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Akhenaten and Akhetaten

Akhetaten (a.k.a. Amarna) was the city built by Pharaoh Akhenaten, famous for his monotheistic beliefs and his queen, Nefertiti and son, Tutankhamun. The Amarna Letters has translations of correspondence sent to the Akhenaten, but a trove of it was found at the Amarna site. During his reign a distinctive style of art rose to prominence, only to vanish after his death. The Boston MFA has 40 objects from the era in its collection. Perhaps the most famous of the cultural artifacts of Akhenaten is the Great Hymn to Aten (hieroglyphics, four different English translations: 1, 2, 3, 4). This poem was set to music by Philip Glass for his opera Akhnaten (information about the opera). Some see direct parallels between The Great Hymn to Aten and Psalm 104. Though it was billed as a new beginning, like many utopias, Amarna was no haven for the regular folk who lived there.
posted by Kattullus on Oct 4, 2008 - 23 comments

King Tutankhamen's curse

Is King Tut's tomb cursed? On February 16, 1923, Egyptologist Howard Carter, his financier George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, and Herbert's daughter Lady Evelyn Herbert entered the just-discovered tomb of the Egyptian boy-king Tutankhamen. Newspapers sensationalized the discovery, and told of a curse. Herbert dies in a Cairo hospital at 2 AM on April 5, 1923, only several months later. Supposedly, right at that moment, lights in Cairo go dark, and his dog at his estate back home in England howls and also drops dead.

However, Carter and Lady Evelyn contine living healthy lives, and examination shows that on average, everyone associated with the discovery lived normal-length lives. Herbert was not in good health even before the discovery, and died of blood poisoning from an infected mosquito bite. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, among others, thought it was fungus.

So now, when scientists perform a CT scan of the body, strange stuff happens: “one researcher's vehicle nearly hit a child. Then a huge storm hit. The CT machine, usually reliable, wouldn't work at first. And when researchers finally began the CT scan, one scientist came down with such a violent coughing attack he had to leave.” Discoveries made? King Tut was 5'10' an 18-20 years old when he died. He probably died of gangrene from a broken femur, not with a blow to the head as previously thought. His head is cut off, his body is cut in two, and his wrist, shoulder, and elbow joints are disconnected. Oh, and his penis is missing.
posted by bkudria on Nov 29, 2006 - 52 comments

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