On this Day:
In 1923, Howard Carter opened the inner burial chamber of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb and finds King Tut’s sarcophagus.
Tutankhamun, commonly referred to as King Tut, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who was the last of his royal family to rule during the end of the 18th Dynasty (ruled c. 1332 – 1323 BC in the conventional chronology) during the New Kingdom of Egyptian history. His father is believed to be the pharaoh Akhenaten, identified as the mummy found in the tomb KV55. His mother is his father’s sister, identified through DNA testing as an unknown mummy referred to as “The Younger Lady” who was found in KV35.
Tutankhamun took the throne at eight or nine years of age under the unprecedented viziership of his eventual successor, Ay, to whom he may have been related. He married his paternal half-sister Ankhesenamun. During their marriage they lost two daughters, one at 5–6 months of pregnancy and the other shortly after birth at full-term. His names—Tutankhaten and Tutankhamun—are thought to mean “Living image of Aten” and “Living image of Amun”, with Aten replaced by Amun after Akhenaten’s death. A small number of Egyptologists, including Battiscombe Gunn, believe the translation may be incorrect and closer to “The-life-of-Aten-is-pleasing” or, as Professor Gerhard Fecht believes, reads as “One-perfect-of-life-is-Aten”.
Tutankhamun restored the Ancient Egyptian religion after its dissolution by his father, enriched and endowed the priestly orders of two important cults and began restoring old monuments damaged during the previous Amarna period. He reburied his father’s remains in the Valley of the Kings and relocated the capital from Akhetaten back to Thebes. Tutankhamun was physically disabled with a deformity of his left foot along with bone necrosis that required the use of a cane, several of which were found in his tomb. He had other health issues including scoliosis and had contracted several strains of malaria.
The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun’s nearly intact tomb, in excavations funded by Lord Carnarvon, received worldwide press coverage. With over 5,000 artifacts, it sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun’s mask, now in the Egyptian Museum, remains a popular symbol. The deaths of a few involved in the discovery of Tutankhamun’s mummy have been popularly attributed to the curse of the pharaohs. He has, since the discovery of his intact tomb, been referred to colloquially as “King Tut”.
Some of his treasure has traveled worldwide with unprecedented response. The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities allowed tours beginning in 1962 with the exhibit at the Louvre in Paris, followed by the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art in Tokyo, Japan. The exhibits drew in millions of visitors. The 1972–1979 exhibit was shown in United States, Soviet Union, Japan, France, Canada, and West Germany. There were no international exhibitions again until 2005–2011. This exhibit featured Tutankhamun’s predecessors from the 18th Dynasty, including Hatshepsut and Akhenaten, but did not include the golden death mask. The treasures 2019–2022 tour began in Los Angeles and will end in 2022 at the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which, for the first time, will be displaying the full Tutankhamun collection, gathered from all of Egypt’s museums and storerooms.
Tutankhamun was buried in a tomb that was unusually small considering his status. His death may have occurred unexpectedly, before the completion of a grander royal tomb, causing his mummy to be buried in a tomb intended for someone else. This would preserve the observance of the customary 70 days between death and burial. His tomb was robbed at least twice in antiquity, but based on the items taken (including perishable oils and perfumes) and the evidence of restoration of the tomb after the intrusions, these robberies likely took place within several months at most of the initial burial. The location of the tomb was lost because it had come to be buried by debris from subsequent tombs, and workers’ houses were built over the tomb entrance.
The concession rights for excavating the Valley of the Kings was held by Theodore Davis from 1905 until 1914. In that time he had unearthed ten tombs including the nearly intact but non-royal tomb of Queen Tiye’s parents, Yuya and Tjuyu. As he continued working there in the later years, he uncovered nothing of major significance. Davis did find several objects in KV58 referring to Tutankhamun, which included knobs and handles bearing his name most significantly the embalming cache of the king (KV54). He believed this to be the pharaoh’s lost tomb and published his findings as such with the line; “I fear the Valley of the Tombs is exhausted”. In 1907, Howard Carter was invited by William Garstin and Gaston Maspero to excavate for George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon in the Valley. The Earl of Carnarvon and Carter had hoped this would lead to their gaining the concession when Davis gave it up but had to be satisfied with excavations in different parts of the Theban Necropolis for seven more years.
After a systematic search, beginning in 1915, Carter discovered the actual tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62) in November 1922. By February 1923 the antechamber had been cleared of everything but two sentinel statues. A day and time were selected to unseal the tomb with about twenty appointed witnesses that included Lord Carnarvon, several Egyptian officials, museum representatives and the staff of the Government Press Bureau. On 16 February 1923 at just after two o’clock, the seal was broken.
There were 5,398 items found in the tomb, including a solid gold coffin, face mask, thrones, archery bows, trumpets, a lotus chalice, two Imiut fetishes, gold toe stalls, furniture, food, wine, sandals, and fresh linen underwear. Howard Carter took 10 years to catalog the items. Recent analysis suggests a dagger recovered from the tomb had an iron blade made from a meteorite; study of artifacts of the time including other artifacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb could provide valuable insights into metalworking technologies around the Mediterranean at the time. Many of Tutankhamun’s burial goods show signs of being adapted for his use after being originally made for earlier owners, probably Smenkhkare or Neferneferuaten or both.
On 4 November 2007, 85 years to the day after Carter’s discovery, Tutankhamun’s mummy was placed on display in his underground tomb at Luxor, when the linen-wrapped mummy was removed from its golden sarcophagus to a climate-controlled glass box. The case was designed to prevent the heightened rate of decomposition caused by the humidity and warmth from tourists visiting the tomb. In 2009, the tomb was closed for restoration by the Ministry of antiquities and the Getty Conservation Institute. While the closure was originally planned for five years to restore the walls affected by humidity, the Egyptian revolution of 2011 set the project back. The tomb re-opened in February 2019.
First, a Story:
It was rumoured that King Tut was broke when he died.
Apparently, he lost all of his money in a pyramid scheme…
Second, a Song:
Saturday Night Live (also known as SNL) is an American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Ebersol. Michaels currently serves as the program’s showrunner. The show premiere was hosted by George Carlin on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title NBC’s Saturday Night. The show’s comedy sketches, which often parody contemporary culture and politics, are performed by a large and varying cast of repertory and newer cast members. Each episode is hosted by a celebrity guest, who usually delivers the opening monologue and performs in sketches with the cast, with featured performances by a musical guest. An episode normally begins with a cold open sketch that ends with someone breaking character and proclaiming, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”, properly beginning the show.
In 1980, Michaels left the series to explore other opportunities. He was replaced by Jean Doumanian, who was then replaced by Ebersol after a season of bad reviews. Ebersol ran the show until 1985, when Michaels returned. Since then, Michaels has held the job of showrunner. Many SNL cast members have found national stardom while appearing on the show, and achieved success in film and television, both in front of and behind the camera. Others associated with the show, such as writers, have gone on to successful careers creating, writing, and starring in television and film.
Broadcast from Studio 8H at NBC’s headquarters in the Comcast Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, SNL has aired 921 episodes since its debut, and concluded its 46th season on May 22, 2021, making it one of the longest-running network television programs in the United States. The show format has been developed and recreated in several countries, meeting with different levels of success. Successful sketches have seen life outside the show as feature films including The Blues Brothers (1980) and Wayne’s World (1992). The show has been marketed in other ways, including home media releases of “best of” and whole seasons, and books and documentaries about behind-the-scenes activities of running and developing the show.
Throughout four decades on air, Saturday Night Live has received a number of awards, including 86 Primetime Emmy Awards, four Writers Guild of America Awards, and two Peabody Awards. In 2000, it was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. It was ranked tenth in TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” list, and in 2007 it was listed as one of Time’s “100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME.” As of 2018, the show had received 252 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, the most received by any television program. The live aspect of the show has resulted in several controversies and acts of censorship, with mistakes and intentional acts of sabotage by performers as well as guests.
Stephen Glenn Martin (born August 14, 1945) is an American actor, comedian, writer, producer, and musician. He has earned five Grammy Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and was awarded an Honorary Academy Award at the Academy’s 5th Annual Governors Awards in 2013. Among many honors, he has received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the Kennedy Center Honors, and an AFI Life Achievement Award. In 2004, Comedy Central ranked Martin at sixth place in a list of the 100 greatest stand-up comics.
Martin came to public notice in the 1960s as a writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and later as a frequent host on Saturday Night Live. In the 1970s, Martin performed his offbeat, absurdist comedy routines before sold-out theaters on national tours. Since the 1980s, having retired from stand-up comedy, Martin has become a successful actor, starring in such films as The Jerk (1979), Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), The Man with Two Brains (1983), Three Amigos (1986), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), Sgt. Bilko (1996), Bowfinger (1999) and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). He has also starred as the family patriarch in Parenthood (1989), the Father of the Bride films (1991–1995), and the Cheaper by the Dozen films (2003–2005). In 2021, he co-created and starred in a Hulu comedy series Only Murders in the Building for which earned his sixth Golden Globe nomination.
Martin is also known for writing the book and lyrics to the musical Bright Star (2016), and the comedy Meteor Shower (2017) both of which premiered on Broadway. While he has played banjo since an early age, and included music in his comedy routines from the beginning of his professional career, he has increasingly dedicated his career to music since the 2000s, acting less and spending much of his professional life playing banjo, recording, and touring with various bluegrass acts, including Earl Scruggs, with whom he won a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance in 2002. His first solo music album, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo (2009) received the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
Here Steve Martin performs his funky musical parody “King Tut,” which satirizes the popularity of the King Tut exhibit on Saturday Night Live. Aired 05/22/78 (courtesy of Saturday Night Live and YouTube.com). I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“The night sky in Egypt is a swirling mass of stars so bright and numerous the sky seems to tremble with the ice-blue weight of them.” – Rosemary Mahoney
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Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky