Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tut's bits

Among other burial anomalies, the embalming of King Tut of Egypt involved fixing his member at a 90° angle, suggesting arousal. No wonder it appears to have broken off postmortem. It was intact when Howard Carter excavated the tomb in 1922, and was photographed by Harry Burton (IMAGE ABOVE). But by the time British scientist Ronald Harrison took a series of x-rays of the mummy in 1968, it had disappeared and rumors have since circulated that it was stolen and sold. Even after Zahi Hawass, former chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, confirmed in 2006 that the royal organ had been found in the loose sand around the body when it was CT-scanned, there were conspiracy theories that it had been replaced – possibly because the king may have suffered from a genetic condition, a symptom of which is genital underdevelopment. But today's news is not about its size, but its orientation. Egyptologist Salima Ikram of the American University in Cairo speculates that the positioning of Tut's sex organ was a deliberate attempt to invoke the god of the underworld in a very literal way. Osiris was one in the pantheon of gods abandoned by Tut's father Akhenaten in favor of monotheism. Ikram suggests, "The erect penis evokes Osiris at his most powerfully regenerative moment....Tutankhamun is shown as a fully fledged Osiris."


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