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Current time:0:00Total duration:2:35

Head of Tutankhamun from the Amarna Period of Egypt’s New Kingdom

Video transcript

This is a coronation image of the boy king Tutankhamun, the future before him. Tutankhamun was only six years old when this was made. And you see that child-like beauty in his face. The stone is an exquisite hard limestone. It’s beautifully carved. It’s probably the most beautiful image of the boy king Tutankhamun that has come down to us. It could not have been better broken if we’d done it ourselves. It’s not just a head of a king. If we look closely at it we will see that to the rear, is an extremely large hand, from a second figure. This tells us the precise form of the original, intact sculpture, which had a standing image of the king, before a seated representation of Amun-re, king of the gods, whose hand is placing this crown in position. He's wearing the blue crown, a leather bonnet to which were attached blue sequins. The piece does not come from the tomb of Tutankhamun. It’s a fragment of a sculpture that was originally erected in Karnak, on the east bank of the Nile, the land of the living. His reign was absolutely pivotal one for Egyptian history; Egypt being resurrected after the persecutions of Akhenaten’s reign; the old gods being re-established. Tutankhamun, himself, was pretty insignificant; he actually had no say in his life whatsoever. But we see nothing of this, we see only the face of a sweet, innocent, young boy whose days were sadly numbered; nothing more than a mere cipher for the deeds and aspirations of others. With most Egyptian objects, one doesn’t really get much of a feel as to the personality behind it. This I think is one of those rare sculptures which combines everything. It’s beautiful in its own right, and it has a story to tell, and the story it tells is a very human one.