THE MURDER OF TUTANKHAMEN by Bob Brier

THE MURDER OF TUTANKHAMEN

A True Story

KIRKUS REVIEW

In his eccentric but entertaining Egyptian Mummies (1994), Brier (Philosophy/C.W. Post Coll.) announced his intention to conduct a mummification of a human cadaver in the ancient manner. Here, after discussing the results of this grisly experiment, Brier uses his knowledge of ancient Egyptian mummification techniques and entombment practices to argue that the young King Tutankhamen (reigned 1333—23 b.c.) was murdered by his chief vizier, Aye. First Brier puts Tutankhamen’s life in historical perspective by reconstructing the turbulent times in which he lived: A scion of the 18th Dynasty, Tutankhamen was the son of the great king Akhenaten, the monotheist who sought to destroy Egypt’s traditional polytheistic religion. Succeeding to the throne as a child, Tutankhamen allowed the regent, Aye, to make the practical decisions of governance until he achieved adulthood. The traditional religion was restored, Akhenaten’s memory was disgraced, and his religious innovation was branded a heresy. Brier constructs an interesting circumstantial case, through a detailed analysis of autopsies and X-rays of Tutankhamen’s mummy, that the young king died as a result of a severe blow to the back of the head. Based on this, he argues that the 19-year-old king was murdered, probably by Aye (Brier excludes the other major suspect, Horemheb, a military hero who later became pharaoh). He also cites some extant correspondence shortly after Tutankhamen’s death from Ankhesenamen, Tutankhamen’s widow, virtually inviting the Hittites, Egypt’s traditional enemy, to take over Egypt to save her from a disastrous marriage. Brier speculates that the prospective husband would have been Aye. In the end, both Ankhesenamen and a Hittite prince who responded to her call died, possibly murdered as Brier speculates, and Aye succeeded as pharaoh. A fascinating blend of ancient history, forensic medicine, and ratiocinative detective work, with a necessarily speculative conclusion.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-399-14383-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998




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