Review: Discovery’s King Tut Unwrapped a timely treat, begins Feb. 21

Discovery has produced a terrific two-part documentary that capitalizes on two very newsworthy things: <P></P> <P>First, our famous boy Pharaoh King Tutankhamun is making headlines in the news, as the cause of his death has been determined by experts.</P> <P>The big story on a recent DNA study of King Tutankhamun and other Egyptian mummies was that the boy King succumbed to malaria and “avascular bone necrosis,” or bone degeneration.</P> <P>Secondly, there is a trend in smallscreen programming of finding one’s roots, tracing genealogy and digging up your ancestors, as witnessed by the ongoing success of the Henry Louis Gates’ PBS series "The Faces of America" and now Lisa Kudrow and NBC’s borrowed from the UK effort: "Who Do You Think You Are?"</P><EMBED src=http://www.youtube.com/v/beFJc9ewLXQ&hl=en_US&fs=1& width=560 height=340 type=application/x-shockwave-flash allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></EMBED> <P>Tracing your ancestry is all the rage, even for the long deceased King of Egypt.</P> <P>According to Discovery’s team of experts, King Tut’s dad was the "heretic" Akhenaten, a womanly-hipped philosopher who bucked the status quo of worship at the time, introducing a more monotheistic approach to ancient Egyptian lives.<BR>The ruler’s physique is embarrassingly dissected as his statues and his remains reveal that the purported father to King Tut has a figure more female in form.  Some scientists even wondered if Akhenaten was a Hermaphrodite.</P><EMBED src=http://www.youtube.com/v/Quk7K2IZ0UM&hl=en_US&fs=1& width=560 height=340 type=application/x-shockwave-flash allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always"></EMBED> <P>This two-night documentary, "King Tut Unwrapped" airs Sunday February 21 on Discovery, and it will thrill you budding Egyptologists out there who hang on the details of these Kings of a bygone era.</P> <P>The network enlists the help of the affable famous Egyptologist Zahi Hawass once again, who is shot by Discovery’s crew in all kinds of exotic and subterranean locales as he leads the investigation to determine the Byzantine family tree of our boy King’s parents and grandparents, his cause of death and new details of his brief reign. </P> <P>Part one follows the first-ever DNA extraction from Tut’s mummy, while part two uses never-before-examined evidence to draw conclusions about his life.  You will marvel at the pristine condition of the teeth of these mummies, so many of whom died in their twenties.  The experts also give tutorials on how bones and skulls are "read" to determine the age of the deceased.</P><EMBED src=http://www.youtube.com/v/6Bhm60DAAgo&hl=en_US&fs=1& width=560 height=340 type=application/x-shockwave-flash allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always"></EMBED> <P>Clark Bunting, the president and general manager of Discovery Channel and Science Channel, said, "Discovery is honored once again to work with Dr. Zahi Hawass. The life and death of King Tut continues to hold a special power and mystery for people all over the world. Dr. Hawass’ trailblazing leadership has successfully fused traditional, methodical archeology with cutting-edge, advanced forensics. This is a new chapter in Egyptology firmly establishing Cairo as a center for innovation and scholarship."</P> <P>The documentary is timely, as this week saw the Journal of the American Medical Association reveal the maladies that afflicted the mummified Egyptians, and we learned that they suffered cleft palates, club feet and bone degeneration in addition to the malaria that experts now think did in King Tut.</P> <P>The two-year genetic study was led in Cairo by Zahi Hawass, a sixty-two-year-old secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities who reportedly manages of a staff of more than thirty thousand people. </P> <P>Hawass has even led President Barack Obama on a tour of the pyramids at Giza, and is the main expert  in “King Tut Unwrapped."</P> <P>Hawass and his team show us through DNA markers and exhaustive hieroglyphics translations that it is Akhenaten (1352-1336 BC) the son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiy, and builder of a new capital called Akhetaten in Middle Egypt that bears the daddy title for King Tut.</P> <P>This era encompassing Akhenaten’s and Smenkhkara’s reign and the beginning of King Tutankhamun’s, is referred to as the Armarna Period, and the site of the city of Akhetaten is now known as el-Amarna, according to Discovery.</P> <P>Akhenaten was a philosopher and a thinker, and introduced a "monotheistic" cult of worship to the sun-disc Aten. </P> <P>Egyptian art under his rule changed, as Akenaten’s reign has revealed that he and his most famous wife Nefertiti and their six royal princesses made offerings to Aten, which was displayed as a sun-disc.</P> <P>The Discovery documentary reveals that Akhenaten had additional wives:  Kiya, a lesser Royal, Meritaten, recorded as a "great royal wife"  and Ankhesenpaaten, his third daughter, who may have had a daughter with her father.  After Akhenaten’s death, it was Ankhesenpaaten who later married Tutankhamun.  The two part series goes on to determine who exactly were King Tut’s parents, and explain these complicated family lines that fascinate so many to this day.</P> <P>Highly recommended.</P>Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.

Elsewhere on the Web