Friday, February 19, 2010

Warrior Tut

Archaeology Magazine (Raymond Johnson)

Little was known about Tutankhamun when his tomb was discovered in 1922. He ruled sometime after the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten--who abandoned the traditional Egyptian pantheon headed by the god Amun in favor of Aten, a solar deity--and presumably died young after an insignificant reign. Since then, the "boy king" tag has colored our understanding of the young king. But new discoveries contradict that early assessment. Recent CT scanning of his mummy shows that Tut was no boy at death, but was a grown man by the standards of the time and may have been 20 years old. And his 9- to 10-year reign toward the end of the 14th century B.C. was one of the greatest periods of restoration in the history of Egypt. Under Tut, the damage caused by Akhenaten's iconoclastic fury against the state god Amun, which tore the country's social, political, and economic fabric asunder, was repaired and Amun's cult restored.

The rich array of objects found in Tutankhamun's tomb speak to the opulence of the Egyptian court and the young king's pampered life. But other items, including numerous throwsticks (sort of non-returning boomerangs), spears, bows and arrows, and chariots--many inscribed with his name and clearly used--attest his athleticism and youthful energy. Today, new evidence of Tutankhamun's reign has emerged that shows he was much more active than was thought, and may have led military campaigns against the Syrians and Nubians before he died.

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