Roughly 3,500 years ago, folding chairs remarkably similar to ones found in Egypt suddenly became must-have items in parts of northern Europe. Scholars are now looking into this potential case of ancient industrial espionage.
When Tutankhamen died, his tomb was filled with all manner of precious objects, including two folding chairs. The more attractive one is made of ebony and has ivory inlays.
Such ingenious chairs were already being used in Egypt more than 4,000 years ago. The brilliantly simple design consists of two movable wooden frames connected to each other with pins and with an animal hide stretched between — a kind of ur-camping stool.
It isn’t surprising, given the advanced nature of their society, that the Egyptians were familiar with such comfortable seating. Astonishing, however, is that the gruff chieftains of northern Europe also sat on such chairs.
Some 20 Nordic folding stools have been discovered so far, most of them north of the Elbe River in Germany. The majority were found by mustachioed members of the educated classes, who burrowed into their native soils in the 19th century in search of “national antiquities.” The wood had usually rotted away, leaving only the golden or bronze clasps, rivets and knobs. Read more.
On Feb. 16, 1923, the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen’s recently unearthed tomb was unsealed in Egypt. The New York Times called it “perhaps, the most extraordinary day in the whole history of Egyptian excavation.”
King Tutankhamen’s tomb is situated in the Valley of the Kings, east of the Nile River in Egypt. In 1907, the English archaeologist Edward Russell Ayrton uncovered a pit in the area containing pots, dishes and other objects belonging to Tutankhamun, then a relatively unknown 14th-century B.C. pharaoh. Mr. Ayrton’s sponsor, the American Theodore M. Davis, proclaimed that he had discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb and donated some of the objects to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. After years of study, Herbert Winlock, a curator at the Met, determined that the objects were left over from the embalming process and funeral, and that the pit was not actually Tutankhamun’s tomb. Read more.
Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities last month issued a revised list of objects stolen from the Egyptian Museum during the country’s political uprising, showing looting was more extensive than first reported.
The list revealed that 54 antiquities in total were stolen from the museum on 28 January, of which 17 have since been recovered. A further 70 objects, including two mummified skulls, were damaged when protesters set fire to the nearby headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party.
The report indicates that thieves targeted easily portable, high value artifacts. A bronze trumpet found in Tutankhamen’s tomb and a limestone statue of Akhenaton holding an offering table are among the most significant losses. Read more.