Monday, November 5, 2007

Tutankhamun - Mystery solved

The most famous Egyptian pharaoh today is, without doubt, Tutankhamun. The boy king died in his late teens and remained at rest in Egypt's Valley of the Kings for over 3,300 years.
These days, the true face of Tutankhamun was revealed to the public for the first time since he died in mysterious circumstances.

On November 22, 1922 Howard Carter found Tutankhamen's tomb , by far the best preserved and most intact pharaonic tomb ever found in the Valley of the Kings. Although Tutankhamun was only ever minor royalty, he is the iconic figure of ancient Egypt because his tomb, well-hidden from grave robbers, yielded such unsurpassed treasure.
The tomb was intact and contained an amazing collection of treasures including a stone sarcophagus.

On February 16, 1923, Carter opened the burial chamber and first saw the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun.

The sarcophagus contained three gold coffins nested within each other. Inside the final one was the mummy of the boy-king, Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

Tutankhamun's mummy was badly damaged when Howard Carter tried to remove its glittering golden death mask.
The body was broken into 18 pieces when the archaeologist took it from the tomb and tried to pull off the famous mask.
While unwrapping the linens of the mummy, presumably looking for treasure, the skull of the ancient king fell away from the body. The impact from its fall out of the tomb made a dent in the skull.

Speculation surrounding Tutankhamun's death has been rife since his tomb was broken into. X-rays of the mummy taken in 1968 indicated a swelling at the base of the skull, suggesting "King Tut" was killed by a blow to the head.
The mystery behind the sudden death of Tutankhamun may have been finally solved by scientists who believe that he fell from a fast-moving chariot while out hunting in the desert.
More recent studies using a CT medical scanner, however, revealed he suffered a badly broken leg, just above his knee just before he died. That in turn probably led to lethal blood poisoning. Now further evidence has come to light suggesting that he suffered the fracture while hunting game from a chariot.

While many thousands of people have seen the sarcophagus, until yesterday only about 50 were believed to have seen the body.
Restoration work has been carried out over the past two years ahead of the public unveiling.
The body was moved because of fears that increased humidity, caused by the breath and sweat of 5,000 visitors a day to the chamber, were damaging it where it lay in the sarcophagus.
Egypt’s antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said the move was made because the breath and sweat of visitors to the chamber was causing increased humidity, leading to fears the mummy could deteriorate.

Archeologists carefully lifted the fragile mummy out of its quartz sarcophagus decorated with stone-carved protective goddesses, pulling aside a beige linen covering to reveal a shriveled black body.

The linen was then replaced over King Tut's body so only his face and feet were exposed, and the 19-year-old king, whose life and death has captivated people for nearly a century, was moved to the simple glass case.

This will ... make the golden boy live forever," he said, after the mummy was moved to the cabinet, which will preserve it.

"They who enter this sacred tomb shall swift be visited by wings of death."
This was allegedly engraved on the exterior of King Tutankhamen's Tomb.

The rumor of an ancient curse didn't stop this archaeologist from opening the tomb of King Tut.
The day the tomb was opened was one of joy and celebration for all those involved. Nobody seemed to be concerned about a curse.

What is behind the story about the Tutankhamun's curse?
In year 1922, the world of media still belonged to newspapers, and information traveled much more slowly, and less reliably. It was a more superstitious time, and the media was fully adjusted to take advantage of the attribute to sell their publications. It was a time when reporters often simply made up facts in order to sensationalize their stories, and in print, people believed them.
The treasures that Howard Carter discovered in Tutankhamun's tomb were factually sensational, and so the media went into a frenzy covering the event, and the world paid attention.

In late March of 1923, a novelist named Mari Corelli (Mary Mackay) published a warning that there would be dire consequences for anyone who had entered the sealed tomb. Perhaps this revelation was inspired by the fact that on the day Howard Carter opened the tomb, his pet canary was swallowed by a cobra. Cobras, as the goddess Wadjet, were the protectors of the Pharaoh.

Lord CarnarvonLord Carnarvon financed Howard Carter's explorations. He had been in poor health for over 20 years following a motoring accident. When he died of pneumonia in Cairo on April 5th, 1923, only a few weeks after Mari Corelli's warnings, newspapers and other media throughout the world simply went crazy.
It was said that at the moment of Lord Carnarvon's death, the lights went out in Cairo (an event that is still not uncommon today), and that back in England his dog, susie, howled and died in the same instant. These reported events are difficult to prove or disprove.
However, other facts were simply invented by the press.
In addition, newspapers appear to have arbitrarily killed off many of the people surrounding the tomb's discovery. According to one list, 26 people associated with the find died within a decade of its discovery. In reality, only six people died during this first decade, while many others lived to an old age.
Perhaps, the power of a curse is in the mind of the person who believes in it. Howard Carter, the man who actually opened the tomb, never believed in the curse and lived to a reasonably old age of 66 before dying of entirely natural causes.

Even Tutankhamun himself might have been pleased with the discovery of his tomb. The ancient Egyptians believed that their souls were kept alive when their name was remembered, and this has been ensured.


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