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November 24, 2009 - April 18, 2010 November 21 & 22: Opens to Members Only (time-ticketed)

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King Tut Podcast

With David Silverman, Curator of King Tut, the Golden King and Great Pharaohs

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Track 1: Introduction by David Silverman

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Download: 00:41 min / 440 KB MP3

Track 2: Inner Coffin of Queen Meritamun

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Download: 02:26 / 1.4 MB MP3

Transcript:

The Inner Coffin of Queen Meritamun is one of the prominent pieces in the section on Pharaoh’s religion. It’s made of wood and is painted, and it also has the queen shown wearing a wig – and there are titles and her name inscribed on the front of the coffin. This is an inner coffin, which means that there was a larger outer one we would call a sarcophagus in which this one was placed. Inside the inner coffin would have been the mummy of Queen Meritamun. She was the wife of one of the earliest kings of the 18th dynasty, which was the dynasty in which Tutankhamun was the last king, so this would have been a very distant relative of Tutankhamun. It was a very interesting piece not only for what it was important – for the queen’s burial – but also for the fact that ... it’s very difficult to see but if you look carefully you’ll be able to notice that there are carved feathers, a pattern that covers almost the entire coffin itself. This style came late in the previous dynasty and seemed to become very popular. But even closer observation will show you that there are little tiny holes up and down the front strip of titles ... and also on the side, and this indicates that there must have been some strips of metal in these areas and may well have been made of gold. At this point there is nothing left of this material except for the holes, but it is important for us to know and may well indicate that this particular piece may have been reused, made for someone else first and then reused for her – or perhaps it was the original outer coffin and there was a smaller coffin inside. In any case it’s a very small detail but it gives us a little piece of information that is very important.

Track 3: Funerary Mask of Psusennes I

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Download: 01:52 / 1.2 MB MP3

Transcript:

The Funerary Mask of Psusennes I comes from the section in the exhibition that’s called Pharaoh’s Gold. In that part of the exhibition we try to explain why so many things were made of gold that went into pharaoh’s burial. The ancient Egyptians considered skin and bones of their gods were composed of gold. So to have masks and other protective devices for the mummy made of gold indicates they themselves were going to become gods because they were also made of gold. This mask as well as several other pieces of gold jewellery in the exhibition came from the tomb of Psusennes and other people of the 21st and 22nd dynasty, which is late in Egypt’s history. But the tombs themselves have a very important place in archaeology, because they, like the tomb of Tutankhamun, were almost intact when they were found. Tutankhamun’s tomb was also almost intact, and together Tutankhamun’s bomb from the 18th dynasty, and Psusennes tomb from the 21st dynasty and the others that go along with it from the 22nd dynasty, were basically fairly intact – in other words, finally we were able to find the actual treasures that people put in the royal tombs. This gives us an idea, for example, of what some of the much larger tombs, that had double and triple the amount of rooms, must have had inside them.

Track 4: Canopic Stopper

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Download: 01:45 / 1.2 MB MP3

Transcript:

The Canopic Stopper is actually the lid – there were four of these lids that had the form of the face of Tutankhamun. These were the four lids for four sections of a container, made of calcite, which is a soft form of alabaster. It was fairly large, and was rectangular in shape and was carved to have four separate containers – and each of those containers had a lid. That box was actually placed inside a larger box, and that one was made of wood and the wood was then guilded. Outside on each side was a goddess who was carved out of wood and also guilded – and all of this was to protect what was inside the containers. Each of those four containers held a golden coffinette, a tiny little coffin in the shape of the king’s larger coffin in which his mummy was buried but these did not have any body parts. What they did have was four embalmed internal organs that the Egyptians considered were most important in the afterlife – the lungs, the liver, stomach and intestines. This one is associated with the canopic coffinette that contained the stomach of Tutankhamun.

Track 5: Funerary Figure (Shabati)

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Download: 01:45 / 1.2 MB MP3

Transcript:

This is a Funerary Figure of Tutankhamun, sometimes called a Shabati figure, and is the first artifact you see in the section on Tutankhamun himself. It’s very large, one of the largest you’ll see of these types of figures that are called funerary figures, or are called shabatis. The word ‘shabati’ comes from the ancient Egyptian word ‘wesheb’ meaning to answer and shawab, a type of wood. So we do know that these figures therefore were answer figures made of a certain type of wood. What were they to answer? They were to answer the call that would come in the afterlife to do any kind of forced labour. This was not limited to the elite, middle class, lower class or the pharaoh. Everybody would be required to do this work in the afterlife. In order to make it easier for them in the afterlife, the Egyptians came up with the idea of making these funerary figures, or shabati figures, to do the work of the deceased in the afterlife. Usually if you were wealthy enough you would have one for each day of the year (365) and then you’d have a few foremen with little whips to make sure that the other worker figures did the jobs they were supposed to do. With Tutankhamun’s tomb, we found the largest number – there were 413 of these figures.

Track 6: Chair

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Download: 01:54 / 1.2 MB MP3

Transcript:

Chair – This is a fairly simple chair for the Egyptian royalty. It is made of wood and it doesn’t really fit the true definition of a chair because the back is made in two parts and is separate from the legs that actually support it. And so it really is what we might call a stool with a back. But that technicality gone, we still call it a chair. This was actually a chair that Tutankhamun sat in; it has his name on it, it has several titles, and it has some things in it that would tell us that, aside from the name, it did belong to a king. The emblems that you see between the legs in both the front and back are actually hieroglyphs, and they spell out the phrase “the one who unites the land of Upper and Lower Egypt” – the north and south of Egypt. Also another detail that I think is very interesting is that the legs take the shape of animal’s feet – in this case felines. Again it is very interesting to look at all these details, because you can see that in the front feet, the very back of them have a prestigio claw called a duclaw, which is very similar to the kind that do occur on felines and also canines. The back legs do not, and you might think at first that the Egyptians messed up here, but in fact they did not. Animals only have them in the front legs and so the chairs with these animal-like legs only have the declaws in front as well.

Track 7: Canopic Coffinette

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Download: 02:32 / 1.4 MB MP3

Transcript:

This is the Canopic Coffinette of Tutankhamun. There were actually four of these, and they were four miniature coffins that were made to look almost exactly like the golden coffin that Tutankhamun was buried in. But these were not actually part of the burial itself – these miniature coffinettes, of which there were four, were made to hold the mummified remains of the internal organs that the Egyptians considered so important were so important to Egyptians that they mummified them separately and then put them for safekeeping in these containers. Tutankhamun is one of the few kings whose material we have that has survived; therefore we’re not sure if other kings had such elaborate arrangements, so it’s really quite remarkable to find each one of these. Inside this particular one would have been the stomach of Tutankhamun. In the other ones would have been the lungs, the liver and the intestines. The heart the Egyptians mummified separately and then put back into body and then it was wrapped and buried separately. This miniature coffin would have been placed in a calcite chest in a separate area and then the lid that we saw also in the exhibit would have been put on top and then there would be a final lid for protection put on top of that. That whole ensemble would then have been placed in a protective wooden chest, and then outside on each of the four sides would have been a golden goddess to ensure protection and it looks like in this case, it actually worked. This kind of protection, one inside the other, is sort of reminiscent of Russian dolls. And it’s not limited just to Tutankhamun’s internal organs – it’s exactly the way he was buried. He was Buried in the golden sarcophagus which then had outer coffins and that ensemble was put into three shrines and a canopy that had fabric over it. So there were more than eight layers of protection for the body itself.

Track 8: Finger and Toe Covers

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Download: 01:49 / 1.3 MB MP3

Transcript:

The Finger and Toe Covers of Tutankhamun are made entirely of gold, and they’re to reinforce the idea that the king has now become divine and therefore his skin and bones would be made of gold. That’s the reason that these are covered. It also would be some protection for both fingers and toes which might be damaged because they were extremities. In fact with Tutankhamun, that was not the case. There were several layers of protection for the mummy of Tutankhamun. First of all, after the body was mummified, it was then covered in a type of resin and after that it was wrapped in layers and layers of linen mummy cloth. When Howard Carter was taking this apart, he figured out that it must have been several hundred feet of lines wrappings that were used. And once the wrappings were finished then there was more resinous material to keep everything together. But in between the layers of wrappings were placed amulettes for further protection – for magical protection – and when all of this was done there was a golden death mask was put over the face and shoulders of the king, and that would represent the fact now he was in fact made entirely of gold. This ensemble would receive flowers and garlands and all of this was placed in a solid gold coffin.

Track 9: Cobra Collar

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Download: 01:33 / 908 KB MP3

Transcript:

The Cobra Collar of Tutankhamun was one of several different necklaces that were found in the tomb. This one, and several others, were actually found on the body of Tutankhamun, put around the neck, and there were some others that were on different parts of the body.

These are fairly flimsy in comparison to some of the other jewellery. And for that reason some people have suggeseted that these may have been produced for the afterlife and were never meant to be used for this life. And that is, in all likelihood, the reason that they are fairly thin. They’re made of two parts and look just like the kind that would have been used in daily life – that is the front part hanging over the neck in front, and the little dangling part in back is called the counter weight and that would prevent it from going too far down in the back. When Howard Carter examined the mummy, he found that there were several of these around the neck, and he also found some of them that were placed around the leg of the king – and all of these were meant for magical protection for the king in the afterlife. Since Tutankhamun’s tomb survived for more than 3,000 years, maybe some of this magic really worked.

Track 10: Colossal Statue of Tutankhamun Usurped by Horemheb

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Download: 01:58 / 1.1 MB MP3

Transcript:

The Colossal Statue of Tutankhamu (Usurped by Horemheb) is the last artifact in exhibition, and it really tells about the fate of some pharaohs but not all pharaohs. This originally would have stood about 17½ feet high, and it was placed in the exhibit at that exact height. This was excavated in the early 1900s by the University of Chicago and it was one of two pieces that were found together and were almost identical to the other. It comes from the Cairo museum and still has some of the paint preserved on it, which is something very important because most of the statuary from Egypt does not retain its original paint, but almost all of the statues were painted. Fortunately for us, when you look at this you can still see some of the paint around the mouth, the eyes, the crown and you can just make out a faint dark line that goes around the chin and that was used to tie on the false beard that identifies him with the god of Cyrus. The reason that we talk of the fate of pharaoh is because pharaohs were kings for the amount of time that they were on earth. When the new pharaoh came on he became divine in the sense that the office itself was divine and therefore he was the king who had always been and would always be. That meant that all of the monuments of his predecessors could be his simply by hacking out their name and putting in his. In this case, that is exactly what happened. Tutankhamun’s name no longer exists on the statue – and if you look carefully around the buckle of the belt you’ll see that it has been hacked out and one of Tutankhamun’s successor’s names is written on it.

Track 11: Toilet Seat

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Download: 01:31 / 1.1 MB MP3

Transcript:

This is the Toilet Seat from the 18th dynasty found in the capital city of Amarna, which was the new capital that the revolutionary at xxxx built. It’s possible even that some of the royal family might have used it, or something like this, and even Tutankhamun. It’s very modern looking and it’s important to the exhibition because we always think of the treasures of ancient Egypt but it is nice to know how some of the people really lived. There are wonderful things to know about some of the architecture that the Egyptians had – for example even the earliest temples built more than 4,000 years ago had plumbing in them. Some of the offering tables had drainage in them as well. So to see a toilet seat, which looks fairly modern, is I think a very important thing that the ancient Egyptians worried about these things. There is a palace that was built for a later king – right off the throne room there was a separate area, and when I first went to visit that archaeological site, I found it interesting because right off the area where the king sat on his throne was the area that he used for his bathroom and there was another toilet seat very much like this.

Last modified on May 3, 2010

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The exhibition is organized by the National Geographic Society, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Northern Trust is a proud cultural partner. American Airlines is the official airline of the exhibition. Additional financial support is provided by the Government of Ontario.