what was the extent of usurpation that occurred when the deceased Amarna royals were transported for reburial from Akhetaten to the Valley of the Kings? Did this coffin then originate from Tomb 55?





An estimated eighty percent or more of Tutankhamun’s core burial equipment (such as the large gilded shrines, sarcophagus, coffins, gold mask, and canopic assemblage) was re-purposed by usurping the funerary goods of two predecessors: Akhenaten and the mysterious woman ruler, Ankhkheperure.

While scholars can, with some difficulty, identify examples of inscriptional reuse based on palimpsests; there also exist ample evidence for definite non-inscriptional usurpations in KV62. However, it is hard to determine for whom the latter category of burial objects were originally intended for.

Among this intriguing assemblage is the first (outermost) coffin of the boy-king (Obj. No. 253), that measures 2.24 meters in length; with its head positioned to the West. It is made of cypress, with a thin layer of gesso overlaid with gold foil. The gold covering of the superlatively crafted outermost coffin varied in colour so that, for example, the hands and face were covered by a paler alloy than the remainder of the coffin.

While the mask of this anthropoid coffer reflects the generally accepted version of the teenager’s features in official iconography, there is an indication that this coffin—which conveyed the “impression of the greyness of death” to Carter—may well have been destined for a predecessor.



Credit: Getty Conservation Institute

Dr Nicholas Reeves identifies an oft-overlooked feature, “… the peculiar form of the khat-headdress with curled lappets” that he believes could depict none other than Akhenaten. He writes: “This headdress is extremely rare, and the only parallel I can cite is worn by Akhenaten himself in one of the grotesque colossal statues found at Karnak which had been prepared during the early part of his reign. Might Akhenaten himself, I wonder, have been the original owner of the outer coffin too?”


The colossal sandstone statue in question was discovered in 1925 by Maurice Pillet, and the distinguishing feature of this sculpture is its squared-off (instead of rounded) wig-like lappets and tail of the nemes headdress.

Sure enough, no royal male apart from Akhenaten is shown wearing this kind of headdress during that period. It is worth mentioning here that nobles from this time, such as Maya and Horemheb, are shown wearing similar wigs in statuary; though those aren’t identical to the one that the heretic pharaoh wore. All of this begs the question:

Author: Anand Balaji

1.) Outermost coffin of Tutankhamun. KV62, Valley of the Kings. (Credit: Nariman El-Mofty)

2.) Sandstone colossus of Akhenaten. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. (Credit: Hossam Abbas)


Independent Researcher.

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