The Tutankhamun Exhibit
This shield is one of eight that Carter found in the Annex. Boomerangs, throw-sticks, bows and arrows were also among the military equipment stored in this room. Although this elaborately decorated object, like three similar shields, was never meant for use in life, four of the shields clearly were battle-worthy. Made of wood and covered in animal hide, they were slightly smaller in size than the ceremonial versions. The four larger shields were constructed similarly in that the background of each composition was cut away, leaving an openwork design. Each was made of wood that was smoothed with gesso and then gilded.
On the front of the shield Tutankhamun triumphantly brandishes a scimitar in his right hand and holds the tails of his foes, two lions, in his left. Representations of the king smiting enemies had already become a standard theme in Egyptian art, and the artist here is recreating a traditional motif, albeit with some modifications, that had already been in existence for more than fifteen hundred years. Behind him, the Upper Egyptian vulture goddess, Nekhbet, spreads her protective wings about him. The basket upon which she perches rests on the plant symbolic of Lower Egypt, the papyrus. The winged sun disk hovers over the whole scene, while the king is about to slay the lions, which considering the context should be understood as symbolic representations of his traditional enemies. Aside from the usual epithets, the hieroglyphic inscription likens the king to the warlike god of Thebes, Montu.
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