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Discovery of the Tomb

In these two lessons, students will

  • Learn about Howard Carter's discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922;
  • Analyze the events of Carter's dicovery;
  • Examine who King Tutankhamun was and what his life was like in ancient Egypt;
  • Compare how contemporary and historic finds are/were recorded;
  • Consider ethical dimensions of archeological practice. 

LESSON 1: Flashback to 1922

Uncover the details about the discovery of King Tut's tomb and understand the significance of this historical event.

In November of 1922, Howard Carter, with the funding of Lord Carnarvon, uncovered the best preserved royal tomb ever discovered to date. This discovery unearthed the mysteries of ancient Egypt and the artifacts within offered explanations about the culture and their beliefs regarding power, death and the afterlife. In this lesson, students will learn more details about the discovery and the demanding process involved.


LESSON 2: Artifact Investigation

Analyze artifacts to discover details about the boy king and understand ancient Egyptian cultural beliefs around death and the afterlife.

The various artifacts found within King Tut's tomb mark both sacred and secular life in ancient Egypt. By examining these artifacts as primary sources, students can discover more details regarding King Tut's personality/identity along with the overall beliefs about death and the afterlife in ancient Egypt.

1.     Present students with various images of artifacts found in King Tut's tomb.  Some recommended sites are:

 

2.     Explain to students that these artifacts were included in the pharaoh's tomb to help him in the afterlife. Use one artifact as an example to further explain this notion.  Model the observation, analysis, and inference skills involved using the following structure:

  • Artifact: Describe the object and its purpose.
  • Observation: What do you notice about the artifact?
  • Inference: What they can you infer?
  • Draw a sketch of the object.

For example: Shabtis were small figurines that ancient Egyptians believed would come to life in the afterlife and relieve the deceased of any work duties.  In King Tut's tomb, 413 shabtis were discovered: 365 workers for each day of the year, 36 overseers, and 12 directors for each month. What does this tell us about Egyptians belief in the afterlife, notions of power, etc.?

3.     Have students work in groups, asking each group to analyze two individual artifacts from King Tut's tomb using photographs. Encourage students to record their observations about the object as well as what inferences they can make about the beliefs and lifestyle of ancient Egyptians. Students can organize their ideas using the structure outlined above.

  • Ask each group to present one artifact and their findings to the class.
  • A student or the teacher can create a mind map or visual organizer on chart paper or the board summarizing the findings of each group.

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