King Tut’s Gold Throne

I came across this stunning image of from the back of King Tut’s gold throne (left, c. 1332-1322 BC) tonight.  Isn’t it gorgeous? (Click on the image to enlarge it, if you don’t believe me.)  I love the striking, bold colors.  And I especially love that Tutankhamun is depicted with the lil’ Amarna-style belly that his dad popularized in Egyptian art (see the relief Ahkenaten and His Family, c. 1353-1336 BC, for one another example of the Amarna style).

This throne shows Tutakhamun being anointed with perfume by his wife, Ankhesenamun.  I love the fine details in Ankhesanumun’s robe, and I especially love that you can see the outline of her legs beneath the flowing material.  It gives the impression that the material is very lightweight.  (There is a little more information about this throne here.)

Speaking of King Tut, have you seen the reconstruction of his face?  In 2005, National Geographic reported that scientists used 3-D CT scans to reconstruct the first mummy of the ancient pharaoh.  Kinda cool, but also kinda creepy.  Check out this image of the bust on display at the Field Museum in Chicago – it totally reminds me of the heads that the witch Mombi stored in the “Return to Oz” movie. Yikes!

  • H Niyazi says:

    Interesting post M!

    The elongation seen in the skulls of Tut and his father Akhenaten lead may to believe they have some common abnormality – such as Froelich's or Marfans Syndrome, the latter of these being a better fit perhaps.

    There is a great article on it by Megaera Lorenz here:

    http://2.ly/ckmr

    H

  • e says:

    That is very pretty and I really like that you can see the outline of Ankhesenamun's legs, too. Very cool.

    That's very interesting to see what they think King Tut looked like. He is rather feminine looking and his skull is a very unusual shape. It's neat to be able to put a face with his name though.

  • Kiersten says:

    I need to go to the Field Museum and see that–I still haven't made it there, as many times as I've been to Chicago now. I really like this image, though. It is both opulent and graceful.

  • M says:

    As always, thanks for the comments!

    That article is really interesting, H Niyazi! Thanks for posting it. I did notice the elongated, bulbous skull of the King Tut reconstruction, but I didn't have time to research it last night. I'm glad that you saved me the effort!

    It's interesting to think about whether an abnormality or disease affected Akhenaten's choice in artistic style. Part of me thinks that the stylistic change might have been an aesthetic preference, but perhaps there was a physiological reason as well.

  • Dr. F says:

    The best book on Tut and his father, Akhenaten, is "Oedipus and Akhnaton", by Immanuel Velikovsky. On p.56 he refers to a 1920 French study which described the swollen limbs as a "progressive lipodystrophy," that is, "a progressive and complete disappearance of the subcutaneous fat of the upper part of the body; and…a marked increase of the adipose tissue below the loins."

  • Char says:

    Sorry for all the deleted comments!

    That throne is so gorgeous! I love all the blue in it — I think the Egyptians believed blue to be the color of eternity. (I remember Dr. Finlayson saying something about that). I remember because it was part of why I wanted sapphires for my wedding ring.

    I love the cute little Akhenaten-style belly! And the reconstruction of Tut's face is fascinating, I wonder if they tried to make him look wide-eyed and spooked on purpose because of the fact that he died so young and there are theories that he was murdered.

    The reconstructed bust sitting in the museum is definitely creepy. The texture of the latex(?) makes his skin look so real.

  • M says:

    That's interesting about blue and eternity, Char. I didn't know that! I found here some other discussion of the color blue (and other symbolic colors) in Egyptian art (see p. 4). Blue also reminded Egyptians of the heavens and the Nile (which I think can also tie into the concept of eternity, especially since the Nile is so closely associated with life and death). Very interesting.

  • M says:

    Dr. F, I've looked up a little bit about the "Oedipus and Akhnaton" book after reading your comment. It sounds rather fascinating. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Your quote regarding the swelling of the lions is quite interesting, too. I wonder if "progressive lipodystrophy" is genetically inherited. Perhaps King Tut would have had contracted this same disease? If liposystrophy did originally affect the Amarna style and representations of Akhenaten, it would be interesting to analyze whether King Tut adopted this same style for artistic or physiological reasons.

  • Dr. F says:

    The whole story about Akhnaten is so fascinating that I can't begin to do it justice here. In Velikovsky's very compelling interpretation Akhnaten lived some 600 years after the currently accepted dating. Don't stop reading, because he does a very good job of destroying the traditional Egyptian historical dating.

    In any event, after overturning the traditional religion of ancient Egypt, Akhnaten was driven from the throne and replaced by his two underaged sons. A civil war ensued in which both died but only the one who represented the victorious side, the fabled King Tut, was given a royal burial. That's why Tut's remains were so magnificent.

    According to Velikovsky the history of Akhnaten was the historical prototype for the Oedipus legend, and the famous Greek plays. Thebes was an Egyptian as well as a Greek city.

    Frank

  • Dr. F says:

    Sorry,

    According to Velikovsky Akhnaten lived about 600 yeas later than is usually thought. that is, in the 8th century before Christ.

    He would then be a contemporay of King Ahab.

    Frank

  • M says:

    Sounds very neat, Frank! That's an interesting connection between Akhenaten and Oedipus. I actually discovered another interesting article a few days after writing this post: the new National Geographic issue (September 2010) has an article on King Tut's family history, which has been recently traced through DNA. The story is quite fascinating, and anyone who is interested can see the text here.

  • Dr. F says:

    Thanks for the link to the National Geographic article. It confirms some of Velikovsky's arguments. It's posible that Akhnaten had a whole harem, including the beautiful Nefertiti; as well as his own sister; and finally, even his mother, Tiye!

    F

  • heidenkind says:

    That head is way too realistic and totally creepy. It looks like it's about to put a curse on you.

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This blog focuses on making Western art history accessible and interesting to all types of audiences: art historians, students, and anyone else who is curious about art. Alberti’s Window is maintained by Monica Bowen, an art historian and professor.