Monday 22 April 2024

Discovering the Tut

Discovering the Tut : The Saga Continues

                                  By A. R. Williams


·       The story ‘Discovering the Tut : The Saga Continues’ is written by A. R. Williams, an American author whose works got published in 'Heroic Fantasy Quarterly'.

·       In the chapter "Discovering Tut," the author provides a vivid account of the investigation of king Tutankhamun’s grave.

·       The chapter delves into the peculiarities of the investigation process in that time's culture, traditions, atmosphere, by the diverse team of investigators who included archaeologists, scientists and historians to know the cause of sudden death of young king, Tutankhamun.

·       The chapter blends observation, tribute and reflection to offer readers a rich and diversified exploration of burial practices in ancient Egypt, its culture, architecture, rituals and beliefs focussing particularly on the tradition of mummifying a dead body.

·       The theme of the story is the significance of burial culture of ancient Egypt and its legacy to keep the history and culture alive and, has lured the people from generation to generation.

Summary  /  Synopsis

§  In the chapter "Discovering Tut," the author provides a vivid account of the investigation of king Tutankhamun’s grave by the team of investigators that were archaeologists, scientists and historians who tried to know the cause of sudden death of young king, Tutankhamun.

§  King Tut was just a teenager when he died. He was the last heir of a powerful family that had ruled Egypt and its empire for centuries. After his death he was forgotten for the years. But after the discovery of his tomb in 1922, the modern world wondered about the cause of his untimely death. He was brought out of his tomb and recently a CT scan was done to ascertain the reason of his death.

§  At 6 pm on 5th January, 2005, the world's most famous mummy was taken out from its tomb. As the mummy of King Tut was being put into the scanner for performing a CT scan, heavy winds started blowing, the weather had been bad all day and the night and sky was covered by dark clouds. The CT scan was done to unearth the mysteries of untimely death of this young King who died more than 3300 years ago. King Tut's tomb lies 26 feet underground in the ancient Egyptian cemetery known as the ‘Valley of the Kings’. Tourists from around the world came to visit the tomb to pay their respects. They gazed at the murals on the walls of the burial chamber and looked at King Tut's gilded face on the lid of his outer coffin. The visitors were curious and thoughtful. Some feared the pharaoh's curse would befall those who disturbed him.

§  Howard Carter, a British archaeologist discovered King Tut's tomb in 1922 after years of futile searching. Its contents remain the richest royal collection ever found. There were dazzling works of art in gold and people's everyday things such as board games, a bronze razor, cases of food, clothes, wine, etc. that he would need in the life after death. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, explained that the mummy was in a very bad condition because of what Howard Carter did to it. 

    Howard Carter found King Tut's body in three nested coffins. In the first coffin, he found a shroud decorated with garlands of willow and olive leaves, wild celery, lotus petals and cornflowers as the burial took place in March or April. The ritual resins had hardened, cementing King Tut to the bottom of the solid gold coffin. Howard Carter tried to loosen the resins by putting the mummy outside in the sun that heated it to 149 degrees Fahrenheit. For several hours the mummy was set outside in blazing sunshine but nothing happened. He reported that the tough material had to be cut from under the limbs and trunk to free the King's remains. The royals, in that time, believed that they could take their fortune with them after death. Hence, King Tut was buried with all his expensive belongings. To separate King Tut from his ornaments, Howard Carter's men removed the mummy's head and cut off nearly every major joint; then they reassembled the remains of the body on a layer of sand in a wooden box with padding.

§  Archaeology has changed since then, focusing less on treasures and more on the fascinating details of life and mysteries of death. It also uses more sophisticated tools. In 1968, more than 40 years after Howard Carter's discovery, an anatomy professor did the X-ray of the mummy and revealed an astonishing fact that beneath the resin that caked King Tut's chest, his breast bone and front ribs were missing. King Tut's demise was a big event, as he was the last ruler of his family. His funeral meant the end of a royal dynasty. But the facts of his death are unclear.

§  King Tut's father or grandfather, Amenhotep III, was a powerful King, who ruled for almost four decades. His son, Amenhotep IV succeeded him. He was a very strange King. He promoted the worship of Aten, the sun disk, and changed his name to Akhenaten. He moved the religious capital from Thebes to Akhetaten, now known as Amarna. He shocked the country by attacking a major god 'Amun' by breaking his images and closing down his temples.

§  Ray Johnson, Director of the University of Chicago's research centre in Luxor, called this King very odd. He said it must have been a terrible time for the people because the family that had ruled for centuries was coming to an end. After Akhenaten's death, Smenkhkare, a mysterious ruler, ruled for a brief period and departed with hardly any sign. It was then that a very young King Tutankhaten took over the throne. The boy soon changed his name to Tutankhamun, known as King Tut today. He oversaw revival of the old ways. King Tut ruled for nine years and then died unexpectedly.

§  King Tut is one mummy among many in Egypt. The Egyptian Mummy Project has recorded almost six hundred mummies and is still counting. King Tut's mummy was the first mummy to be CT scanned to ascertain the secret of his death by a portable scanner donated by National Geographic Society and Siemens. King Tut's entire body was scanned. On the night of the scan, workmen carried him from the tomb and rose it on a hydraulic lift into a trailer that held the scanner.

§  However, initially the costly scanner could not function properly because of sand in the cooler fan. But soon all the hurdles were crossed and after the scan, the King was returned to his coffin to rest in peace.

§  The CT scan showed an astonishing image of King Tut and his entire body very clearly. It showed a grey head, neck vertebrae, a hand, several images of the rib cage and a section of the skull. Zahi Hawass was relieved that nothing had seriously gone wrong. As the technicians left the trailer, they saw the star constellation which the ancient Egyptians knew as the soul of Osiris, the God of the afterlife. They felt as if the God was watching over the boy King.


   The theme of the story is the significance of burial culture of ancient Egypt known as 'Mummy Culture' and its legacy to keep the history and culture alive and, has lured the people from generation to generation.

   Important Question Answers:

   Q1. Give reasons for the following - 

   a. King Tut's body has been subjected to repeated scrutiny.

   Ans. King Tut's body has been subjected to repeated scrutiny for the riches it was buried with. There has been a lot of speculations about untimely and sudden death of the young King in the prime phase of his life.

   b. Howard Carter's investigation was rejected.

   Ans. Howard Carter's investigation was rejected because he used unscientific methods and illegitimate ways to cut the body away from the wooden base. He also focused more on the discovery of gold and riches than on the fascinating details of Tut's life and mysteries behind his death and ignoring the cultural and historical aspects.

   c. Tut's body was buried along with gilded treasures.

   Ans. The Egyptians believed in life after death at the time of King Tut's death. Therefore, for the convenience of the king's journey beyond life they buried all the riches, ornaments, clothes, food items and all other needs along with the corpse.

   d. The boy king changed his name.

   Ans. During the reign of King he changed his name from Tutenkhaten to Tutkhamun because the latter meant 'the living image of Amun', and the reason being King Tut's predecessor. King Amenhotep IV attacked 'Amun' and smashed his images and got his temples closed, who at that time was a well known god. King Tut, in order to restore the old order and express his faith in 'Amun', changed to that name.

   Q2. What was the result of CT scan?

   Ans. The results of CT scan were very positive. 1700 digital X ray images were created in cross section. A gray head took shape on screen, which was apun and tilted in every direction. Several other images revealed neck vertebrae, hand, rib cage and a transection of skull. The entire CT scan was satisfying and relieving proving that nothing had gone seriously wrong with Tut's body.

   Q3. Explain the statement, "King Tut is one of the first mummiesto be scanned - in death, as in life......"

   Ans. King Tut's mummy was the first one to be x rayed by an anatomy professor in 1968. in 2005 a virtual reality was created by the CT scan, which produced life like images. In his life he had been a bold, intelligent and fearless king. H tried to restore his legacy which was demolished by his forefather. He was a believer, protector and ruler. Thus, in death as well as in life, King Tut remained logically ahead of his contemporaries.

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