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THE MEDICAL WORU) OF KING TUTENKHAMON ILZA VEITH* At scarcely any time in the history of this country has the Western world been as conscious of ancient Egyptian art, jewelry, politics, and history as it is today. Egyptian art was represented by the "King Tut" exhibit which recendy was welcomed in many of the big American cities and is now making its way through the important museums of Europe. Egyptian art, politics, and history have been shown vividly on our television screens in connection with the recent signing of die peace treaty and various summit conferences at Camp David, near Washington, D.C. Now that this exhibit has forever left the United States and Europe and will take its permanent place in Egypt—not to be shown again in any museum of the Western world—there will be many who missed die exhibit when it was in reach, and who may wish to be informed on some facets of Egyptian history which have been neglected by the many Egyptologists and journalists who wrote about the exhibit. One such facet is the medical world of King Tutenkhamon and the medical world of ancient Egypt, which is of particular interest because it combines the earliest medical thought of the Eastern and Western worlds, As a result ofthis interesting combination, we can say with some assurance that Egyptian medicine is the oldest documented medical system of the world. It predates, and lasted through, the lifetime of the much celebrated King Tut, whom I prefer to call by his full name Tutankhamen or Tutenkhamon. His time of life is usually ascribed to the fourteenth century b.c.; in fact, we know that Tutenkhamon [1], originally called Tutankhaten, was a king of Egypt who reigned in die period 1358-1350 b.c. He owes his subsequent and worldwide fame, not to his achievements as a king of Egypt, but to the fact that his intact tomb was discovered in 1922; that is, Adapted from die twelfdi annual lecture of die Janus Foundation and die Bay Area Medical History Club at die Concordia Club, San Francisco, January 13, 1981. ?Departments ofdie History of Health Sciences and Psychiatry, University ofCalifornia, San Francisco, California 94143.© 1982 by The University of Chicago. AU rights reserved. 0031-5982/83/2601-0290101.00 98 I Ilza Veith · Medical World ofKing Tutenkhamon 60 years ago. It is actually only from this tomb and all the artifacts it contained diat we know Tut-enkh-Amun's history. It was during his reign that his powerful advisers induced him to restore the traditional religion and art style after the death of his father Akhenaton or Ikhnaton , also known as Amenhotep III, who had led the Amarna Revolution (the worship of the Sun God) [2, pp. 206-236]. From some mementos recovered from his tomb [2, p. 234] we know that Tutenkhamon was the son ofAmenhotep, the preceding kingofthe eighteendi dynasty, and married to his father's chief queen Tiy. Medical analysis shows that Tutenkhamon was probably a brother of Smenkhare, his immediate predecessor and Akhenaton's coregent. To continue more forcibly the bond between himself and Akhenaton, Tutenkhamon married his cousin and stepmother, the queen Tiy [2, pp. 201-204]. She was (his predecessor's, Akhenaton's, third daughter) the eldest of the surviving princesses of the royal family and, by marrying her, Tutenkhamon solidified his claim to the throne. Since at the time of Tutenkhamon's accession to the throne both he and Queen Tiy were still very young, the teenage king let himself be guided by the chief vizier, Ay, who himself was related to the royal family. For his military undertakings, Tutenkhamon was also advised by Horemheb, the commander of all Egyptian armies. Under the tutelage of these two powerful men, Horemheb and the vizier Ay, King Tutenkhamon moved his residence to Memphis, which was the administrative capital near Cairo. He also rebuilt the old temples which had been destroyed by Amenhotep and reinstated their priests to restore the privileges of the old gods and to admit the errors of his father, Akhenaton (who himself had temporarily assumed the role of the Sun God). In the midst of a war against...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 98-106
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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