THE TRAVELLING HISTORIAN -- KING TUT ET AL

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KING TUT ET AL

From the time a Pharoah left the womb, men set to work on his tomb, where with all the accoutraments needed in the afterlife, he would await entry into eternity from where he would look down on the land and life he had left. These shots taken from the space capsule are what he wanted to see from the everlasting afterlife.

The meandering Nile, life-blood of the Pharoah's Land.

Life in later Egypt, the Nile alight with Cairo bright

Alexandria

Re, Egypt's sun god, setting as never seen by any Pharoah

A reconstrction of Alexandria. The colonade ran the length of the city. Set on the edge of an impossibly blue sea, Cleopatra's Alexandria ranked as "the first city of the civilized world," its fashion capital and seat of learning.

Egypt North

Egypt South

Early Dynastic Periods [All dates approximate]
1st Dynasty 3100-2890 BC
2nd Dynasty 2890-2686 BC

Old Kingdom 3rd to 6th Dynasties
3rd Dynasty 2686-2613 BC
4th Dynasty 2613-2494 BC
5th Dynasty 2494-2345 BC
6th Dynasty 2345-2181 BC

1st Intermediate Period 7th to 10th Dynasties

Middle Kingdon 11th to 12th Dynasties

2nd Intermediate Period 13th to 17th Dynasties

New Kingdom 18th to 20 Dynasties

EIGHTEENTH DYNASTY
Ahmose (Nebpehtyre) 1539 - 1514 BC
Amenhotep I (Djeserkare) 1514 - 1493 BC
Thutmose I (Akheperkare) 1493 - 1481 BC
Thutmose II (Akheperenre) 1491 - 1479 BC
Hatshepsut (Maatkare) 1473 - 1458 BC
Thutmose III (Menkheperre) 1504 - 1450 BC
Amenhotep II (Akheperure) 1427 - 1392 BC
Thutmose IV (Menkheperure) 1419 - 1386 BC
Amenhotep III (Nebmaatre) 1382 - 1344 BC
Amenhotep IV / Akhenaten 1350 - 1334 BC
Smenkhkare (Ankhkheperure) 1336-1334 BC
Tutankhamun (Nebkheperure) 1334 - 1325 - King Tut BC
Ay (Kheperkheperure) 1325 - 1321 BC
Horemheb (Djeserkheperure) 1323 - 1295 BC

NINETEENTH DYNASTY
Ramesses I 1295-1294 BC
Sethos I 1294-1279 BC

Period of Decline 21st to 25th Dynasties

Saitic Period 26th Dynasty

Persion Period 27th to 30th Dynasties

Egypt is heavy with history that never fails to fascinate tourists, who stare in wonder and delight at its relics of the ages. Pyramids take first place when we think of that great civilization and no matter how often one has seen pictures of these great structures, nothing can prepare one for finally standing on the hot sand beneath the searing sun and staring up at the real thing.

There are about 110 pyramids currently known in Egypt, many in a state of great disrepair and almost unrecognizable. Some were built as burial places for kings and others for queens. A pyramid could also have represented a stairway for the king to ascend to the heavens. It might also have been symbolic of the primeval mound on which the sun god/creator was born.

The earliest pyramid was the Step Pyramid from the Old Kingdom's 3rd Dynasty over 4,600 years ago. Its construction was initially in the form of a low mastaba tomb upon which extra levels were gradually added to give it a step-like appearance.

Step Pyramid
photo by
Bob Giza

Khufu's Pyramid
Near and Far
photos by
B. Wilson [left]
G.Wilson [right]

How the Egyptians managed the complex organization of labour and the physical movement of large stone blocks is still a matter for debate. Pyramid construction may have involved ramps erected around the pyramid. Blocks would be pulled up on sledges and the ramps dismantled later. It is believed that most of the labour for the construction of the pyramids came from farmers available during the inundation season when the Nile River flooded and farmland was underwater. The rocks would have been transported down the river on large barges from their quarries to the pyramid sites.

Many of the blocks used in the pyramids were marked with practical instructions such as: 'this side up'. Others identified the quarry crew and bore such names as: 'Vigorous Gang' or 'Enduring Gang'. Left by the long forgotten men who laboured in the burning sun at the back-breaking work are various inscriptions scratched into the rock from which the blocks were cut. The rock used for one obelisk was granite which the workers chipped with their very primative tools, their bodies absorbing the shocking impact of each hit with the hammer all day long.

The graffiti left by some of the crew members reflected a daring sense of humour. "How drunk is the king?" {Civilizations In History by M.Dale Davis}

Nearby the Sphinx, half lion, half man, grabs the sand and glares at time and the transient tourists that have included Caesar, Napoleon, Winston and the Wilsons. Sand and the wilful wind have made faint its features and more than once covered it completely. The father of history, Herodotus, who travelled much of the known world, was unaware of its existence. It is our memories and imaginations that make these mammoths great, for time takes its toll on man's work and dooms it to destruction.

SPHINX 2990 BC
photo by
Bob Giza

The Valley of the Kings is on the west bank of the Nile. To get there one crosses from the city of the living to the city of the dead. The valley is a deep wadi or depression hollowed in the rocks of the limestone of the Lybian range. This famed archaeological site is accessible today over an asphalted road which follows the ancient track used in the pharaonic era, then referred to as the "road where Re sets." Re was an ancient solar divinity originally worshipped mainly at Heliopolis. It is represented by a hawk's head surmounted by the solar disc and with a ram's head during his nightly sailing. Starting with the Fourth Dynasty, the kings of Egypt took up the name of "son of Re".

The Valley of the Kings is divided into two branches: the Western Valley containing four tombs and the main or Eastern Valley sheltering 58 tombs. The Valley is dominated by the Theban Peak whose likeness to a pyramid is thought to have prompted the first pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty to choose this spot under the sizzling desert sun for their eternal rest. It served this purpose starting in the times of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III until the end of the 20th Dynasty at the time of Ramesses XI, the last pharaoh buried in the Valley.

Silence enveloped the site of the mummies for centuries until Greek and Roman tourists took over and left graffiti to tell of their time at tombs. Silence once again fell over the pharaohs until modern man and woman came and uncovered the tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

In the long, cool tunnels one gazed in awe at the carvings of the skillful craftsmen who built such sarcophagi. The sites of so much wondrous work and worth drew like magnets, pillagers, who plagued these places risking terrible deaths to raid the royal tombs for their beautifully crafted treasured trinkets of silver and gold that were melted into mundane money.

VALLEY OF THE KINGS

Tutankhamun 1333-1324 BC

At one time antiquities were relatively easily taken by tourists and that included anything movable. Even bottles of sand from the sites were treasured. Most of the tombs had been well pillaged of priceless jewellery and funerary equipment in ancient times. Tutankhamun's tomb was the happy exception. In 1922 the last royal tomb of the Valley, the only royal burial site remaining practically untouched, was that of Tutankhamun, the boy king of Egypt, who ruled briefly. He ruled without acclaim for his fame comes not from his talents, but his tomb. As a result of it, the teenaged-Tut has cast a great shadow over other far more illustrious kings of Egypt. Tutankhamenm's tomb contained over five thousand dazzling works of art, which were widely publicized and attracted thousands of sightseers to the Valley of the Kings. The event that captivated world attention was the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun.

The tomb of King Tutankhamenm, who had ruled Egypt three thousand years before, was discovered by Mr. Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor after a seventeen year search. A world-wide legend arose that a curse was inscribed on the tomb.

"Death shall come on swift wings to him that toucheth the tomb of a Pharoah."

This was not the case, though the death of Lord Carnarvon the following year caused superstititous comment.

Here is Mr. Howard Carter, appearing less than happy at being photographed supervising the packing of the treasures that had been found which he could at taht time, take out of the country.

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The late discovery of Tut's tomb resulted from the fact that it was covered by debris from that of Ramesses IV which was located directly above its entrance. While the outermost shrine of the youthful pharaoh had been opened not once but twice in ancient times, the doors of the second of the huge shrines of guilded wood containing the royal sarcophagus still carried the necropolis seal which indicated the pharaoh's mummy was untouched and intact.

Necropolis
Seal of KING TUT'S Tomb

KING TUT Uncovered

Egyptians attack Nubian tribesmen on this panel of a painted, wooden chest from the tomb of Tutankamun


King Tut's Digital Face

Tutankhamun came to the throne of Egypt 3343 years ago in 1333 BC. The young pharaoh died nine years later at the age of 19. The cause of death, once considered to have been murder, is now known to have been caused, not be his foes but by his feet. Complications from an infected, broken, left leg, were exacerbated by malaria. Cat scans of his feet showed he had a slight deformity and a severe bone condition called Kohler Disease. He had a club foot on the one side and a flat foot on the other, the latter showing indications of bone necrosis, which occurs when biological tissue dies inside the body. He suffered from this painful condition for years, a fact that explains the 130 walking sticks found within his tomb. "His weak bones made him a sick man, but the leg fracture along with severe malaria made him die. He was not murdered."

Tut's father was named Akhenaten and his mother, a mummy with no name, were siblings. Two female fetuses were found within Tut's tomb. DNA tests on them indicated that the female who was their mother was a full or half sibling of Tut.

Tut's Toes


While a relatively unimportant pharaoh, the discovery of his virtually undisturbed resplendent tomb made him famous. The magnificence of his burial place, makes one wonder what marvelous riches were buried with Egypt's greatest pharaoh, Ramses II.

On 5 November 1922 Howard Carter's team found the first of sixteen steps that led to a tomb entrance. In the ten years' of work that followed, fabulous treasures found in the cramped tomb dazzled the imagination. The body of Tut was entombed in various coffins. After the second coffin of gilded wood was lifted, the third appeared made of over 100 kg of solid gold. It contained the pharaoh wearing the golden death mask that fitted directly over the head of the king's mummy. The young pharaoh's mask was the classic nemes headdress striped with transversal bands of glass paste imitating lapis lazuli and is adorned with a wide collar composed of streaks of semi-precious stones and coloured glasses with eyes of quartz and obsidian.

Among other treasures contained in the tomb were: the gilded coffinette used to store the pharoah's viscera which is inlaid with carnelian, obsidian and rock crystal; a gessoed wooden chest with decorative fretwork that could have been built yesterday. There were also exquisite model boats with polychrome intact and a lotus-shaped cup in buttery, translucent alabaster; beautifully carved shabtis (funerary figures) in wood, limestone and fa‘ence; a ceremonial shield depicting the pharaoh as a sphinx trampling some unfortunate Nubians; a painted carved wooden torso of Tutankhamun covered in gesso and wearing crown with a cobra deity; statuettes of the king wearing crowns of Lower and Upper Egypt and a Falcon collar from amuletic jewellery found on the king's body.

KING TUT's Magnificent Life-Size Funerary Mask


This solid gold mask,discovered when his almost intact tomb was excavated in 1922. Weighing ten kilos, it is a masterpiece of world art and undoubtedly the most valued and most visited piece among the thousands of Egypt's ancient artifacts crowded into the Cairo Museum. This is destined to change. It was announced three years ago that a new, modern museum would eventually replace this dusty, dirty, cluttered structure and that it would be built not far from the famed Sphinx and Pyramids. The new museum costing 600 million US is set to open in 2012. For the occasion Dr Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities has asked the British Museum to loan them the Ptolemaic era Rosetta Stone which provided a key for understanding hieroglyphics, Museum officials have stated they would first like to see the museum. The response of the frustrated Egyptian is that the British know it will not be finished until 2012. "We are not trying to keep these artefacts for ever. I am disappointed."

The Cairo Museum
is full of fascinating features and figures.
photo by
G. Wilson

After more than 3000 years, the buck-toothed pharaoh's face of King Tut was finally revealed recently to a fascinated public. CT scans revealed that days before Tut died, he badly broke his left thigh and it is thought that fracture resulted in a fatal infection. The scan also disclosed that he was five feet six inches tall, well-fed and healthy. He had the overbite characteristic of other kings from his family with large incisor teeth and lower teeth slightly misaligned. His leathery, black body was encased in climate-controlled container to keep it from turning to dust. These new precautions will ensure that the boy whose body has already lasted a very long time will now live forever - unless someone pulls the plug.

The before and after photos of the pharaoh show the facial reconstruction from CT scans of Tut's mummy.

KING TUT
Exposed to the World After 3000 Years

Mummification as a craft reached its in Dynasty 21. The period between death and burial was seventy days. The process of embalming first required an incision through which the lungs, liver, stomach and intestines were removed and placed in four canopic jars. The heart, thought to be the seat of intelligence, was left in place. The brain was extracted through a hole pierced in the nasal cavity. This part of the process took four days. The body was then packed in natron, a kind of salt and dehydrated. This took from thirty to forty days.

The embalmers' task was to turn the emaciated body into something resembling the former self. The internal cavity was coated with resin and filled with whatever was available - cloth, sawdust or even bags of clay. The skin was coated with oils. Artificial eyes of stone, glass or wood were inserted into the sockets. The body was now bandaged, a process that took fifteen days. Each layer was sealed with resin and the whole covered with a shroud. For royalty, gold or precious stones were often inserted into the cloth layers and a gold mask was placed over the head. It was then placed into a number of coffins for its final journey.

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