King Tut: Expert takes a look at mummified daughter’s in tomb
Egyptologists have long since poured over the myriad relics found across Egypt. Ancient pieces of history have turned up all over, most notably along the banks of the river Nile in what is known as the Nile valley. One of the most famous names ancient Egypt produced is the fabled King Tutankhamun.
His tomb was found in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings, an area where for a period of nearly 500 years — from the 16th to 11th centuries BC — tombs were cut from rocks and excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom.
Archaeologists and explorers who later dug up these sites were offered countless treasures and secrets about the ancient world.
When King Tut’s tomb was found, a long list of objects were found alongside him, all thought to have been intended to help him in his journey through the afterlife — some 5,000 of them.
One find in particular has shocked researchers for years, and was explored during the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary, ‘Secrets: Tut’s last mission’.
Ancient Egypt: The two mummified remains were found to be King Tut’s stillborn daughters
King Tutankhamun: The great pharaohs tomb
Within his tomb, “the mummified bodies of two baby girls” were discovered, perfectly preserved.
Their remains are conserved at the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza.
Later DNA analysis of the girls stunned researchers, after the results suggested they were most likely Tutankhamun’s daughters.
Tragically, both had been stillborn, one girl at around four months, and the other at nearly full term.
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Valley of the Kings: Egyptian kings and nobility were buried in the now famous valley
Professor Salima Ikram, an Egyptologist at the American University in Cairo, said: “There was such a high mortality rate for infants and children in the ancient world that it’s not surprising.
“But it is extraordinary to have them carefully mummified, wrapped up, cocooned, put in these coffins and placed in their father’s tomb.”
As the documentary’s narrator noted: “The tiny mummies are an incredibly rare discovery.”
While many have been astounded by the remains, Egyptologist Dr Joyce Tyldesley believes there is an explanation for their burial alongside the pharaoh.
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Mummified remains: One of the two children found mummified
Afterlife: The daughters might have been viewed as being able to help King Tut in the afterlife
She suspects they were the ultimate insurance policy.
Ancient Egyptians were extremely big on insurance: Plans B, C, D and E.
If one thing didn’t get them through the afterlife in their battle against demons and dark souls, another thing would.
Dr Tyldesley explained: “Tutankhamun was very wealthy, he could have dug a grave for his daughters anytime he wanted to.
Sites of Ancient Egypt: The Nile valley is the most concentrated area of ancient Egyptian relics
“So the fact that their bodies have been saved and buried with him suggests that it perhaps is not just a practical reason, but there’s a ritual reason for them being there as well.”
In ancient Egyptian art, women and girls were often cast as protectors, standing alongside their fathers or the guards.
For Dr Joyce, they were more than simply good lucky charms — they were, in fact, active participants in King Tut’s journey through the underworld.
She said: “By being either physically in the boat with Tutankhamun, or just having their spirits supporting him while he’s in the boat, Tutankhamun will be protected by these two daughters.”
Howard Carter: The British archaeologist pictured shortly after he discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb
Tutankhamun ruled for roughly 10 years, and died aged around 18 in 1323 BC.
For many centuries, his burial place was hidden.
It wasn’t until Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered it in 1922 that the extent of the king’s life was revealed.
Opening the sealed coffin, Carter found amazing treasures, including the pharaoh’s famous golden death mask, a chariot and a dagger made from meteorite iron.