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Eva von Dassow 300

Eva von Dassow says Tutankhamun himself was “unremarkable,” but he was last in the line of a remarkable family, Egypt's Dynasty 18.

U of M expert available to comment on King Tut's visit to Minnesota

February 16, 2011

Many people in the Twin Cities have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the King Tut exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota this Friday. Who was King Tut and what was Egypt like 3,000 years ago? A University of Minnesota expert who can discuss King Tut and his times is:

Eva von Dassow, associate professor, Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, College of Liberal Arts

Von Dassow says Tutankhamun himself was “unremarkable,” but he was last in the line of a remarkable family, Egypt's Dynasty 18. “Among his predecessors the most remarkable of all was Akhenaten, who may have been the father of Tutankhaten (the filiation remains debated), as Tut was called at the time of his enthronement,” von Dassow says. “Akhenaten promulgated a novel theology positing that there is but one god, manifest in the solar disk, the Aten, creator of all. This monotheistic heresy was repudiated during the reign of Tutankhaten, whose name was changed to Tutankhamun, as the sun god Amun and the other gods of Egypt were restored to their traditional roles.”

Egypt in the time of King Tut was culturally as well as politically preeminent in Northeast Africa and the Near East. Von Dassow says the pharaohs of Dynasty 18 (late 16th-late 14th centuries BCE) had established Egypt as a regional “superpower” whose empire extended from the fourth cataract of the Nile to the forests of Lebanon. “They interacted with cities and kingdoms of the Near East, using the Mesopotamian cuneiform script and the Akkadian language as a medium of written communication, and absorbed elements of these regions' cultures,” von Dassow says. “At the same time, Egypt's own highly developed artistry, culture and style exercised great influence upon the societies of the Near East, to the point that one might see Memphis as the fashion capital of the ancient world during this period.”

Von Dassow’s research and teaching interests include the history of the ancient Near East; Hurrian language and literature; and Syro-Mesopotamian society and politics.

To interview von Dassow, contact Jeff Falk, University News Service, jfalk@umn.edu or (612) 626-1720; or Kelly O’Brien, College of Liberal Arts, obrie136@umn.edu or (612) 624-4109.

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit www.umn.edu/news. Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: College of Liberal Arts

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