Ancient Flowers Found in Egypt Coffin

June 29, 2006

The last of eight sarcophagi from a recently discovered burial chamber in Egypt's Valley of the Kings revealed ancient garlands of flowers.

A gaggle of researchers and media had gathered for the opening of the 3,000-year-old coffin, which archaeologists had hoped would contain the famous boy king Tutankhamun's mother.

But instead the coffin contained strips of fabric and woven laurels of delicate dehydrated flowers.

"I prayed to find a mummy, but when I saw this, I said it's better—it's really beautiful," Nadia Lokma, the chief curator of Cairo's Egyptian Museum, told reporters gathered for the opening.

The flowers are likely the remains of garlands strung with gold strips that were worn by ancient Egyptian royalty (related wallpapers: treasures of Egypt).

"It's very rare—there's nothing like it in any museum. We've seen things like it in drawings, but we've never seen this before in real life. It's magnificent," Lokma said.

Burial Preparations

The Valley of the Kings is a desert region near Luxor (map of Egypt) that was used as a royal burial ground for several hundred years.

The newfound chamber is the first one discovered since King Tut's was found in 1922 (go on the scene at the excavation of King Tut's tomb in an interactive edition of National Geographic magazine).

Lanny Bell, an Egyptologist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, told National Geographic News that finding any tomb in the Valley of the Kings is "really exciting," regardless of how it was used.

Bell said the newly discovered tomb, known as KV63, is "largely, if not exclusively, the remains of an embalming cache having to do with … the funeral-preparations process."

In ancient Egypt garlands were worn by loved ones of the deceased and also left at their tomb, just as many people leave flowers at a cemetery today, Bell says.

Continued on Next Page >>




NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.