Photograph courtesy Chris Naunton

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Egyptologist Chris Naunton admires a relief depicting Rameses II ("Rameses the Great") on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor, also known as the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes.

Photograph courtesy Chris Naunton

Exploring Ancient Egyptian Mysteries

Egyptologist Chris Naunton unwraps some secrets about what it's like to study ancient Egypt.

King Tut became pharaoh of Egypt in 1332 B.C. at the age of nine. But only a decade after coming to power, the young leader suddently died. In 1922, explorers found the king’s crypt beneath an Egyptian desert, but how the king died has remained a mystery. Egyptologist Chris Naunton talks about his fascination with the Boy King and other mysteries of ancient Egypt.

What's the best thing about being an Egyptologist?

I really love being able to travel to Egypt regularly, to see the country and meet the people. The country has so much history, and a lot of it isn’t very well known. It’s exciting to think discoveries can still be made.

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King Tut's death mask

What is the strangest thing you've discovered during your study of ancient Egypt?

Perhaps the most amazing thing to me is how well things have survived, even human bodies. To be able to look at someone as famous and ancient as Rameses the Great and see his body with the skin and hair still present is almost unbelievable.

Why should kids today be interested in ancient history?

Ancient history shows us how different things were in different parts of the world a long time ago, but also how similar to us those people were. It helps us think about our own lives. Knowing that we're basically the same as the Egyptians—or any other ancient people—helps us to understand that we're all the same.

How can kids become Egyptologists?

Study history, geography, maybe different languages—at school and even in your spare time. And you'll have to visit Egypt a lot to understand what it’s like. It's hard work, but it makes it all the more rewarding when you succeed.

Why are you so interested in finding out what happened to King Tut?

King Tut is one of the most famous people from ancient history, and everyone knows what he looked like—or at least what the death mask looked like. But we know very little about who he really was, what he did each day, what he was thinking, and what happened to him. I want to see if I could find out more about that side of him, and of course how he came to die so young and buried with such amazing treasures.

What other Egyptian mysteries would you like to explore?

I'd really like to know what happened to the man who was probably King Tut’s father, Akhenaten. He changed a lot of things while he was king, and after he died, people tried to change everything back. So he became very unpopular. We’re not sure where he was buried; it seems as though his body might have been moved at least once. I’d love to know what really happened.