to the king. Among his duties, he was responsible for the resealing of Tutankhamun tomb. During the reign of Tutankhamun Maya bore the titles:

"Overseer of the building-works in the place of eternity, overseer of the building-works in the west, overseer of the treasury, the king's scribe"

·        The inscriptions on the statue represent a prayer or plea from the deceased to goddess Nut to protect him and to identify him with the imperishable stars (the never setting circumpolar stars) in order to guarantee his successful resurrection,  also the king is said to be protected by ANUBIS, WSIR and by the 4 sons of Horus. They were depicted on the horizontal and vertical bandages of the mummified figure.

The line in the middle goes as follows:-"Dd mdw in wsir nsw nb xprw ra mAa xrw hA mwt.i nwt psS.T Hr.i di.tw.i m ixmw skw imy.t"

"Words spoken by the justified Osiris king Nb-khperu-Re .
Descend, O mother Nut and spread thyself over me and cause me to be with the imperishable stars that are in thee.”
In honour with Imseti, Hapy, Anubis who is in the embalming place of embalmment, Duamutef, Qebehsnewef, Horus and Osiris.”

The Senet Game The Game Board of King Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun Senet Game
 This is the Senet game of king Tutankhamun. 4 complete game boards and parts of another 2 boards were found in the Annexe of the tomb of king Tutankhamun. The Annexe also produced large number of playing pieces: the casting sticks as well as 7 knucklebones. 

Judging from the number of boards in the tomb, we suggest that it was one of the favourite games for the king. (because he had about 6 games)

 Tutankhamun Senet Game

 Significance of this game:

The name of this game snt means to pass, which refers to passing in the netherworld or the after life. However, this idea of the passing to the netherworld developed since the New Kingdom when it acquired a magical-religious value and in the introductory formula in Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead, it was considered essential that the deceased played a game against an invisible opponent to ensure his own survival.

It was a popular game from the earliest times in Egypt that’s why it was included in the funerary furniture.

We have some proofs which indicate that it was played everywhere and by all social levels from the Archaic Period onwards:

1-    Parts of a Senet game was discovered at the tomb of king Djet of the 1st Dynasty (displayed at the ground floor of the Egyptian Museum in the showcase of Games from the Archaic Period)
2-    The official Hesy-Re has a scene in his tomb at Saqqara showing him playing Senet.
3-    Prince Re-Hotep mentions the Senet game in his list of funerary objects.
4-    We found some ostraca belonging to the builders of the pyramids showing them while playing Senet.
5-    Ramses III was also shown in his temple at Madinet Habu while playing Senet with his daughters.

When Carter saw it, he said that it looked like a modern Egyptian game called (SEGA), while non-Egyptians like to compare it with Chess.

 The Senet Game of King Tutankhamun

How to play Senet:

Nobody knows exactly how it was played but there are some suggestions.

It consists of 3 rows of 10 squares; each player had an equal number of playing pieces probably about 5 or 7 pieces different from their opponent’s pieces. These pieces were generally pawn-like or reel-shaped. Most probably they were placed inside the drawer of this game, but maybe these pieces were not the original ones of the game and most probably the original ones were stolen because they were made out of precious metals like gold or silver.

Movement of the pieces was dictated by throwing the knucklebones or the casting (throwing) sticks; they act like our modern day dice .

The main idea of this game was to move the gaming pieces over the 30 squares in a backward “S” shape. The aim was to eliminate the pieces of the other player. Most of the squares are plain except for the final 5 squares which were inscribed with special characters maybe to explain some rules of this game, the mw sign (water) for example might have symbolized something dangerous or other signs could be of advantage to the player like the nfrw sign. Certainly it was a game of chance, the moves being determined by the throw either of knucklebones or of four casting sticks, both of which were found in the tomb.

The casting sticks were of two kinds, one pair having ends in the form of the tips of human fingers and the ends of the other being carved in the form of a long-eared canine animal, probably a fox. Both pairs consist of black ebony in the upper half and white ivory in the lower half. Perhaps the number of points scored from a cast depended on the number of sticks that finished with the white or black side uppermost when they were cast.

  The Senet Game of King Tutankhamun


This game is made out of wood veneered with ebony, and the 30 squares are inlaid with ivory, it is mounted upon an ebony stand with its legs taking the shape of animal's (probably feline) feet each resting on a gilded drum. Beneath the drums is an ebony sledge. At one end of the board there is a small drawer for the gaming pieces.

The inscribed band of hieroglyphs on the sides are wishing the king life and prosperity, and mentioning his titles and epithets.

 Tutankhamun Senet GameThe Tjaw Game

The Tjaw Game

On the other side of the board game, there is another game called Tjaw, a word which means ‘thieves’. It consists of 20 squares, a middle row of 12 squares flanked by 4 squares on each side at one end. The way of playing it is also unknown.