Inscribed Linen Sheet from Tutankhamun's Embalming Cache

Period: New Kingdom

Dynasty: Dynasty 18

Reign: reign of Tutankhamun

Date: ca. 1336–1327 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Embalming Cache of Tutankhamun (KV 54), Davis/Ayrton excavations, 1907–08

Medium: Linen

Dimensions: L. 244 cm (96 1/16 in.); W. 61 cm. (24 in.)

Credit Line: Gift of Theodore M. Davis, 1909

Accession Number: 09.184.693


In December 1907 Theodore M. Davis, a wealthy American who was funding excavations in the Valley of the Kings, discovered a small pit near the tomb of Seti I. Inside the pit were approximately a dozen large sealed whitewashed storage jars (09.184.1). Among other things, the jars contained bags of natron (a kind of salt), pieces of linen with hieratic inscriptions dated to Years 6 and 8 of a king named Tutankhamun (throne name Nebkheperure). At the time, almost nothing was know about Tutankhamun, and Davis declared that he had discovered the king's tomb.

Davis received a number of the jars and their contents in the division of finds and, in 1909, he gave most of his share to the Metropolitan Museum. It was only later that Herbert Winlock, the field director of the Museum's excavations at Thebes, realized that the natron and linen were embalming refuse from the mummification of Tutankhamun.

Two ink inscriptions on this length of cloth record a date of "year 8." One records Tutankhamun's throne name, Nebkheperure. The second records the date, the name of the god Amun-Re, and three nefer hieroglyphs (good, good, good), indicating that the cloth was of the finest quality. There is also a weavers mark that was woven into the fabric by its maker.