Monday, 1 December 2008
T for king Tut on ABC Wednesday
Coming back from Egypt I Cannot but begin to tell about my trip. Only I must confess that we were not allowed to take photos in the Cairo Museum, so I used these pictures from my newspaper and the text from Google.
The funeral of pharaoh Tutanchamon
When Tutanchamon became pharaoh of Egypt, about 3300 years ago, he was only nine years old. The young pharaoh was hardly given time to show who he was. Tutanchamon died at the age of no more than nineteen; he was buried in the 'Valley of the Kings' in Luxor - Egypt.
Howard Carter en Lord Carnavon
'The London Times' of Thursday, November 30th 1922 reported a sensation, the 'Egyptological finding of the century'. These were significant words, but, as at the end of the last century, they are still valid. At that time two English archaeologists, Howard Carter and his financial partner, Lord Carnavon, found the grave/tomb of Tutanchamon.
What was found there was overwhelming. It took almost ten years to give all the archaeologic material from the grave a place in the Egyptian National Museum in Cairo. After intensive research the mummy was placed back into the grave and still rests there.
From research it became clear that Tutanchamon, at the moment of his decease, was between eighteen and twenty years old. Thanks to the flowers and fruits that were placed on his sarcophagus, it was possible to deduct in what season the pharaoh died. Tutanchamon was buried probably at the end of March or the beginning of April. However, the exact moment of death must have been about seventy days earlier. That means the beginning of the time of mummification. So the pharaoh must have taken his last breath around January.
Period of mourning
At the moment of Tutanchamon's decease, all of Egypt was dejected. The news had spread quickly and people said, "Horus had unified with the solar disk". Everywhere work was laid down. Everybody squatted down, with the head of the knees, to utter lamentation. After his mortal remains where placed upon a bier, the country went through a long period of mourning. The people abstained from any festivity, any pleasure was forbidden. The men within the environment of the deceased pharaoh were not allowed to shave until the day of the funeral.
Building of the grave
Like with his predecessors, the building of his rock-grave was started on the moment of Tutanchamon's accession of the throne. Firstly a big rock was excavated in the 'Valley of the Kings" near Luxor. Then the furnishing of the grave-chamber was started and the application of holy writing on the walls.
Tutanchamon's sudden death did not allow his tomb to be finished. Therefore he was buried in a small grave, originally planned for another member of the royal family. This small grave, which impresses for its soberness and little decoration, was known to only a few people. Not even the ancient Egyptians knew about it, this is obvious because the grave of a more recent pharaoh was built right next to the grave of Tutanchamon. For the construction of this later grave the gravebuilders threw the debris right on top of the entrance of Tutanchamon's grave. This way, unwillingly, a good protection was offered against possible grave-robbers. Until the beginning of this century.
All precautions, taken to be prepared for the eternal life, could only be effective if the mortal remains were transformed into a mummy. For seventy days the deceased would be treated by priests and specialists. Through the nostrils a great deal of the brains were removed with a special hook. Following this, the remains of the brains still present in the skull were dissolved with aromatic fluids. Through an opening, made in the side of the body, the priests removed the bowels and the various organs from the body. Then the cavity of the chest and abdomen were also rinsed with aromatic fluids. After this the created cavities were filled with good-smelling compounds like pulverised mirth. Nothing that was subject to decay, remained in the body.
The organs, like heart, liver and kidneys, were prepared and put in small sarcophaguses. Then these sarcophaguses were stored in four big-bellied vase-urns, or 'canopes'; they had a lid in the form of a human head with the features of the deceased pharaoh. Magic hieroglyph inscriptions were engraved on the sides. The body, without anything that could decay, and completely shaven, was put in dry lye (NaOH) and salt. This mixture made sure that any body-fluid still within the body, was absorbed. After this, the mortal remains were washed and put on a bed to dry.
Now came the bandages, the last stage of mummification. Hundreds of yards of fine linen were necessary to entirely encapsulate the body of the pharaoh. One started with each separate finger and toe, further each limb and finally the whole body. While speaking proverbs and prayers, ointments were spread on the mortal remains. The mummy was now literally covered with tens of treasures. He wore, for instance, a golden sheath on each finger. A priest had put golden seal-rings on the ringfinger and the middle-finger of the left hand. Also on the toes the priests had put golden sheaths, Between the linen more then hundred-and-forty amulets were hidden. They were made out of gold and the most beautiful gems, like the dark blue lapis lazuli.
Lying in state
It was the night before the burial. The mummy was stretched out on a large golden bed. The sensitive golden mask of the pharaoh expressed perfect tranquillity. At the feet of the pharaoh his widow recited proverbs to resuscitate rebirth. Then the priest came in striding and the mummy was taken, to be put in a catafalque. This catafalque now was placed on a sled.
Tutanchamon's last journey
The next morning holy red oxen drew the mortal remains to his grave. The mourning women lamented, while the men carried long papyrus stems.
The mood in the 'Valley of the Kings' was still nervous, one had hardly finished the grave. The paintings on the three walls of the chamber, where the deceased was to be interned, were only just dry. The fourth wall could only be painted and plastered and closed after the stone sarcophagus with the coffin was installed.
The mummy was taken from the catafalque and the priests put the mummy straight up in front of the entrance of the grave. Now a number of ritual acts were performed, like the reciting of proverbs. Following this the mummy was laid in a solid golden sarcophagus. This sarcophagus was put in a wooden chest that was laid in with gold-leaf.
Thanks to Denise Nesbitt, who has hosted this ABC game for the third round to the letter T for ABC Wednesday. For more ABC posts click on ABC picture in my side bar.Join us in this wonderful meme!