Book Review: Tutankhamun, the Mystery of the Boy King

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

Also on This Subject

• No Proof Found of Tut's Murder
• Curse of the Pharaohs
• Ancient Egypt

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The name of the author, Zahi Hawass, should be familiar to readers of this subject area. He is, of course, a famous archaeologist and the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. He is the man called on to open or otherwise sanction the opening of new exhibits or tombs. More than any other person, Hawass is the symbol of modern Egypt's attempts to reconcile modern interest in its ancient past.

This is the latest in a series of books by him about Ancient Egypt in general and about King Tut in particular. The book has basic information about Tut and his reign and his mysterious death. It has pictures of his tomb and talks a good deal about Howard Carter and the famous 1922 discovery of Tut's tomb. Also of note is the discussion of life in Ancient Egypt before and after Tut's (brief) reign.

The one thing that distinguishes this book from previous ones on this subject, however, is the inclusion of the very latest information from Hawass and others on the death of King Tut. The mummy of Tut, remarkably still preserved after thousands of years, underwent a series of CT scans recently, with the results suggesting that Tut wasn't murdered but, rather, died of an infection suffered as a result of a normal leg wound. Hawass's reflections on this interpretations and the CT-scan procedures that led to it form the centerpiece of the "news" of this book.

The pictures are top-notch, even if it feels like we've seen them before. Somehow, one never tires of seeing Tut's golden mask. And the pictures of the CT scans are especially enlightening.

The one note of caution this reviewer would sound is that the book is listed as being for younger readers. Some of the discussions of the CT scan and the way in which bodies are mummified might make even adults squeamish. Parents and/or teachers might want to caution readers to discuss anything that makes them uncomfortable, or they might want to skip over these parts altogether.

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