Tutankhamun's trumpets are a pair of trumpets found in the burial chamber of the Eighteenth Dynasty Pharaoh Tutankhamun. The trumpets, one of sterling silver and one of bronze or copper, are considered to be the oldest operational trumpets in the world, and the only known surviving examples from ancient Egypt.
The trumpets were found in 1922 by Howard Carter during the excavation of Tutankhamun's tomb. The bronze trumpet was discovered in the tomb's antechamber in a large chest containing various military objects and walking sticks. The silver trumpet was subsequently found in the burial chamber. Both are finely engraved, with decorative images of the gods Ra-Horakhty, Ptah and Amun. The silver trumpet's bell is engraved with a whorl of sepals and calices representing a lotus flower, and the praenomen and nomen of the king. The bronze trumpet may in fact be made of copper; the metal has not yet been analysed. Similar looking trumpets feature in Egyptian wall-paintings that are usually, though not always, associated with military scenes.
Silent for over 3,000 years, the trumpets were sounded before a live audience of an estimated 150 million listeners through an international BBC broadcast aired on 16 April 1939. The trumpets were played by a bandsman, James Tappern of Prince Albert's Own 11th Royal Hussars regiment. The recording was recently featured, and can be heard on the BBC Radio 4 program Ghost Music. Rex Keating, who presented the 1939 broadcast, later claimed that during a rehearsal, the silver trumpet shattered, and Alfred Lucas, a member of Carter's team who had restored the finds, was so distressed he needed to go to hospital. Due to their fragility, it is unlikely the trumpets will be played again in any official musical reconstructions.
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