Recently my wife and I stayed in Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace Road, that is. Although Buckingham Palace was just up the road our interest was not in the British Royals but in the young Egyptian royal in nearby King’s Road, Chelsea, where the Saatchi Gallery was hosting: ‘Tutankhamun, Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh.’
Familiar as I was with the name Tutankhamun, as I strolled around the Saatchi Gallery, I realised how little I actually knew about him.
Firstly, Tutankhamun, who reigned in Egypt almost 3,300 years ago, was a boy king and ruled the greatest civilisation on earth at the time, when he was just nine years of age. Furthermore, his reign was brief as he died aged 19 years.
Initially it was thought that Tutankhamun may have been murdered, but it is now believed that his death was the result of a fragile constitution (he had club feet, scoliosis and malaria) and a serious infection from a fracture to his thigh after a fall from his chariot while hunting.
Equally intriguing was the fact that the tomb of the boy king, Tutankhamun, was discovered by a boy! Howard Carter, an English archaeologist, is synonymous with the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Carter was funded by the wealthy Lord Carnavon. At the beginning of 1922, after years of digging, they had not found any trace of Tutankhamun’s tomb which Carter firmly believed existed. Carnavon who was losing patience and haemorrhaging money financed one final dig.
Each day, in 1922, while excavating in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Carter hired a young boy named Hussein Abdel-Rassoul to bring jars of water to the workers. As Hussein was digging holes in the sand to secure the jars he uncovered the first step in a staircase that led down to Tutankhamun’s tomb.’
Carter had a photograph taken of Hussein wearing a gold breast plate excavated from the tomb. That photograph of Hussein Abdel-Rassoul provided the water boy with an income for life. He posed with the photograph near Tutankhamun’s tomb, explaining to visitors how he discovered the site. After Hussein died, aged 70, his son took his place. Standing with a framed copy of his father’s photograph, he continues to tell his story.
Over 5000 artefacts were discovered in the tomb including the mummy of Tutankhamun which lay peacefully, and undisturbed, for over 3,000 years.
What is truly ironic about Tutankhamun, however, is that he was meant to be forgotten. Egyptians firmly believed in the afterlife; they also believed that a person whose name was forgotten had no life after death. When Tutankhamun died his name was deliberately omitted from the royal lists by his political rivals. Some 3,300 years later the name of Tutankhamun is known throughout the world while the names of those rival pharaohs have long been forgotten. The Tutankhamun exhibition is the Final World Tour and the last time artefacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb will be seen outside of Egypt before they return to the new Grand Egyptian Museum, on the outskirts of Cairo; at 650,000 square feet it will be the world’s biggest museum dedicated to a single civilisation.
What a wonder-full world!
A class of students were asked to list what they considered to be the Seven Wonders of the world. Though there was some disagreement Egypt’s Great Pyramid, the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon, the Panama Canal, the Empire State Building, St Peter’s Basilica and China’s Great Wall received the most votes.
The teacher noticed that one student hadn‘t handed up her paper and asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list.
“Yes,” the girl replied. “Well tell us what you have and we’ll chat about it.”
She hesitated and said: I think the seven wonders of the world are: 1. to Touch; 2. to Taste; 3. to See; 4. to Hear; 5. to Feel; 6. to Laugh and 7. to Love.
The teacher was astounded. The girl reminded us that the simple and ordinary things that we overlook are often the most wonderful and we don’t have to travel far and wide to experience them.
Perhaps Covid Time is a good time to slow down….to touch, to taste, to see, to hear, to feel, to laugh and to love.