Archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922 had stumbled upon embossed gold items in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun. At the time those items weren’t interesting findings, so they were immediately stashed in a box at the Egyptian Museum of Cairo, far away from the curious eyes of the scientists, until now.
Researchers and Egyptologists did a comprehensive examination of the fragile gold items found in the box and the items revealed new links and influences from other parts of the Middle East. The images are thought to show a style that likely originated in the Levant and more specifically the region that is now modern-day Syria.
The intricate designs on the applications were images of fighting animals and goats at the tree of life that are foreign to Egyptian art and closer to the Middle Eastern canon of motifs.
“Presumably these motifs, which were once developed in Mesopotamia, made their way to the Mediterranean region and Egypt via Syria,” explains Peter Pfälzner of the University of Tübingen, who helped study the pieces. “This again shows the great role that ancient Syria played in the dissemination of culture during the Bronze Age.”
Experts were baffled by the resemblance of these items to the one discovered in a tomb in the Syrian Royal city of Qatna. There a team of archeologists discovered a pristine king’s grave in 2002, thought to have been around just before King Tut, suggesting that there seemed to be a circulation of culture and iconography from Syria to Egypt through this period.
Nevertheless, after comprehensive chemical examination of the gold motifs with classic Egyptian styles and those with foreign styles, results revealed that the metal does deviate in composition. This could suggest that the applications have been traded over distance, but equally the scientists caution that it might also be simply that different local workshops were responsible for manufacturing items in various styles.
Presently, right about a century after they were found, and as a result of the work of archaeologists from Tübingen and Egyptologists and conservators from Mainz and Cairo, the scientific analysis of these artifacts from one of Egypt’s most breathtaking archeological finds has been finalized.
The astonishing objects are at present in plain view in Cairo, yet are going to inevitably be brought home in the Egyptian Museum close to the pyramids at Giza.