Objects 8 & 9: The Throne & The Shrine

Tut's father, Ankhenaton, was like the embarrassing child of Egypt. Filled with revolutionary ideas, his reign shattered traditional Egyptian culture like an earthquake in the Nile Valley. Ankhenaton abolished the old religion in favor of monotheism, replacing all the animal and human-figured gods with an invisible god, Aton, symbolised by the sun disk. Ankhenaton destroyed temples; dismantled the priesthood; and had the rigid, emotionless forms famous in Egyptian art replaced with curvy figures engaged in loving scenes. And then he died, leaving his eight-year-old son by a minor wife, Tutankhaton, Pharaoh of Egypt. 

Under the influence of his advisers, Tutankhaton abolished his father's heretical ways at the ripe age of ten, changing his name to Tutankhhamun. The old religion was restored and Ankhenaton's reforms faded into history. Tutankhamun married his sister as was customary and had two daughters; one a stillborn, the other died shortly after birth. When Tutankhamun died at the age of 18, he became the last Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty.  

This detail from this throne and the gilded shrine are the last objects on the list and my favourite pieces from the exhibit. Covered in the images of Tutankhamun with his wife, the two raise more questions than they answer. The shrine is covered in scenes of Tutankhamun with his wife, in which she acts as priest to a god. Instead of an idol inside as was customary with these shrines, there are only two footprints, suggesting an invisible god. The exhibit said an amulet of a snake nursing a baby was also found. On the throne, another intimate scene between the couple is found. The chair follows the style of his father's reign, and is inscribed with his original name, Tutankhaton. 

Tut was young and married to his sister, born to a heretical father. Other pieces from the exhibit seem to indicate he may have been close with his paternal grandmother, who appears to have held political influence. 

These pieces quickly worked their way to the top of the favorites list because of the questions they raise. Which religion did Tut believe? Were he and his wife close? Were these items of value, or did Tut's untimely death make them so, hastily thrown in the tomb because there wasn't time to make others? (Everything had to be prepared during the 70 days required for embalming.) What influence did his grandmother have and what did she believe? Or was he just a kid who did not concern himself with any of this, swept away into history's pomp and circumstance by an archaeological accident? 

Perhaps speculative, perhaps answered with more research, there certainly seems a story here, buried deep in the recesses of history. Maybe one day, I'll find it, but for now I'm content to imagine. 

Adventure Update:
 Tutankhamun's Dagger

This post, as well as the subsequent blog series, contain personal reflections, supplemented with information from Tutankhamun: His Tomb & His Treasures. International Exhibition. 15 September 2015. 

Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner's Art Through The Ages: A Global History. "Chapter 3: Egypt Under the Pharaohs." Wadsworth Cengage Learning, U.S.A. (2011). 13th Edition. was also consulted. 

Photographs and illustrations by Tara Omar, 15 September 2015.