You may ask yourself: what kind of pants did Tut wear?


You may ask yourself: what kind of pants did Tut wear?

An intimate look at the 5,500 treasures from the king’s tomb destined for the new Grand Egyptian Museum

Chris Leadbeater

I am staring – there is no polite way of putting this – at Tutankhamun’s pants. There they are on the table – 145 pieces of fine linen, piled like a sheaf of paper. Age has not treated them kindly. The passing of more than three millennia has lent them a grey tinge; the odd hole or seven troubles the fabric. But they are what they are – part of the array of clothing that was buried with him in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings; garments for the afterlife.

Gazing at them feels, as it should, an intimate matter. This is a figure who has become the face of Egyptology, represented by gold masks and relics beyond price; the boy-pharaoh whose reign, though short (1332-1323 BC), has become one of the symbols of the halcyon era that was the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. But here, effectively, he is stripped bare before me. I am looking, if not quite into his soul, then certainly into his underwear drawer.

On my left, Fatima Mohammed taps her foot. Greater things than this are laid out here, and she is keen to show them to me. But maybe she has read my mind. “For the first time since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, we’ll be able to display the whole collection in one place. The. Whole. Collection,” she says, repeating her last three words for emphasis. “That’s 5,500 items. Everything currently in the Egyptian Museum is merely a third of it.”..

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