It was 6 p.m. on January 5, 2005 when the mummy of Tutankhamun moved smoothly and quietly into CT scanner which had been carried to Tut’s resting place. The aim was to probe the persisting medical mysteries of this young ruler who died more than 3,300 years ago. His dead body was embalmed and buried in a royal grave in the Valley of the Kings.

Howard Carter, a British archaeologist discovered Tut’s tomb in 1922 after years of futile search. Its contents are still the richest royal collection ever found. They include extremely attractive artefacts in gold as well as everyday things like board games, a bronze razor, linen undergarments, cases of food and wine.

Carter first recorded the Pharaoh’s funeral treasures. Then he began investigating his three nested coffins. The first one had a shroud covered with garlands of willow and olive trees, wild celery, lotus petals and cornflowers. These proved that he was buried in March or April. Carter ran into trouble when he reached the mummy. The ritual resins had hardened. These had cemented Tut to the bottom of his solid gold coffin. The solidified material was removed with the help of chisels. Then the mummy was cut free. Carter’s men removed the mummy’s head and severed nearly every major joint. Once they had finished, they reassembled the remains on a layer of sand in a wooden box with padding that concealed the damage. The team of scientists found it resting there. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities observed that the mummy was in very bad condition because of what Carter had done in the 1920s.

Archaeology has developed a lot during the last few decades. Now it pays less attention to treasure and more to the facts related to life and mysteries of death. It uses more sophisticated tools including medical technology. In 1968 an Anatomy Professor X-rayed the mummy. He revealed a startling fact. The breast-bone and front ribs are missing. Now CT scanning was employed to answer two questions: (i) how did he die? and (ii) how old was he at the time of his death?

On the night of the scan, workmen carried Tut from the tomb in his box. They climbed a ramp and a flight of stairs into the swirling sand outside. Then they rose on a hydraulic lift into a trailer. This trailer held the scanner. Initially, there was some problem because of sand in a cooler fan. Then the technicians scanned the mummy head to toe. 1700 digital X-ray images in cross section were created. Tut’s head was scanned in 0.62 millimetre slices to register its complicated structures. Tut’s entire body was sirnilarly recorded. Then a team of specialists in radiology, forensics and anatomy began to probe the secrets.

A technician displayed astonishing images of Tut on a computer screen. A gray head took shape from a scattering of pixels. The technician spanned and tilted it in every direction, Neck vertebrae appeared quite clearly. Other images revealed a hand, several views of the ribcage, and a narrow cross section of the skull. Zahi Hawass smiled. He felt relieved to see that nothing had gone seriously wrong.

Notice these expressions in the text.

Infer their meaning from the context.

􀂕 forensic reconstruction 􀂕 funerary treasures

􀂕 scudded across 􀂕 circumvented

􀂕 casket grey 􀂕 computed tomography

􀂕 resurrection 􀂕 eerie detail

  • Forensic reconstruction– It refers to the process of creating a face on the skull and see how the owner of the skull looked like. Here, it refers to the construction of the bust of King Tut based on the data received from CT scan.
  • Scudded across– It refers to moving quickly. The phrase is used with reference to the movement of the ‘dark-bellied clouds’.
  • Casket grey– The words point out to the covering of the stars by the‘dark-bellied clouds’, the way jewels are kept in a casket (a jewel box).
  • Resurrection– It refers to a new beginning for something which is old and long forgotten. Here, it refers to the new life after death.
  • Funerary treasures– The valuable things with which the king was buried were no less than treasures as most of the items were made of pure gold. They are, thus, referred to as ‘funerary treasures’.
  • Circumvented– The thieves would easily bypass the guards with artfulness and rip the mummy apart to remove the gold.
  • Computed tomography– Also known as CT scan, it provides X-ray image of a body in cross section. It is used for diagnostic purposes.
  • Eerie detail– Uncanny description of the resulting image of the head of Tut visible through the CT scan.

Understanding the text

1. Give reasons for the following.

(i) King Tut’s body has been subjected to repeated scrutiny.

Answer: King Tut’s body has been subjected to repeated scrutiny because of his history, his treasures which he was buried with and to know the reason behind his death.

(ii) Howard Carter’s investigation was resented.

Answer: : Carter’s investigation was resented because when he reached the mummy the resins had hardened, which he  removed with the help of chisels. Then the mummy was cut free. Carter’s men removed the mummy’s head and severed nearly every major joint. He focussed more on wealth of  King Tut than the reason behind his death. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities observed that the mummy was in very bad condition because of what Carter had done in the 1920s

(iii) Carter had to chisel away the solidified resins to raise the

king’s remains.

Answer: Carter had to chisel away the solidified resins to raise the king’s remains because the body was cemented to the bottom of the solid gold coffin as the resins had hardened. No force could move the body away and keeping the body in the sun, under 149 degrees Fahrenheit also did not help.

 (iv) Tut’s body was buried along with gilded treasures.

Answer: Tut’s body was buried along with gilded treasures as the ancient Egyptian royals were amazingly rich. They also believed that the royalty would take all the fortunes with them in their afterlife.

(v) The boy king changed his name from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun.

Answer: Tutankhamun means ‘Living image of Amun’. Amun was a major god of ancient Egypt. Amenhotep III smashed and closed his temples, later Tut restored his temples and beliefs back in his empire. That is why he changed his name from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun to choose his belief in the god.

2. (i) List the deeds that led Ray Johnson to describe Akhenaten

as “wacky”.

Answer: According to Ray Johnson, the Akhenaten was wacky because of the following reasons:

1. He smashedAmun’s images and  closed temples .

 2. He worshipped Aten, sun’s disk

3.He moved the religious capital from the city of Thebes to the new city of Akhenaten, today’s Amarna

4.He changed his name to Akhenaten

(ii) What were the results of the CT scan?

Answer:  The results of the CT scan were astonishing which was 1700 digital X-rays cross-sectioning each other to make a three-dimensional image. A grey head appeared and his vertebrae were shown. The images of the hand, ribcage, and skull were shown which were so clear.

(iii) List the advances in technology that have improved forensic


Answer:  With the advancement in technology, it has been made possible for many scientific tests to be carried out in a more accurate way to determine the cause of a crime. X-Ray, CT scan, Post mortem, biopsy, and autopsy are now possible.

 (iv) Explain the statement, “King Tut is one of the first mummies

to be scanned — in death, as in life…”

Answer:  Tut’s mummy was the first one to be X-rayed in 1968 and later, in 2005, the first to be scanned through Computing Tomography (CT). CT scan revealed new three dimensional images of his body which answered many questions.

Talking about the text

Discuss the following in groups of two pairs, each pair in a group

taking opposite points of view.

1. Scientific intervention is necessary to unearth buried mysteries.

Answer: Every nation glorifies its past history, culture and civilization. However, certain mysteries lie buried with them. Rituals and legends are insufficient to clear the wrap of mystery surrounding them. For example, take the case of Tutankhamun’s mummy. He was laid to rest laden with gold more than 3,300 years ago. Since the discovery of his tomb in 1922 AD, the modem world has speculated about him. Some people believe that the boy king might have been murdered. There is a mystery around his life as well as death. Scientific intervention is necessary to clear the dust and cloud of mysteries around him. Hence, if we want to study archaeology properly we must take help of scientific techniques.
Against the motion:
If present is perfect and future certain, why many about the past? Let the dead past bury its dead and the mysteries surrounding them. In the present world full of competition, we must devote our money, time and energy to build up our resources and sustain the life style. Scientific techniques should be employed to feed the hungry millions and clad the naked ones. Some mysteries of the past have lost their relevance with the passage of time. Won’t it be futile and wastage of precious resources of a developing nation in this idle pursuit? Let the thinkers, philosophers and priests worry about mysteries—not the scientists.

2. Advanced technology gives us conclusive evidence of past events.

Answer: For the motion.
I fully subscribe to the observation that advanced technology gives us conclusive evidence of past events. Even my opponents will agree that there is no proper written record about many past events. Myths and legends surround even the most celebrated personalities and events of their life or circumstances of death. Facts and fiction are mingled together and sometimes have become inseparable. Various persons have given coloured versions of the past events to suit the demands of their masters or to serve their own ends. The evidence that opposed their point of view has been condemned and rejected. Thus sometimes we get a warped version and subjective account of past events. Only advanced technology can help us understand the past in right perspective.
Against the motion:
I disagree with the remarks that advanced technology gives us conclusive evidence of past events. It may hold good in certain cases where evidence can be reconstructed and examined closely with the sophisticated techniques of modem science available now. However, it will be unfair to generalise and hold it true in all cases. Sometimes the processing of available data may yield contradictory accounts and create more confusion than unravelling the knotted issues. Moreover, the available evidence may not be worthy of analysis and examination. The tests may determine the possible time period of the action, but it is quite difficult to assess the causes that prompted it or the results that followed it.      

3. Traditions, rituals and funerary practices must be respected.

Answer: (Such questions are to be done by the students on their own. However, pointers have been provided for the students’ help.)

  • Traditions, rituals and funerary practices are born out of the sentiments and feelings of a community.
  • They provide identity to a community.
  • They maintain continuity of a culture.
  • They help in transferring the values of ancestors to the new generation.
  • They add to our knowledge the progress of human civilisation.


  • Traditions, customs and funerary practices may encourage superstition.
  • They may hamper the development of the society.
  • They affect unity.
  • They could lead to violence and friction between people belonging to different cultures.

4. Knowledge about the past is useful to complete our knowledge

of the world we live in.


  • Past acts as a mirror to our mistakes and teaches us lessons.
  • Present is the outcome of past.
  • It helps us understand the progress of the events down the history.
  • It builds foundation for our present and future.


  • One must live in the present.
  • Past is infinite and should be left as it is.
  • Past should not affect our present life.
  • Past should not be delved in and must be considered as a gone phase.

Thinking about language

1. Read the following piece of information from The Encyclopedia of

Language by David Crystal.

Egyptian is now extinct: its history dates from before the third

millennium B.C., preserved in many hieroglyphic inscriptions

and papyrus manuscripts. Around the second century A.D.,

it developed into a language known as Coptic. Coptic may

still have been used as late as the early nineteenth century

and is still used as a religious language by Monophysite

Christians in Egypt.

2. What do you think are the reasons for the extinction of


Answer: A language becomes extinct when its use is restricted to certain classes or categories of people. Secondly, the harshness of rules and lack of flexibility in usage also contribute to the extinction of languages.

3. Do you think it is important to preserve languages?

Answer:  think it is important to preserve languages. Various languages are the vehicles of thought and medium of interaction between the users of that language and the outside world. A language has intimate connection with the lives, culture and civilization of the people and reflects their thinking.

4. In what ways do you think we could help prevent the extinction

of languages and dialects?

Answer: Certain steps must be taken to help prevent the extinction of languages and dialects. The most important is to encourage its use. A language thrives as long as it is used by masses. Measures should be taken to propagate the languages and dialects used in certain areas. The help of interpreters may be provided for interaction between native users of language/dialect and non-users. Certain incentives in the form of stipends, scholarships, preferences in jobs etc. may also prove handy in attracting the youth towards languages and dialects which are on the verge of extinction. State patronage can also help in the preservation of languages.

Working with words

1. Given below are some interesting combinations of words. Explain

why they have been used together.

(i) ghostly dust devils


 ghostly dust devils- it points out to the devilish or frightful movement of the dusty winds. It reflects the anger of the winds for disturbing the king from his resting place.

(ii) desert sky                   

Answer: desert sky- it refers to the dusty sky of the desert. The barren sky spread over the vast desert region portrays a sad and dry picture.

(iii) stunning artefacts

Answer: stunning artefacts- items found in the tomb were extremely beautiful. Usage of both the words together explains the ‘eternal brilliance’ of the objects.

(iv) funerary treasures

Answer: funerary treasures- reference is to the fact that king was buried with numerous things which were no less than treasures as most of the items were made of pure gold.

(v) scientific detachment

Answer: scientific detachment- it refers to an indifference towards science.

 (vi) dark-bellied clouds

Answer: dark-bellied clouds– it refers to the dark clouds containing rain.

 (vii) casket grey

Answer: casket grey- the words point out to the stars being covered by the ‘dark-bellied clouds’, the way jewels are kept in a casket (a jewel box).

(viii) eternal brilliance

Answer: eternal brilliance- eternal refers to something that is timeless. Thus, eternal brilliance refers to timeless lustre and shine of the jewels and valuables of the king.

 (ix) ritual resins

Answer: ritual resins- resins are used as a customary duty in the process of burying a body.

 (x) virtual body

Answer: virtual body- a body created through electronic images or CT scan. It resembles a real body and provides a very clear view.

2. Here are some commonly used medical terms. Find out their


CT scan MRI tomography

autopsy dialysis ECG

post mortem angiography biopsy

Answer: CT scan- It refers to Computed Tomography. It provides X-ray image of a body in cross section. It is used for diagnostic purposes.

MRI- MRI is the short form of magnetic resonance imaging. It is a diagnostic tool.

Tomography- It refers to taking pictures of various sections of a human body in a three-dimensional view.

Autopsy- It refers to the post-mortem examination.

Dialysis- It is the process of filtration of bloodstream usually during kidney failure.

ECG- The electrocardiogram is a diagnostic tool that measures and records the electrical activity of the heart in exquisite detail.

Post mortem- It refers to the medical examination and dissection of a dead body to determine the cause of death

Angiography- Angiography is the examination of the blood vessels using x-rays and injecting of a radiopaque substance.

Biopsy- The removal and examination of a sample of tissue from a living body for diagnostic purposes is known as biopsy.

Things to do

1. The constellation Orion is associated with the legend of Osiris,

the god of the afterlife.

Find out the astronomical descriptions and legends associated

with the following.

(i) Ursa Major (Saptarishi mandala)

(ii) Polaris (Dhruva tara)

(iii) Pegasus (Winged horse)

(iv) Sirius (Dog star)

(v) Gemini (Mithuna)


i. Ursa Major (Saptarishi mandala). This bright constellation can be observed all year long as it never sinks below the horizon. It is also known as ‘Greater Bear’ as it represents the back and tail of the bear. According to Sanskrit mythology this group of seven sages (sapta rishi) also moves around the constant star ‘Dhruva Tara’ known as Polaris.

ii. Polaris (Dhruva tara). This star remains constant and always points to the North. The direction of Ursa Major keeps changing with the passage of the night, but Polaris remains unchanged. It is associated with the legend of Dhruva, the six year old boy who was blessed by Lord Vishnu with a permanent and constant abode in the universe.

iii.Pegasus (Winged horse). This is associated with Greek mythology as the winged horse, sprung from Medusa’s blood. It carries lightning bolts for Zeus. Pegasus’ constellation may be seen when stars are out.

iv. Sirius (Dog star). This is associated with the legend of Orion. It is called ‘Dog Star’ as it represents Orion’s large hunting dog. The first glimpse of Sirius in dawn announced the rising of the Nile in ancient Egypt.

v.Gemini (Mithuna). A combination of two Nakshatras—Aardhara and Punarvasu and having contradictory qualities.

2. Some of the leaves and flowers mentioned in the passage for

adorning the dead are willow, olive, celery, lotus, cornflower. Which

of these are common in our country?

Answer: Willow, olive, lotus and cornflower are common in our country.

3. Name some leaves and flowers that are used as adornments in

our country.

Answer: Roses, Lotus, myrtles, marigolds, champa and chameli flowers and the leaves of mango, peepal, banana and basil are used as adornments in our country.

Categories: General


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