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Student Rediscovers Tutankhamun’s Funeral Feast

May 19, 1988

LONDON (AP) _ Fruits, spices and grains entombed with the ancient Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun for his journey to the afterlife have been rediscovered after 56 years in a musty storeroom, a newspaper reported today.

The Times of London said an archeological student discovered the boxes of food remains at the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The newspaper said the remains have not been disturbed since they were sent to the gardens in 1932 by Howard Carter, who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valleys of the Kings at Luxor, Egypt, in 1922.

The remains were to have been cataloged by retired botanist Leonard Boodle, but were apparently forgotten after his death in the 1930s.

Arthur Bell, director of the gardens at Kew in south London, was quoted as saying the remains recently were identified by Christian Tutundjian de Vartavan, a 23-year-old French student working on a master of science degree in ancient Egyptian plants at London’s University College.

The Times said the college’s Institute of Archaeology is trying to determine what species of plants are represented in the hoard, which includes sections of funeral wreaths and more than five pounds of seeds, fruits and spices placed in Tutankhamun’s tomb after his death more than 3,300 years ago.

The Times said the species indentified so far include emmer wheat for making bread on the journey, barley for brewing beer and a considerable quantity of watermelon seeds to chew on.

Also found were coriander, fenugreek, black cumin, sesame seeds, two kinds of juniper berries and grapes.

The Times quoted University College botanist Gordon Hillman as saying the collection also includes more than 20 species of weeds.

″They will help to tell us how the crops were irrigated, how they were harvested and how they were stored,″ Hillman was quoted as saying.

The newspaper said officials at Kew are willing to return the specimens to the Egyptian government, but would like to put some on display.

The Independent newspaper said Tutundjian de Vartavan came across the Tutankhamun remains while studying ancient Egyptian plant remains.

The Times and The Independent said the find represents only a fraction of the food buried in the tomb. The rest is still in 116 original wicker baskets and several pottery jars in the Cairo Museum and the Dokki Agricultural Museum in Egypt.

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