4 May 2009

Tutankhamun - Great Britain Last Day of Exhibition Cover

Cover issued on 30 December 1972
for the last day of the Tutankhamun exhibition at the British Museum


"50th Anniversary of the Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun.

Tutankhamun became King of Egypt at the age of nine and died when he was about eighteen (c.1361-1352 BC). Although undoubtedly of royal blood, his parentage is uncertain. His right to the throne was secured, in accordance with Egyptian custom, by his marriage with the eldest eligible daughter of his predecessor, a princess named Ankhesenpaaten, the third daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.

For the first three years of his reign he resided at El-Amarna, the new capital of Middle Egypt built by Akhenaten for the glorification of his god Aten; but in his fourth year Tutankhamun restored the capital to Thebes. Akhenaten's experiment of imposing monotheism on the Egyptians had failed and the young king, probably guided by his mentor Ay, reinstated not only the god Amun, whose rich and powerful priesthood had been disbanded by Akhenaten, bt also all the other gods, both national and local, whose cults had been suppressed. The religious, social and economic upheaval caused by Akhenaten's reforms left Tutankhamun with problems which occupied the main attentions of his ministers for the whole of his short reign.

Every king of Tutankhamun's dynasty, the eighteenth, had been buried in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes (Luxor): their bombs had been found, though robbed of nearly all their contents, and the tomb of Tutankhamun alone remained to be located when Howard Carter began his search on behalf of his patron, Lord Carnarvon in 1914. It was not until the beginning of his seventh season, in November 1922, that he made the discovery, after the removal, by hand, of about 200,000 tons of sand and rubble. Although robbers had succeeded in forcing their way into the tomb on two occasions, probably not long after the burial, they had not been able to reach the king's mummy or to remove very much of the treasure buried with him.

Recording, photographing and, in many cases, consolidating all the objects in the tomb, occupied Carter and his assistants for ten years and these treasures are now in the care of the Cairo Museum. Fifty items from the tomb of Tutankhamun have been loaned to the British Museum and are on show there from March until September 1972 in an exhibition entitled "Treasures of Tutankhamun" to mark the 50th Anniversary of their discovery."

[Extended period of Exhibition to Saturday 30 December 1972]

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