Ceremonial Chariot of Tutankhamun

The frame of this ceremonial chariot is made of wood. The cabin is decorated with golden spirals, with cartouches of Tutankhamun at the top. This is one of six dismantled chariots discovered in the antechamber of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The wheel was known in ancient Egypt as early as the Old Kingdom, but the horse-drawn chariot was introduced much later by the Hyksos, who migrated into Egypt from western Asian regions around 1650 BC. The chariot was one of the main reasons for the Hyksos’ domination of Egypt.

Two uraei can be seen close to here, emerging from a decorative support attached to the shaft. The cabin’s floor is formatted from leather thongs, covered by animal skins. Three rows of decorative features can be seen on the interior of the cabin: the names and epithets of the king are at the top, followed by plants representing Upper and Lower Egypt.

Ceremonial Chariot of King Tutankhamun. Photo: Sandro Vannini

At the bottom are kneeling enemies, with ropes tied around their necks. The back of the chariot displays ornate images of the god Bes, with their ivory tongues sticking out of their mouths. The six-spoked wheels were originally lined with leather tyres.

Intended to be used in ceremonial processions, it was richly decorated with fine gilded motifs depicting the king as a Sphinx overcoming African and Asian foes. The wheels are fixed to the axles by linchpins and secured with leather thongs to provide better suspension. The Egyptian chariot was usually drawn by two horses and driven by a driver, as shown in war scenes on the walls of the temples.

detail of the god Bes on the back of the chariot of king Tutankhamun
Detail of the god Bes on the back of the chariot of king Tutankhamun. Photo: Sandro Vannini

From the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 61990A