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Author Topic: MODERN EGYPT  (Read 7464 times)
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« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2009, 09:59:48 am »

8 - 14 January 2009
Issue No. 929

                                            King Tut was the son of Akhenaten

By Zahi Hawwas


I had an exceptional adventure recently. It was at a site in Middle Egypt known as Al-Ashmunein, known in Greek as Hermopolis after the Greek god Hermes, and known to the ancient Egyptians as Thoth, the god of wisdom. The site contained a temple dedicated to Thoth, and a large statue of the god in the form of a baboon can still be seen today. I hold Al-Ashmunein close to my heart because 40 years ago I started my career as an inspector of antiquities only a few kilometres away, at Tuna Al-Gabal.

I spent two incredible years in Tuna Al-Gabal. I stayed in a beautiful rest house in the desert, and in the evenings I was completely alone with my thoughts and dreams in this large, mysterious house surrounded by desert. Every day I would sit in the garden and look up at the sky. I was not a patient man, but living in this spectacular isolation taught me the virtue of patience, and I started to write. I kept a diary and recorded my memories, and I wrote letters every day to the girlfriend I had left behind in Alexandria.

Near my rest house was another built for our great man Taha Hussein when he was minister of education. Hussein used to come in the winter and every day he would visit the tomb of Isadora, a lady who lived during the Roman Period. Isadora drowned in the Nile and her lover built a beautiful tomb for her. Her lover used to travel about 50 kilometres from Sheikh Abada on the east bank of the Nile to Tuna Al-Gabal on the west bank to light a pottery lamp in her memory. When Taha Hussein was in residence, he would light this lamp every day.

In the last century a limestone block broken in two pieces was found at Al-Ashmunein. One piece of the block has an inscription that reads: "The king's son of his body Tutankhaten". The inscription on the other piece reads: "The daughter of the king, of his body, his great desire of the king of Two Lands, Ankhesenpaaten". Scholars suggest that this inscription is not only one of the few pieces of evidence showing that Tut was from Tel Al-Amarna, but also showing Akhenaten was the father of Tut because Tut was mentioned as the son alongside the well-known daughter of Akhenaten, Ankhesenpaaten. Ankhesenpaaten was the third daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti and the wife of Tut.

When I began to study the family of King Tut and investigate the identity of his biological father and mother, I knew that it was important to find this block. The block is not registered in the registry book for the magazine in Al-Ashmunein. Therefore, I started to ask scholars who had discussed this block in their work about its location -- but no one knew where it was! I called Adel Hassan, the director of Minya, and asked him to search for the block. After a few days he informed me that they had found it. I went to Al-Ashmunein and entered the storeroom, and learnt that they only had the side of the block that mentioned Tut's name but not the piece with the name of his wife, Ankhesenpaaten. We immediately started to search among the numerous stones from the Aten Temple that were reused by Ramses II in a temple at Al-Ashmunein in the hope of finding the other half of the block. And we were happily surprised when we located it. Brando Quilici, who is shooting a documentary about the family of Tut and who accompanied me to the storeroom, was surprised and thrilled that we had rediscovered this important piece of evidence.

Some people believe that Tut was the son of Amenhotep III because he is mentioned on monuments found at Thebes. Also, the hieroglyph for "king's son" can be translated as "son-in-law" or "grandfather". But it is important to understand that when Tut became king and moved to Thebes, he could not mention the name of Akhenaten. The priests of Amun hated Akhenaten for changing the religion to the worship of only one god, Aten, and for moving the capital from Thebes to Tel Al-Amarna. After the death of Akhenaten the religion returned to the old ways and the priests of Amun regained power. Therefore it is most probable that Tut, on his monuments, wanted to identify himself with his powerful grandfather Amenhotep III. Hence, the hieroglyphs on the monuments found in Thebes that read: " son of the king " can be translated as " grandson of the king ".

The block from Tel Al-Amarna is an accurate piece of evidence that proves Tut lived in Amarna with Akhenaten, and that he married Ankhesenpaaten while living there. On the block, and while he lived in Amarna, his name was Tutankhaten, honouring Aton, but when he became king and moved to Thebes he changed his name to Tutankhamen, honouring Amun. This block can also be seen as evidence that Tut was in fact the son of Akhenaten. I am sure this archaeological evidence will instigate much discussion and debate among Egyptologists.

Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly.

Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 
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