The fictional legend of the Curse of King Tut, which was first promoted by reporters from the Times of London and later made famous by Hollywood, was born when Lord Carnarvon, the English Earl who funded archaeologist Howard Carter’s Tutankhamun expedition, died less than six months after the opening of the tomb. Despite the fact that Lord Carnarvon was a sickly individual and that no such "hieroglyphic curse" was found inscribed on the tomb, this legend persists today. Ancient Egyptians did, in fact, engage in the use of various types of curses and threats but the tomb of Tutankhamun possessed no such reference.
"Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" is a renowned exhibition that has now drawn five million visitors worldwide. Recently on display in London, the exhibition returns again to the United States in a three-city tour, which opens at the Dallas Museum of Art on October 3, 2008 and runs through May 17, 2009. The exhibition dates for the two museums following Dallas are to be announced.
The exhibit provides insight into the era when Tutankhamun and his ancestors ruled ancient Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, during the 18th Dynasty, a 100-year period when Egypt was at the height of its power and during the time the "Golden Age" of Egyptian artistry was thriving.
An extensive array of more than 130 extraordinary artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun and other ancient Egyptian sites are showcased in the exhibit. It features 50 of Tutankhamun's burial objects, including his royal diadem and one of the four gold and precious stone inlaid canopic coffinettes that contained his mummified internal organs.
The following information, as described on the www.kingtut.org website, sheds light on King Tutankhamun’s life. It was adapted from text written by Dr. David P. Silverman, National Curator for "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," and Dr. Zahi Hasass' book "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs." Dr. Zahi Hasass is Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.
“King Tut was born during the Amarna Age, a time when the pharaoh Akheneaten, his probable father, had introduced quasi-monotheistic beliefs into ancient Egypt, replacing the traditional religion. Akhenaten had also moved the administrative center (Memphis in the north) and religious capital (Thebes in the south) to Akhetaten (modern Tel el Amarna) in Middle Egypt, a site not previously associated with any other god. It is here that this young prince, named Tutankhaten - to honor the Aten, the deity of his new religion - was born and spent his early childhood. The prince, however, ultimately did not maintain the religious movement his father introduced. He ascended the throne (around 1333 BCE), while still a child. Guided by two officials of the court, the general Horemhab and the god's father Aye (perhaps a relative of the young king); Tutankhamun restored the traditional gods and re-established Thebes as the religious capital and Memphis as the administrative center. He also changed his name to Tutankhamun in order to direct attention to the restoration of the pantheon and the god Amun at its head.”
“After a brief nine-year reign, King Tut the boy king died unexpectedly before he reached his twentieth birthday. The cause of his death remains uncertain. After mummification, Tutankhamun's limbs were wrapped in the finest linen bandages. Priests recited special spells during the wrapping process and placed more than a hundred beautiful amulets and pieces of jewelry between the layers of cloth. Golden cylinders covered the king’s fingers and toes and a magnificent golden funerary mask protected his face. He was entombed in the Valley of the Kings, where he would remain hidden for more than three thousand years.”
During an excavation in the Valley of the Kings on November 4, 1922, workmen uncovered the top step of a staircase. Carter descended its 11 stairs to a sealed door. Stamped on the surface of the doorway was the Jackal-and-Nine-Captives seal of the official guards, but a royal name was not visible. The upper left-hand corner of the door had been re-plastered and resealed, which told Carter that robbers had broken into the tomb in antiquity, but he suspected something important still remained inside. After making a small hole, he peered inside and saw a corridor filled with rubble. He curbed his impatience, had his men refill the stairway, and telegraphed news of his discovery to Lord Carnarvon in England.
It was not until November 26th, that Carter made the full discovery, when he returned to he site. He held a small candle up to a breach in the doorway, which separated him from the first of the four rooms, to check for noxious gases. A few seconds later, after enlarging the opening, he peered inside. He recorded his first impression in his popular book, The Tomb of Tut.ankh.Amen: “At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues and gold - everywhere the glint of gold...I was struck dumb with amazement." The tomb of King Tutankhamun had been discovered!
Edited by Mel Fenson from information gathered from web sources and provided by Golin Harris and the Dallas Museum of Art.