How did they remove the pieces from the ground?

As the earth was cleared away, wax was poured over the pieces. Cloth was pressed onto the wax. When the wax had dried, the cloth was lifted with the shell and lapis lazuli shapes, all in the right order, sticking to it.

The Standard had been squashed flat by the weight of earth on top. The waxed cloth had lifted only the decoration of one side of the box. Beneath it lay more pieces of shell and stone which had decorated the other side. These too were covered with wax and cloth then lifted out of the ground.