There are all sorts of questions that spring immediately to mind when you think about King Tut: What killed him? Are curses real? What on earth is going on with his penis? One question not asked enough is what he planned to wear in the afterlife.
Photo Credit: AP Images
It really was a question no one cared that much about, since the chests of clothes and shoes remained unstudied after Howard Carter first catalogued them. When he died, the thousands of photographs, drawings, and note cards detailing documenting the contents of the chests sat in storage for decade. It was pretty much assumed they were too damaged to do anything with.
That was until the nineteen-nineties, when Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, a textile archeologist in the Netherlands, actually bothered to take a look at the notes. Her efforts were detailed in a 1995 New York Times article, which described the clothing Dr. Vogelsang-Eastwood and her students catalogued:
Among the many textiles are 145 loincloths, 12 tunics, 28 gloves, about 24 shawls, 15 sashes, 25 head coverings and 4 socks, which had separate places for the big toe so that they could be worn with the 100 sandals, some worked in gold. There are also one golden and one beaded apron, real leopard skins and even one faux leopard skin woven of linen with appliqued spots. The tomb also contained a belt and tail of gold and lapis lazuli and sleeves with winglike flaps that Dr. Vogelsang-Eastwood thinks were worn to imitate the wings of gods and goddesses.
Four socks and one hundred sandals. Hopefully, some of the sandals were meant to be worn without socks. Otherwise, he's got to be one cold-footed pharaoh.
Dr. Vogelsang-Eastwood and her students also created replicas of the clothing they found in order to better understand what life was like for Egyptians of the time. There were no buttons or zippers or ties, so the team learned that "People were constantly adjusting their clothing. You learn to take small steps and walk in a more fluid manner."
The replicas also allowed them to correct mistakes from the past. For example, Dr. Carter had labeled one piece of clothing as a hat, but Dr. Vogelsang-Eastwood couldn't make it stay on her head. Instead, she was able to put them on her arms to make them look like wings — probably made for the pharaoh to imitate winged gods.
While this information is all from the nineties, Dr. Vogelsang-Eastwood's work is still ongoing. She'll also present on her findings in Cairo in May of this year. No word on why only four socks, though.