Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Golden Secrets of the Pharaohs

In the Ancient Egyptian world, gold was believed to have magical powers and shine like the most important deity of the times,  
the Sun God Ra. 

He was believed to carry the sun on his head and gold was part of his flesh.

The Ancient Egyptians had the richest gold deposits in the known world which were located in the Nubian region or South Eastern desert. 

They extracted gold by crushing quartz rock or panning for it in the rivers.  Because of its sacred quality, all gold belonged to the Pharaohs and priests who used it for religious purposes to celebrate Ra.

Gold for the After Life

Craftsmen made the fine gold artefacts used to adorn palaces, temples and tombs as well as the jewellery worn by important and holy people of both sexes. 

Jewellery was usually buried with their owners. This belief in the afterlife and the wealth of grave goods found in tombs led to most graves being plundered in the intervening thousands of years.

The Gold of King Tutankhamen

The most famous collection of gold was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Although he was only a boy king and relatively unimportant at the time, today he is the only Egyptian Pharaoh who most people can name.

It seems that following his death he was soon forgotten which may explain why his tomb had remained undisturbed and relatively intact. 

When it was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter and George Herbert the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, the discovery shook the world. 

The sarcophagus was covered in gold leaf and within that were three gold coffins nested together like Russian dolls. 

The final coffin, made of solid gold contained the mummified body of King Tut wearing the iconic solid gold death mask inlaid with jewels. 

His gold jewellery was also placed in the coffin and included amulets, bracelets and head jewellery, priceless beyond compare.

It led to a craze for all things Egyptian in the 1920s that has continued to the present day.

The Curse of the Mummy

Following discovery of the tomb, there were  rumours of an evil ancient curse being placed upon the heads of the discoverers of the tomb.   

Lord Carnarvon, the financial backer of the expedition died a year after the discovery of the tomb in Cairo from blood poisoning after shaving an infected mosquito bite.

However, Howard Carter lived safely for another 16 years before dying on natural causes in London.

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