Unveiling the Mysteries of Tutankhamun’s Sacred Ankhs

When exploring the Cairo Bazaar with its vibrant array of shops and fashion savvy crowd, few realize that the young King Tut also had a phenomenal taste for fashion. We now know that the young King Tut also enjoyed a vast collection of footwear. The fantastic find of Tutankhamun’s tomb KV62 by Howard Carter, one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries ever made by Egyptologists, unearthed headlines around the world back in the 1920s. While his golden death mask has become an iconic symbol of ancient Egypt, it was only in 2007 that experts undertook an in-depth study into the king’s footwear.


While the exact number of sandal pairs uncovered in the ancient tomb of King Tut is uncertain, at least 80 sandals were discovered in the virtually intact burial chamber. Some were deteriorated in surprisingly good condition, while others were small fragments of foot straps. The best preserved were the gold sandals discovered in the feet of King Tut’s mummy.


Andreas Veldeijer, a Dutch archaeologist and author of Tutankhamun’s Footwear: Tales of Ancient Egyptian Footwear, undertook the study of 81 samples housed at Luxor Museum and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. These were all that remained of a wide variety of footwear embedded with Tutankhamun, a collection that included woven sandals and bead sandals. At the time, these would have been a feast for the eyes, made with gold, birch bark, vegetable fibers, gemstones, leather, and gold.



DNA testing and analysis of CT scans of his remains have revealed that King Tutankhamun probably suffered from birth defects caused by inbreeding, including a club foot and malformations in his feet which would have caused him to walk with a limp and necessitated the use of a cane. Among the shoe collection discovered in his tomb, there pairs of shoes were found to have horizontal foot straps below the toes which could have been created to aid his impaired walking. “These features are not known in any other footwear, sandal or shoe alike,” said Veldmeijer in an interview with Discovery News.


The fascinating discovery of bound enemies on the deep ocean floor within King Tut’s tomb is more intriguing than a pair of sandals included within King Tut’s tomb. Although the origins of these sandals were unknown, or were possibly symbolic, the inner soles of a pair of elaborate market-worthy sandals depict an African prisoner on one sandal and an Asiatic prisoner on the other, representing the enemies of King Tut’s kingdom. Taking into account that artistic representations were used to manifest reality in ancient Egypt, the message was quite clear. Every time the Pharaoh took a step, he would have literally been stepping on the faces of his enemies.



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