By Alison M. Wood
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – New technology has changed how civilization understands Pharaoh Tutankhamun, a local expert told 15 attendees at a community education session April 10 at Camden County College.
“Our understanding of Tutankhamun’s heritage and cause of death has changed dramatically, largely because of new technology such as CT scanning and DNA testing,” Camden County College Professor Jack Pesda said during Pharaoh Tutankhamun – the Boy and the Myth, a mini-course sponsored by The Center. Pesda is director of The Center, a Camden County College program that offers lectures, mini-courses and special events to college and community members.
The session covered topics of Tutankhamun’s heritage such as DNA, cause of death and artifacts found within the Pharaoh’s tomb and emphasized the importance of studying this information continuously, even centuries after Tutankhamun’s death.
“It could well be that years from now, even this information will change,” Pesda stated.
Attendees were granted the opportunity to listen to the only surviving recorded voice of Howard Carter, excavator of Tutankhamun’s tomb. In addition, guests were exposed to the melodies of two trumpets found within Tutankhamun’s tomb. Carter found these instruments in the excavation of the Pharaoh’s tomb in 1922.
One guest, Jan Narducci of Blackwood, described Pesda’s presentation as “insightful and erudite.” Narducci stated, “The mini-course delivered insight about Egypt’s past and present pertaining to Tutankhamun. Pesda’s presentation has sparked my interest in exploring more information about the topic.”
About the importance of teaching about Tutankhamun, Pesda stated, “While Tut accomplished very little during his short reign, the discovery of the first largely undisturbed royal tomb in Egypt captured the attention of the world beginning in the 1920s. This resulted in the beginning of what had been called Tutomania, a worldwide phenomenon, which has had a profound impact on popular culture – films, fashion, advertising and architecture.”
The mini-course addressed several ways in which knowledge about Tutankhamun’s life and death has evolved over time.
“Some individuals believe Tutankhamun died from a blow to the head; however, new research shows that the skull was damaged at the time of embalming. CT scans have established that Tut’s left foot was clubbed; one toe was missing a bone. This may explain why 130 canes were found in the tomb and why Tut was often shown sitting rather than standing,” according to material provided at the session.
“DNA evidence established that Tut had several cases of malaria, including the most severe form. Malaria could have triggered a fatal immune response causing circulatory shock, leading to hemorrhaging, convulsions, coma and death. Earlier studies found Tut had an unhealed fracture in his foot. This combined with the malaria may have led to complications causing death.”
Pesda said he hoped teaching about the topic would serve to “inform the public of this period in ancient Egyptian history and to clarify the many myths that stem from it.”