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TUTANKHAMEN by Joyce Tyldesley


The Search for an Egyptian King

by Joyce Tyldesley

Pub Date: March 6th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-465-02020-1
Publisher: Basic

A catch-all study by a British Egyptologist of the most famous boy king of the 18th Dynasty.

The search for the probable “truth” behind King Tutankhamen’s short reign (1336–1327 BCE) continues in this engaging reconstruction of his tomb discovery, family and life. Fluent in her subject, Tyldesley (Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt, 2011, etc.) gives her own spin to the story in order to get beyond the sensational nonsense. She first looks at Howard Carter’s remarkable pinpointing of the tomb named KV 62 in the Valley of the Kings. The 18th Dynasty kings had broken with the earlier tradition of building enormous pyramids in the deserts of northern Egypt and chose instead the remote west-bank valley, clustered around the temple of the ascendant deity of the time, Amen. Bankrolled by George Herbert, aka Lord Carnarvon, Carter discovered in 1922 a tomb improbably crammed with royal objects inscribed with the names of the various 18th Dynasty kings and queens, as well as intact seals of the residing king, Tutankhamen, and his untouched burial chamber. The tomb had apparently been protected and hidden from sight by a flood shortly after burial, then forgotten; moreover, evidence suggested that Tut’s successor, Ay, inheriting the throne as an elderly man, had swapped Tut’s original, large tomb for the one intended for him. Deceptions and lies abound, not only in Carter’s discovery (removal and rearrangement of objects), but in the ensuing autopsies (a missing penis, two mysterious female fetuses). The handling of the artifacts strikes us now as shockingly casual, while the supposed curse of the mummy is merely silly.

Tyldesley does an admirable detective job of reconstructing the boy king’s narrative. Proves that there is no end to the fascination, and speculation, around this subject.