Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

As if Tutankhamen is Alive! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

It is as if the young pharaoh Tutankhamen is still alive even though he left this world over 35 centuries ago.

What is the secret behind the infatuation of the media, history and science with the golden pharaoh? I never expected for a moment that the media would express as much interest at the press conference – regardless of the subject – as it did in the recent press conference that I called for a few weeks ago at the Egyptian Museum to announce the results of the findings related to the Tutankhamen dynasty. The area in front of the Egyptian Museum’s main entrance was packed with cameras from international television channels and representatives of news agencies all broadcasting the conference live to the countries of the world. The evening before the conference, I was interviewed by famous media figures and one of the interviews was broadcast live to the US and another was broadcast internationally.

I cannot recall the number of statements I made or interviews I gave to over 25 different television stations. This interest is of course evidence of the charm of the ancient Egyptian civilization and reflects the world’s interest in the golden pharaoh whose life and death continue to be one of the secrets of such a great civilization.

The new discoveries shed more light on the life and the dynasty of the young pharaoh and disproved a number of theories of researchers and scientists who provided numerous reasons for King Tut’s premature death at around 18 years of age.

One of the theories claimed that the young king was assassinated and the new findings came to shed more light for us on the family and life of the young Tut. The question that was asked the most by television and radio show presenters was: why Tutankhamen in particular? The answer was of course because King Tut is known by the young and the old all over the world, and if a young child under the age of eight is asked about what he knows about Egypt he would answer “Tutankhamen” or the golden pharaoh. Just imagine the amount of publicity that we have gained for Egypt at no cost! It is such a media and tourist advantage and this was reflected in the influx of tourists to Egypt thanks to such considerable publicity as can be seen in the number of [flight and hotel] reservations either for this season or another. Even television and radio presenters and analysts told me about their interest in visiting Egypt to watch the great discoveries that have taken the world by storm.

Apart from the gains of this significant publicity, some sad and other laughable things occurred. Dr. Abdel Halim Nureddin told me that someone keeps saying that he was the first to carry out DNA tests on mummies. All I could do was laugh because the project that I’m honoured to be presiding over is the first ever to use DNA testing on these mummies so we have exclusively set up the first two DNA laboratories to study mummies in Egypt. I told Dr. Abdel Halim Nureddin that now after the world has given all this attention to what we are doing, I expected those enemies of success and people who are obsessed with fame to come forward to try and stick their noses in the results of our research. In fact, the publishing of the results of our scientific research represented the peak of our work and efforts over at least the past two years, and the scientific research we provided was accepted by the Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA], after it was revised by a number of world-renowned scientists.

Another false claim that we heard was that the DNA is only 40 percent confirmed, which is of course untrue, as when all the necessary scientific precautions are taken, the results of DNA testing are 100 percent correct. By using DNA, we identified the mummy of Queen Tiye located in KV35 in the Valley of the Kings. Some scientists took a sample of a hair found by Howard Carter [who discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1923] in a box in the tomb with Queen Tiye’s name written on it, and after having analyzed and compared it to her mummy, we found a great deal of similarity between the two and then DNA testing confirmed that this mummy is indeed Queen Tiye. I call on Set, the [ancient Egyptian] god of evil to remain silent this time!