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King Tut

Don Wyeth

King Tut

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2 mins
November 2, 2021

On November 4, 1922, the tomb of King Tutankhamun was discovered at Luxor, Egypt. “… [b]y the time he discovered Tut’s tomb…British archaeologist Howard Carter had been excavating Egyptian antiquities for three decades.” history.com. It was thought at the time that all of the tombs had already been discovered in the Valley of Kings, which lay directly across the Nile River from ancient Thebes. The archaeological community was buzzing with excitement over this unexpected find. Up until the discovery of the tomb in 1922, very little information was available about Tutankhamun. It took a dig team headed by Carter a total of 10 years to completely empty the tomb and catalog all of its contents.

King Tutankhamun sat as pharaoh of Egypt from age 9 until his mysterious death at age 19 c.1324 BCE. He succeeded his father, Pharaoh Akhenaten, who had given the Egyptian pantheon a complete overhaul, insisting that the people worship only Aten, a sun god, depicted as the solar disk emitting rays terminating in human hands, whose worship briefly was the state religion. “Genetic testing has verified that King Tut was the grandson of the great pharaoh Amenhotep III, and almost certainly the son of Akhenaten.” It is more than likely that Tut had ‘help’ from old temple priests to make the decision to retract Akhenaten’s proclamation. 

The tomb, which had been sealed for over 3200 years, yielded a marvelous collection of treasure and artifacts. This discovery instantly made Tut one of the most famous of the pharaohs. Many of the missing pieces in the puzzle of the royalty of Egypt were discovered from the study of these artifacts.

There remains a mystery of how King Tut died. He was described as a frail youth and sported a clubbed left foot. As opposed to other pharaohs, who are shown standing while doing physical activities, he was depicted as sitting. It is practically a certainty that his ill health was a result of royal inbreeding. In a report dated 2010, DNA testing shows the Tut’s parents were brother and sister. Further, his wife, Ankhesenamun, was Tutankhamun’s half-sister. Genetic testing also showed he suffered from multiple bouts with malaria.

He has been postulated that King Tut’s demise was unexpected. Because of this, a plethora of artifacts “…including furniture, chariots, clothes, weapons and 130 of the lame king’s walking sticks…” were discovered in one anti-chamber alone plus “…three golden coffins, a granite sarcophagus and four gilded wooden shrines…” that barely fit into the main burial chamber. It has the earmarks of a rush job. And, unfortunately, the people of Egypt, who associated Tut with the revisionist ideas of his father, dismissed him as not worthy of praise. For that reason, his tomb was lost to memory for over 3000 years.


This article was orginally reported by
Don Wyeth

Passionate and intelligent columnist from Madison, WI.

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