Wednesday, January 1, 5659

Tutankhamun (1341 BC - 1323 BC) - Overtones

Tutankhamun (alternately spelled with Tutenkh-, -amen, -amon) (1341 BC – 1323 BC) was an Egyptian Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty (ruled 1333 BC – 1324 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. His original name, Tutankhaten, means "Living Image of Aten", while Tutankhamun means "Living Image of Amun."

Tutankhamun, was not a particularly notable pharaoh in ancient times; the size of his relatively small, forgettable tomb was part of the reason the tomb was not discovered or opened until modern times. The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun's intact tomb, KV62, received worldwide press coverage and sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun's burial mask remains the popular face. Tutankhamun is, in modern times, one of the most famous of the pharaohs, and the only one to have a nickname in popular culture (King Tut).

Tutankhamun was only eight or nine years old when he became pharaoh, and reigned for approximately ten years, making him eighteen or nineteen years old at death. In historical terms, Tutankhamun's significance stems from his rejection of the radical religious innovations introduced by his predecessor Akenhaten and that his tomb, uniquely, in the Valley of the Kings was discovered almost completely intact -- the most complete ancient Egyptian tomb ever found. As Tutankhamun began his reign at such an early age, his vizier and eventual successor Ay was probably making most of the important political decisions during Tutankhamun's reign. The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun's intact tomb received worldwide press coverage and sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun's burial mask remains the popular face.

Tutankhamun's parentage is uncertain. An inscription calls him a king's son, but it is not clear which king was meant.

He was originally thought to be a son of Amenhotep III and his Great Royal Wife Queen Tiye. Later, further research claimed that he may have been a son of Amenhotep III, although not by Queen Tiye, since Tiye would have been more than fifty years old at the time of Tutankhamun's birth.

At present, the most common hypothesis holds that Tutankhamun was the son of Akhenaten, also known as Amenhotep IV, and his minor wife Queen Kiya. Queen Kiya's title was "Greatly Beloved Wife of Akhenaten" so it is possible that she could have borne him an heir. Supporting this theory, images on the tomb wall in the tomb of Akhenaten show a royal fan bearer standing next to Kiya's death bed, fanning someone who is either a princess or more likely, a wet nurse holding a baby, considered to be the wet nurse and the boy, king-to-be.
Professor James Allen argues that Tutankhamun was more likely to be a son of the short-lived king Smenkhkare rather than Akhenaten. Allen argues that Akhenaten consciously chose a female co-regent named Neferneferuaten as his successor, rather than Tutankhamun, which would have been unlikely if the latter had been his son.

Tutankhamun was married to Ankhesenpaaten (possibly his half-sister, since Ankhesenpaaten is unequivocally recorded as another of the six daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti), and after the re-establishment of the traditional Egyptian religion the couple changed the -aten ending of their names to the -amun ending, becoming Ankhesenamun and Tutankhamun. They are known to have had two children, both girls, whose mummies were discovered in Tutankhamun's tomb -- they both died as babies, and medical evidence suggests they may have been stillborn.

During Tutankhamun's reign, Akhenaten's Amarna revolution (Atenism) was being reversed. Akhenaten had attempted to supplant the traditional priesthood and deities with a god who was until then considered minor, Aten. In Year 3 of Tutankhamnen's reign (1331), while he was still a boy, probably about 11, and under the influence of two older advisors (Akhenaten's vizier Ay and perhaps Nefertiti), the ban on the old pantheon of deities and their temples was lifted, the traditional privileges were restored to their priesthoods, and the capital was moved back to Thebes. The young pharaoh adopted the name Tutankhamun, changing it from his birth name Tutankhaten. Because of his age at the time responsibility for these decisions can be attributed to his advisors. King Tutankhamun restored all of the traditional deities, and restored order to the chaos created by his uncle Akhenaten. In addition, temples devoted to Amun-Ra were built during this period. Although, Tutankhamun's wooden box depicts him going to war against Hittites and Nubians, and he is shown wearing the blue war crown, it is doubtful that he ever went to war since scrutiny of the period's extensive written evidence does not yield records of him participating in any wars or battles.
Events following Tutankhamun's death

The cause of Tutankhamun's death is unclear, and is still the root of much speculation. In early 2005 the results of a set of CT scans on the mummy were released.

The body originally was inspected by Howard Carter’s team in the early 1920's, although they were primarily interested in recovering the jewelry and amulets from the body. To remove these objects from the body, which often were stuck fast by the hardened embalming resins used, Carter's team cut up the mummy into various pieces: the arms and legs were detached, the torso cut in half and the head was severed. Hot knives were used to remove it from the golden mask to which it was cemented by resin.

Since 1926, the mummy has been X-rayed three times: first in 1968 by a group from the University of Liverpool, then in 1978 by a group from the University of Michigan, and finally in 2005 a team of Egyptian scientists led by Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass, who conducted a CT scan on the mummy.

X-rays of Tutankhamun's mummy, taken in 1968, revealed a dense spot at the lower back of the skull interpreted as a subdural hematoma. Such an injury could have been the result of an accident, but it also had been suggested that the young pharaoh was murdered.

A trauma specialist from Long Island University insisted that this injury could not have been from a natural cause. The specialist stated that the blow was to a protected area at the back of the head which is not easily injured in an accident.

Theories as to who was responsible for the death include Tutankhamun's immediate successor Ay, his wife, and his chariot-driver.

Calcification within the supposed injury indicates Tutankhamun lived for a fairly extensive period of time (on the order of several months) after the injury was inflicted.

A small, loose, sliver of bone was discovered within the upper cranial cavity, which was discovered from the same X-ray analysis. In fact, since Tutankhamun's brain was removed post mortem in the mummification process, and considerable quantities of now-hardened resin introduced into the skull on at least two separate occasions after that, had the fragment resulted from a pre-mortem injury, some scholars, including the 2005 CT scan team, say it almost certainly would not still be loose in the cranial cavity. But other scientists suggested, that the loose sliver of bone was loosened by the embalmers during mummification, but it had been broken before. A blow to the back of the head (from a fall or an actual blow), caused the brain to move forward, hitting the front of the skull, breaking small pieces of the bone right above the eyes.

On March 8, 2005, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass revealed the results of a CT scan performed on the pharaoh's mummy. The scan uncovered no evidence of a blow to the back of the head and no evidence suggesting foul play. There was a hole in the head, but it appeared to have been drilled, presumably by embalmers. A fracture to Tutankhamun's left thighbone was interpreted as evidence that the pharaoh badly broke his leg shortly before he died and his leg became severely infected; however, members of the Egyptian-led research team recognized, as a less likely possibility, that the fracture was caused by the embalmers. Altogether 1,700 images were produced of Tutankhamun's mummy during the 15-minute CT scan.

Much was learned about the young king's life. His age at death was estimated at 19 years, based on physical developments that set upper and lower limits to his age. The king had been in general good health and there were no signs of any major infectious disease or malnutrition during his childhood. He was slight of build, and was roughly 170 cm (5 ft 7 in) tall. He had large front incisor teeth and the overbite characteristic of the Thutmosid royal line to which he belonged. He also had a pronounced dolichocephalic (elongated) skull, although it was within normal bounds and highly unlikely to have been pathological. Given the fact that many of the royal depictions of Akhenaten (possibly his father, certainly a relative), often featured such an elongated head, it is likely an exaggeration of a family trait, rather than a distinct abnormality.The research also showed that the pharaoh had "a slightly cleft palate."

A slight bend to his spine also was found, but the scientists agreed that there was no associated evidence to suggest that it was pathological in nature, and that it was much more likely to have been caused during the embalming process. This ended speculation based on the previous X-rays that Tutankhamun had suffered from scoliosis. (However, it was subsequently noted by Dr. Zahi Hawass that the mummy found in KV55, provisionally identified as Tutankhamun's father, exhibited several similarities to that of Tutankhamun -- a cleft palate, a dolichocephalic skull and slight scoliosis.)

The 2005 conclusion by a team of Egyptian scientists, based on the CT scan findings, is that Tutankhamun died of gangrene after breaking his leg. After consultations with Italian and Swiss experts, the Egyptian scientists found that the fracture in Tutankhamun's left leg most likely occurred only days before his death, which had then become gangrenous and led directly to his death. The fracture in their opinion was not sustained during the mummification process or as a result of some damage to the mummy as claimed by Howard Carter. The Egyptian scientists also have found no evidence that he had been struck on the head and no other indication that he was murdered, as had been speculated previously. Further investigation of the fracture led to the conclusion that it was severe, most likely caused by a fall from some height — possibly a chariot riding accident due to the absence of pelvis injuries — and may have been fatal within hours.

Despite the relatively poor condition of the mummy, the Egyptian team found evidence that great care had been given to the body of Tutankhamun during the embalming process. They found five distinct embalming materials, which were applied to the body at various stages of the mummification process. This counters previous assertions that the king’s body had been prepared carelessly and in a hurry. In November 2006, at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, Egyptian radiologists stated that CT images and scans of the king's mummy revealed Tutankhamun's height to be 180 centimetres or 5 feet 11 inches tall, a revision upward from the earlier estimates.

Tutankhamun seems to have faded from public consciousness in Ancient Egypt within a short time after his death, and he remained virtually unknown until the early 20th century. His tomb was robbed at least twice in antiquity, but based on the items taken (including perishable oils and perfumes) and the evidence of restoration of the tomb after the intrusions, it seems clear that these robberies took place within several months at most of the initial burial. Eventually the location of the tomb was lost because it had come to be buried by stone chips from subsequent tombs, either dumped there or washed there by floods. In the years that followed, some huts for workers were built over the tomb entrance, clearly not knowing what lay beneath. When at the end of the 20th dynasty the Valley of the Kings burials were systematically dismantled, the burial of Tutankhamun was overlooked, presumably because knowledge of it had been lost and even his name may have been forgotten.

For many years, rumors of a "Curse of the Pharaohs" (probably fueled by newspapers seeking sales at the time of the discovery) persisted, emphasizing the early death of some of those who had first entered the tomb. However, a recent study of journals and death records indicates no statistical difference between the age of death of those who entered the tomb and those on the expedition who did not. Indeed, most lived past seventy.

King Tutankhamun still rests in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings, in a temperature-controlled glass case. On November 4, 2007, 85 years to the day since Howard Carter's discovery, the actual face of the 19-year-old pharaoh was put on view in his underground tomb at Luxor, when the linen-wrapped mummy was removed from its golden sarcophagus for display in a climate-controlled glass box. This was done to prevent the heightened rate of decomposition caused by the humidity and warmth from tourists visiting the tomb.

Among the treasures found in his tomb, during its discovery in 1922, was a silver trumpet, dating from around 1352 B.C.

Due to its fragile state, the silver trumpet has only been played twice, with the use of a modern mouthpiece. The first playing shattered the trumpet, though it was immediately restored. BBC Radio recorded the subsequent brief performance at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in 1939.


Pitched musical instruments are usually based on a harmonic oscillator such as a string or a column of air. Both can and do oscillate at numerous frequencies simultaneously. These oscillations are called 'standing waves' as the wave in the string or air column oscillates to and fro but does not travel along it. Interaction with the surrounding air causes sound waves - travelling waves which allow us to hear the instrument. Because of the self-filtering nature of resonance, these frequencies are mostly limited to integer multiples, or harmonics, of the lowest possible frequency, and such multiples form the harmonic series. This frequency determines the musical pitch or note that is created by vibration over the full length of the string or air column. The simplest case to visualise is a vibrating string, as above.

Similar arguments apply to vibrating air columns in wind instruments. In most pitched musical instruments, the fundamental note (first harmonic) is accompanied by other, higher-frequency tones that are generally called overtones. These shorter-wavelength, higher-frequency waves occur with varying prominence and give each instrument its characteristic tone quality. The fact that a string is fixed at each end means that the longest allowed wavelength (giving the fundamental tone) is twice the length of the string. Other allowed wavelengths are 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, etc. times that of the fundamental. To better understand this, see node. Theoretically, these shorter wavelengths produce vibrations at frequencies that are 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc. times the fundamental frequency. Physical characteristics of the vibrating medium and/or the resonator against which it vibrates often alter these frequencies. (See inharmonicity and stretched tuning for alterations specific to wire-stringed instruments and certain electric pianos.) However, those alterations are small, and except for precise, highly specialized tuning, it is reasonable to think of the frequencies of the harmonic series as integer multiples of the fundamental frequency.

The harmonic series is an arithmetic series (1×f, 2×f, 3×f, 4×f, 5×f, ...). In terms of frequency (measured in cycles per second, or hertz (Hz) where f is the fundamental frequency), the difference between consecutive harmonics is therefore constant. But because our ears respond to sound logarithmically (frequency ratios, not differences, determine musical intervals), we perceive higher harmonics as "closer together" than lower ones. On the other hand, the octave series is a geometric progression (2×f, 4×f, 8×f, 16×f, ...), and we hear these distances as "the same" in all ranges. In terms of what we hear, each octave in the harmonic series is divided into increasingly "smaller" and more numerous intervals.

[An illustration of the harmonic series as musical notation. The numbers above the harmonic indicate the number of cents it deviates from tempered tuning. Red notes are sharp. Blue notes are flat. For a fundamental of C1, the first 20 harmonics are notated as shown.]

The second harmonic, twice the frequency of the fundamental, sounds an octave higher; the third harmonic, three times the frequency of the fundamental, sounds a perfect fifth above the second. The fourth harmonic vibrates at four times the frequency of the fundamental and sounds a perfect fourth above the third (two octaves above the fundamental). Double the harmonic number means double the frequency (which sounds an octave higher).

Harmonics are all partial waves ("partials") within a sound that are integer multiples of the fundamental frequency. In music, and especially among tuning professionals, the words "harmonic" and "partial" are generally interchangeable.

In most contexts, the fundamental vibration of an oscillating body represents its first harmonic. However, some musicians, tuners, and even developers of piano tuning software do not consider the fundamental to be a harmonic; it is just the fundamental. For them, the harmonic one octave above the fundamental (the second mode of vibration) is the first harmonic or first partial. There are logical arguments for both approaches to numbering, but in this article, the fundamental vibration is referred to as the first harmonic for simplicity and consistency with the important notion of odd and even harmonics.

The relative amplitudes of the various harmonics primarily determine the timbre of different instruments and sounds, though formants also have a role. For example, the clarinet and saxophone have similar mouthpieces and reeds, and both produce sound through resonance of air inside a chamber whose mouthpiece end is considered closed. Because the clarinet's resonator is cylindrical, the even-numbered harmonics are suppressed, which produces a purer tone. The saxophone's resonator is conical, which allows the even-numbered harmonics to sound more strongly and thus produces a more complex tone. Of course, the differences in resonance between the wood of the clarinet and the brass of the saxophone also affect their tones. The inharmonic ringing of the instrument's metal resonator is even more prominent in the sounds of brass instruments.

Our ears tend to resolve harmonically-related frequency components into a single sensation. Rather than perceiving the individual harmonics of a musical tone, we perceive them together as a tone color or timbre, and we hear the overall pitch as the fundamental of the harmonic series being experienced. If we hear a sound that is made up of even just a few simultaneous tones, and if the intervals among those tones form part of a harmonic series, our brains tend to resolve this input into a sensation of the pitch of the fundamental of that series, even if the fundamental is not sounding. This phenomenon is used to advantage in music recording, especially with low bass tones that will be reproduced on small speakers.

Variations in the frequency of harmonics can also affect the perceived fundamental pitch. These variations, most clearly documented in the piano and other stringed instruments but also apparent in brass instruments, are caused by a combination of metal stiffness and the interaction of the vibrating air or string with the resonating body of the instrument. The complex splash of strong, high overtones and metallic ringing sounds from a cymbal almost completely hide its fundamental tone.

[Entrance Hymn of the Emperor / 5659 Tutankhamun / Syrian Cuneiform]