Notes on the robberies.
© Griffith Institute, Oxford OX1 2LG
By Howard Carter, Alfred Lucas and Lord Carnarvon
Concept and direction: Jaromir Malek
Transcript: Sue Hutchison
Editing: Jaromir Malek and Elizabeth Fleming
[by Howard Carter]
Note Objects in the
Antechamber were left helter-skelter by plunderers and were replaced
into the boxes without any order by the officials when reclosing the tomb. H. C.
[by Howard Carter]
Outside entrance of tomb
Note that in the rubbish
covering the entrance of the tomb were traces broken pottery, wood, linen,
and leaves, probably pertaining to the burial, but beyond recovery.
Evidence of robbery
[by Alfred Lucas]
Being a report upon the evidence of robbery in the tomb = A. Lucas
Having occasion to inspect the newly discovered tomb of Tutankhamen in connection with the work of conserving those of the objects which were in too fragile a condition to bear removal to
Cairo without treatment, I was asked by Mr. Howard Carter to let him have a short report on the evidence, if any, of robbery having taken place in the tomb, the subject to be considered entirely
from a modern and non-archaeological aspect. This request was made on account of my experience in scientific criminal investigation, which has included cases of robbery.
The contents of the tomb when found were manifestly in a state of considerable confusion and the problem to be solved was whether this condition was due to lack of arrangement of carelessness
when the objects were originally placed in the tomb, or whether the disorder had been caused by robbers.
In my opinion there can be no doubt that robbery has taken place. This opinion is based on the following facts:-
1. That although there was confusion this was not absolute and many of the objects showed evidence of orderly arrangement. Thus (a) the three couches in the ante-chamber were arranged
symmetrically in a row (b) the two statues of the King were placed one on each side of the doorway leading to the sepulchral hall (c) a large chest was standing almost exactly in the centre on one
of the couches (d) boxes of food were carefully stacked underneath another of the couches and (e) most of the objects in the store chamber leading off the sepulchral hall are arranged with a fair
amount of order.
2. The disorder has been deliberate and not accidental. This is shown by the following:- (a) objects were overturned (i.e. the carved wood chair and various boxes). (b) objects were carefully
thrust out of the way (i.e. a bed on a couch in such a manner that the horn of one of the cows supporting the couch had pierced the bed, through which it was sticking; the chariots in a heap in a
corder, etc. (c) objects had been deliberately broken (i.e. articles of jewellery, all the arrows, etc.) (d) boxes had been opened and their contents roughly turned over or more probably turned out
and carelessly replaced, since sometimes part of an object was found in one box and part in another, and
in cases where a docket giving the contents of a box exists on the lid the present contents do not agree with the docket (e) arrows were found some in a box and some scattered about the tomb,
and bows which had probably originally been in the same box as the arrows were found on one of the couches (f) sticks were found like the arrows, some together in a box and some about the
tomb (g) an alabaster box was found near one end of the ante-chamber and the lid at the other end (h) parts of objects were missing (i.e. a statue from a shrine, the stand only being left; the bronze
heads from all the arrows; parts of jewellery; parts of the contents of boxes, etc.)
3. Detailed and broken pieces of jewellery belonging to articles in the tomb were found both on the floor of the tomb and in the passage outside, where also one of the missing arrow heads was found.
4. A space had been cleared below one of the couches in the ante-chamber to allow access to the walled up and sealed entrance to the annexe which
had been entered by roughly breaking a hole through the masonery and many of the stones that were dislodged fell inwards and were found lying on the floor of the annexe, and resting on the top
of these stones were various articles including several large alabaster jars which can only have been placed in this position after the breach in the doorway had been made and their present position
threfore is note the original one.
5. A hole large enough to admit a man had been made in each of the sealed doorways and also in that of the annexe and with the exception of the latter (which was found open) the others had
been re-closed and re-sealed at a very early date.
There is one fact suggestive of original carlessness and one fact that might be used as an argument against robbery. The fact suggestive of carelessness is that the annexe when found was too full of
objects for it ever to have been possible for them all to have been accommodated on the floor and some of them therefore must have been piled originally one on
top of another, and hence in some disorder. The confusion found however was more than this and manifestly had been caused by the contents of the chamber having been turned over, as would
be done by robbers in search of treasure. The fact that might be used as an argument against robbery is that a certain amount of gold had been left. In the poor light however with which the
robbers are likely to have been provided and in the hurry in which they probably worked and with the congested state of the tomb it is not surprising that valuable articles should have been
overlooked as frequently happens in present-day robberies. Also if the robbers obtained all they could carry away in one visit and if there were solid articles of gold, silver and bronze they may
have been satisfied and may not have thought it worth while to risk a second visit or they may not have had a second opportunity. Moreover the gold left is largely in the form of gold sheeting on
wood, as on the throne, shrine, etc. and not solid gold, and as so many objects are merely thinly gilt the robbers may not have recognised the difference and may have thought they were all thinly
gilt & not worth robbing and also it would have been difficult to remove the gold from the objects. Other gold left is in the form of the setting of inlaid jewellery but the intrinsic value of this is not great.
Notes on filling a passage (Nov. 26, 1922)
[by Howard Carter]
mixed with limestone splinters
(as in outside strata)
mixed with limestone splinters
(as in outside strata)
Elevations: fore part of passage
End of passage
A. (?) the result of reopenings and successive reclosings
B. (?) apparently the original filling
Sarcophagus. Evidence for Existence.
[by Alfred Lucas]
On removing the objects that were stacked against the western wall of the ante-chamber a large "put" hole was revealed. "Put" holes are found in all royal tombs cut in the walls at intervals from
the entrance to the sepulchral chamber and were made to receive the timber baulks used when lowering the sarcophagus. There is therefore in this ante-chamber direct evidence of the existence of
a sarcophagus in the inner unrevealed portion of this tomb.
[The handwriting shows that the following was written by Lord Carnarvon]
Since I have been aboard this boat I have been thinking over a question which though perhaps not of capital importance is still of a certain interest.
I refer to the question of the period at which the tomb was plundered & reclosed & who were the plunderers. The papyrus giving us an account of the examination, the re-tidying & resealing of the
Royal Tombs is of the epoch of Rameses 9. Now above our tomb were workmans' huts, of course they may have been of a later date than Rameses 6 but that is hardly likely. On the other side of
the causeway leading to Rameses 6 are more huts quite possibly & probably of the same epoch. The huts you uncovered on the E+ side bore no signs of having been disturbed, neither do the one
of the W+ side. These 2 sets of huts were probably used by the workmen employed in cutting out Rameses 6. It certainly seems strange that they had no idea of the fact that a king was buried just
below their feet. I therefore come to the conclusion that the entrance of the robber was effected at a time anterior to Rameses 6 & probably a good while before for the undisturbed condition of
the huts over
+For convenience I take the entrance into Valley side from Luxor as being the E side & the side going up towards Thotmes III as being W. The Causeway is the path we have left leading to
the tomb would rather suggest that the fact of a king being buried there was totally forgotten. Another point is that in the Papyrus the tomb of King Tut... is not mentioned. He certainly was there at
that epoch. Is it not quite fair to imagine that because of his semi heretic reign he was ignored & forgotten. Khuenaton was hidden in close vicinity & somehow I fear that Smenkhara is possibly not
far away. All three Kings either heretics or at some time of their reigns had heretic leanings.
Is it not possible that Tut... made his tomb & decided that Khuenaton & Smenkhara should repose near him. Evidently owing to the disrepute they had fallen into he could not give them either a
2nd Royal Tomb or gorgeous furniture, but possibly he secretly still had feelings of reverence for the Aton worship & therefore for his predecessors & decided that they should be placed in a spot
of relative safety. Possibly whilst Ay was on the throne exercising a very precarious rule the tomb & caches remained guarded & still untouched, but when Horemhab came to the throne &
founded a new dynasty such scruples vanished. The priests of the century then helped themselves to all the objects in gold, silver & bronze.
They however had an inherited feeling that they could not disturb the bodies even of discredited Pharaohs & rob them of their personal jewels & adornments. Such feelings would scarcely have
swayed a common thief, but priests altho' probably awful ruffians still had some superstitious awe of violating the bodies of former Kings.
To sum up - I therefore think that the tomb was robbed of its metal by the priests in the reign of Horemhab, naturally little said about it at the time & then carefully reclosed.
Of course we may find an inscription giving us some date & then these theories will probably go the way of most theories (especially in Egyptology).
Successive Re-opening and reclosings
[by Howard Carter]
Hypothesis to account for objects belonging to the inner chambers of the tomb being found - some on the floor of the passage, others actually in rubble filling the passage.
The objects found on the floor of the passage imply that the passage was empty when they were dropped. That they were dropped is indicated by their broken state and irregular distribution.
The objects found in the rubble of the passage imply that they were dropped when the passage was partially full.
This points to two separate breaches, since the passage cannot have been both full and empty at the same time.
There was similar evidence for two distinct breaches on the blocking of the outer doorway, there being distinct signs of two holes for the most part, coincident, but one slightly larger than the other.
There was also similar signs on the blocking of the second doorway at the end of the passage. For the successive reclosings plaster of slightly different mixture has been employed and in the place
of the King's seals those of the Royal Necropolis were used.
That the passage was empty at the time of the first breach seems clear from the fact that whereas on the outer doorway there were distinct traces of rubble adhering to the irregular edges of both
the holes that had been plastered up, there were no such traces on the plaster used for the reclosing of the inner doorway. Naturally from the time of the burial the entrance staircase would be filled
up. In this outside filling there were fragments of the original plaster still bearing impresssions of the King's seal. On the floor of the passage near the inner doorway were similar fragments.
The objects from upon the floor of the passage were comparatively large in size and unimportant - such as alabaster jars, pottery vessels, and (?)water-skins with portions of foliage; while the
objects found in the rubble were quite small, fragmentary, and of some intrinsic value - such as portions of jewellery and often small articles.
The first problem is difficult, it not being clear why large and unimportant objects should have been removed from the inner chambers
in which there were fellow objects. In the case of the second problem the solution is easy, robbery being indicated by the broken fragments of jewellery dropped while passing through the breach
in the rubble and doorways.
The meaning of the presence of fragments of two broken boxes found quite near the last step of the entrance staircase, and far below the level of the successive breaches, might be that these
boxes were used to transport articles to the burial and afterwards cast away.
It must be noted that Theo. M. Davis found some years ago a small cache of zeers, in a shallow cutting in the rock situated about two hundred yds away, containing materials - funerary garlands,
linen, and pottery, not only bearing the name and seals of Tut-ankh-Amen, but also the latest known date in his reign - the year VII. From the nature of the materials in those zeers, now in the
Metro. Mus. of Art, N.Y., it would appear that they had some relation to the burial
of the King. What this relation may be is not evident, but those objects
may have some connection with the first problem of the large objects found
upon the floor of the passage mentioned above.
Back to Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation
(January 11, 2008)