Tuesday, November 02, 2010

TV - The Silver Pharaoh


Informative trailer for the PBS show The Silver Pharaoh, about the discovery at Tanis in the late 1930s of the tomb of Pharaoh Psusennes I, one of the surprisingly under-sung Egyptian finds, the most remarkable item of which was the silver sarcophagus of the pharaoh. With video.

Tanis, Egypt, circa 1939. On the brink of World War II, an excavation team led by French archaeologist Pierre Montet unearthed an intact royal burial chamber containing treasures that rival the riches found in Tutankhamun’s tomb almost two decades before. But while the Tut discovery created an international sensation, the opening of the tomb in Tanis made barely a ripple in a world focused on impending war.

Now for the first time, we can examine this remarkable and long forgotten find. One of the most spectacular discoveries inside the crypt was the exquisite silver sarcophagus of Pharaoh Psusennes I, an, up till now, obscure ruler who governed Egypt more than 3000 years ago during one of its most difficult periods. As far as we know, this is the only time a pharaoh’s mummy was entombed in silver. The story of the sepulcher and of this virtually unknown pharaoh helps fill in some of the gaps in ancient Egypt’s history.

After Montet made his discovery, he raced to get his family back to Europe before the outbreak of war and the treasures he found were transported to Cairo for safe-keeping. There, they remained vaulted and unstudied, until now. In the season premiere of THIRTEEN’s Secrets of the Dead, a team of Egyptologists decodes hieroglyphic clues and pieces together forensic evidence left behind by Psusennes I, whose lost legacy could rewrite Egyptian history.


Mercury said...

"The Silver Pharaoh"...

Well, this program, part of a series of offerings from "Secrets of the Dead", was surprisingly informative for such a complex Egyptian era. Usually, the series "Secrets of the Dead" is largely a popularization of some historical event and flops in its attempt to add credence to common theories and beliefs...high on dramatization and a lot of "what ifs". But this episode was totally different. Previously, I was only aware of Pharaoh Psusennes I as a footnote pharaoh in that 1,000 mystery period of civil war and economic uncertainty. Now, I understand he was a combination of a powerful high priest and Pharaonic leader who during his 40 plus year reign initiated complex gene pools, consolidated power and prosperity, and moved Rameses II's city. Well-worth a second watching. And, I suppose this is not unusual, but it is rather odd that the relics at the university remained untouched for over seven decades.

Andie said...

Hi David. Great to hear from you. Thanks for the review - I look forward to seeing it if it ever arrives in the UK.

Your observation that the antiquities remained untouched in a university is somewhat reminiscent of the recent comments by Jaromir Malek about the Tutankhamun discoveries, some of which remain unpublished and unstudied. The Tutankhamun antiquities are now online at the Griffith Institute and it is hoped that providing access to them will encourage nwe research. The Guardian and the New Zealand Herald both covered the story:



Mercury said...