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Hardcover Tutankhamen: The Life and Death of the Boy-King Book

ISBN: 0312262418

ISBN13: 9780312262419

Tutankhamen: The Life and Death of the Boy-King

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

The spectacular excavations at Bawiti, Egypt, in the summer of 1999 captured headlines all across the United States and rekindled America's fascination with Ancient Egypt. In that spirit comes this timely volume on the young monarch whose mummified remains and fantastic treasure provided the other amazing find of the twentieth century . . .When his tomb was discovered in 1922, even the most experienced archaeologists joined the international community...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

An amazing book on the Boy-King

The author, Christine El Mahdy's wonderful biography finally presents to people of the world what King Tutankhamen was really about. She presents to readers all the evidence so far uncovered by archeologists and then makes inferences based on their findings. By doing so, she allows the reader to examine the evidence along with her, and in the end she presents a clear chain of events based on that evidence that makes perfect and complete sense. The book also covers what happened before King Tut came to power, mainly the interesting lives of the monarchs of the infamous Eighteenth Dynasty. All these events that El Mahdy describe come together in the end. By doing so, El Mahdy sets the stage and political environment under which Tut came to power. After completing this book, you will feel satisfied knowing what archeologists think must have happened to the young king that has captured the world's facination ever since his tomb was discovered in 1922. In fact, you'll be surprised to learn that his tomb was pretty mediocre according Ancient Egypt standards, but is the most famous since it is the only Egyptian tomb to remain virtually intact through the modern age. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the great mystery behind the Boy-King; Tutankhamen.

A Great Read for Non-Specialists

This is a history of one dynasty of ancient Egypt, perhaps the most famous one. No professional competence is required to follow El Mahdy's arguments and conclusions regarding the fate of Tutankhamen. The text is clear, lucid and reads like a detective story. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Not Just Tutankhamen!

When twenty years ago the unprecedented exhibit of artifacts from King Tutankhamen's tomb was shown around America, they caused a sensation wherever they went. When it came to the importance of Tutankhamen, however, the exhibit sparked another round of dismissiveness about the boy king (who just happened to leave a terrific tomb) compared to his predecessor Akhenaten, who was regarded by western Egyptologists as a bit of a hero. It was Akhenaten who struck a blow for monotheism, banishing the strange gods with insect and crocodilian bodies in favor of the one sun god Aten. He was a figure compared to Moses or Jesus, but it was said that his heresy terrified the people and threatened the powerful priesthood, which forced him out of Luxor into a new city he could devote to his peculiar ideas. Upon his death, the boy king Tutankhamen came to power (or his handlers did), and caused a reversion to the old ways.Christine El Mahdi has another tale to tell in _Tutankhamen: The Life and Death of the Boy King_ (St. Martin's Press), a revision of the lives of the pharaohs that shows how fashions, even in such arcane studies as Egyptology, change over time. Akhenaten, in her view, was not the monotheistic hero pictured by the Egyptologists of the last century. The old view was sparked by Tutankhamen's successor Horemheb, a conservative military man who hated Akhenaten, but not Aten. The attestations of Akhenaten's monotheistic "heresy" were most vividly not from his successors, but from the nineteenth century "gentlemen archeologists" who were in Egypt as part of their Grand Tours, perhaps as preparation for entering the church. Ancient Egyptians were seen as those who had enslaved the Jews, and who had the worst sort of animal-worshipping polytheism. Their interpretation of Horemheb's denigration of Akhenaten (which seems to have been political) was that there was a revulsion against monotheism just as there had been reviling of the true religion by those other pagans, the Romans. El Mahdi's title is simply too limited. This is not just the story of Tutankhamen, but of the pharaohs who came before and after him. It is a survey of the religious beliefs of their societies. It is the story of Carter, Carnarvon, and of Egyptology in general, and how subjectivity influences even academic research. It is a wonderful book for readers who want to find out more about the reality of a time that has always inspired enormous curiosity. El Mahdi's enthusiastic and clear writing and broad view of history ensure that even those addicted to the wilder ideas of Egyptology should enjoy this guided tour of evidence and common sense.

no Tut nut but..

I am by no means an "Egyptologist" but I have been to Egypt on two occasions and have a general fascination with Ancient Civilizations. I heard Christine on a radio interview and was impressed with her passion, enthusiasm, knowledge and open mindedness. Her book followed suit. This is a research scholar that can tell a story i.e. make the subject interesting and bring the mummies alive. Great read, unfortunately much of the story is still hidden in the sands.

A thought provoking analysis of ancient Egypt

I give very high marks to Christine El Mahdy's "Tutankhamen" for its vigorous, insightful examination of the reign of the so-called Boy-king. Actually, her book could be accurately titled "Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Smenkhare, Tutankhamen, and Ay" because her study extends to include all the "Amarna Period". El Mahdy contends, and rightly so I believe, that much of the conventional wisdom about this era of Egyptian history and its rulers is based not on a careful examination of the evidence, but upon outdated theories first published early in the Twentieth Century or even earlier, when the amount of information available was much smaller and our overall understanding of Egyptian culture far poorer. In this book El Mahdy goes back to basics, not blindly accepting the conclusions of other Egyptologists (many of whom appear to somewhat blindly repeat what others had written before them) but examining the original inscriptions for herself. Not infrequently they have previously been mistranslated or particular interpretations placed upon them without good justification. Inscriptions, art, tombs, and mummies are all re-examined with a rigorous application of common sense and logic. What emerges is a story strongly at variance with popular understanding of the period. El Mahdy rejects the notion that Akhenaten's "new" religion was really something radically different than the Egyptian mainstream, and she finds flaws in the notion that the so-called "heretic king" was widely hated by the Egyptian people. She also argues strongly and effectively against the idea that Smenkhare and Tutankhamen were interlopers from outside of the 18th Dynasty royal family (she supports the theory that Smenkhare was Nefertiti's identity upon ascending to a co-regency with her husband and she contends that Tutankhamen was Akhenaten's son by another wife). I have read a good many books about this era of Egyptian history, and I can think of no other which has been so thought provoking. Whether or not all of El Mahdy's conclusions will stand the test of time is something we will have to wait and see, but anyone who feels that they already "know" Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and Tutankhamen would be well advised to read this book.
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