Treasures Uncovered, but Mystery Remains

Dinosaur store and museum - Cocoa Beach - Nov. 15. 2014 039

By Judy Berman

Howard Carter’s candle flickered in the darkened tomb. He could see only small bits of it at a time.

It was 1922. For more than 3,000 years, it had been hidden. The tomb in the Valley of the Kings was nearly intact.

Tomb robbers had trashed a portion of the tomb in search of gold. But Carter, Lord Carnarvon (who financed the search), Carnarvon’s daughter Lady Evelyn Herbert, and Carter’s assistant, A. R. Callender, also saw incredible wealth: a gold burial mask, statues, jewelry, chariots, weapons and a solid-gold coffin.

What they’d found was the tomb of a nearly forgotten Egyptian pharaoh – the boy king. King Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut, was 9 years old when he became pharaoh and reigned about 10 years from 1332 B.C. to 1323 B.C.

On the third floor of a museum in Cocoa Beach, Steve Cayer has captured that scene inside the tomb, and he hopes to open it to the public this summer.

“I took pictures of the actual tomb, and we duplicated it for Al (Rao) to paint,” said Cayer, the curator of the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures.

Cayer said the people who pilfered the chamber were the ones who built it. They took the gold and jewelry, and broke pottery to see what was in them. Then, they sealed it and no one knew of its existence.

Dinosaur store and museum - Cocoa Beach - Nov. 15. 2014 046

Until Carter’s discovery, Tut was almost unknown.

“There was almost no record of his life anywhere in Egypt, except on the walls of his tomb,” according to National Geographic’s website.

The burial site contains a stone sarcophagus with King Tutankhamun’s solid-gold coffin and two smaller coffins that are believed to contain his stillborn daughters.

Even more mysterious is how Tutankhamun died. That is still being investigated today.

In a nearby display case, Queen Nefertiti gazes down on the visitors in the museum. The replica, like the original in the Egyptian museum, was never finished. It has only one eye painted and an incomplete ear.

Queen Nefertiti bus from the Berlin museum
Queen Nefertiti bust from the Egyptian Museum in Berlin 

The Tourist Development Council helped finalize the money to buy the Egyptian exhibits in St. Louis before it returned to Cairo.

“I packed the stuff myself. It took two days,” Cayer said of the museum-quality exhibits.

The museum also features the famous trenches of Terra Cotta warriors. There is a painting of them on the wall, and Cayer aims to obtain replicas – about a dozen – of the soldiers.

Terracotta Army - the museum in Cocoa Beach aims to acquire some replicas to add to a mural depicting them.
Terracotta Army – the museum in Cocoa Beach aims to acquire some replicas to add to a mural depicting them.

When you walk thru the third floor, you also will see a replica of a sacrificial area from MesoAmerica, the Mayan culture. The work on this began seven years ago. It’s built in stages and then assembled here.

The tour thru these exhibits was exciting. I can’t wait to see the completed product.


What’s the coolest place you have ever visited or still hope to see?


Link to Steve Martin’s “King Tut” video on Saturday Night Live:

Photo: King Tutankhamun – replica of his tomb – not yet open to the public – at the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures, Cocoa Beach, Florida. photo by Judy Berman

Photo – King Tut’s death mask replica at the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures, Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo by Judy Berman

Photo: Terracotta Army of First Emperor – author airunp

Photo: Nefertiti bust – Agyptisches Museum (Egyptian Museum, Berlin), Dec. 28, 2005 – taken by Magnus Manske    (The Nefertiti bust in the Cocoa museum was excellent, my photo did not reflect that. So I chose to use the Berlin museum photo.


Fore more information: – King Tut the boy pharaoh

King Tut’s Tomb

Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures, Cocoa Beach, Florida




  1. King Tut was all the rage for a while, and Steve Martin’s song made the mummy all that more famous. (“How’d you get so funky, funky Tut?”…)

    I’ve visited the Paris Catacombs, and I thought that was pretty cool. Also Pompeii, though the heat that day made me feel as though I were buried in volcanic ash myself. 😉

    1. Carrie … Wow! Those two sites will be put on my must-see list. But not when it’s blasting hot. I love Steve Martin’s “King Tut.” I tried to embed a link, but it did not display, so I included a link to the Saturday Night Live skit.

      1. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that (1) the Boston Museum of Fine Arts amazing long-time exhibit and (2) Steve Martin fueled my interest in ancient Egypt. Thanks for refueling it. Maybe I should go to Egypt, Judy!

  2. I always think of Steve Martin’s King Tut song, too, when I hear or read any reference to the king!
    Did you hear that there was a new tomb found recently?

    I’m haven’t traveled much, but I did go to Italy two times with each daughter. I agree with Carrie above that Pompeii is amazing, but there were many cool sites in Italy, of course. (The “Bone Church” in Rome is remarkable–and weird.)

    1. I did hear about that other tomb’s discovery, Merril. How exciting. Thanks for sharing the link.

      We plan to go to Italy this summer. The “Bone Church” sounds intriguing. There is so much to see there. 😉

    1. The museum curator, Steve Cayer, is really excited about this project. I can’t wait to see the exhibits when the museum is completed.

      Jill … You do have to go the Grand Canyon. My folks – now, just my brother – live in Vegas. One year, we took a tour of the canyon. Just amazing. I hope you see it soon. 😉

  3. Thanks for showing me this marvelous exhibit, Judy. I get to travel through you. 🙂

    I find it ironic — or merely coincidental in an odd way, I’m still not certain which — that it took Steve Martin’s goofy song and dance to introduce this piece of history to so many of us.

    I’ve seen interesting pieces in the Manhattan Museum of Natural History both as a child growing up, thanks to school field trips, and on a visit as an adult when I doubled up going there for a dinosaur exhibit and a dinner at the Harlem Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for a Post-Standard travel story.

    1. I think I’d enjoy the Manhattan Museum of Natural History. It sounds like fun with tons of cool information. Lucky you, Mark, getting to combine a Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and a dinosaur exhibit. Ribs, ribs and ribs. 😉

      One of my favorite visits in the states was the Smithsonian Museum. So, naturally, I love the “Night at the Museum” movies. Good times.

      1. I forgot that I visited the Smithsonian a handful of times the six years I lived in Maryland. It was a regular stop on my visitors tour when family and friends came down from New York.

  4. Thank you for uncovering some of the mysteries of King Tut’s tomb and noting the exhibition coming soon in Cocoa Beach, FL.

    Jut a side note here: I’m sure you know Lord Carnarvon is in the lineage of the current owners of the castle where Downton Abbey is filmed.

    A cool place we’ve visited? I loved seeing the lavishly decorated Book of Kells at Trinity College in Dublin and on a later trip all of the fancy manuscripts at The Melk Abbey, a Benedictine monastery with jaw-dropping art and architecture in a site between Salzburg and Vienna, Austria.

    1. No, Marian, I had no idea Lord Carnavon was linked to Downtown Abbey. He sure backed the right horse in Howard Carter’s exploration.

      Lovely, cool places you’ve been to. I especially would like to see the art and architecture in the Benedictine monastery. Some day … 😉

  5. This was a fascinating summary, which I had forgotten that King Tut was only 9 became king and then only 19 when his reign ended. I did not ever notice that the Queen Nefertiti didn’t have both her eyes painted in. I have some memory of this artwork from different museum exhibits of copies, possibly? Anyway, so happy you reminded us of the mysteries available her in the U.S. to check out exhibits. I laughed at the Steve Martin video and always glad to have my mind expanded by you, Judy! If I get back to Florida, I shall need to go to Cocoa Beach! Also, I have seen the Grand Canyon having been in a car from Arizona and up to there, on the Eastern side but have not explored many of the mid-western states nor the ones west of the Grand Canyon!

    1. Robin … If you get to Florida … especially, Cocoa Beach which is about 15 miles from where we live, I’d love to get together with you.

      I believe the only Queen Nefertiti bust that’s the original is at the Berlin museum. But I’m no Egyptian pharaoh (or royalty) scholar. Merril Smith posted above about a new tomb that was recently found. Check out the link. Interesting story. Much to be learned there, I’m sure. 😉

  6. oh, i just love all of this, judy. the mummies, the tombs, the treasures, the discoveries, the drama – fascinating! the coolest for me has been visiting the mayan ruins in mexico. awe-inspiring to think about standing in the very spot where so much happened.

    1. Wow! Beth, we visited a pyramid when we were in Mexico in 1989. It might have been a bus ride of about 30 miles outside of Mexico City. My Spanish was minimal, so I was just thankful that we got on a bus that took us back to Mexico City.

      But the Mayan ruins sounds even cooler. That would be a worthwhile trip. 😉

  7. I still hope to see the terracotta warriors and the Great Wall. I found Ellis Island to be one of the most powerful museums I’ve ever visited. Two years ago in Hamburg, we visited a museum which was sort of the opposite of Ellis Island….Hamburg was the point of departure for many European immigrants and the museum told the story of where they came from and why they left. Very good stuff. Oh, and in New Orleans is the National World War II museum. The way they take you through the build-up to D-Day is absolutely gut-wrenching, one of the best exhibits I’ve ever seen.

    1. Barbara … Just seeing the photos of the terracotta warriors is amazing. To see them in person would be a thrill. And the Great Wall. That can be seen from outer space. Wow!

      The Hamburg visit and Ellis Island are ones I should see. I’m a Heinz 57 mix and would love to know my ancestors’ stories. We’ve been to New Orleans, but have never seen the National World War II museum. It sounds intense and worthwhile. Thank you for your comments. 😉

  8. For me it has to be Pompeii . We ( my husband and myself ) went on a day trip from Sorrento . We were fascinated by it , the guide was so informative but I just wanted to wander off and try to get the flavor of life there before terror struck . I can not imagine how terrifying it must have been without having any warning .

    1. Cherry … I’ve seen photos of what they found in Pompeii and it was pretty horrifying. Like you, I can’t imagine what those poor folks went thru. We plan a trip to Italy this summer, but I’m not sure we’ll be able to get to Pompeii, too. It does sound fascinating, though.

  9. A wonderful post that makes me want to head for Florida again. Coincidentally, I was watching a sequel to Downton Abbey last night and it talked about Lord Carnarvon financing the search. He was the great grandfather of the current owner of the Abbey and he had many replicas of the tomb contents placed in the basement there. There are also some actual pieces from the tomb in hidden wall shelves at the Abbey, like a lady’s compact, some small boxes, etc.

    1. If you get to Florida, especially anywhere near Cocoa Beach, let me know. I’d love to get together with you, Dor. That tomb had to be a treasure trove of memorabilia and items from ancient Egypt. Another writer also noted the connection to Lord Carnarvon and Downtown Abbey. Cool!

      1. Thanks Judy. it’s odd that Bill and I were actually there last March and visited the Titanic museum. I did a blog post about it. And yes, i would love to get together if we are ever in the same place at the same time. Lemme know if you visit my neck of the woods in or around Roanoke, Virginia.

  10. Judy I had the pleasure of seeing the real thing on my trek to Egypt, the sights and sounds and many amazing artefacts was something I had been waiting to see all my life. I was not disappointed. Lovely to see a replica for those who cannot make the trip to Egypt. I actually went down into one of the pyramids a very amazing experience for sure, we rode camels into the dessert and flighty stalions across the sands with the pyramids in the back ground. This was many years ago but the memories I do treasure.

  11. Speaking of mysteries, in the middle of commenting, my computer screen fell as dark as Tut’s tomb thanks to Starbucks “free Wi-fi.” Better now. As I was saying . . . I’d love to see these fascinating treasures in person. (Especially Steve Martin).

  12. I know the Mongolian steppes may not be considered cool, but that is one place I really want to visit (even though I do not like treeless expanses of land).

    1. OK, I’ll bite. What draws you to that place, Zambian Lady? We went to Fairbanks, Alaska once just to see the Auora Borealis (Northern Lights), and I’m really glad we did. It was in March. Cars were still plugging into outlets in the parking lot. Despite that, the weather still seemed to be nicer than what we left in Central New York. The Chena River was frozen over, but just beginning to thaw near the hotel we stayed at. Interesting place. 😉

      1. I don’t really know why Mongolian steppes attract me. The place just seems exotic to me. I have always lived in places with a lot of trees, so being in a place with none (or so I suppose) would seem otherworldly to me.

  13. It’s not surprising that thieves stole whatever they could from that tomb, it must have been a huge temptation for those who didn’t have that kind of wealth. I wonder if that goes on today? I asked the funeral directors for both my Mum and my Dad to put a few things in their coffin with them, nothing valuable, just some items, personal cards I had made for their birthdays that I felt if I kept them would just be too sad to look at. But I was left wondering if those items ever did go in the coffin. And I’m sure if there were any valuables I would have been a fool to think they would be buried with them. Unless you check it all just before burying the coffin is buried, how would you know, and who would ever want do that?!

    I didn’t know Tutankhamun’s death was a mystery. I always imagined the Egyptian rulers died very elegant deaths, just sort of closed their eyes one day and they were gone – I’m sure that’s rubbish!!

    I’d love to walk through that Terracotta Army. Kind of scary and fascinating the the same time. 🙂

    1. Suzy … That wealth surely had to be a tremendous temptation. I think it’s useless to buy anything of value. Better to leave it with someone who might treasure that memory of the one who passed.

      I believe one of the video links I have to King Tut has some speculation about why he died. Interesting, but they have no definitive answer.

      That Terracotta Army is intriguing. It makes me wonder just why the Emperor felt that had to be done. The idle rich … 😉

  14. Whoa! That sounds like one fascinating exhibit!! Tut’s coffin sounds even more exciting than the Cardiff Giant at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY!! C.G. was a hoax: he wasn’t a condo made of stone-a, he was a giant made of stone-a! Not sure how he wound up at the Farmer’s Museum. I guess someone decided he’d look kinda funny stuffed inna locker at the Baseball Hall Of Fame… : )

    I’ve always been a sucker for mummies. They’ve crossed paths with some big names: Abbott & Costello, The Three Stooges, etc. And that concludes another insightful comment by yours truly… : )

    1. The Mummy always was in great company. 😉 The Cardiff Giant proves the saying attributed to P.T. Barnum: “In every crowd, there’s a silver lining.” OR “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Not you – or me – of course. But they’re out there. Thanks for your comments, Mark. 😉

Comments are closed.