According to some archaeologists, the renowned gold death mask of ancient Egyptian Pharaoh King Tutankhamun was made for a different king than Tutankhamun.
Death and the afterlife were a source of fascination for the Ancient Egyptians. This is demonstrated by their extremely complicated mummification technique and worship of numerous deities who rule the underworld.
Death masks are one artifact that exemplifies their obsession with the ideal afterlife. Ancient Egyptians would paint intricate face characteristics on these masks in the hopes of guiding their souls into the afterlife.
They would serve as an idealized image of kings and pharaohs, since they were represented as young, attractive, and dipped in gold metal, allowing the mask to remain eternally.
Tutankhamun is a name that needs no introduction. During the conclusion of the 18th Dynasty, the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh was the last of his royal family to govern. Howard Carter famously found his tomb in 1922, making it the first substantially intact tomb belonging to a Pharaoh to be discovered.
Tutankhamun’s death mask, discovered in a vault full of jewels and worldly possessions, has captivated the globe since its discovery.
The golden funeral mask, currently housed in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, is one of the world’s most recognizable works of art and a renowned emblem of Ancient Egypt. It had previously travelled as part of the Tutankhamun exhibition in the 1970s, but the Egyptian government has since determined that it will never move again so that it can be preserved for posterity.
The mask is said to resemble Osiris, the Egyptian God of the Afterlife, and is 1.8 feet tall, weighs a little over 10 kilos, and is decorated with semi-precious stones.
It was designed in the shape of a Nemes headdress, with deep blue glass stripes imitating lapis lazuli. The wide collar, which terminates with falcon heads, is made with semi-precious stone inlays and glass paste.
Tutankhamun’s divine rank is signaled by the curve of his beard, and the Two Ladies, the vulture and the cobra goddess on his brow confirm his position as Lord of the Two Lands, all of Egypt.
On the shoulders of the mask are hieroglyphs that describe an old passage from the Book of the Dead.
According to The Express, Egyptologist Professor Joann Fletcher discussed how specialists are learning more about the Pharaoh’s most renowned treasure during Odyssey’s ‘The Valley Of Kings: The Egyptian Golden Age.’
“Tutankhamun’s mask is the pinnacle of ancient Egypt, so very recognizable,” Professor Fletcher remarked, “but, like so many of his artifacts, it is concealing a long-standing mystery.”
Since 2001, research has claimed that the iconic death mask was made for Queen Neferneferuaten, as her royal name (Ankhkheperure) was visible in a partially obliterated cartouche on the interior of the mask.
“Recent study has homed in on one long-overlooked characteristic – and that is the obviously pierced ears,” Professor Fletcher explained. It’s been speculated that this mask was designed for someone else in the first place.
“Tutankhamun, according to research, did not wear earrings once he was a youngster. As a result, by the time he died at the age of 20, he would not have had pierced ears.”
It’s possible that the mask was made for another great ruler.
“This mask was not created for an adult male Pharaoh – when the gold was compared, [they found] the face is made of an entirely different gold than the rest,” Professor Fletcher added. The mask shows evidence of soldering.
“It now appears that Tutankhamun’s own visage was grafted onto the previous ruler’s mask.”
“They might have had pierced ears, been a lady, and it could have been Nefertiti.”
Since a statue of Queen Nefertiti was unearthed at Tell el-Amarna a century ago, her life has remained a mystery, with no grave or bones ever discovered.
Tutankhamun’s iconic death mask may thus have been made for Queen Nefertiti, a mystery that archaeologists hope to solve.
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