Thursday, August 5, 2010

King Tut's Chariot

The New York Times ran an interesting story on August 3rd describing a recent addition to the King Tutanhkamun exhibit that is going on in New York near Times Square.  The centerpiece of the exhibit is King Tut's chariot - not a ceremonial chariot but the real deal.  Of the six chariots found in Tut's vault, this was the only one that was not obviously intended as a ceremonial burial vehicle.  The wheels and axles of this chariot show real wear indicating that this simple but elegant vehicle was actually used.

Earlier conjectures on the cause of Tut's death suggested he was murdered as he had a hole in his skull.  This is now known to have been created in the embalming process and more modern forensic analysis indicates that he probably died of malaria complicated by an infection from a broken bone.  The money at the moment seems to be that he might have fallen off this same chariot and broken his leg.  Hence, it was buried with him when he died.

It's not often you can see a wheeled vehicle of any kind that is thirty-three hundred years old. This is the first time that the chariot has been allowed out of Egypt by the Egyptian antiquities authorities and it is a real coup for the exhibition.  Two horse-powered. As Steve Martin would say in his classic parody, "Funky Tut!"

(Photo of chariot from Times website)

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