Sunday, May 17, 2009

To Tut or Not to Tut

Yesterday I made my way down to the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center to gaze upon several dozen King Tut knick-knacks, gimcracks, and bric-a-brac. The ancient Egyptians, it turns out, believed that the skin of their deities was made of gold, which is why they wrapped up their dead pharaohs in so much of it. Who knew?

Funeral Mask of King Tut Ankh Amun
Knick-knacks travel, but the mask stays in Egypt

The story of Tut (d. 1324 BC) is vague on a number of points. He was probably the son of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten (d. 1335 BC), who had attempted to compel his subjects to adopt his novel monotheistic religion of the sun-god Aten. Tut attempted to reverse his father's eccentricities and restore the full pantheon of divinities, but he died an early death at the tender age of 19. Though his efforts were continued by successors, the priests of the time were not the understanding sort: because of his association with Akhenaten they omitted Tut's name from the classic list of kings that were kept in the cities of Abydos and Karnak. His Egyptian Gothic relations are also no doubt why, though Tut's tomb was filled to the brim with thousands of precious artifacts, it is unimpressively modest by pharaonic standards.

During my tour of the exhibit I came upon the name and a few statuettes of the warlike pharaoh Rameses. This was the Rameses with whom Moses contended and whose troops became lost at sea without quitting their chariots. Interestingly, archeological records are mum on the topics of the 10 plagues from Heaven, the Hebrew slaves escaping the land of bondage, and the Egyptian army being engulfed by a Red Sea tidal wave. Yet if the minimalist tale of Tut is any help, it illustrates that the pre-Ptolemaic
Egyptians were not of a mind to keep records of unmentionable embarrassments.

Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.

1 comment:

Kindred Spirit said...

Oculos habent et non videbunt. Tut, tut...