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Discovering Tutankhamun: From Howard Carter to DNA [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Zahi Hawass
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Nov 2013
Penned by a scholar who was personally involved in research into the enigmatic young pharaoh, this comprehensive and fully illustrated new study reviews the current state of our knowledge about the life, death, and burial of Tutankhamun in light of the latest investigations and newest technology. Zahi Hawass places the king in the broader context of Egyptian history, unravelling the intricate and much debated relationship between various members of the royal family, and the circumstances surrounding the turbulent Amarna period. He also succinctly explains the religious background and complex beliefs in the afterlife that defined and informed many features of Tutankhamun s tomb. The history of the exploration of the Valley of the Kings is discussed, as well as the background and mutual relationships of the main protagonists. The tomb and the most important finds are described and illustrated, and the modern X-raying and CT-scanning of the king's mummy are presented in detail. The description of the latest DNA examination of the mummies of Tutankhamun and members of his family is one of the most absorbing parts of the book and demonstrates that scientific methods may produce results that cannot be paralleled by traditional Egyptology.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press (30 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 977416637X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9774166372
  • Product Dimensions: 28.4 x 22.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 417,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"This is a work by a man who passionately loves Egypt's past and is not afraid of controversy. There is nothing like reading a book that contains first-hand recollections and impressions, bringing to life an exacting academic topic. Dr Hawass does this in masterly fashion." ---from the Foreword by Jaromir Malek

"A very fine achievement, it will, in my opinion, become the standard work on Tutankhamun" - --Dr Paul Collins, Jaleh Hearn Curator of Ancient Near East, Ashmoean Museum, University of Oxford

'a well-illustrated review of what is currently known about the life, death and burial of Tutankhamun with beautiful and detailed photography of the king and his treasures.' --Ancient Egypt Magazine

About the Author

Zahi Hawass is one of the world's best known Egyptologists and a former Egyptian minister of state for antiquities. He is the author of many books on ancient Egypt, including several on Tutankhamun.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
With so many books about Tutankhamun already available, is there room for yet another? Zahi Hawass argues he can now add new information about the king and his family based on the recent DNA testing, while in his foreword, Jaromir Malek points out Hawass’ personal involvement in the research into Tutankhamun, which allows him to bring first-hand recollections to his account of the boy king.

Hawass begins with chapters on Egypt in the Eighteenth Dynasty leading up to Tutankhamun’s reign, followed by a discussion of ancient Egyptian religion. He describes the early excavations in the Valley of the Kings and the work of Howard Carter and his team. Although the account of Carter’s work is quite brief, Hawass does at least name-check the other people involved in finding and clearing the tomb, whose work is often overlooked. The page dedicated to Hussein Abdel Rasoul, the boy who found the tomb, is a nice touch, with Rasoul photographed wearing one of Tutankhamun’s pectorals.

There then follows a detailed exploration of the tomb and its treasures, the research carried out on the mummies of Tutankhamun and his ‘family’ using x-rays, CT scan and DNA testing, a summary of later discoveries in the Valley, useful appendices listing the objects found in the tomb and held in museums worldwide, and a list of Tutankhamun tours which have helped to fund the new Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza, soon to house the king and his treasures; as Hawass points out, it is unlikely that any of Tutankhamun’s objects will travel abroad again.

There is a rather bizarre chapter on the ‘curse of Tutankhamun’, with Hawass (a curse non-believer) claiming that Mansour Boraik, the Director of Luxor, and a Japanese television crew were completely spooked by the curse.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 5 July 2014
Verified Purchase
a well presented book.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but general and incomplete 30 Jan 2014
By JLee - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is an interesting book that I can almost heartily recommend. It should be of value to the general reader and is also a nice book for those whose studies are more specialized. Of course, a lot of the information regarding the tomb of Tutankhamun has already been published way too many times. However, much of the generally available information is now hopelessly out of date, and many so-called facts and interpretations and theories have recently been disproved. This book does include virtually all of the latest discoveries. For instance, the latest information on the fate of Nefertiti, both in a historical sense and in an archaeological sense, is included.

The information is clearly stated and easy to read. It is intended for a general audience and more technical information is absent.

The photographs are generally of good quality, but they are spread out across the page, overlapping each other. In many, the backgrounds have been Photoshopped out, leaving some odd edges. I suppose this is intended to look modern and interesting, but a more static layout would have better served the details and the aesthetic appearance. This is a small complaint, assuming you already own one of the many beautifully presented books detailing the objects in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

I purchased this book primarily because of the DNA reference in the title. The original DNA test results were expertly published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. However, that article was not all inclusive. I had expected to find in this new book all the results and interpretations of the DNA material of all the related mummies. This book does deal with the examination of Tut, the two female fetuses in the tomb, the body in KV 55, Amenhotep III, Yuya and Tuya, the two ladies from KV 21, and the two ladies from KV 35. Whereas the JAMA article gave the scientific evidence, this book simply gives the general results as interpreted by the team. I was very disappointed to find that this book does not include all the results, as it is stated that the study of “mtDNA and other genetic data” is still in progress and a new publication will provide that information. It also will “address the issue of DNA decay.” That seems to make the publication of this book a bit premature. I’m not sure why Hawass didn’t wait until all the information was available. I suspect it was either to fulfill a contract or just a moneymaker.

The book title is also a bit misleading in that several parts of the book do not deal directly with Tutankhamun. A few of those chapters are very interesting, especially the one on KV63 and KV64 and other recent excavations in the Valley of the Kings. Although that chapter’s title, too, is a misnomer as it also deals with the discoveries outside of the Valley, such as at Kom el-Hitan and Medinet Habu.

Chapter titles are as follows:

The Golden Age of Egypt: Dynasty 18
Religion and Life After Death
Robbers in the Valley of the Kings
The Tomb and its Treasures
Tutankhamun’s Mummy
The Discovery of the Family of Tutankhamun
The Valley of the Kings and Finds after the Discovery of Tutankhamun
The Curse of Tutankhamun
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carter to DNA 12 Feb 2014
By Diane M. Hagner - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
nice pictures, nice text, the information contained is an expansion of previous works but it is very nice to have that all in one volume
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