The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Furniture and Boxes
Small Container in the Shape of a Double Cartouche
Once the excavators had cleared the stone sarcophagus of the three coffins, nested one within the other, and the bier that supported them, they found some chips of wood, a wooden lever, and the container illustrated here. Like many of the calcite vessels in the tomb, it originally held some type of unguent, judging from the residue that still remained inside.
The double golden containers rest on a silver platform around the border on which the hieroglyphs for "life" (ankh) and "dominion" (was) are incised. The embossing on the sides of the boxes each depict the god Heh, kneeling on a basket and grasping the notched palm brand. Both in front of and behind his head are cartouches of the king, while directly over head his throne name, Nebkheperura ("Ra is the Lord of Manifestations"), is written without a cartouche, and the traditional beetle, meaning "manifestations" (or "images") is replaced by a winged beetle.
The larger inlays consist of colored glass, while the smaller ones are stone. Within the cartouches on each side is an image of the king seated on a basket (heb). Above is a solar disk from which project hooded cobras wearing ankhs around their necks. On the side illustrated here the king wears the side lock of youth, which may be an indication of his age or his status. On the other side, he wears the khepresh crown commonly worn by kings of the Eighteenth Dynasty. The face of one of these images is blacked and, if intentional, may be an attempt to indicate Tutankhamun's association with the god of the Underworld, Osiris, whose skin can be green, symbolizing perennial vegetation, or black, representing the fertile soil.
The hieroglyphs written in a cartouche should spell the name of a king. Here, however, they are written indirectly, in a cryptogram. Each element has been disguised or written in an alternate form. Instead of the simple disk of the sun meaning the god Ra, there is an elaborate solar emblem with serpents. In place of the neb basket meaning "Lord," there is a heb basket. Rather than write the traditional beetle (note the "manifestations" or "images," the artist depicted several images of the king. In actuality, the double cartouches each have the throne name of the king, "Ra is the Lord of Manifestations."