The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Furniture and Boxes
Ankh Shaped Wooden Mirror Box
Originally the case contained a mirror, but when Carter examined the large cartouche-shaped chest placed in the Treasury, he found that the thieves had already stolen the mirror. He suggested, therefore, that it was probably made of a precious material. The case consists of two parts, both of which were made of wood overlaid in sheet gold. Thin sheets of silver lined the interior, and the same metal was used for the knobs by which the case was sealed. Colored glass is used for the majority of the inlays on the lid, but carnelian and quartz were utilized as well.
An inscription with Tutankhamun's names, epithets, and relationship to specific gods is written around the loop of the upper sections of both parts of the box and also in a column in the vertical part. Within the loop of the lower part of the case are two cartouches, each with a uraeus at its side. The cartouches, which contain the throne and personal names of the king, and the serpents, are surmounted by solar disks. The corresponding area on the lid has the throne name of the king written with a winged beetle in place of the traditional one. It is flanked by two serpents whose heads are surmounted by solar disks and whose tails terminate in the hieroglyphic sign for "infinity" (shen). Below the name is a lotus, and the entire composition, inlaid in glass and semiprecious stones, was probably meant to be a reference to a myth involving the birth of the sun god.
The shape of the case takes the form of the hieroglyph ankh which can mean not only "life," but also "mirror." Such a use illustrates the adaptability and versatility of the writing system of ancient Egypt.