When Howard Carter found the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt's Valley of the Kings in 1922, he was mesmerized by the splendor of the artifacts that the young king took to the afterlife. Attached to the burial chamber was a treasury with so many jewels and other artifacts that it took Carter ten years to fully catalog them.
However, when the burial chambers of more prominent pharaohs were unearthed in the late 19th century, their treasure chambers were virtually empty. It is common knowledge that tomb robbers had been busy in the tombs over the centuries, but the scale of the theft required to clean out the tombs of the kings is beyond petty criminals. So, where is the vast wealth of the pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings?
Some scholars believe that the treasures were appropriated by the priests who conducted reburials in the Valley of the Kings during the period of the early 20th and late 21st Egyptian dynasties (425-343 B.C.). Pharaohs were not averse to reusing the funeral splendors of their ancestors, so this may have been carried out with official sanction.
One particular ruler, Herihor, has been the focus of special attention. Herihor was a high court official during the reign of Ramses XI. Upon Ramses' death, Herihor usurped the throne, dividing up the kingdom with a co-conspirator, his son-in-law Piankh. Herihor placed himself in charge of reburial proceedings at the Valley of the Kings, affording himself ample opportunity to pilfer on a grand scale.
His tomb has never been found. When and if it is, many scholars believe that the missing treasures of many of Egypt's pharaohs will finally see the light of day.
On the next pages, you will find more of the world's greatest missing treasures, including the Ark of the Covenant.