Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pondering The Mysteries of Antiquity

According to On This Day, King Tut's Tomb was discovered on February 16, 1923--although many more sources, including BBC News, say it was in 1922 that Howard Carter and his team discovered the surprising location of the burial chamber. In any case, Tut's discovery was a coup then to the world of archeology; it was reported in the New York Times to be "the most extraordinary day in the whole history of Egyptian excavation," and it continues to fascinate us today, partly because of questions that have developed in the last eighty or so years about the young king.

For the longest time people have longed to know more about young Tutankhamen: his parentage, his marriage, and the cause of the end of his short life. Because Carter and his team had found a fracture in the skull when examining the mummy, rumors had floated about for years that perhaps the young king was murdered.

That myth, however, was dispelled three years ago. According to a press release by the team which did a long-awaited cat-scan of Tut's mummified remains, there is nothing to lend credence to the murder theory. There is, in fact, simply no way to know how he died, although the team came up with some possible scenarios, one of which was death by infection after a severely broken leg.

Why does Tut fascinate the world so? There are the obvious reasons: because he is a piece of ancient history, and some of the most visible evidence we have of a time and culture far, far earlier than our own (1355-1346 B.C.) Added to that, he was royalty, and perhaps we long to know the story, the way of life, for a boy who ascended to the throne at the age of eight and was dead by nineteen. Perhaps too, at a more elemental level, it is simply amazing to us that someone who died so long ago can still be so physically present, so perfectly preserved, creating a link between our world and his.

In any case, despite the fact that science has answered many of the questions the world has posed about Tut, there are those things we will never know--and Tut remains one of my favorite mysteries.

4 comments:

Peter said...

He is also the only pharoah to have inspired a villian on Batman, as far as I know.
===================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Julia Buckley said...

I guess I never saw that episode, although I saw some pretty bizarre villains, including Louie the Lilac and Egghead.

Who's the Tut Villain?

Peter said...

I have just found out, courtesy of Wikipedia, that King Tut was played by Victor Buono and "was the main villain five times on the show, more often than any other villain created specifically for the show that did not previously appear in the comics."

I remember Egghead, but Louie the Lilac?
===================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Julia Buckley said...

Louie the Lilac was played by--get this--Milton Berle!