King Tut is coming back !! There will be another visit by the touring museum demonstration of relics of Egyptian (Kemetian) King Tutankhamun, the famous 18th dynasty pharaoh, in Los Angeles. Scheduled to begin on March 24, 2018 at the California Science Center, 700 Exposition Park, this year’s presentation, as did the last presentation in 2005, brings controversy with it.
The last time King Tut was shown in Los Angeles at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), then Egyptian Director of Antiquities Zahi Hawass, brought with him a stylized new representation of King Tut as a caucasian-looking pharaoh, from dna samples and an artist’s recreation of what she thought King Tut would look like based on that evidence. There was a very large public protest against that representation in the exhibit, and LACMA decided to show King Tut with both the new rendition and the older, darker-complexioned versions, with the latter featured and the former as a very visible collateral presentation. The museum made millions of dollars from the King Tut presentation.
In 1974, at a public forum in Egypt organized by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Drs. Cheikh Anta Diop and Theophile Obenga, had decisively out-argued all the other Egyptologists present, and demonstrated that most of the Egyptian population during the age of King Tut was sub-Saharan African, and that rendering King Tut and other pharaohs and queen-mothers as European-looking was unhistorical and, basically, wrong. Undaunted by logic and scientific evidence, however, that tactic has persisted, as it did in LACMA’s King Tut exhibit in 2005.
Now to 2018, and again we’re back to the same stubborn view. Based on digital 3-D facial reconstruction of a female head from Egyptian burial grounds that had been labeled “The Younger Lady,” until more work had been done to identify who she was, there is now a new replica in the exhibit called the face of Nefertiti. This queen has now been designated as King Tut’s mother, and her facial presentation looks amazingly like a Norther European female, not a sub-Saharan African woman. Interestingly, the same visual artist who provided the Caucasoid-looking visage of King Tut for the 2005 tour, also did the new representation of Queen Nefertiti. The paleoartist is Elisabeth Daynes, and the Nefertiti rendition she did has already been shown on t-v recently.
One of the facts of the reconstructed faces of both monarchs is that the digital and scientific techniques only provided the outlines of the facial features. The finished faces, with coloring, angles, eyes, etc., are all from the artist’s imagination and vision, not science. In reality, the finished face of Nefertiti looks very much like the bust held in Berlin, Germany’s museum, that has been around since the 19th century. But that Europeanized version of Nefertiti has long been proven to be a fraud. Apparently, from the summary of the investigations of that bust, it was shown to be almost a certainty that the bust of Nefertiti was a paid artistic portrait of an art collector’s wife, not an artifact from an Egyptian dig.
Too many Arabs and Europeans associated with the study of the Egyptian dynastic system appear fixated on the notion that Egyptian pharaohs and pyramid-builders must have looked like modern Arabs and/or Caucasians. Scientific evidence to the contrary seems to make no dent in that belief. The new exhibit coming to L.A. in March, although it will have many fine artifacts to observe and will make lots of tourist money, will continue that historical falsification. Science is not on the side of such staunch cultural beliefs.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.