King Tutankhamun And His Treasures Essay, Research Paper
King Tutankhamun and His Treasures
The ancient Egyptians were noted for many things, one of which would have been their artwork. Egyptians used many medians in their artwork that enhanced the details and beauty of every piece of art. Their artwork is fascinating and mysterious, which pulls in the viewer into wanting to learn more. One of the most important and unique Egyptian artworks belongs to King Tutankhamun, a young pharaoh of Egypt. A brief history of the discovery of King Tut?s tomb and the importance and beauty of certain pieces found in his tomb, will be discussed in this essay.
King Tutankhamun?s tomb was the prize that archaeologist Howard Carter sought out for in the Valley of the Kings. Carter was running out of time and also the Earl of Carnarvon?s patience. Disappointed for years by Carter?s discoveries, Carnarvon told Carter to not apply anymore for the renewal of his excavating concession. Only by his pleading and offers to pay the cost himself if nothing were found convinced Carnarvon to add one more excavating season. At the time, thirty-three tombs had been discovered, and thieves who had pillaged and destroyed them had already broken into all. Because of this, it was believed that the Valley burial ground held no more secrets.
Carter disagreed and was more determined than ever to find the tomb. Eventually, three pieces of evidence discovered by Theodore M. Davis, and examined by H. E. Winlock, led Carter to believe that King Tut?s tomb was yet to be found. The three artifacts were a faience cup bearing the pharaoh?s name, a small, mud-filled pit tomb containing pictures and inscriptions of King Tut and his wife, and the third was a collection of pottery jars, each sealed with King Tut?s seal. Carter had a hypothesis that King Tut?s tomb may be found in a small area in the Valley where archeologists had not yet dug into. It was a very strenuous job, considering the floor of the Valley was covered with tons of rock and sand, and all they had was manual labor. Soon enough though, a staircase was discovered followed by a door with its seals still intact. In 1922, Carter had indeed discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun!
King Tut became pharaoh at the age of nine and ruled for nine years until his death at eighteen. The cause of his death is unknown. The period he ruled was that of economic prosperity and some religious confusion. The last part of his name was a sign of his family?s devotion to the Aton, the Egyptian god of the sun. Peace was brought to Egypt during his reign as the worship of Amon, the Egyptians? universal god, abandoned under Akhenaton, was restored and Thebes, the city sacred to Amon, was again made Egypt’s capital. King Tut was not really an important pharaoh, but he is well known today because of his intact tomb and the fabulous treasures found within.
King Tut?s tomb contained many beautiful and elaborate pieces of artwork. Artwork varying from wood sculptures, gold statues, wall paintings, writing utensils, intricate pieces of jewelry, busts of the king?s head, and many more were all discovered in his tomb. The sculptures illustrate how Egyptian sculptors represent the realistically poses and statures of the human body. Detail is another factor that is seen in all the artwork, whether it be a painted eye, a perfectly carved beetle (scarab), or the placement of different colored jewels in a necklace. I am astounded at how many items were found and how each one is entirely different from the next. It?s amazing to know that Egyptians cared so much for their leaders to put so much time and effort into their artwork.
One piece that stands out of all the treasures in King Tut?s tomb is the bust of his head that is resting on what is said to be a lotus. The bust is carved in wood and overlaid with gesso (a mixture of plaster and glue for use as a surface for painting). The face represents King Tut as a child with disproportionate earlobes and it has an elongated skull. The bust depicts one of the most striking ancient Egyptian accounts of the initial creation. It represents the infant sun god at the moment of birth emerging from a blue lotus that was said to have grown in the primordial ocean. The features of the face are that of King Tutankhamun. According to the Egyptians beliefs, it was not uncommon to portray the sun god with the features of a deceased king. Another example of this is the great sphinx at Giza where the sun god is represented as a human-headed lion with the features of King Chephren. It is a beautiful piece that captures the facial features very well.
Other outstanding pieces of art are two trumpets that were found?two of only three instruments preserved from ancient Egypt. One was bronze or copper with a gold overlay and the other was made of silver. The bell of the trumpet is decorated with a very detailed, carved picture that shows King Tut with three gods. Hieroglyphics are also inscribed above these figures. The bronze/copper trumpet also came with a wooden stopper that fit in its tube and bell, used as either as a cleaner along with a cloth or to prevent the instrument from being damaged. The bell of the stopper was painted to resemble a lotus flower. What is also interesting about these trumpets is that they have both recently been played and the only notes that could be heard clearly were D and C. It is said that the trumpet is the only ancient instrument whose exact sound can be reproduced today.
Flexible beaded bracelets were found throughout King Tut?s tomb. Thirteen bracelets were found on the forearms of Tutankhamun?s mummy, seven on the right and six on the left. These bracelets were made of many different materials including gold, faience, glass beads, wood, and others. Colorful and intricately made, these bracelets portrayed symbols and animals that were important to the Egyptians. Two of the most popular amulets in ancient Egypt were scarabs and udjat eyes and both were used quite regularly in the bracelets, along with other works of art.
Rings were also discovered in King Tut?s tomb. Five of the finest golden rings were also found on the king?s mummy. Each ring depicted some of the most important gods and goddesses whose cults King Tut had restored after their destruction by his predecessor Akhenaton. The rings each have a full figured deity and hieroglyphics that show beautiful detail and symmetry.
One of the most peculiar artworks found in King Tut?s tomb was a headrest. Made entirely of ivory, the headrest consisted of three parts: a flat base, a small central pillar, and a curved support for the head. Tutankhamun possessed four of these headrests. One headrest, which was made out of iron, was placed in the linen wrappings of his mummy at the back of the head. The ivory headrest depicts the god Shu, holding the curved piece, which was to represent him saving the world from chaos by holding up the sky. A lion was also carved on the base on the left and right side of Shu. The base represented the earth and the lions symbolized the mountains on the western and eastern horizons. This piece has no close parallel in Egyptian art.
The artwork described above was only a tiny portion of what was discovered in King Tutankhamun?s tomb. It was very interesting to see the ancient artifacts and know the purpose that each one served?jars holding organs and concoctions, musical instruments, and statues that served as protection are just a few examples of what the Egyptians used in their tombs. Their art represents how loyal and elegant the Egyptian culture was. Even though King Tutankhamun was not one of the most famous pharaohs, his treasures will live on and educate people into knowing more about him and the Egyptians.
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