People you will read about: Tutankhamun: an Egyptian king around 1358 B.C.
Howard Carter - the archaeologist who discovered the tomb of King Tut.
Things you will read about:
Pharaohs: kings of ancient Egypt.
Valley of the Kings: an area on the west bank of the Nile River which was used as a cemetery for Pharaohs.
The magnificence of Egyptian culture is reflected by the treasure of
The procession wound its way slowly across the dry wasteland of the Valley of the Kings, past limestone cliffs that concealed the tombs of Egypt's greatest rulers. At last, it reached the head of the Valley and halted before the entrance to a small, four-room tomb. There the coffin was taken from the great sled that had carried it across the sandy waste and the final ceremonies began.
The heavy coffin of the young king, the Pharaoh, was taken carefully through the narrow doorway and placed within a golden shrine. The young widow placed a last gift on the coffin, a small wreath of spring flowers. The shrine was closed, and into the outer rooms were crammed the furniture, jewels, food, chariots and weapons that the king would need for eternal life. Then the small tomb was sealed, the last obstacles put in the way of robbers, and for more than 3,000 years Tutankhamun was left in darkness.
Few facts are known about Tutankhamun. He began his reign when he was about nine years old. We know that he was married to a beautiful princess, that he loved sports and hunted from his chariot, that he wore rich clothes and that he played board games. His reign lasted about ten years, so he was only nineteen when he died. We do not even know the cause of his death. His health was delicate, but a hunting accident or even murder in those times of violence in Egypt was not impossible.
One was Howard Carter, with many years of digging experience in Egypt. He was convinced that Tutankhamun's tomb lay somewhere in the Valley of the Kings, but much of the area had been dug up already. He formed an alliance with Lord Carnavon, a wealthy Englishman, whose hobby was archaeology. They dug for several years without finding anything important.
To add to Carter's troubles, Lord Carnavon, discouraged by the failure to find anything important, was about to cut off funds for the work. Carter persuaded him to continue for just a little while longer, then put men to work on the huge mound of dirt and rocks. Meanwhile, Carnavon returned to England.
It was November 4th and digging was about to be halted, perhaps forever, when Carter was told that a stone step had been discovered directly beneath the tomb of the later pharaoh. Excitedly, the men uncovered more steps, sixteen in all. At the bottom was a sealed door. Carter cautiously made a small hole near the top of the door and when he flashed a light through it, he saw a slanting corridor blocked with rocks and dirt. He went no further but had his men cover the steps again. After posting trusted sentries on guard duty, he cabled Carnavon, telling him to return as soon as possible.
When Carnavon arrived, the steps were cleared and the door, which bore the seal of Tutankhamun, was opened. The piles of dirt that filled the corridor were the last obstacle before the second door. These were removed and while Carnavon stood by, Howard Carter made a small opening in the door and held a candle to the opening. As the stale air rushed out, the flame flickered, then steadied. Carter could not speak, dazzled by the gold the small light revealed.
They removed the door carefully and stood in the midst of treasure over 3,000 years old. Heaped in every part of the room were all the things the king would need for eternal life. The room had been plundered, but only of jewels and easily carried valuables. Chariots, furniture, bows and arrows, chests of clothing and food were everywhere. And everywhere was the gleam of gold. But had the robbers reached the mummy, or body of the king? If not, this would be the first royal body never disturbed.
Much work still lay ahead, for the body had been placed in three nested coffins and the coffins in a great stone box. Each lid had to be removed carefully in turn. The third coffin struck everyone speechless for it was of solid gold,as was the funeral mask covering the head of the mummy. On one coffin was a tiny wreath of spring blossoms, faded and fragile, perhaps placed there by the young widow.
When Carter held that candle up to the door, he never dreamed that it would take him ten years of hard work to clear and study the tomb. However, his work revealed much about the Egyptians, who might consider Tutankhamun the only pharaoh to live a happy, eternal life; his body safe and surrounded by all he needed for comfort and happiness.
Comprehension Check. Choose the answer and place it in the text box below.
1. One thing we do know about Tutankhamun is that ______
2. Howard Carter believed he would find Tutankhamun's tomb in _____
3. Below the tomb of a later pharaoh, Carter ______
4. The coffin that left everyone speechless was ______
5. The author's purpose for writing this selection was to ______
6. We know from this selection that Tutankhamun's tomb _____
7. This selection leads us to believe that Howard Carter _____
8. This was the only royal body ______
9. Another name for this selection could be _____
10. This selection is mainly about ______
This story is an article from a series of Reading Comprehension Workbooks by Edcon Publishing Group. Edcon Publishing has a very large selection of different types of readings and other
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Tutankhamun in Wikipedia
Tutankhamun at Digital Egypt
The first of a series of 9 videos about the history of Tutankhamun from
the BBC (British Broadcasting Company)