Tutankhamun's grandmother remembered.
When Howard Carter was clearing the 'Treasury' room in the tomb of Tutankhamun, he came across a small gilded coffin. When he tenderly lifted the lid he discovered another. Both carried golden depictions of protective deities and prayers to Nut, goddess of the sky and the heavens.
The second coffin held a tiny third. And finally, like a set of Russian Dolls, inside the third coffin was an even more miniature coffin carrying hieroglyphic inscriptions, some of which read: 'The Great Royal Wife, beloved of him, Lady of the Two Lands, Tiye, may she live forever and ever'.
This is Queen Tiye, the wife of King Amenhotep III, and Tutankhamun's grandmother.
When Carter opened this miniature coffin he found something that may have been more precious than gold to a young Tutankhamun - a plaited lock of hair, presumably belonging to his grandmother.
This was, perhaps, placed in the tomb as an affectionate memento to accompany the young king on his journey into the beyond.
In 1976 the hair was microscopically compared with the long, curly, brown hair of a mummy discovered in the tomb of Amenhotep III in the Valley of the Kings. The mummy, known as the 'Elder Lady' was of a middle-aged woman, discovered in 1898 by French archaeologist Victor Loret. Although at the time he didn't know this was the mummy of one of ancient Egypt's most influential queens, he described her face as having "... a noble and majestic seriousness."
The hair proved a perfect match, backed-up by DNA research in 2010.
Among the fabulous riches and symbols of authority with which Tutankhamun's tomb was stocked, was this tender memento of a much-loved grandmother.
Photo: Sandro Vannini