Saturday, January 12, 2008


Of all the royal mummies ever discovered none has ever caused more controversy then the one found in tomb 55 of the Valley of the Kings.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, Theodore Davis, a wealthy American excavating in Egypt, discovered a tomb in which a burial from the Armana period had been reinterred. This tomb was clearly unfinished, and the burial a hasty one. Gilded wooden inlay panels on the floor and against the wall. They bore the damaged image of Akhenaten worshiping the sun disc and the name of Queen Tiy.
In a niche were four beautiful alabaster jars that held the internal organs of the mummies. Lying on the floor was a badly damaged but beautiful coffin made with thousands of paste in-lays and semi-precious stones in the shape of protective wings. The cartouches containing the occupants name had been hacked out.
When they opened the coffin they found a mummy wrapped in gold-leaf. But as they touched the mummy it crumbled to dust leaving the excavators with a pile of disarticulated bones at the bottom of the coffin. But beneath the skeleton, the last sheet of gold, seemed to have the damaged named of Akhenaten written on it. The pelvis was wide like a female's. The head was elongated.
What really became of Akhenaten's mummy still remains a mystery. Fragments of sculpture and carving from the royal tomb at Akhetaten shows that his body was originally put there, but no sign of the mummy remains. It is possible that followers of the Aten feared for it's destruction, which would deny him eternal life, and moved the body to a place of safety.
Akhenaten is perhaps unfairly not credited with being a particularly successful Pharaoh. Records seem to indicate that he allowed Egyptian influence wane but this may not be true. These ideas are based on the famous Amarna Tabletsfound in Akhetaten in many of which Egyptian vassal cities plead for assistance, but no replies are preserved.
As there is no surviving record of Egyptian territory being lost at this time it is possible that Akhenaten was merely skillfully playing one city against the other to achieve through diplomacy what would otherwise require military force.