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Monday, November 26, 2012


Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty known as the New Kingdom. His name means “Living Image of Aten”, although he is popularly known as “King Tut”. He was the son of Akhenaten and one of Akhenaten’s sisters. He ascended the throne in 11333 BC at the age of nine or ten. When he became king, he married his half-sister. They had two daughters, both stillborn.

There is some believe that because Tutankhamun was the result of an incestuous relationship he may have suffered some several genetic defects that contributed to his early death. He was slight of build and about 5 ft 11 in (180 cm) tall. Research showed that he had a slight cleft palate and possibly a mild case of scoliosis. He died at the age of 19. For years, scientists have tried to unravel clues as to why the boy king died. There were several theories, one that he was killed by a blow to his head, another that his death was caused by a broken leg.  There was also the possibility of various diseases including sickle cell disease.

There are no surviving records of Tutankhamun’s final days. There was some speculation that he might have been assassinated but the general consensus is that his death ws accidental.  He was buried in a tomb that was small considering his status. Perhaps his death was unexpected before they could complete a grander royal tomb.  He faded from public interest in Ancient Egypt within a short time after his death and remained virtually unknown until the 1920’s when his tomb was found in the Valley of the Kings. His tomb was found by explorers Howard Carter and George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon in     1922.  Although it had likely been robbed at least twice in antiquity, probably soon after the initial burial, the tomb was filled with priceless treasures.

Tutankhamun’s mummy rested in his tomb i the Valley of the Kings until November 4, 2007, 85 years to the day after Carter’s discovery, when it went on display inthe underground tomb at Luxor, when the linen-wrapped mummy was removed from its golden sarcophagus to a climbate-controlled glass box designed to prevent decomposition caused by humidity and warmth from tourists visiting the tomb.  His tomb is among the best preserved. Relics from the tomb are among the most traveled artifacts in the world.
Jewelled scarab
Last month I travelled to Seattle WA to see them for myself, on display at the Pacific Science Center. It was a huge thrill to step into history and see this grand exhibition.  The exhibition features more than 100 objects from King Tut’s tomb and other ancient sites that represent some of the most important rulers throughout 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history. Many of the object had never been seen before in North America and include a 10 foot statue of the pharaoh found at the remains of the funerary temple of two of his high officials. There were displays of jewelry, furniture and ceremonial items including the boy king’s golden sandals which had been created specifically for the afterlife and still covered his feet when his mummified remains were discovered by Carter back in 1922.
King Tut's bed

Following the tour of the artifacts, there was an IMAX film, “Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs” that followed researchers and explorers as they pieced together the archaeological and genetic clues of Egyptian mummies.

The exhibition is open until January 6, 2013. Tickets are available on-line and include entrance to the Pacific Science Centre exhibits.

Just this past week there was news that a copy of Tut’s original tomb is being built for tourists to view, in order to protect and preserve the original tomb. You can see a you-tube video about it here:

Note: No photos are allowed in the King Tut exhibit. Photos included here are from internet sources.

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