>King Tut the Warrior

>Recently, several articles on King Tut have been published, showing that popular interest in Boy King’s life and reign has not diminished.

In the current issue of Archaeology Magazine (March/April 2010), W. Raymond Johnson, director of the Epigraphic Survey, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago has an article in which he said that sculptures from Luxor prove the King Tut was the scourge of Egypt’s foes.

Below is an excerpt from the article:

Little was known about Tutankhamun when his tomb was discovered in 1922. He ruled sometime after the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten–who abandoned the traditional Egyptian pantheon headed by the god Amun in favor of Aten, a solar deity–and presumably died young after an insignificant reign. Since then, the “boy king” tag has colored our understanding of the young king. But new discoveries contradict that early assessment. Recent CT scanning of his mummy shows that Tut was no boy at death, but was a grown man by the standards of the time and may have been 20 years old. And his 9- to 10-year reign toward the end of the 14th century B.C. was one of the greatest periods of restoration in the history of Egypt. Under Tut, the damage caused by Akhenaten’s iconoclastic fury against the state god Amun, which tore the country’s social, political, and economic fabric asunder, was repaired and Amun’s cult restored.

The rich array of objects found in Tutankhamun’s tomb speak to the opulence of the Egyptian court and the young king’s pampered life. But other items, including numerous throwsticks (sort of non-returning boomerangs), spears, bows and arrows, and chariots–many inscribed with his name and clearly used–attest his athleticism and youthful energy. Today, new evidence of Tutankhamun’s reign has emerged that shows he was much more active than was thought, and may have led military campaigns against the Syrians and Nubians before he died.

Two sets of battle-themed carvings from Tut’s mortuary temple survive, one depicting a Nubian campaign, and one larger group that shows several episodes of Tutankhamun in a chariot leading the Egyptian forces against a Syrian-style citadel. Other blocks depict the king receiving prisoners, booty, and the severed hands of the enemy dead, as is traditional, though in this case the hands have been strung on spears like shish kabobs, a detail that is unique in Egyptian art. The second set shows a royal flotilla returning up the Nile, with a manacled Syrian prisoner hanging in a cage from the sailyard of the king’s barge. Pieces of a concluding scene show the king offering prisoners and booty to the divine family of Amun, his wife Mut, and son Khonsu. Before now, we thought that Sety I of the 19th Dynasty invented this genre of battle narrative, but it is now clear that the tradition goes back at least to Tutankhamun and the late 18th Dynasty, and probably earlier.

Archaeology Magazine has made the full text of Johnson’s article available free online. The article also contains several images of King Tut, one showing him fighting Nubians and Syrians and another showing him as a sphinx, trampling Egypt’s enemies.

Read this interesting article by visiting Archaeology Magazine online.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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