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NEWS: Tutankhamun unmasked?

 

Did the iconic funerary gold mask of King Tutankhamun belong to his stepmother Queen Nefertiti as Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves wrote in a scholarly work on the mystery? (Source: Ahram Online).

“Before being published in a scientific journal in December, British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, from Arizona University, sent Al-Ahram Weekly an advance copy of his article on the original name inscribed on Tutankhamun’s mask.
Entitled “The Gold Mask of Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten” Reeves relates that an essay was behind his first doubts about King Tutankhamun’s possession of his iconic gold mask, now under restoration at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square.

In the paper Reeves wrote several years ago, in an essay which is yet to appear, he sought to demonstrate that the famous gold mask from King Tutankhamun’s tomb (KV 62) had been created not for the boy king but for the use of a female predecessor named Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten (Queen Nefertiti) who was King Akhenaten’s co-regent.

“The evidence in favour of this conclusion was, and still is compelling,” Reeves said, adding that he was able to muster for it no inscriptional support. Detailed scrutiny, both of the mask itself and of photographs, furnished not the slightest hint that the multi-columned hieroglyphic inscription with cartouche might pre-date Tutankhamun’s reign.

“Happily, this reluctant presumption of the mask’s textual integrity may now be abandoned,” Reeves pointed out in the paper, asserting that “a fresh examination of the re-positioned and newly re-lit mask in Cairo at the end of September 2015 yielded for the first time, beneath the hieroglyphs of Tutankhamun’s prenomen, lightly chased traces of an earlier, erased royal name.”

With the kind cooperation of former director of the Egyptian Museum Mahmoud Al-Halwagi and the museum’s photographer Ahmed Amin, it proved possible to secure an exceptionally clear image of this palimpsest.

Drawing by Gabolde illustrating:(upper) the present, Tutankhamun-era inscription(green)with visible portions of the earlier,underlying text (red); (Lower)the original name(yellow) as reconstructed on the basis of these still-visible traces (red) (Source: Ahram Online).

Given its significance, Reeves was keen to share this discovery with specialist colleagues, from whom he also sought input. “For, although the opening signs of the underlying text were obvious enough, those traces close to the cartouche’s ‘tie’ were proving difficult to disentangle,” Reeves wrote. He added that his request for aid evoked responses from both Ray Johnson and Marc Gabolde. “I am extremely grateful for their contributions to this note,” he said, confirming that “not only has our collaboration resulted in a reasonably definitive reconstruction of the name-form originally borne by the mask, but this name indeed confirms the conclusion I had reached previously on non-inscriptional grounds — namely, that Tutankhamun’s headpiece had been prepared originally for the co-regent Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten.”

The changes to which the mask’s cartouche had been subjected are presented in a drawing by Gabolde. “Above, in green, we see the present, Tutankhamun-era inscription, with visible portions of the earlier, underlying text highlighted in red; below, in yellow, is the agreed reconstruction of this original name.””- via Ahram Online.

Read more here.

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3 comments on “NEWS: Tutankhamun unmasked?

  1. I’m far from convinced about the mask. It’s true that various other objects belonging to the tomb were made for people other than the boy-king but one wonders what Nefertiti is wearing if she is indeed found in the near future. Irrespective of who it might have been originally intended for, it will always be the mask of Nebkheperure Tutankhamun, the justified.

  2. In Reeves’ “Akhenaten : Egypt’s False Prophet” (rev ed 2005) he does not mention who he thinks the mask may have been originally made for although there is a substantial chapter on Tutankhamun’s reingn. In his ‘Complete Tutankhamun’ (1990) there’s no mention of it either so it might be a theory he’s hatched recently. Microscopic examinations of artifacts are fine but there is always the danger in my opinion of possibly missing the wood for the trees. Imagine this scenario happening:

    Chief goldsmith: “Where’s Nebamun?
    Supervising goldsmith : “Gone to lunch.”
    Chief goldsmith : “Well when he comes back tell ‘im he’s put the wrong name on this one! We ‘aint doin’ the queen’s gear till next week. Am I the only one around here what can read?
    Supervising goldsmith : Yes, you are.

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