Sandro Vannini’s Photography – The Ritual Beds of King Tutankhamun

The Ammut Bed was one of three discovered inside the Tomb of King Tut (KV62). Click the image to skip to the slideshow.Three ritual beds were found inside the Tomb of King Tutankhamun (KV62), made up of four pieces of gilded wood and bound together with hooks and staples. Assembly instructions were painted on the beds in black paint, with each bed representing a different animal deity. The ritual beds are on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where Dr JaniceKamrin explains the purpose and history behind them in a video for Heritage Key (You can watch that video by clicking here).

Each bed was photographed by the renown Egyptology photographer Sandro Vannini, of which the images are brought to the internet by Heritage Key. The three beds are thought to have played a significant role in the mummification of King Tutankhamun (watch a fantastic video on mummification with Dr Zahi Hawass here) although it should be noted that King Tut would never have slept on the beds. The first bed features lion deities, whereas the second bed’s animal iconography features a beast representing a mixture of a lion, crocodile and hippopotamus. The third bed features an animal deity in the form of a cow.

‘The Ritual Beds’ slideshow

Working with Sandro Vannini, Heritage Key is bringing images from the extensive catalogue of Egyptian antiquity collection of the Cairo Museum to the online community. These stunning photographs of these beautiful artefacts are sure to impress anybody interested in Egyptology! Click any of the thumbnail images below to open the slideshow of the Ritual Beds of King Tutankhamun.

See it for yourself in King Tut Virtual

But it doesn’t end there, because you can also view a 3D digital replication of the Ritual Beds inside the Tomb of King Tutankhamun in Heritage Key VX – the online, virtual experience. It’s very easy to sign up for a free account, and before you know it, you’ll be exploring the Valley of the Kings and searching for the beautiful treasures of King Tutankhamun’s Tomb!

Sandro Vannini’s Photography

Attention for detail and skills gathered over the years in photography gives Sandro Vannini the necessary experience to capture the intricate details of King Tut’s Ritual Beds. Of course, the equipment Sandro uses plays a role too, and he comes well prepared with a Hasselblad ELD Ixpress 528C camera.

So for those of you who cant make the trip to see the Cosmetic Jar, Heritage Key offers these stunning photographs by Sandro Vannini which capture the beauty and magnificence of the Ritual Beds from the Tomb of King Tutankhamun. But it doesnt stop there: you can visit virtual replicas of Tutankhamun treasures in the Heritage Key VX King Tut exhibition, which features a digital recreation of many breath-taking artefacts from KV62.

Don’t miss out on new treasures!

This post is part of a series focussing on amazing photographs from ancient Egypt. Keep checking back as well keep adding new images by Sandro Vannini. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the updates, simply subscribe by email to receive notifications when new images are uploaded. For the more digitally advanced, there’s also an RSS feed with updates available.

See More Amazing Photography by Sandro

Have a look at some of the other stunning photographs by Sandro Vannini here at Heritage Key:

Ask Sandro

We’ll be sitting down with our favourite photographer for an extended chat soon, so if you have any questions for Sandro we’ll send the answers straight to you!

Tutankhamun’s Ritual Beds

Made in the image of the lion deity Menhit with the two heads of the animal rising at the ends of the bed, the first bed is sculpted in gilded and gessoed wood, with clear glass used for the eyes and blue glass for the tear falling from the eye as well as the nose. The footboard of the bed is ornately patterned with alternating djed and tjet symbols, the marks of Osiris and his sister-wife Isis respectively. The Ancient Egyptians believed the sun rose between the heads of two lions suggesting that the symbolism behind the way the bed has been made may lie in reincarnation.

The two flanks of the second bed are sculpted in the shape of Ammut, a fearsome composite creature made from a hippopotamus, lion and crocodile. Ammut played a vital role in the weighing of the heart ceremony from the Book of the Dead, devouring the hearts of evildoers when the heart outweighed the feather. The teeth and tongue (which is stained red) are made from ivory, in contrast to the golden gilded head, and certainly gives a ferocious demeanour. Again, the footboard of the bed adorns the djed and tjet symbols, representing Osiris and Iris.

The cow goddess Mehit-Weret stands tall on the third bed, with the sun disc held between her horns. As the goddess of creation and the floods, two concepts which lay at the heart of Ancient Egyptian beliefs, her skin represents the starry sky with its patchwork appearance owing to trefoils of blue paste. She is also connected to rebirth and resurrection, thanks to her eyes, which are shaped like wedjats, the eyes of Horus.

Interestingly most experts believe the name for this last bed is actually confused with the first bed with the lion deity. The bed with the cow deity is named ‘Menhit’, the traditional name for a lion deity, whereas the lion bed is inscribed ‘Mehit-Weret’, the traditional name for the cow depicted in this piece. Most Egyptologists simply call this the ‘Mehit-Weret’ bed.

HD Video: Animal Iconography of Tutankhamun’s Burial Treasures

(Read the transcript on the video page)

You can look at the Heritage Keys video page for all our videos to date and see more archaeologists working in Ancient Egypt. Additionally, you can find out more about Ancient Egypt here at Heritage Key, and if you want to do some discovery of your own, you can explore KV62 – King Tutankhamun’s tomb – in 3D in our exciting virtual experience! Also be sure to keep up to date on all new postings about Sandro’s photography from Egypt by subscribing to our feed, simply by entering your email address above.