To enter the tomb of Tutankhamun is to experience something of the excitement that Howard Carter felt in 1922. The first impression is that it is small, an indication that it was adapted in haste when Tutankhamun met his unexpected death aged just 19 from a tomb designed for a court official. The walls are covered with vivid paintings and those on the north wall show the ceremony of Opening the Mouth, which was essential to enable the mummy to speak and eat on the journey to the afterlife.
The tomb may have been small and hastily completed, but the sheer quantity and variety of the objects placed in it is staggering. The photographs by Harry Burton show treasures and offerings piled high and in a rather haphazard way—the result of the two instances of tomb robbing in ancient times and the efforts of the priests to quickly tidy up after the desecration.
Patrick Greene is an archaeologist and since 2002 has been the Chief Executive Officer of Museum Victoria, Australia’s largest museum organisation. His passion in archaeology began as a young boy growing up in the south–west of England, fascinated by the prehistoric stone circles and alignments on Dartmoor and, at the beach, ancient tree-stumps of a sunken forest revealed by storms. Patrick is a former President of the UK Museums Association and Chair of the European Museum Forum. He was appointed an OBE, given an honorary degree by Salford University in 1997 and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquariers of London, the world’s oldest archaeological organisation. He is the author of two previous books on archaeology.