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Superb review of Tutankhamun’s Trumpet, by Maddie

10 November 2022  |  Jill Lundberg  |  Posted in:

We are really grateful to Maddie James, in Year 10, for writing this informative and fascinating review of Tutankhamun’s Trumpet.  Maddie attended Toby Wilkinson’s talk about his book as part of the Richmond Walking and Book Festival.  Toby Wilkinson gained critical acclaim through his books on Egyptian history including ‘The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt’ which earned him the Hessell-Tiltman Prize in 2011 for the best work of non-fiction historical content. Maddie received a copy of the book and was delighted when Toby signed it for her on the night of the talk. Read on to find out more from Maddie about Toby’s book and the investigation of the ground-breaking discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Despite that it is widely acknowledged by experts that Tutankhamun’s significance in Ancient Egypt’s history itself is minimal, few would deny Tutankhamun’s integral share in providing the key to a land, people and cultures previously unknown or untold.

In a mini-summary of his book, Toby Wilkinson used topics relevant to modern culture and highlighted the pharaoh’s expensive array of jewellery and the Ancient Egyptians’ use of resources native to their country. For example, one of the most fascinating items found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, a pectoral necklace adorned with winged scarabs, contained a naturally occurring glass called the Great Sand Sea glass. It obtained its name as it is found in an inhospitable section in Western Egypt called the Great Sand Sea. This unique phenomenon can only be created through extreme heat, to fuse the sand into glass; either through a volcano, or a meteorite. As there are no volcanoes in Egypt, investigations into whether a potential meteorite had hit that specific area of Egypt. The conclusions drawn from these investigations were that there was evidence to suggest a meteorite had hit the Great Sand Sea millions of years ago.

For the death of Tutankhamun, a sample of the glass was procured to aid him into the afterlife.

Another aid into the afterlife for pharaoh’s was the ‘Bounty of the Nile’. This was another fundamental share of the burial ritual. Food native to Egypt was found in baskets woven from palm leaves – which were chosen especially due to their durable qualities – to provide sustenance for Tutankhamun. However, these baskets were proven to have been used four thousand years before Tutankhamun’s era in 5500 BC which verified that Egypt had a thriving economy for thousands of years prior to the comparatively modern history of Tutankhamun’s reign.

Despite the assortment of riches and bounty offered to Tutankhamun to support him into the afterlife, the pharaohs still held the shared beliefs of their people at heart; domesticity. This was reflected in the next items that were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb: four board games. These home comforts had in fact a double meaning – one was the replication of real life condensed into a small game, a metaphor of the navigation of the trials and tribulations that would continue from life into the afterlife and a reminder of the constant. It also was used to represent the ultimate goal of winning, which reflected as the ultimate goal to reach the afterlife.

Mortality was another theme explored in Toby Wilkinson’s talk. Tutankhamun was showered with riches to help him to be accepted into the afterlife. A floral collar was draped around Tutankhamun’s neck and mandrake and pomegranate was used to symbolise abundance and magic, as magic and luck were two deciding factors in whether or not a particular person was to be accepted into the afterlife or not. Cornflowers were another flower used as the vibrant blue colour indicates resurrection. As well as this, the blue water lily was used to signify the end of Tutankhamun’s reign as the lily opens in the rising sun and shuts at dusk, as well as tangible symbolism of the afterlife.

Wilkinson’s skilful and adept narrative drew comparisons between the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the flowers used in her wreath and those used in Tutankhamun’s wreath to link the deaths of monarchs across millennia, which seemed a fitting end to the talk.

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