Essay on King Tutankhamun Death Theories

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Howard Carter followed methods to ensure that the contents of Tutankhamun’s tomb were accurately recorded. He first had a team set including Harry Burton the Photographer and others to help him carefully remove the artifacts from the tomb. Carter gave each artifact a reference number and photographed the artifact in situ then both with and without the reference number to make sure everything was accurate. In Harry Burton c. 1923 A gilded bust of the Celestial Cow Mehet-Weret and chests found in the treasury (Tutankhamun Archive, Griffith Insitute, University of Oxford), shows the way, Howard Carter lined the artifacts up with their reference number. A brief sketch and description were then given as well as the position of the artifact and the ground plan of the tomb. Drawing of Tutankhamun’s tomb, Howard Carter (Tutankhamun Archive, Griffith Insitute University of Oxford), is the original drawing of the tomb and how all the artefacts were placed. After Carter was finished with the artifact at the tomb, they were then sent to the laboratory tomb where it was photographed against a neutral and pressured and conserved. When this process was completed the artefact was carefully crated and transported to Cairo. Carter followed these steps to make sure that when removing artifacts from the tomb everything was accurately recorded.

Tutankhamun is one of the most known Pharaohs due to him being the only pharaoh found in his tomb without the tomb being disturbed. Tutankhamun became Pharaoh at the age of 8 or 9 years of age and reigned for 10 years with his death at the approximate age of 18 so the young king’s life was fairly short.

As technology advanced there have been many theories on how the young king died over the many years including malaria, broken leg, murder, chariot crash, and many more. The mummy was found in a bad condition with the mummy stuck to the base of his solid coffin due to the resin the embalmers poured on him. In Source 22 in Antiquity 1 a photograph of the mummy of Tutankhamun taken after Howard Carter reassembled it and laid the pieces on a sand tray shows how badly the condition mummy was when they opened the tomb and how difficult it would have been to resemble the mummy to what it was in situ.

The first investigation of the mummy was carried out in 1925 by Douglas E. Derry where he recorded the age and physique of the young Pharaoh. Later on, in 1968 another investigation led by R. G. Harrison revealed a blow to the head showing that could have been murdered. However, they also saw that the young king had missing ribs possibly from a chariot crash. Furthermore, James E. Harris discovered that Tutankhamun is the act of incest with his parents being siblings. This provides evidence about why Tutankhamun had so many defects due to the close sharing of genetics. In a 2005 test, Dr Zahi Hawass notices a fracture in the thigh bone, cleft palate, scoliosis, club foot, Kohler disease, and malaria. Source 2: Extracts from Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun’s Family (Zahi Hawass et al; JAMA, February 17, 2010 – Vol 303, No 7) expresses that the king was frail and needed a cane to walk, this connotes that he wouldn’t be a strong as the Pharaoh was seen to be.“King Tut was a frail pharaoh, beset by malaria and a bone disorder—his health possibly compromised by his newly discovered incestuous origins. (Ker Than -National Geographic News 2010)

This investigation of the king’s death gave us information and understanding of what the Pharaoh’s life was like, e.g. explained numerous artifacts found in his tomb including 130 walking sticks as he needed them due to his scoliosis and club foot. We also now know that since the king was from the act of inbreeding, he had numerous issues and defects which would have made his life quite difficult.

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In ancient Egypt, the people believed that when they died they would go to the afterlife, and when they did they wanted to take everything they could with them on the journey. In Ancient Egypt they believed in many Gods who would help them through to the afterlife as Osiris was the first child of Nut who is the God of the dead and protector of the deceased. Anubis is also a protector of the dead but he was overshadowed by Osiris. Ancient Egyptians prepare for the afterlife as soon as possible but when they do die there is a process for what happens.

Mummification was a vital part of entering the afterlife; first by inserting a hook through the nose and pulling the brain out then removing the liver, intestine, lungs, and stomach and placing them into jars then covered in salt for 70 days and then wrapped. They believed that the physical body is important in the afterlife so the Ancient Egyptians took care of the body and kept the organs they believed they needed. Three types of mummification were available; one for the wealthy client, one for the less affluent, and one for the poor (The Eye of Horus - Gae Callender 1993) so depending on how wealthy you are what type of mummification also depicts how easy it is for you to get to the afterlife.

Tutankhamun’s tomb (KV62) is reasonably small compared to the tombs of other pharaohs of the 18th dynasty due to the young Pharaoh's death being very sudden with little time to prepare for the afterlife this indicates that the burial chamber is quite small too. Each wall in the burial chamber had a different meaning and showed a different process to the afterlife. Source 3: Scenes from the Burial Chamber of Tutankhamun (North Wall) has three scenes that reveal what the ancient Egyptians believed happened after death. The first scene depicts the opening of the mouth ceremony which is one of the many rituals that is completed where the son of the Pharaoh would receive the throne but in this instant Tutankhman's throne is given to Ay as Tutankhmum didn’t have any children. In the second scene, his ka who is the pharaoh's double is welcomed by Nut into the afterlife, and in the third scene, his ka is greeted by Osiris.

Sir Alan Gardiner 1961 stated “It is impossible to overestimate the importance of this discovery for archeology and as a sample of what other Pharaonic burials may have been like, but it must be admitted that its addition to our historical knowledge has been merged”, this explains that although the tomb a significant find it didn’t add much to the knowledge we already know about Ancient Egyptian funerary practices.

Overall wall decorations in the burial chamber and contents of KV62 have revealed Egyptian funerary practices and beliefs in the afterlife through mummification, rituals, and the God of death. These processes and artifacts have taught us what the ancient Egyptians' practices were when someone passes and how they prepare for the afterlife.

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Essay on King Tutankhamun Death Theories. (2024, February 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from
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