Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday's Egyptian: Tutankhamun's Diadem

I recently wondered how unreasonable is it to reunite King Tutankhamun with the gold diadem found on his head and removed by Howard Carter, it is after all his. Why should not Tutankhamun be reunited with his magical serpent protectors, his royal symbols of power and authority? I really don't think anything else of his jewelry needs to be on the mummy particularly because of the especially fragile different pieces that make up the mummy likely could not support any other of his jewels.

He alone has come down to us as a bedecked mummy, he alone has come down wearing his crown and should again. Tutankhamun is the world's most famous Egyptian king and probably the world's most well-known cadaver. His grandfather Amenhotep III was one of the richest men in history(1), at the height of the greatest empire of ancient Egypt. Tutankhamun took to his grave the left over fortunes of one of the richest families in history, though much had been squandered by his father Akhenaten.

Only Tutankhamun can wear his crown again, he stands alone among the pharaohs. Harry Burton's photo above demonstrates a problem in this seemingly fragile cap under the diadem. This bead cap which probably matched the diadem might be impossible to restore as I imagine the resins used on his mummy have probably destroyed at least parts of the cap.

Can it be recreated with modern materials, and should a replica of the gold diadem be mounted as part of any new display of Tutankhamun's mummy at the future Grand Egyptian Museum?

This mount could be built into the display which would have the added benefit of holding the king's head in place, protecting it. In this way, the real one could still be displayed with the other objects belonging to the king. The mummy of King Tutankhamun is the only pharaoh who has come down to the present wearing his protective and precious diadem. It is not unreasonable to suggest he can be reunited with this part of his regalia and be safer for having it back.


Photo of diadem: Tour Egypt
Harry Burton's photo,(P0813), of the top of Tutankhamun's head  'Copyright; The Griffith Institute, University of Oxford'  The Griffith Institute, Anatomy of an excavation

(1) http://www.aneki.com/richest_history.html

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