“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.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.
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