February 12, 2013

Update on King Tut: From Harvard to Highclere (location of Downton Abbey)

The burial mask of King Tut
Recent DNA analysis indicates King Tut was the son of Nefertiti and her first cousin Akhenaten, French Egyptologist Marc Gabolde told an audience at Harvard's Science Center last week.

Here's a link to Alvin Powell's article in the Harvard Gazette, "A different take on Tut" which also notes that Gabolde told the audience that the tomb discovered in 1922 of the boy king Tutankhamun may have been hurriedly prepared when King Tut suddenly died of infection after breaking a leg.

Other details of Tut’s life, which Gabolde has pieced together from carved images and inscriptions, include a military campaign in Syria, in which he likely didn’t personally take part. Tut also was interested in Nubia, a region in southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Inscriptions on a fan that belonged to Tut showed him hunting ostriches, whose feathers were used to make the fan. In addition, Gabolde said, a staff found in Tut’s tomb had inscriptions that showed it was made of a tall reed, cut by Tut himself in a city on the Nile delta.
Gabolde also traced an ornament that was found with Tut when he was discovered in 1922, but had since disappeared. Gabolde said he believes the golden hawk-head clasp, part of a broad collar worn by Tut, is in a private collection, sold by Tut discoverer Howard Carter to pay for surgery later in his life. The rest of the broad collar was stolen during World War II, Gabolde said.
A tour of King Tut's treasures ended last month in Seattle at the Pacific Science Center.  Here's a link to a video on the Today in 2005 which covered the exhibit before it opened at the Los Angeles County Museum.

The home for King Tut's treasures is at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.  Here's the link to the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

But for those readers who want to combine a little Downton Abbey field trip with their Egyptian fix, visit the basement exhibition of reproductions at Highclere (where the show is filmed on location).  It was Lord Carnarvon's ancestor who opened King Tut's tomb with Howard Carter.

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