While flipping through the plaid Ursuline planner, one may put a halt to their page turning to think, “November is such a busy month!” That certainly is a true statement; as any Ursuline girl may know, November is quite possibly the greatest month of the year, all thanks to the grand celebration that is Intramurals. Along with Intramurals, November is stuffed with a very diverse range of festivities, such as All Saint’s Day, Día de Los Muertos, Election Day, World Peace Day and of course, Thanksgiving. However, there is only one day in chilly November that shines brighter than the hot, Egyptian sun: King Tut Day.
The origin of this fascinating day is credited to the efforts of Howard Carter, a British archaeologist. Carter spent much time transfixed on the mystery that surrounds an Egyptian tomb, especially that of King Tutankhamen, or more famously, King Tut. Carter ventured to Egypt in 1891, recognizing that many of the ancient tombs had previously been uncovered. However, Tutankhamen’s tomb remained unaccounted for, and after World War I, Carter led an extensive quest in the hopes of finding the boy king’s burial site. On November 4th, 1922, Carter discovered the steps leading to the entrance of Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. With his revolutionary discovery, Carter founded what is now celebrated as King Tut day, introducing the world to the phenomenal king in the process.
Little was known about King Tutankhamen before his tomb was revealed in 1922. The remarkable king ruled Egypt for a mere 10 years prior to his death around 1324 B.C., inheriting the throne at 9 years old. The boy king’s rule was most notable for reversing the chaotic religious reforms committed by his father, Akhenaten. In doing so, he restored the act of worshipping the god Amun, or the ‘King of the Gods’, reestablished Thebes as a religious center and the young Pharaoh changed the end of his name, vowing his allegiance to Amun.
As his reign came to an end, the mysterious cause of King Tut’s death was unknown until 2010, leading many to conspire following his death. As a hole remains in the back of the King’s skull, many have theorized that the King’s cause of death was murder. However, DNA analysis and CT scans reveal that the pharaoh most likely died due to an infected broken leg as well as multiple cases of malaria infection. Following his early death, the King was mummified as a result of Egyptian religious tradition. When Carter and his team explored the boy king’s tomb, they found several thousand ancient artifacts, yet their most outstanding discovery was that of a solid gold coffin containing King Tut’s over 3,000-year-old mummy.
Although the story of the boy king is extremely intriguing throughout the world, King Tut holds a special bond with the city of Dallas. In 2008, Tut reinstated his regime through the touring art exhibition, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. This Egyptian exhibition was housed at the Dallas Museum of Art, featuring 130 ancient artifacts.
Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs was split into the parts, with the first half focused on Egypt’s 18th dynasty, especially that of the reign of his father Akhenaten. This gave viewers a sense of what was happening in Egypt leading up to the boy king’s rule. The second half of the exhibition showcases Howard Carter’s famous discovery of the king’s tomb in 1922. The rooms mirror the atmosphere inside King Tut’s burial chambers, with black and blue lighting and educational videos. Carter described Tutankhamen’s tomb as having “the glint of gold everywhere.” This glint is certainly represented, as many of the objects found in King Tut’s tomb are showcased in the second half of the exhibit. Dallas’ love for the memorable King Tutankhamen was made definite, as the DMA amassed a record-breaking attendance of over one million visitors during the exhibition’s run.
As November 4th falls upon the calendar, do not forget to spend a little time engaged in the magical, golden culture of Ancient Egypt; whether that means listening to The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” or discovering more about King Tut, this celebrated day is definitely one of history’s finest.