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Chapter 3: Discovering Tut: The Saga Continues
He was just a teenager when he died. The last heir of a powerful family that had ruled Egypt and its empire for centuries, he was laid to rest laden with gold and eventually forgotten. Since the discovery of his tomb in 1922, the modern world has speculated about what happened to him, with murder being the most extreme possibility.
Now, leaving his tomb for the first time in almost 80 years, Tut has undergone a CT scan that offers new clues about his life and death — and provides precise data for an accurate forensic reconstruction of the boyish pharaoh. AN angry wind stirred up ghostly dust devils as King Tut was taken from his resting place in the ancient Egyptian cemetery known as the Valley of the Kings*.
Dark-bellied clouds had scudded across the desert sky all day and now were veiling the stars in casket grey. It was 6 p.m. on 5 January 2005. The world’s most famous mummy glided head first into a CT scanner brought here to probe the lingering medical mysteries of this little understood young ruler who died more than 3,300 years ago.
All afternoon the usual line of tourists from around the world had descended into the cramped, rock-cut tomb some 26 feet underground to pay their respects.
They gazed at the murals on the walls of the burial chamber and peered at Tut’s gilded face, the most striking feature of his mummy-shaped outer coffin lid. Some visitors read from guidebooks in a whisper. Others stood silently, perhaps pondering Tut’s untimely death in his late teens, or wondering with a shiver if the pharaoh’s curse — death or misfortune falling upon those who disturbed him — was really true.
“The mummy is in very bad condition because of what Carter did in the 1920s,” said Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, as he leaned over the body for a long first look.
Carter—Howard Carter, that is — was the British archaeologist who in 1922 discovered Tut’s tomb after years of futile searching. Its contents, though hastily ransacked in antiquity, were surprisingly complete.
They remain the richest royal collection ever found and have become part of the pharaoh’s legend. Stunning artifacts in gold, their eternal brilliance meant to guarantee resurrection, caused a sensation at the time of the discovery — and still get the most attention.
But Tut was also buried with everyday things he’d want in the afterlife: board games, a bronze razor, linen undergarments, cases of food and wine. After months of carefully recording the pharaoh’s funerary treasures, Carter began investigating his three nested coffins.
Opening the first, he found a shroud adorned with garlands of willow and olive leaves, wild celery, lotus petals, and cornflowers, the faded evidence of burial in March or April. When he finally reached the mummy, though, he ran into trouble. The ritual resins had hardened, cementing Tut to the bottom of his solid gold coffin. “No amount of legitimate force could move them,” Carter wrote later. “What was to be done?” The sun can beat down like a hammer this far south in Egypt, and Carter tried to use it to loosen the resins.
For several hours he set the mummy outside in blazing sunshine that heated it to 149 degrees Fahrenheit. Nothing budged. He reported with a scientific detachment that “the consolidated material had to be chiseled away from beneath the limbs and trunk before it was possible to raise the king’s remains.” In his defense, Carter really had little choice.
If he hadn’t cut the mummy free, thieves most certainly would have circumvented the guards and ripped it apart to remove the gold. In Tut’s time the royals were fabulously wealthy, and they thought — or hoped — they could take their riches with them.
For his journey to the great beyond, King Tut was lavished with glittering goods: precious collars, inlaid necklaces and bracelets, rings, amulets, a ceremonial apron, sandals, sheaths for his fingers and toes, and the now iconic inner coffin and mask — all of pure gold.
To separate Tut from his adornments, Carter’s men removed the mummy’s head and severed nearly every major joint. Once they had finished, they reassembled the remains on a layer of sand in a wooden box with padding that concealed the damage, the bed where Tut now rests.
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NCERT Solutions Class 11 English Chapter 3 Discovering Tut: The Saga Continues
1. Give reasons for the following.
(i) King Tut’s body has been subjected to repeated scrutiny
Tut’s body had been examined numerous times because he was the world’s most famous mummy. Aside from the gold-plated face of the coffin, visitors to the tomb believed that there was a mystery surrounding the young ruler’s untimely death. They also wondered if the pharaoh’s curse, which befell those who disturbed his resting place, was true or not.
(ii) Howard Carter’s investigation was resented.
Howard Carter’s investigation, which took place in the 1920s, was criticized because King Tut’s body was badly damaged in an attempt to separate it from the golden coffin. He had used unethical methods to extract the gold and had made no effort to investigate the cause of death.
(iii) Carter had to chisel away the solidified resins to raise the king’s remains.
Howard had to chisel away the solidified resin to raise Tut’s remains, which had become cemented to the bottom of the coffin and showed no signs of escaping. No amount of force could separate the body from the coffin; not even exposing it to the scorching sun could melt the solid raisin.
(iv) Tut’s body was buried along with gilded treasures.
Tut’s body was buried alongside gold and other treasures because, at the time, the royals and rich individuals wished and believed that they might take their wealth with them until they died and use it for the afterlife.
(v) The boy king changed his name from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun, the boy-king, changed his name from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun in order to restore everything that his father had destroyed.
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