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King Tutankhamun sample essay

Tutankhamun, better known as King Tut, was unwanted by his subjects, ignored by his successors and forgotten for more than thirty centuries. Thanks to the discovery of his tomb by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter, he has been reborn as Egypt’s most famous son, achieving true immortality. Tut was born during the Amama Age, around 1341 BC. His mother was believed to be Kiya and his father was Akhenaten. When Tut was born his given name was Tutankhaton which means “Living image of Aten”. Later it was changed to Tutankhamun which means “Living image of Amun”. In 1334 BC Tut was only nine years old when he became pharaoh, making him the youngest in history. Tut married his half-sister Ankhasenpaaten that same year. They had two stillborn children, leaving King Tut without a living heir. Tut accomplished little in his life. He neither expanded Egypt’s borders nor enjoyed victories like the pharaohs before him. After being pharaoh for ten years, Tut was mysteriously killed.

The young king’s short reign was a time of reconstruction following the devastation of his father’s latter years. The period was marked by a significant increase in artistic and architectural activity throughout Egypt. In the area of Thebes, a number of sculptures from the reign have been found at Karnak, either of the king himself or of deities represented with his facial features. The unfinished colonnade at Luxor was decorated during the reign of King Tut with portraits on the door jambs. An inscribed limestone lintel of Tut was discovered in Memphis, known as the “Rest-house of Tutankhamun”. Two red granite lions were found at Gebel Barkal. After being found, they were moved to a British museum. One of the lions were inscribed with a dedication text of Tut which was originally set up at Suld by Ay. There are many artifacts proven and unproven from the reign of the king. The previous listing (which is, necessarily, selective) gives some indication of the range of monuments and artifacts of Tut that have come down to us–from splendid long-dismantled temple precincts to the humblest of discarded seal impressions (Reeves 26).

Tut was at the top of the hierarchical pyramid of Egyptian society. The king’s contact with his people was very limited. He was always surrounded at court by his inner circle of advisers and friends. The king’s inner circle consisted of many people, but only four of their names have been found. Ay was the top man in the circle; he was called the God’s Father, serving as Pharaoh after Tut’s death. Horemhed along with Nakhtmin were military officers. They were the commander-in-chief of the army and the king’s deputies. Maya’s gifts are like those of Nakhtmin; they both have close personal attachment to King Tut. Maya had taken responsibility, not only for Tut’s burial tomb, but also for its restoration. As far as the names of these officials are concerned, Egypt during the reign of Tut is like a jigsaw puzzle for which most the pieces are missing. The majority of Tut’s administrators, priests, military men, or peasants, nothing whatsoever is known (Reeves 30).

The Valley of the Kings is a desolate place. It is located across the Nile River from the ancient city of Thebes (the modern-day Luxor). This valley supports no vegetation and provides no shelter from the relentless sun. This is the place where Egyptian pharaohs from three thousand years ago chose to be interred in tombs buried beneath the lifeless landscape. Surrounded in death by treasures of unimaginable value, the Pharaohs hoped to elude discovery by grave robbers who had violated the burial vaults of their predecessors. Their efforts failed, thieves pillaged all the burial tombs except for one, which was the one belonging to King Tut.

The most famous of all the kings found in the Valley of the Kings was King Tut. His tomb was in almost perfect condition. His tomb had been robbed once, very soon after being placed there, but all the stolen items have been recovered. It was believed that all the royal tombs have been robbed and drained of their treasure, that is until King Tut’s tomb was discovered by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon on November 4, 1922 (“http://www.KingTutOne.com”). His tomb was a major discovery; it made the headlines of papers all around the world. Carnarvon was a rich man who owned the right to dig in the Valley of the King. Lord Carnarvon allowed Carter to dig for the name Tutankhamun; which he found reference to stone wall. They searched for Tut in the valley of Kings for five years and found nothing (“http://www.site-ology.com/egypt/KT.HTM”). Carnarvon started to give up hope, until Carter offered to pay the worker, so Carnarvon agreed.

After four days under Carter’s pay they found the steps leading to the doorway of Tut’s tomb ( Reeves 48-50) Howard Carter was the youngest of eleven children; born on May 9, 1874. Most of his youth was spent at the Carter family home, in the quiet village of Swaffham. Howard was an artist with considerable skills. When he was seventeen years old he traveled to Egypt and worked at Beni Hasan and later at Deir el-Bersha. While there he undertook an excavation at el-Amarna on behalf of William Amhurst Tyssen-Amherst (Reeves 40).

At the age of forty-three he began searching for Tut’s tomb with Lord Carnarvon. Six months after turning forty-eight they found the stairs entering the tomb. On February 16, 1923; he opened the innermost chamber and found the Sarcophagus of King Tut. The wealth of artifacts and treasures found in the tomb took almost a decade to excavate. Carter remained in Egypt, working until the excavation was complete in 1932. He returned to London and spent his last years working as a collector for various museums. Carter died in London on March 2, 1939; he was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery in London(“http://www.biography.com”).

Lord Carnarvon was born June 26, 1866 in Highclere Castle, Hampshire, England. Carnarvon got his education at Eton and Trinity College, in Cambridge. On June 26, 1895; Lord Carnarvon married Almina Victoria Maria Alexandra Wombwell. The same year they had a son named Henry George Alfred Marius Victor Francis Herbert, and a daughter named Lady Evelyn Herbert. In 1901 Carnarvon suffered a very serious motoring accident leaving him in very poor health. On April 5, 1923; Carnarvon died in Cairo of pneumonia and Septicemia after nicking a mosquito bite with his cut-throat razor (“http://www.king-tut.org”) .

The only room in the tomb with any sort of wall decorations was the burial chamber, whose paintings executed on a yellow painted gypsum ground with white dado reflects is ancient ritual name: “the House of Gold”. The upper part of the east wall depicts the mummified king. His name was written in hieroglyphs. The picture has men dressed in white and wearing white mourning band upon their brows. There was also men who had shaved heads and distinguishing dress; they were the chief ministers, of the Upper and Lower Egypt, perhaps Pentu and Usermont. On the North wall there was a large painting of the burial chamber, subdivided into three separate scenes, ordered right to left. The first scene depicts Tut’s heir, the aged Ay, wearing the blue crown and dressed in the leopard skin of a setem-priest.

The names of both Tut and Ay are written above their heads in hieroglyphs. In the second scene Tut has was wearing the costume of the living king although he had now entered the realm of the gods where he was greeted by the goddess Nut. In another scene Tut is welcomed with an embrace into the underworld by Osiris “king of the dead”. The south wall decorations are parallel to those on the north wall. Here the king wore the bag-shaped khat-headdress, being welcomed into the realms of the underworld by Hathor “goddess of the west”. The west wall focus and culmination of the burial chamber’s decorative scheme. The lower register of the wall is occupied by the first twelve hours of the night through which the sun –and king- must travel before achieving rebirth at dawn.

Carter’s description of the ‘Innermost Treasury’ was written in 1923; however it was four more busy years before he would be able to begin the clearance. The clearance began at the end of October 1926 with the removal of the Anubis jackal and the wooden cow head. After those treasuries where removed the excavation team began removing boxes, caskets, bow-case, model boats, two mummified fetuses, the Osiris bed and many more artifacts. A number of objects were recovered from within and beneath the corridor. Among all those found include stone jar lids, splinters of gilded wood, a bronze arrowhead and a gilded bronze staple. It seemed that these treasures were dropped at the tomb entrance by the first band of robbers, and later gathered up with the rubble employed to fill the corridor. Although Carter had concluded that the first group of robbers had access to the entire tomb, the second to the Antechamber and Annexe only. Carter believed that the first groups of robbers were primarily interested in metal. The second theft was more extensive than the first. It was a bigger challenge than the first entry because it took seven to eight hours to dig a tunnel.

Once in they had access to all chambers in the tomb. The king’s portrait mask stands as a masterpiece of the Egyptian metalworker’s craft. The mask was beat on from two separate sheets of gold. The mask was embellished by chasing, burning, and by the addition of inlay work. The golden mask is one foot and nine inches tall and weighs twenty two and a half pounds. The mask represents the young king as Osiris. On the brow sits the vulture and cobra, Nekhbet and Wadjit. The vulture’s eyes on Tut mask were missing. They were made from quartz and obsidian, and convey a distinctly life-like impression. The eye reproduces the distinctive eye make-up; originally applied to protect against the sun glare but increasingly used for its beautifying effect. Additional personal embellishment was added to in the pierced ears which were covered with discs of gold foil when found.

In Tut’s tomb his head was protected by its magnificent portrait mask. The king appeared truly to have achieved his goals of health, strength, and eternal life. The first parts of the mummy to be completely divested of their wrappings were the shrunken and attenuated lower legs. By the 15th of November the team had progressed as far as the neck. A ragged embalming wound about eight and a half centimeters or more in length from the navel to hip bone was visible. The arms were fixed at the elbow, with forearms arranged in a parallel form with over right. On 16th of November the body was dismantled to allow its removal from the coffin to be further examined.

The curse of king Tut was a popular legend. This curse was born when Carnarvon died less than six months after opening the tomb. As the news of his death began being reported all around the world, the stories of the curse began. It was reported that the tomb had contained an ancient Egyptian curse: “They who enter this sacred tomb shall swift be visited by the wings of death.” There were no such hieroglyphic text found anywhere in the tomb. It is true however, that ancient Egyptians did in fact engage in the use of various types of curses and threats. Some were even directed specifically against trespassers who attempted to violate the tomb. Despite this, the legend of the curse of King Tut lives on (“http://www.kingtut.org”).

In conclusion, Tutankhamun is one of the most studied people of our time. Tut was a king unwanted by his subjects, ignored by his successors and forgotten for more than thirty centuries. Thanks to the famous discovery of his tomb made by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter. He was reborn as Egypt’s most famous. He achieved true immortality. The discovery of Tut tomb made headlines all around the world. And still to this day Tut death remains a mystery (Reeves 208).

Works Cited
“Howard Carter biography.” http://www.biography.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec 2011. . “Howard Carter biography.” http://www.biography.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec 2011. . “Howard Carter biography.” http://www.biography.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec 2011. . Reeves, Nicholas. The Complete Tutankhamun . 1. 1. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 1990. 224. Print. “www.site-ology.com.” http://www.site-ology.com/egypt/KT.HTM. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov 2011. . “Tutankhamun’s (king Tut) Life.” http://www.KingTutOne.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov 2011. .

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