The Ancient Religious Struggle Signified by King Tut’s Mummified Erect Penis and Missing Heart


Egypt’s King Tutankhamun was buried in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings without a heart (or a replacement artifact known as a heart scarab); his penis was mummified erect; and his mummy and coffins were covered in a thick layer of black liquid that appear to have resulted in the boy-king catching fire.

The mummified erect penis and other burial anomalies were not accidents during embalming, Ikram suggests, but rather deliberate attempts to make the king appear as Osiris, the god of the underworld, in as literal a way as possible.

The erect penis evokes Osiris’ regenerative powers; the black liquid made Tutankhamun’s skin color resemble that of Osiris; and the lost heart recalled the story of the god being cut to pieces by his brother Seth and his heart buried.



When we think of monotheism, we have a tendency to think of it as a neat, somehow inevitable cultural progression – but it’s not.

Aside from the very messy, very back-and-forth conversion to Christianity of pagan Europe that started with the conversion of the Roman Empire Constantine, ancient Egypt also went through its own period of religious strife.

The pharaoh Akhenaten, husband of the famous Nefertiti, is now considered by DNA testing to likely to be the father of the even more famous (to us) Tutankhamun, a.k.a. the boy-pharaoh King Tut.

But Akhenaten’s importance is way more than that, for he and his consort Nefertiti were at the heart of an effort to rewrite Egyptian religion from a polytheistic religion to a monotheistic religion centered around The Aten, originally an aspect of Ra but for Akhenaten a singular supra-god.

This was not, shall we say, very popular, and upon Akhenaten’s death and the ascension of his son, Tutankhamun, efforts began to undo Akhenaten’s extensive efforts to eradicate the polytheistic faith of ancient Egypt.

Image of Akhenaten by Sphinx Wang on via LiveScience.
Via Huffington Post for the full article. Definitely worth a read.

This entry was posted in Culture, History by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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