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The Middle East @ Work

King Tut’s Bling

Meaw Mar 3, 2008

I’m guessing no one in the history of the world wore as much bling as King Tutankhamun.

Not by choice, mind you. King Tut’s body was buried with 143 pieces of jewelry — bracelets, anklets, amulets — attached to it. And I mean attached. When Tut’s body was found in the 1920’s, Howard Carter’s team cut up the mummy into several pieces because the jewelry was glued to Tut from all the embalming resin. The only reason I bring this up is that I saw a lot of this bling at the Egyptian Museum.

The most magnificent piece was King Tut’s death mask. Pure gold. Weighing 220 pounds. It truly is a sight to behold. It got me thinking — how many people must have worked on the King’s death? And for how long? There had to be an entire industry around this one event. Tut was buried in THREE coffins, each one placed inside another. They weighed 3,000 pounds total. The inner-most one was also pure gold.

And King Tut wasn’t even the most revered pharoah of Egypt. He died when he was only 19. That’s a whole other story, apparently. Based on the latest evidence, Tut is thought to have died from gangrene after breaking his leg. Others still maintain he was murdered. Whatever the case, his notoriety mainly stems from Carter’s find. Many of the other pharaohs’ tombs were raided long ago.

The craftsmanship of these pieces is astounding. The respect and effort the Egyptians afforded the death of their kings remarkable. They believed that the bodies of gods were made of gold. So, they literally blinged their king into a god. Quite a business.

— Scott Jagow

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