Saturday, August 2, 2014

Short Story: Tutankhamun’s Family


Tutankhamun is the iconic ancient Egyptian pharaoh who has perplexed Egyptologists and scientists since the discovery of his tomb in November 1922 in the Valley of the Kings on Luxor’s west bank. Despite his short reign and enigmatic death, Tutankhamun’s tomb held a treasured funerary collection in gold and precious stones.

In 1333 BC Tutankhamun ascended the throne at the age of nine years old after the death of his father, the monotheistic king Akhenaten. Tutankhamun’s advisers restored the traditional Egyptian religion of Amun, abandoned by his father.

In November 1922, the mysterious story of a golden king began as British archaeologist Howard Carter stumbled upon his intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings’ necropolis on Luxor’s west bank.

The glitter of Tutankhamun’s treasured funerary collection captured the fascination of the world and still continues to puzzle Egyptologists and scientists. Many ambiguous stories surround the boy king’s life and death and the members of his family.

Who are his mother and father, grandmother and grandfather?

Using modern technology and DNA analyses on Tutankhamun’s mummy and 11 other royal mummies the mystery surrounding the family members of the golden king was solved.

Studies reveal that the mummy from tomb KV 55 in the Valley of the Kings, which archaeologists believed to be of king Semenka Re, who died at the age of 25, belongs to the monotheistic king Akhenaten, who died aged between 45 and 55.

DNA tests show that Akhenaten is Tutankhamun’s father, not his brother as some have claimed. Archaeological evidence has also supported such a result.

A limestone block found in the Al-Ashmounein site in Al-Menia, pieced together by Zahi Hawass, the former minister of antiquities, confirmed this conclusion.

The block shows Tutankhamun and his wife, Ankhesenamun, seated together. The text identifies Tutankhamun as the “king’s son of his body, Tutankhaten” and his wife as the “king’s daughter of his body, Ankhesenaten”. The only king to whom the text could refer to as the father of both children is Akhenaten.

Kiya
Until recently, nobody knew who was the real mother of Tutankhamun. Was she the principal queen Nefertiti or another wife, Kiya?

The identification of Tutankhamun’s mother was surrounded with uncertainty as her mummy has never been found and the complete destruction of Akhenaten’s new capital, Amarna. had hidden any evidence or clue to solve the mystery.

But DNA tests carried out on several royal mummies of the Amarna period and the 18th Dynasty identified the mummy of Kiya. It was found in tomb KV 35 in the Valley of the Kings and was known as the “younger lady”. It also revealed that Kiya was Akhenaten’s sister and not a foreign princess, as had previously been believed.

King Tut mother’s tomb was believed to have been in the Valley of the Kings beside the tomb of her son Tutankhamun. However, no mummy was actually located there. It was finally found and identified beside the mummy of her mother Queen Tiye in KV 35, known as the “elder lady with hair”.

Kiya’s tomb KV 36 remains shrouded with mystery due to the absence of an actual body. The tomb was filled with coffins and storage jars, but many of the coffins yielded nothing except the sixth one, which contained six pillows.

These pillows remain a mystery as well. It is thought they were important items belonging to the queen and could have been used as bedding while her body went through the mummification process.

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