Tutankhamun - Secrets of the Boy King: Revealed - Tuesday October 30

tutankhamun – secrets of the boy king: revealed (9/9)

The concluding film in Five’s award-winning historical documentary strand explores the legend of Tutankhamun. Lord Carnarvon, the greatgrandson of one of the men who discovered the tomb, travels across Egypt on a quest to reexamine the life of the Boy King. With the help of archaeological discoveries, computer graphics and new historical research, he presents a portrait of Tutankhamun that challenges pre-conceived wisdom about the famous but enigmatic pharaoh.

On the eve of the Tutankhamun exhibition at the 02 Arena in London – which will bring priceless artefacts to the UK for the first time in 30 years – this timely documentary provides a comprehensive review of the pharaoh’s life. The young king reigned for only a decade some 3,000 years ago, dying in mysterious circumstances at around the age of 19. Although there are few hard facts about the Boy King, the established view has always held that Tutankhamun was a sickly, fragile prince whose poor health most likely accounted for his demise. However, this new film questions these old perceptions as Lord Carnarvon follows new clues to Tutankhamun’s true nature.

Few people are more haunted by the Tutankhamun legend than George Herbert, the eighth Earl of Carnarvon. The head of one of Britain’s grandest families, a former page-boy to the Queen and confidante of the Royal Family, the Earl was raised on tales of how his greatgrandfather risked the family fortune and ultimately lost his life in the quest for the pharaoh. It was the fifth Earl of Carnarvon who bankrolled Howard Carter’s expeditions and witnessed the opening of the tomb in 1922 – only to die seven weeks later. In popular myth, the Earl was the first victim of the infamous ‘curse of Tut’.

The present Earl is a keen amateur Egyptologist. His vast ancestral home, Highclere Castle in Berkshire, houses an exhibition of rare treasures recovered by his great-grandfather and himself. Fuelled by stories of his ancestor’s discovery, the Earl says he has always been obsessed by one burning question: “Who was Tutankhamun – the flesh and blood figure behind the iconic funeral mask?”

To this end, the Earl embarks on a journey across Egypt. Along the way, he puts forward a new theory as to the identity of the Boy King’s mother, who is believed to have died in childbirth, and names the woman who really raised the young prince: a wet nurse called Maia.

Lord Carnarvon locates the desert palace where Tutankhamun was born, and explores the latest archaeological finds from his reign – including clothes from the tomb which reveal that Tutankhamun really did have the peculiar pearshaped body depicted in the art of the time. There is also a re-examination of chariots, bows and other artefacts that indicate the Boy King was an active hunter. Elsewhere, forensic clues throw new light on his premature death and reveal that a later, 20th-century robbery of the tomb obscured much of the key evidence.

This programme provides an unprecedented look into Tutankhamun’s world and shows for the first time how the young pharaoh actually lived.

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