Top positive review
One person found this helpful
An excellent survey of the history of Egypt's most famous boy king
on 4 August 2014
The title may bring visions of tomb excavators coming to a grisly end, but with Joyce Tyldesley as author, this is of course a well written re-assessment of everything we know (or think we know) about Tutankhamun, including a brief interpretation of the recent DNA studies (though not in any scientific detail), highlighting the uncertainties and assumptions on which this latest evidence is based.
After several pages of notes for the uninitiated, explaining ancient Egyptian chronology, naming conventions and tomb numbering systems, Tyldesley discusses the "many curses" of Tutankhamun, including the modern celebrity-obsessed frenzy that surrounds the boy king, and the early death which robbed him of the chance to make his mark and restore his country to its former glory.
Tutankhamun's tomb forms the starting point for the main narrative, beginning with its construction and subsequent disappearance, the clues leading to its rediscovery by Carter, the clearing and cataloguing of the spectacular tomb goods, and the sorry tale of attempts to remove and autopsy the body, before looking at the evidence for each contender for the boy king's father, mother and siblings.
Only then do we come to Tyldesley's own take on the story, making no claims to be the definitive account, but rather that which she believes best fits the evidence that we have now. For her, it's not the solving of the mysteries surrounding Tutankhamun that's important, but rather the continuing investigation and piecing together of fragments of evidence; it's not just new discoveries, but the re-analysis of already known artefacts that will help bring more clarity to this period.
The book ends with a look at the Tutankhamun conspiracy theories (as she points out in "Tyldesley's Law", even the most unlikely theories about ancient Egypt will be believed by someone somewhere): the tomb curse and the rumours that Carter stole objects from the tomb. She rounds off with a brief look at touring Tutankhamun and modern Tutmania, asking if we are perhaps more interested in his `bling' than in the king himself.
Illustrated with black-and-white and colour photographs, maps, tomb texts and quotations from many of the Egyptologists associated with the tomb, this is an excellent survey of Tutankhamun's history and historiography for anyone with an interest in the boy who became the most iconic king of Egypt.
Reviewed by Ancientegyptmagazine dot com