Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The curse of the pharaohs

1922, the journalists reported that an inscription near the door of King Tutankhamen's tomb read, "Death shall come on swift wings to him who disturbs the peace of the King". The Curse of the Pharaohs seemingly proved itself to be real, when all of the archaeologists and workers who desecrated the tomb of Tutankhamen were reported to have died horrible and early deaths.By November 1922, the archaeologist Howard Carter had spent seven frustrating years looking for King Tut's tomb in Luxor's Valley of the Kings. Eventually, his workers dug down 4 metres beneath the tomb of Rameses VI, where they found an entrance in the rock that led to a passageway 3 metres high and 2 metres wide. They cleaned out the rubble, and at the twelfth step, they found the top of a sealed stone doorway. This was exciting news, so Howard Carter immediately invited his financier, Lord Carnarvon, to come to the site to be present for the opening of the tomb. On the evening of November 24, Carter and Carnarvon were present when all the rubble was removed to reveal the stone door with the seal of King Tutankhamen in the plaster. This door was opened. It took another two days of hard work to clear another descending stairway full of rubble. This time they found a second door, which had the seals of both the Royal Necropolis and Tutankhamen. The workers made a hole through the stone door and Carter looked in with the light of a candle. Lord Carnarvon asked, "Can you see anything?" Carter replied, "Wonderful things". There was magnificent treasure in the anteroom - and even more in the inner room, which took them another three months to get to. Lord Carnarvon himself opened this inner door on February 17th, 1923. King Tut's mummified remains were inside three coffins. The outer two coffins were made of hammered gold fitted to wooden frames, while the innermost coffin was made of solid gold. The body was originally inspected by Howard Carter’s team , though they were primarily interested in recovering the jewelry and amulets from the body. To remove the objects from the body, which in many cases were stuck fast by the hardened embalming resins used, Carter's team cut up the mummy into various pieces: the arms and legs were detached, the torso cut in half and the head was severed. Hot knives were used to remove it from the golden mask to which it was cemented by resin.Lord Carnarvon died on April 6, 1923The 5th Earl was an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist, undertaking in 1907 to sponsor the excavation of the royal tombs at Thebes by Howard Carter. It was in 1922 that they together opened the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, exposing treasures unsurpassed in the history of archaeology. Several months later, Carnarvon was found dead at the Winter Palace Hotel.His death is most probably explained by blood poisoning (progressing to pneumonia) after accidentally shaving a mosquito bite infected with erysipelas. At 1:55 a.m., the lights in Cairo (where he died in a hospital) went out and plunged the people into darkness. Reportedly, at the same time, back at his home, his dog gave out a great howl and died.[citation needed]King Tut's treasures went on exhibition to various museums around the world. When Arthur C. Mace from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and George Benedite of The Louvre in Paris each died after showing the treasures of King Tut.Tut was the son of Akhenaten and his minor wife Kiya. Queen Kiya's title was "Greatly Beloved Wife of Akhenaten" so it is possible she could have borne him an heir. Supporting this theory, images on the tomb wall in the tomb of Akhenaten show that a royal fan bearer standing next to Kiya's death bed, fanning what is either a princess or most likely a wet nurse holding a baby, which would indicate that the wet nurse was holding the boy-king-to-be.Tut Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty (ruled 1333 BC1324 BC), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. His original name, Tutankhaten, meant "Living Image of Aten", while Tutankhamun meant "Living Image of Amun". He is possibly also the Nibhurrereya of the Amarna letters. He was likely the 18th dynasty king 'Rathotis', who according to Manetho, an ancient historian, had reigned for 9 years—a figure which conforms exactly with Flavius Josephus' generally accurate version of Manetho's Epitome.[2]In historical terms, Tutankhamun is of only moderate significance, and most of his modern popularity stems from the fact that his tomb in the Valley of the Kings was discovered almost completely intact. However, he is also significant as a figure who managed the beginning of the transition from the heretical Atenism of his predecessors Akhenaten and Smenkhkare back to the familiar Egyptian religion. As Tutankhamun began his reign at age 9, his vizier and eventual successor Ay was probably making most of the important political decisions during Tutankhamun's reign. Nonetheless, Tutankhamun is, in modern times, one of the most famous of the Pharaohs, and the only one to have a nickname in popular culture ("King Tut").His age at death was estimated at 19 years, based on physical developments that set upper and lower limits to his age. The king had been in general good health, and there were no signs of any major infectious disease or malnutrition during childhood. He was slight of build, and was roughly 170 cm (5'7") tall. He had large front incisor teeth and the overbite characteristic of the rest of the Thutmosid line of kings to which he belonged. He also had a pronounced dolichocephalic (elongated) skull, though it was within normal bounds and highly unlikely to have been pathologic in cause. Given the fact that many of the royal depictions of Akhenaten (possibly his father, certainly a relation), often featured an elongated head, it is likely an exaggeration of a family trait, rather than a distinct abnormality. The research also showed that the pharaoh had cleft palate.[6] A slight bend to his spine was also found, but the scientists agreed that there was no associated evidence to suggest that it was pathological in nature, and that it was much more likely to have been caused during the embalming process.A now-famous letter to the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I from a widowed queen of Egypt, explaining her problems and asking for one of his sons as a husband, has been attributed to Ankhesenamun (among others). Suspicious of this good fortune, Suppiluliumas I first sent a messenger to make inquiries on the truth of the young queen's story. After reporting her plight back to Suppiluliuma I, he sent his son, Zannanza, accepting her offer. However, Zananza got no further than the border before he was killed, according to the Hittite archives. If Ankhesenamun were the queen in question, and his death a murder, it was probably at the orders of either Horemheb or Ay, who both had the opportunity and the motive to kill him.

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