King Tut’s Treasures: Perfumes, Alabaster Vessels and Wine for the Afterlife


Now, what have we here? We have Egyptian alabaster vessels for holding perfumes and unguents and a lamp. Now I’ve heard that one reason the robbers went into the tombs was that they were after the perfumes as much as the precious materials. Well, the nice thing about the perfumes is that you take them out of the vessel and they’re completely portable and completely unidentifiable. U-huh! You don’t have to to melt them down, you just take them out and run with it. – No risk. The perfumes and unguents were made of various kinds of animal fats and plant extracts and essences. I don’t know what kind of oil they used to burn in this particular lamp. This is a Senet game and there were ritual overtones to that. Normally, you play with two people against each other. But one of the things that the deceased had to do by the New Kingdom, and this shows up in the Book of the Dead, you played against an invisible opponent and you have to win to progress into the afterlife. So we know how the game was played? – Kind of. Kind of. You throw throw sticks and you have to move your pieces along. I think it’s sort of predecessor of Parcheesy or something like that. More beautiful, or maybe not so beautiful alabaster vessels. This is the one in a form of Ibex, which is a desert animal. You see one of the names of the king on its shoulder. And that horn is actually a real ibex horn, and the second one is missing. And this… This guy is one of my favourite. This is the god Bes. And he protects women and childbirth and women and children. And he is very unusual fellow. He is usually shown as a dwarf with either a human head or with brows with a mane around, so he’s the sort of a blend of a dwarf and a lion. And he’s often got the tongue sticking out like that. Tutankhamun was buried with a lot of food and drink. Very important to have supplies for the afterlife. And as far as we can tell, Tutankhamun liked his food. Now is this going to be enough wine for eternity? – Well, this is only a part of his supply. And of course, it will be magically perpetuated, you don’t really have to bring enough for, you know, millions of years. But what’s also fun about these wine jars, is that they are inscribed and they’ll say, for example, the year of the king, the vintage. I mean they serve like a label, like you’d find on a bottle nowadays. It says where it’s from, who is the chief vintner. And it also tells you… I think you had asked me earlier where the food came from. The king had estates all over the country. For example, one of these wine jars is, it says that it’s year five of the King and it’s from estate of the Aten – remember the ‘Aten’ – in [UNCLEAR], which is way at the eastern edge of the delta. They’ve got some wineyards out there. You know, they had red wine, they had white wine, they had different qualities of wine. But he did not seem to like beer. He was not buried with beer. – No beer in the tomb?

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