National Geographic : 1963 Oct
EKTACHROME© GEORGERAINBIRD LTD. Symbol of the renewal of life, a gosling breaks free from an egg, just as the king would burst from the shell of death. Carved from wood and painted, the bird sits in an alabaster nest atop the cover of an unguent jar. Wings flutter above four eggs. poured over the mask and the shroud. The body was presented with the "crown of justifi cation," and Ay confirmed the opening of the mouth by a sacred gesture. Then Tutankhamun was put to rest. Outside the sepulcher, night had fallen, and torches lit up the immense tent erected for the funeral banquet. The mourning period was now over and the cries of the mourners hushed. The sound and rhythm of songs and dances, performed during the banquet, evoked the act of creation. Unguents, like those which had been poured over the king's body, dripped from scented cones on top of the guests' wigs. When the meal was over, everything used in the funeral banquet was buried outside the tomb-the final service to help the young king, alone in the darkness of the crypt, find his path toward immortality. But all the magic of Egypt could not pro tect the memory of Tutankhamun from the vengeance of his enemies. Ay held the throne only briefly before Horemheb, a military strongman, seized power. With unrelenting 646 fury, Horemheb set out to erase the name of Tutankhamun from the temples, the monu ments, the archives of the land. "To speak the name of the dead is to make him live again," as the funerary inscription goes, but Horemheb willed that Tutankh amun should die a second and final death, though he dared not touch the king's richly laden tomb. And so Egypt forgot its young Pharaoh, and through long ages no man spoke his name. Yet where the sorcery of the ancients failed, the luck of the moderns succeeded. With the discovery of his tomb in 1922 by Britain's Lord Carnarvon and Howard Car ter, the name of Tutankhamun flashed around the globe. When death claimed the wealthy patron and several members of the expedi tion shortly thereafter, a story arose that the "curse of Tutankhamun" was responsible, and the fable increased the Pharaoh's fame. Who was Tutankhamun? The most we will ever really know is that he wanted to live forever. Perhaps in the rebirth of his name he has succeeded.