Skip to content

Who killed Tutankamun?

That’s the topic of this week’s “assignment” on the on-line course I’m doing. I really don’t know where to start with my objections to it! The evidence of how he died is very inconclusive for a start, and if medical experts can’t agree as to whether King Tut died from a traumatic head injury, a broken leg from a chariot accident, or just the constitution-sapping effects of in-breeding, then how can a bunch of complete amateurs be expected to come up with a sensible theory? Mind you, I’m not convinced that “theory” is an appropriate word – it implies (at least to me) some form of scientific method and the ability to be falsified. “Wild, baseless speculation” might be a better description of what we’re being asked to do.

However, whenever I find myself getting particularly wound-up at the woolly, liberal-arts bias, I remind myself that the course is completely free. Since I’m not paying for it, I can hardly complain about its content, and I’ll just have to cherry-pick the bits of the course that I have found interesting and worthwhile – such as being introduced to the oldest song in the world. It goes by the snazzy name of “H6”, and is written in cuneiform on a clay tablet, with both the words (a hymn to the moon-goddess) and the musical notation clearly inscribed. I’d never have come across that unless I’d participated in the course, and it was fascinating.