'We realised that we were about to see what probably no living man had ever seen before..." - Arthur Weigall.
It was 1906 and Weigall, the British Antiquities Services Inspector, and Italian Egyptologist, Ernesto Schiaparelli, had discovered what they believed was a rare tomb that had escaped the attention of thieves for 3,300 years.
This was the tomb of the chief architect, Kha, and his wife Merit, today known as TT8 (Theban Tomb 8). Kha was clearly a court favourite, retained for his fine work as the throne passed from one pharaoh to the next, three times. Kha designed and supervised the construction of three royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings; those of Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV and Amenhotep III.
The noble couple's tomb was packed with the finest household items that Kha and Merit would wish to use in the afterlife: tables, beds, chairs and stools, storage jars, chests packing with clothing, and piles of food offerings that would magically stay fresh and tasty for eternity.
Eternity was a long time, and the lady Merit was well prepared to stay well coiffured in the hereafter; accompanying her in the tomb was her wig, cosmetic box, pins and a comb.
Merit died before Kha and he ensured that his wife's mummy was adorned with fine jewellery and a beautiful broad, floral collar.
Ernesto Schiaparelli was working on behalf of the Italian Archaeological Mission and so almost the entire contents of Kha and Merit's tomb was shipped off to the Egyptian Museum (Museo Egizio) in Turin, where you can see them today.
Pictured is the beautiful gilded mask that Lady Merit wore on her journey to the afterlife.
The mask is made of cartonnage (plastered layers of linen) and covered in gold leaf. Her eyes, make-up lines and eyelids are composed of coloured glass inlays, which imitate the more precious lapis lazuli gem stones. Kha and Merit were wealthy - but not that wealthy.
Photo: Antonio Calanni