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Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation
The Howard Carter Archives
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Carter No.: 257

Handlist description: Niche containing Osiris figure

Card/Transcription No.: 257-2

MAGICAL FIGURES, Nos. 257, 258, 259 and 260, hidden in four
niches in the walls of the Burial-chamber "to repel the enemy
of Osiris, in whatever form he may come".

The four niches (i.e. roughly cut recesses in the wall of the Burial-chamber) to receive the four magical figures were made before the walls of the chamber were decorated. After the walls were decorated the figures were placed in their respective niches. The niches, closed with suitable but quite rough splinters of limestone, were plastered over flush with the surfaces of the walls and were then painted over to match the colour decorating the walls.

Testimony for the above conclusions: (1) the interiors of some of the niches bear splashes of the yellow paint employed when decorating the walls; (2) the colour used when the niches were closed does not match exactly the rest of the decoration, and it was obviously painted over that already decorating the walls; and (3) the name of one of the cynocephalus apes, west wall centre of lower register, is missing owing to the presence of the open niche (No. 258) when the wall was being decorated.

The actual positions of the four magical figures hidden in the walls of the Burial-chambers, their positions with relation to the cardinal points, North, S.E. and W., and also the actual symbols employed, vary in the New Empire royal tombs as well as in the vignettes representing the nether chamber in the copies of the Book of Dead.


Vide: Naville, DAS AEGYPTISCHE TODTENBUCH Naville, FUNERAL PAPYRUS OF IOUIYA, ch. 151, p. 13, pls. xii, xiii. Book of the Dead, PAPYRUS ANI, pls. 33, 34. Carter and Newberry, TOMB OF THOUTMOSIS IV., pp.9, 10 pl. iv. Gardiner, THE TOMB OF AMENEMHET, pp. 116-118. GUIDE EG. COLLS. B.M., London, 1909, pl. 151., Nos. 41545 to 41548.

For comparison of measurements I have used the following reckoning for the cubit: 1 cubit = 52.310 cents., 1 palm (=1/7 cubit) = 7.472 cents., 1 Digit (= palm = 1/28 cubit) = 1.868 cents. This reckoning being the mean of the various examples of the xviiith. Dyn. cubits. The four wooden examples of the cubit found in this Tomb (see chest No. 50) show: a mean of 52.675 = 1 cubit (Max. 52.8, Min. 52.5). 7.525 = 1 palm 1.881 = 1 digit.

Card no. 257-2 relating to Carter no. 257
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Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation
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