Tut's mask or canopic coffinette?

by Kate C
Publish date
8 July 2011
Comments (43)

A common question about the Tutankhamun exhibition is whether King Tut's funerary mask and mummy are on display.

Tutankhamun’s funerary mask and mummy are two of the most valuable artefacts in the world and the Egyptian Government has ruled that neither can travel outside Egypt because they are too fragile. The object pictured on promotional material for the exhibition is actually Tutankhamun’s canopic coffinette, an exquisite miniature replica of King Tut’s sarcophogus. Four of them were discovered in his tomb, each holding vital organs. The canopic coffinette that is on display in the exhibition at Melbourne Museum held his liver. Like the funerary mask, it too displays the face of the Boy King.

  Tutankhamun's golden canopic coffinette Tutankhamun's golden canopic coffinette, which held his mummified liver. A cropped image of this exhibition artefact features on promotional posters.
Source: Egyptian Museum, Cairo

The funerary mask is display in Cairo at the Egyptian Museum and has not left Egypt since the 1970s. It is quite different to the coffinette and sarcophagi not only in size, but because it portrays his head and shoulders only and does not show his hands holding a ceremonial flail and crook.

Tuthankamun's famous burial mask Tuthankamun's famous funerary mask, on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
Source: Used under CC BY-SA 3.0 courtesy of Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

As for his mummy and sarcophagi, these could never be displayed in the exhibition because they have never left the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Nevertheless, a replica of his mummy and a multimedia projection of the many layers of sarcophagi can be seen at Melbourne Museum in the National Geographic gallery, which is located outside the exhibition entrance.


We have two tickets to Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs to give away to a blog reader. To enter, leave a comment on this post by noon (local time) on Friday 16 July with your answer to this question:

What would you ask Howard Carter if he were still alive?

Comments (43)

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Michelle Winters 8 July, 2011 14:55
I would LOVE to ask Howard Carter if the discovery of King Tut's tomb was as exciting back then as it is now. ie. Was he aware of the significance of his discovery - before the discory of his tomb - were ppl as excited about King Tut as they are these days.....and I could go on and on and on. hehe Thanks.
KYlie Jarvis 8 July, 2011 15:10
What was the first thought that crossed his mind we he found the tomb?
Angie Bedford 8 July, 2011 15:21
I would like to ask Howard Carter if he feared the Curse of the Pharoahs? I'm aware his death from cancer years after opening the tomb might suggest it didn't exist, but I wonder if the Curse was on his mind!
JessB 8 July, 2011 15:42
I would ask him how he felt walking into that tomb, realising what was around him. Was he thrilled, excited? Or reverential? Did he think of the wonderful gift to the world, or of those dusty mummies as people who had lived and loved? Ooooh, I'd have lots to ask him! And I'd like to ask the Museum, and others, what they think about having funary relics on show. I've thought about this a lot since seeing the Tutanhkamun exhibit, and wondered how I would feel if I had been buried with certain items and then they'd been removed from tomb. And would it make a difference if it was grave robbers, or if it was archaeologists, taking things to display on the other side of the world? I can't decide what I think, so I'd like to hear the opinions of others, please?
Linda curran 8 July, 2011 15:52
Was he concerned or did he have fears of the supposed curse that was broken when he discovered and opened the tomb (which allegedly saw the untimely deaths of Carter and many others who removed items from the tomb).
Janis Hanley 8 July, 2011 18:07
I would ask him 'if you knew as you stood on the threshold that you were giving up your life for the honor, would you have still proceeded?
LesleyM 8 July, 2011 19:27
Could he use an assistant? What an astounding event to experience, would have given anything to be there. :)
Tina Price 8 July, 2011 19:49
He's had a completely facinating life and his discovery was a generational gift....if Howard Carter was still alive I'd ask his permission to write his life's story, just so i could hear it all from his perspective.
Steven Hudson 9 July, 2011 09:12
I would ask if he has any strong leads on tombs that may not yet have been discovered.
Sarah Franssen 9 July, 2011 16:01
I would have loved to ask him if he instantly knew of the significance of his find? I would also loved to have seen his reaction to the exhibits world travels and if that was something he would have considered inevitable back then? Of course you would have to ask the inevitable question about his thoughts on the Curse of the Pharoah's!
Linda 9 July, 2011 20:25
I think all the questions are silly.. of course he was excited about the find and knew the significance and would have felt in awe of walking into the tomb and maybe a bit hesitant about the curses, etc... so how about this for a question, "do you think I should win the tickets?".... of course the answer is as obvious and all the others... "yes I should"... lol
Michelle 10 July, 2011 09:22
I would ask Howard Carter "Did you break into the tomb before the Egyptian officials arrived?" There is a fair bit of stipulation to this theory so I'm curious as to what the answer is!
Django 10 July, 2011 11:40
so, you miss the Internet much? ;)
BGrant 10 July, 2011 12:40
There were two co-existing dramas: The discovery of the tomb and Carter’s relationships. So I'd want to understand the man a bit better. I would ask him to reflect on his personal relationships during that time: His fights with professional colleagues, which resulted in some of them leaving the dig, and his falling out with Lord Carnarvon. I'd also ask him to reflect on the nature of his feelings toward Lord Carnarvon's daughter.
Fiona 11 July, 2011 09:02
I would like to ask howard carter "if you had it to do all over again, would you still do it?"
artdeco20 11 July, 2011 10:13
How are you still alive?
Tim 11 July, 2011 10:42
@artdeco20: Very funny. You'd have to wonder if maybe he'd taken some tips from Tut's mummifiers.
Georgia 11 July, 2011 15:29
Was it really a discovery or was Howard allowed entry and chosen by the ones who had passed into the after world to find it?
deb roussety 12 July, 2011 07:38
What were your firsts words on seeing this amazing tomb?
Sarah 12 July, 2011 08:06
I would ask him.... To marry me
joanne flower 12 July, 2011 08:38
I would ask Mr Carter what he thinks of the technology available to archaeologist these days, and what he thought of the Melbourne exhibition.
Ben Hider 12 July, 2011 09:24
I would as k Howard Carter: "Why did you decide to dig there?"
Raelene Garth 12 July, 2011 10:02
I would ask mr Carter whether or not he kept some of the artefacts for himself ... I would have ... Wouldn't you?
Tom 12 July, 2011 10:14
If he was STILL alive? Probably something like: 'I said "Do you need help cutting up your food, Mr Carter?"'
rose 12 July, 2011 11:26
I would ask Howard Carter about what feelings he experienced when he discovered the tomb and first saw Tutankamun. I would also ask him to share any stories about the experience that he has so far kept to himself.
Lauren 12 July, 2011 16:18
I would ask Howard Carter how he managed to locate the tomb without today's modern technology. Also, as a young wannabe archaeologist i would ask him for some tips!
David Dwyer 12 July, 2011 18:48
Do you regret finding the tomb of Tutankamun?
Mary 12 July, 2011 18:55
Do you like the way John Cleese portrayed you in Monty Python's Flying Circus?
Justine 13 July, 2011 09:42
Dear Howard, will you marry me?
Sally 13 July, 2011 10:04
I would ask Howard Carter, "Do you believe in an afterlife?"
Melissa Abraham 13 July, 2011 11:06
I always wanted to b an archaeologist i would want to sit with him an ask him a million questions but my first would def b was there really a curse attached to his tomb?
Bernadette 13 July, 2011 20:57
Whilst this was an amazing discovery what discovery pre or post yours would you have loved to have made
Trudi B 14 July, 2011 08:16
I'd like to ask him what happened to his water carrier who actually found the steps to the tomb - did he get a bonus??
Paul Mayo 14 July, 2011 13:31
I would ask Howard what made him believe there was something there to ask for one more season of digging.
Jacqui Saunders 14 July, 2011 14:06
Have you bumped into Elvis or Michael Jackson down at the 7/11?
jasmine eastwood 14 July, 2011 14:25
What was it that sparked your interest in ancient Egypt that ultimately led to your unfathomable discovery? And if you had not decided to become an archaeologist, would you have settled for an artist?
Kathie 14 July, 2011 14:36
Despite hearing about the secrets and curse of the tomb Howard still continued his work. I would ask so many questions like what was going through his mind as the got closer to the find and did he for one moment after ever regret pursuing this discover?
Clare 14 July, 2011 15:42
So...What do YOU think about the carbon tax ?
Mark L 14 July, 2011 18:21
What was racing through your head as you opened your way into the pharaoh's tomb for that very first time? And when did it dawn on you that you had hit the big find?
Johanna 14 July, 2011 19:49
Are there other moments in your life that were even more exciting and aweinspiring?
Leri 15 July, 2011 00:32
I'm more interested what was his drive to persue his idea despite critisism around him. It sure wasn't easy to search for something, he didn't know, what to expect, attacked by so many against him. And he knew about the curse and danger. 'How did you keep focused? Did you have doubts? How did you overcome all these pessimists? What was your DRIVE?'
Museum Victoria 15 July, 2011 12:00
Competition now closed. The winner will be announced soon.
Kate C 15 July, 2011 12:42

Congratulations, BGrant! We've chosen your thoughtful response. We'll contact you soon for your postal address.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

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