He was not considered to be an important Pharaoh, at all! However, the royal items found with his mummy outweighed the rest! The miracle power of the mummy to avenge the intruders is indeed an interesting phenomenon, as well!
Tutankhamen was the son-in-law of Amenhotep IV, also known as Akhenaten who was an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh reigning c. 1353-1336 or 1351-1334 BC, and the 10th ruler of the 18th Dynasty. Neferneferuaten Nefertiti, famous for her beauty, was the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten. They did not have any son, but seven daughters. Tutankhamen – the last Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty who used to rule during the end of the New Kingdom of Egyptian History – was one of the sons-in-law of Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti. He was, most probably, born in Amarna in 1341 BC, and ruled Egypt from 1332 BC to 1323 BC. His father-in-law Amenhotep IV was an exceptional Emperor. Leaving the splendour of the city of Thebes, he built a new capital between the ancient city of Thebes and Memphis, near Tell el-Amarna village.
Tutankhamen was not considered as an important pharaoh, as he was considered to be a mere puppet of the priesthood. His original name was Tut Ankh Aten! It may be noted that Aten, also spelled Aton in ancient Egyptian religion, was the Sun God, worshiped by his father-in-law. However, the priests had advised him to change his name to Tut Ankh Amun or Tutankhamen. Amun was the favourite god of those priests. Then, people started worshipping Amun at different Egyptian temples. The existing priesthood slowly made people forget the name of God Aten, as well as Akhenaten, from the history. The capital was, once again, shifted from Amarna to Thebes!
The puppet Pharaoh helped the priests erase the name of his father-in-law and stop worshipping God Aten. Still, he stole the limelight only because of his tomb, which became famous for the wealth of valuable antiquities that it contained. The tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. Historians found 5,398 artefacts inside the tomb of young pharaoh, one of the smallest tombs in Egyptian History! The king’s body was placed within three mummiform coffins. While the outer two made of gilded wood, the innermost was composed of 110.4kg of pure gold! King Tut’s funerary mask is made of gold, inlaid with lapis lazuli, carnelian, quartz, obsidian, turquoise and glass and faience, and weighs 11kg! Almost all of the royal treasures found in his tomb belonged to his father-in-law Amenhotep IV.
After the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb, two interesting tales became the subject of media coverage around the world. The first one is the Mystery of Tutankhamen’s Assassination! It was heard that as the Pharaoh’s health condition was poor and he had no descendants, his wife Ankhesenamun murdered him with the help of their coachman in a bid to seize power. This rumour was based on an X-Ray report, which showed that bones of King Tut’s left leg were damaged. There was also a sign of injury in his skull! Later, researchers claimed that Pharaohs used to marry their own family members. Hence, Tutankhamen had various genetic diseases. The young Pharaoh could not walk properly due to some problems in his left foot. So, he used to walk with a cane. Those sticks were also found in his tomb! According to researchers, genetic testing for Plasmodium Falciparum revealed indications of Malaria Tropica in Tutankhamen’s mummy. It further indicates that he was repeatedly infected with the most severe strain of malaria before his death, and his malaria infections might have caused a fatal immune response in the body or triggered circulatory shock.
The second interesting tale is about the curse of King Tut! In this context, English Archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter (May 9, 1874 – March 2, 1939) played an important role. Lord Carnarvon, who received the concession to dig in the Valley of the Kings in 1914, employed Carter to lead the work. Carter and his team entered inside the main 110sqft tomb of Tutankhamen on November 26, 1922. This remarkable discovery triggered a sensation across the globe. The media, almost immediately, started publishing all sorts of miraculous news related to curse of King Tut’s mummy in an attempt to increase their circulation. Some published that it was mentioned inside the tomb that death was inevitable, if an outsider invaded it. Others published fictional stories about Anubis, a jackal-headed deity who presided over the embalming process and accompanied dead kings in the afterworld, and King Tut’s mummy. Most importantly, they published those stories without understanding the meaning of the Hieroglyphic scripts!
There are three most popular stories about King Tut’s curse…
Usually, one can find the feature of the Uraeus at the top of the crown of pharaohs. The Uraeus is a symbol for the Goddess Wadjet, who was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and was often depicted as a cobra. After discovering the tomb of King Tut, Carter returned home, and found that an Egyptian cobra swallowing his pet yellow canary, a small songbird in the finch family!
It is quite common for men to have a cut in the face while shaving. However, it turned into septicemia in the case of Lord Carnarvon, the project’s sponsor! He died in Cairo on April 5, 1923. Incidentally, his pet dog also died in the same morning! Unnatural deaths of the family members of some of those involved in the excavation, too, made the story of the mummy’s curse a popular one. One of Lord Carnarvon’s half-brothers became blind after the discovery, while a member of Carter’s team died of arsenic poisoning.
The fact is that intruders had entered the tomb of Tutankhamen even before its discovery, and looted many artefacts. Even in the 20th Century, mummies were sold openly on the streets of Cairo. Howard Carter, himself, lived a healthy life till the age of 64. There is hardly any story about all these. Only his solitary death and Hodgkin’s disease did have talks of the curse!
King Tut’s tomb was discovered nearly a century ago. Since 1922, several TV shows and movies have been made on the mummy’s curse. It is because people love to hear stories, especially about ghosts or unearthly subjects!
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