Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tutankhamun the Mysterious Prince of Egypt

Tutankhamun, the Mysterious Prince of Egypt

Mask of Tutankhamun's mummy Mask of Tutankhamun's mummy

KV 62

It is the name/number of a tomb; one among 64 tombs so far discovered at the two valleys on both sides of Al Qurn the peak of a pyramid shaped hill. It is located at the Valley of the Kings on the western bank of River Nile in Egypt. It is here; the most famous and mysterious king ever reigned in the history of world; the Tutankhamun was laid to rest. This tomb is the most intriguing among 64 tombs found in the Valley of the Kings located near Thebes (new name Luxor near ancient Karnak Temple).

Its original occupant- the Tutankhamun, the valuable treasures enclosed in it, the myths associated with the tomb; all have cast a spell among students of history and archaeology for centuries. Tutankhamun (1341 to 1324 BC) who wore the crown at 9 ruled about ten years and died at the age of 18; that too very mysteriously, scientists are still working hard to sort it out!

Akhenaton, Nefertiti and Kiya

Tutankhamun (King Tut for Egyptologists) who lived between BC 1341 and 1323 (his name is also spelt Tutankhamun meaning Tutan the son of Amen/Amun -the Sun-God). His initial name was Tutenkhaten meaning Tutan son of Aten (Sun-God). His parents were Pharaoh Amenhotep (who ruled in the name Akhenaton meaning servant of Aten) and his second wife Kiya (Queen Nefertiti was Akhenaton’s first wife).

The weight of a big crown on a child’s head

Tutankhamun from the back of his gold throneTutankhamun from the back of his gold throne

Akhenaton had six children in Nefertiti but all girls hence Tut; the son of his second wife Kiya was chosen for the crown. Tut was crowned in the young age of 8; married to Akhenaton’s daughter in Nefertiti (Ankesenpaaten) who was slightly elder than him. Tutankhamun (believed to be at the behest of Ay (Nefertiti’s father) and Horemheb the Chief of the Army; got Sun- God worship law- imposed by his father -reverted.

Ay and Horemheb!

Tutankhamen's DiademTutankhamen's Diadem

Tutankhamen faced a mysterious death at the age of 18 and Ay rose to the throne; later he married the widow of Tut to make his position legalized and ruled four years until his death. Horemheb; the chief of army; utilized the vacuum created by the death of ruling king and seized power. Horemheb has been pictured in the funeral ceremonies show his prominence in the royal palace. Horemheb consequently got all the engravings praising Akhenaton and Tut wiped out and placed his names instead.

Well buried

Tutankhamun coffinette Tutankhamun coffinette

It must be admitted that Ay along with Horemheb gave Tut an honorable burial. Howard Carter who led the tomb excavation team in 1923 was up for a mega surprise. The richness of deposits was not matched by any such findings made anywhere else in the world. Rare and rich ornaments made in gold and precious stones, the chest plate and mask made of solid gold accompanied by about 3000 grave items. Four loaded chariots (one for hunting; one for fighting war and the rest two for ceremonial parades; all after death!) found in this tomb made the world open its eyes to the ancient culture and rituals of ancient Egypt.

The curse of the Pharaohs!

Tutankhamun SarcophagusTutankhamun Sarcophagus

It was a team led by Theodore M Davis who bumped upon the Tutankhamen Tomb at first in 1907. It so happened with the opening of the initial chamber they got something and returned as Tutankhamen’s tomb had only that much! Theodore’s book ‘The tombs of Harmhabi and Touatankhaemanchu’ ends with the words the valley was ‘exhausted’!

Tutankhamun Throne

Tutankhamun Throne

In Egyptian myth had it that ‘those who disturbed the tomb of Tutankhamen will undergo an early death’ this did not deter Carter to excavate and enter in to it along with his sponsor Lord Carnarvon; making them first to enter in to it after a long spell of 3000 years!

The mummy was however excavated by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities with the help of modern equipments and studied it in detail. It was later taken many places and exhibited it in almost all the famous museums of the world. In its long course this mummy was stolen several times and many disasters followed in the ensuing incidents which took the lives of almost 25 people who got involved in them. Each incident was able to capture the media attention highlighting the ‘legendary curse of the Pharaohs’.

The tomb

Tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the KingsTomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings

The tomb of Tutankhamun was only ordinary and only the burial chamber contained decorations. All the four walls had a golden tinge on which pictures were drawn. The western wall pictures of apes at the first hour of the Amduat (a magical book with details of the netherworld; contents similar to the texts at the pyramids).

The southern wall had pictures of the king followed by Anubis and Isis (Anubis a god with dog’s head; he is the protector of the necropolis and keeper of souls; where as Isiris is a winged goddess the mother of Horus). The north wall pictures the king standing before Nut (the mother of all gods’; d/o Shu and Tefnut and also grand d/o of Sun-God Ra/Re. Another picture shows ka embracing Osiris the chief god of the netherworld.

The eastern wall pictures Horemheb with two viziers in among a procession that carries the body of the king in a sledge. Horemheb later through many manipulations rose to the position of Pharaoh.

Still working on it!

Researches are still going on about his life, appearance and cause of death and recent findings indicate a fall from horseback and infection from the wounds might have caused his premature death at the prime age of 18. The broken skull led them to believe that he was attacked from hind and possible culprits were found; those included those who came to throne after along with his bereaved queen!

Detailed research has proved these wrong as there had occurred substantial calcification between the cracks. Not just the reason for death but what was his skin tone. How did he look like etc are all issues before them to be solved; only relief is that modern technology is there for their guidance; let technology lead them to better and more accurate solutions.


Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Fantastic photos and post!!! I loved reading about Tutankhamun and especially enjoy seeing the culture through the photos.


Ms. Humphries said...

Where is the box that was stolen from Tiya's tomb? How much is it worth?