Contributed by guest blogger Southern Troll.
LA Science Center had an exhibition on King Tut. I walked out with more questions then when we walked in.
The impression I had was that I had no idea about King Tut, and why all this was so important.
Out of all of history, why King Tut?
This was some Saturday Night Live stuff was what I knew about King Tut. Steve Martin doing his number.
Then we went to Cairo. Arrived at the the oldest 7 Remaining Wonders of the World. Parking lot is empty. Hustled onto a camel. I’m thinking these pyramid things don’t look as large as the pictures. Totally unimpressed.
Then we hit the central museum of Cairo, one that has a distinct Indiana Jones look, feel, activity. And there are loads of mummies. Caskets. All dating so far back it makes your head hurt. We’re talking the oldest 4,000 years ago. I was done with mummies, overload. A mummy is nothing new when you’ve seen all the possible variations, times. Boring.
The early leaders built visible monuments to themselves. Giant pyramids that stood out, starting 7,000 years ago.
We’ll take a dark turn:
Human nature assigns 3 stages to death. When you cease functioning is one. You kicked the clock, time stopped. Your active being on earth is no longer. The next one is a death only those closest to you witness, your burial. Then your presence is lost to them. You fade.
The final stage is when your memory is lost, no one speaks of you. Those that I knew before me and have passed: reside with me until I am gone.
The intent with the Egyptians was to have their name spoken for as long as possible to keep them alive. The alternative I’m not sure. The LA exhibit spoke of all the knowledge that was needed to navigate the unknown. Think of all the possibilities of the unknown, and now prepare. It was a bit mind boggling.
They put their names out publicly to have the name/being spoken of. Thus they would live. I’m guessing the power of the mind speaking of the deceased would help them thru the unknowns of afterlife.
So why King Tut?
The structures we saw in Cairo were open for tourism, pretty much got opened not long after closure. Don’t want your burial goodies stole, then don’t make it obvious where the riches are and have no guards over your goodies. Grave robbers go way back- if it is profitable, a profit will be made.
That problem seemed to be solved by carving the final locations into rock in the Valley of the Kings. The idea here was for the living to specify, create, design the final resting place, hopefully hide them underground.
And over time all were found, robbed.
Tut is fascinating as he arrived at an Egyptian Dynasty height, got booted into the Position as a kid, then died as a late teenager. Giving no time for a solidification of his name on monuments, no time for a lifetime of preparing a final resting place, time was gone.
The solution was to rush in another place carved for some other official.
King Tut was entombed. I suspect the line of thinking was to go up a desert valley, place the tomb, cover it up, kill those that know where the deed was done to protect the goodies.
Hopefully you had your name inscribed around the world that your name was spoken.
But it’s politics, out with the old. His name was deleted, carved off, within a very short time Tut was wondering out there in the afterlife with no living speaking his name.
The final resting place was to be appropriate to a king, constructed over decades. Which can give a lot of loose lips over time to reveal where the goodies are.. But the Tut affair was rushed into a noname place. Not many to speak of this place. Easier to hide thru the ages from grave robbers.
Tut ended. The kid that came into power at 9 or 10, passed at before 20 only gives a 10 year reign. Not nearly enough time to prepare for longevity thru the ages. Rushed.
King Tut fades from speech, history. He is gone. In the afterworld.
It was a passionate archaeologist that saw the clues of a missing king that found the lost King Tut. From Britain, Howard Carter went to Egypt as a recorder of ancient Egypt findings before photography was invented. Howard grew up as an artist, and was near Didlington Hall which contained a sizable collection of Egypt artifacts sparking his interests. Thru connections he was sent to Egypt, and gradually a career of search/protection/recording of ancient Egypt developed.
Eventually Carter is out of the center of his work, but meets George Herbert (Lord Carnarvon) an independently wealthy Englishman. Herbert spends winters in Egypt for the sun and collected Egyptian antiquities. Herbert hires Carter to lead excavation of other nobles tombs. Later Herbert receives permission to explore in the Valley of the Kings as the area became known. For 500 years from the 15th to the 11th century noble Egyptians were buried there.
By this time Carter has a pretty good feel for archaeology, and has developed a methodology of fine combing thru historical rubble. He is methodically moving thru the area. Carter has a sense that there is an unknown king, a King Tutankhamun that he had been finding traces of over the years. The effort to erase King Tut was mostly complete, but traces remained of his name.
While methodically moving thru the Valley of Kings, a young Egyptian boy hired to provide water for the workers struggles to sit his water containing amphora down. Struggling to provide a means for it to stay upright, he is brushing away loose material on the ground. The water boy uncovers a straight cut stone that is the lip of the first step into King Tut’s tomb.
All the prior factoids present a pretty outrageous story of circumstance, but today King Tut’s name lives on, perhaps he still travels thru the underworld, or has become one with the sun.
King Tut’s discovery appears to be the best and most complete record of practises of ancient Egypt. Making him the most well recognized Egyptian leader on the earth, his name is spoken constantly, the goal was achieved inadvertently.