Ultimate Tut

UltimateTutSuggested by Brad Nelson • This 2-hour special brings together the latest evidence from a team of archaeologists, anatomists, geologists, and Egyptologists, to build the ultimate picture of Tutankhamen.
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8 Responses to Ultimate Tut

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I found this video both interesting and annoying. A quick review would go like this. Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris.

    How many times can this video say “Chris”? It’s not unheard of for various researchers and presenters to insert themselves into documentaries. David Attenborough has been one of the most effective in this regard. He tended to bring the human scale into nature films and talked to us, not down to us.

    But, good god, this documentary shows what I think is the new style of documentary. It’s the narcissistic style of documentary. Chris did this. Chris did that. Chris thinks this. Chris thinks that. (And why not “Mr. Naunton” or maybe “Dr. Naunton” if he is one? Nope. He’s your buddy. He’s your pal.)

    Along with Chris-did-this and Chris-did-that almost non-stop, you’re faced with this spastic type of film making where (odd, considering the subject matter which is so photogenic) the pictures can’t speak for themselves. This documentary is full of stupid and extraneous camera moves, tilts, swivels, zooms, shakes, etc. Only idiots and artless people would possibly still use such techniques.

    But if you can get past all the “Chris said this” and the stupid camera tricks, there’s an interesting documentary lurking underneath. It makes several key assertions:

    1) King Tut’s burial was rushed.
    2) King Tut was not buried in his own crypt.
    3) The method of his death.
    4) Why his tomb remained (mostly) untouched for so long.
    5) The rushing of his embalming charred Tut via spontaneous combustion of the oils.
    6) Tut’s funeral collection and crypt are very small compared to most Pharaohs.

    Howard Carter noted the charring of Tut’s mummy but had no idea what caused it. I think he also noted the rushed nature of the burial. But Chris will be sure to fill you in a bit.

    What is still annoying to me is that I haven’t seen a documentary yet that shows exactly how and why Howard Carter found the tomb. But this video gives a pretty reasonable explanation for why it stayed hidden. Tut’s tomb was in the middle of the floor of the valley and had been covered over by flash floods which then baked to a hard surface that looked like the undisturbed floor of the valley. Again, no explanation is given for why Carter thought to dig here.

    Of all the things Chris told us, he did not tell us that.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    A good documentary on this period would probably be interesting. There are plenty of works relating to Tutankhamen and the Tel el Amarna era. I could mention Allen Drury’s books A God Against the Gods and Return to Thebes and Lynda S. Robinson’s mysteries about Lord Meren, the Eyes and Ears of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen. Robin Cook’s The Sphinx deals with certain aspects of the archaeology of Tutankhamen.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Well, I did find the documentary interesting. And I think (for a documentary of this type) its claims seemed quite reasonable and worked out. This didn’t appear to be a sensationalist documentary or one (as is typical these days) that is going to blow through all the myths and give us the “real” (read: revisionist) story.

      I think most of the claims in this video either originated with Howard Carter or have been known for some time. Still, it’s nice to find them all in one place.

      One claim that seemed dubious and not very well documented (or presented) was that King Tut was a warrior. He may well have been, as other Pharaohs were. But was he killed in battle or simply in a little recreational chariot racing? We don’t know, although the documentary purports to show some engraved scene that shows Tut in battle. But that flew by fast and was rather glossed over.

      One of the other documentaries I viewed lately (I think this one), said that these tombs (including the pyramids) weren’t just for the eternal life and glorification of the Pharaoh. It claimed that via the Pharaoh (if his funeral and tomb were properly done) all his people would be given eternal life as well. Sort of a collective Christ-like figure if this interpretation is correct. The documentary called the Great Pyramid a “resurrection machine.”

      So perhaps it is quite true and quite likely that it wasn’t slave labor that built the pyramids but the construction of them was considered not only a civic project but a personal one. Wouldn’t it be grand to go back in time and learn more about that?

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Note that the pyramids were built only for a small number of pharaohs, about a millennium before Tutankhamen as I recall. I don’t think there was any above-ground marker for the tombs of most pharaohs, which is why a few weren’t completely stripped by ancient grave-robbers.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I would suppose the expense and the vulnerability of above-ground pyramids led to the underground ones…not to mention, how do you top the Great Pyramid? That’s a hard act to follow. According to Wiki, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.

          And according to this documentary, the tomb of Seti I (not to be confused with SETI) in the Valley of the Kings was absolutely huge.

          Briefly (ahhhggg!) they do a cool wireframe view of the various tombs. Seti’s is truly labyrinthian and Tut’s had only something like four small rooms….a garage compared to what they described Seti’s tomb as — as long as St. Paul’s Cathedral in Rome.

          These kind of documentaries unfortunately tend to play to what they suppose (not without some justification) is the short attention span of people, thus this OCD-like need to keep shaking and moving the camera. But I wish they would have spent a couple of minutes on these extraordinary wireframe views of the tombs.

          What treasures they must have once held. If Tut’s was a thrown-together and quite sparse tomb, imagine what Seti stuffed his with.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            As a matter of fact, The Sphinx concerns Seti’s tomb, which (in the novel, and the movie based on it) turns out to have been a decoy. (This also gets linked to the “curse of King Tut”.)

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Just staying on the general theme of Egyptology (don’t know why my passing interest….maybe because of this), I purchased this short (80 page) three-dollar book last night: Ancient Egypt by Martin R. Phillips.

              At best, this book gives you a one-dimensional outline of the succession of pharaohs and periods. It has an odd tone at times (I should talk) switching from straight descriptions to sort of the tone you’d expect in a children’s book. And I felt like a contestant on Wheel of Fortune while reading this. I kept wanting to buy a comma….or delete them. This is horrible punctuation. But for three bucks, it’s almost worth it. Barely. Maybe.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                There are numerous interesting works on Egyptology. Elizabeth Peters, in addition to her Amelia Peabody novels, has written a book (and later rewrote it) on the subject, and James Patterson co-authored a book on Tutankhamen and his death. David Rohl has written a very revisionist Egyptian history, Pharaohs and Kings, with a severely revised timeline. He has Akhenaten as pharaoh druing the reign of David (the Tel el Amarna letters possibly refer to him as well as Jesse and Joab in a message from Mutbaal, whom Rohl equares with Ishbaal aka Ish-bosheth) and Rameses as the Shishak who took Jerusalem early in the reign of Rehoboam. (This would probably put Tutankhamen during the reign of Solomon.)

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