CAIRO – 23 May 2022: When British archaeologist Howard Carter opened King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922, he reported seeing "wonderful things."
Tutankhamun's tomb was full of extraordinary treasures including Tutankhamun's golden death mask, golden throne and even golden sandals. But did all the royal tombs of ancient Egypt contain such opulent treasures?
The answer is no. While the Great Pyramid of Cheops and other ancient Egyptian pyramids are incredible monuments, the burial contents inside were relatively modest compared to those buried in the tombs of later pharaohs, such as Tutankhamun.
According to Wolfram Grajetzki, a professor at the London College of Archeology, the pyramids were used as tombs for the Egyptian pharaohs from the time of Djoser (ruled about 2630 BC to 2611 BC) to Ahmose I (ruled about 1550 BC to 1525 BC). Most of these pyramids were looted centuries ago, Grajetzki said, but some royal tombs have remained relatively intact with their treasures.
For example, Princess Neferptah (who lived around 1800 BC) was buried in a pyramid at a site about 60 miles (100 km) south of Cairo. Her burial chamber, Grajetzki said, was excavated in 1956 and contains pottery, a set of sarcophagi, some gilded personal decorations, and a set of royal insignia identifying her with the god of the underworld Osiris.
Moreover, Grajetzki said that King Hor (who lived around 1750 BC) was buried with a similar set of objects, although he was not buried in a pyramid, adding that Hor's body was wrapped in linen, and the entrails were placed in special containers called canopic jars. His face was covered with a funerary mask.
The tomb of Queen Hetepheres, mother of Khufu (the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid of Cheops) was a little more elaborate as the tomb was built in Giza, and had a bed and two chairs decorated with gold, along with miniature pottery and copper tools.
Egyptologist Reg Clark confirmed to Live Science that the sarcophagus of King Sekhemkhet was empty, but archaeologists found "21 gold bracelets, golden wands or scepters, and various other objects of gold jewelry" in a passageway. He added, "While these are magnificent burials, they do not come close to the riches found in Tutankhamun's tomb."