What Made King Tutankhamen's Young Widow So Desperate for a New Husband That She Risked Asking Egypt's Greatest Enemy to Provide One? What Made King Tutankhamen's Young Widow So Desperate for a New Husband That She Risked Asking Egypt's Greatest Enemy to Provide One?
Byline: BOB BRIER
SINCE the tomb of Tutankhamen was discovered in 1922, we have been fascinated by the boy king of Egypt who was laid to rest among priceless treaures. But the enigma of his life is now matched by the mystery of his death. On Saturday, top Egyptologist BOB BRIER revealed convincing evidence that Tutankhamen was murdered.
Here, he recounts how he discovered the truth about ancient skulduggery, including the bizarre plea by Tutankhamen's widow to the king of Egypt's sworn enemies, and reveals who killed the king . . .
THE SINISTER events that followed Tutankhamen's death would prompt any modern detective to think of foul play. They begin with a letter Tutankhamen's widow, Ankhesenamen, sent to the ancient Hittites - a traditional enemy of Egypt.
We learn about this letter because the Hittites were great record-keepers.
Excavations in Turkey have yielded thousands of clay tablets from their archives, recording everything from land deeds to military exploits.
At the beginning of this century a dig at the ancient capital of Bogazkoy found a group of tablets which chronicled the reign of King Suppiluliuma, written by the king's son, Mursilis II. Of the dozens of fragments that constitute the texts, the one that recounts Ankhesenamen's strange letter is the 'Seventh Tablet'.
'WHILE my father was down in the country of Carchemish, he sent Lupakki and Tarhunta forth into the country of Amka,' Mursilis said.
'So they went to attack Amka and brought deportees, cattle and sheep back before my father. But when the people of Egypt heard of the attack on Amka, they were afraid and since, in addition, their lord Nibhuruiya had died, therefore the queen of Egypt, who was Dahamunzu, sent a messenger to my father and wrote to him thus: "My husband died. A son I have not.
But to thee, they say, the sons are many.
' "If thou wouldst give me one son of thine, he would become my husband.
Never shall I pick out a servant of mine and make him my husband! ...I am afraid!" ' THE queen of Egypt who wrote the letter is called Dahamunzu and her husband is Nibhuruiya. Who were these royals? Their names are transliterations of Egyptian names into the Hittite language, an attempt to convey the phonetic sounds. There can be little doubt that the king was Tutankhamen, who also had the name Nebkheperure. The Hittites transliterated these sounds into 'Nibhuruiya'.
If the king is Tutankhamen, then the widowed queen must be Ankhesenamen, his only wife. Yet, the name Dahamunzu does not look or sound anything like Ankhe-senamen. What was probably transliterated was the Egyptian phrase Ta Hemet Nesewt - 'The King's Wife' - the way in which she would have signed her letter.
OMINOUSLY, Ankhesena-men says she is afraid.
What frightened the queen of Egypt? Her country was stable at the time, thanks to General Horemheb, the commander of the strong Egyptian army. And the government officials, Aye and Maya, had returned Egypt to prosperity. Her position was the most powerful in the land.
Or was it?
The Hittites imply that they had frightened her by attacking Amka, although that country was far from Egypt's borders. This explanation turns her fear into something quite irrational. Tutankhamen's death had left Ankhesenamen alone. Her life before had been full of change and turmoil, but at least her husband had been there to share the burdens and decisions.
Without him beside her, there was a more sinister reason for Ankhesenamen's fear.
The sequence of facts that leads up to her expression of fear culminates in a most unusual statement: 'Never shall I pick out a servant of mine and make him my husband.' Of course, it was inconceivable for an Egyptian queen to marry one of her 'servants', a high-placed official. So, clearly, she was being forced into such a marriage.
Ankhesenamen must have written the letter soon after Tutankhamen's death in January 1325BC, for Egypt could not remain without a king for long. …