Tutankhamen: The Search for an Egyptian King
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The discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 was perhaps the world’s most important archaeological find. The only near-intact royal tomb to be preserved in the Valley of the Kings, it has supplied an astonishing wealth of artifacts, spurred a global fascination with ancient Egypt, and inspired folklore that continues to evolve today. Despite the tomb’s prominence, however, precious little has been revealed about Tutankhamen himself. In Tutankhamen, acclaimed Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley unshrouds the enigmatic king. She explores his life and legacy as never before, and offers a compelling new window onto the world in which he lived.
Tutankhamen ascended to the throne at approximately eight years of age and ruled for only ten years. Although his reign was brief and many of his accomplishments are now lost to us, it is clear that he was an important and influential king ruling in challenging times. His greatest achievement was to reverse a slew of radical and unpopular theological reforms instituted by his father and return Egypt to the traditional pantheon of gods. A meticulous examination of the evidence preserved both within his tomb and outside it allows Tyldesley to investigate Tutankhamen’s family history and to explore the origins of the pervasive legends surrounding Tutankhamen’s tomb. These legends include Tutankhamen’s “curse”—an enduring myth that reaffirms the appeal of ancient magic in our modern world
A remarkably vivid portrait of this fascinating and often misunderstood ruler, Tutankhamen sheds new light on the young king and the astonishing archeological discovery that earned him an eternal place in popular imagination.
causing more damage, through its roof. Recent work has confirmed that the Valley experienced a devastating flood at the end of the 18th Dynasty. This flood deposited a thick sediment that concealed and protected the entrance to Tutankhamen’s tomb.9 The vanished tomb was quickly forgotten. The 20th Dynasty builders who worked on the tomb of Ramesses VI almost two centuries after Tutankhamen’s death were certainly unaware of its existence, as they allowed debris from their excavations to
those pieces of jewellery whose cartouches have been altered to give Tutankhamen’s name. Other pieces – such as the pectoral ornament displaying a beetle (kheper) pushing the sun disc (re), which forms a rebus reading ‘Neb-kheperu-re’ (Tutankhamen) – were clearly made for him. 10. The ‘Elder Lady’ discovered in the Amenhotep II cache of royal mummies and believed by many to be Tiy, consort of Amenhotep III and mother of Akhenaten. The most intriguing of the ‘heirlooms’ was discovered in the
perform this vital operation had inspired Smith to write for The Times as early as 15 December 1922:It would be a misfortune if the shrouded corpses [Smith was hoping that Tutankhamen had been buried with Ankhesenamen] are not fully studied to recover this valuable information which is so urgently wanted by students of the history of mummification and of the so-called ‘ritual of embalmment’, for if full records and photographs are made of the external appearance of the mummy it will be possible
last encountered in KV 55.30 We have no confirmed Kiya sculpture, but her two-dimensional image has survived on blocks from Amarna, enabling us to recognise her face, which appears both softer and rounder than Nefertiti’s more angular face. Kiya favours a bobbed wig and large, round earrings, so that there is a temptation to classify any Amarna woman sporting large earrings as Kiya (Plate xx). Kiya, like Nefertiti, is a woman of obscure origins. This is entirely understandable, if frustrating:
eyebrows, but she did have fine hair on her head, which Derry thought was probably the remains of lanugo (fine baby hair). A portion of the umbilical cord was still attached. Derry estimated that this child had died at five months’ gestation. The second mummy was also well bandaged, but lacked a golden mummy mask. It seems likely that the miniature mask, recovered by Davis in his 1907 excavation of Tutankhamen’s embalming refuse (KV 54), and now housed in Cairo Museum (JE 39711), originally came