Archeology is changing, technology, people and our understanding of the world of the past, is in flux. In large part due to modern science, we have ways of analyzing data that people could not have dreamed of a hundred years ago. We are able to make connection and understand the past better, and make logical conclusions based on new types of information.
Archeologists have allowed us to understand and recreate the way people live. They try to interpret people and society through what they leave behind. Some societies have long written records to help with interpretation, for others, archeologists have only the garbage and ruins a culture leaves behind to recreate a people long gone. Now with the help of modern science, archeology has a powerful new set of tools, to studying people of the past and help us uncover and understand the mysteries of our societies and peoples (Ember 2011: 6).
Arguably no field of archeology has been as prevalent as Egyptology. "Because of its great longevity, Egyptian civilization provides a unique opportunity to study the changes and developments of an early civilization over a very long span of time" (Bard 2008). The Egyptian civilization is one of the oldest and most well-documented societies that we can study. There has been a great focus on saving and understanding the culture of Egypt for hundreds of years. Egyptology can trace its roots to the eighteenth century, with European archeologists wanting to study Egypt as a center of high culture. By the mid-to-late nineteenth century excavations were in full swing, with British archeologists like Lenard Horner, Vice President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, leading the way (Wortham 1971: 69).
If modern Egyptology had a face it would be Dr. Zahi Hawass. "Zahi Hawass, 58, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, is The Man. He determines who will excavate in Egypt and when and where" (Peters 2006: 80). "He has been described as theatrical, passionate and controversial. He is passionate about Egypt and its antiquities and doesn't hesitate to use words like magical, thrilling and marvelous when describing his discoveries in the Valley of the Golden Mummies or his recent investigation of the battered mummy of Tutankhamen. He isn't afraid of controversy--in fact, some might say he courts it. He makes news by demanding the return of objects 'stolen' from Egypt by excavators and museums" (Peters 2006: 80). Dr. Hawass is a controversial figure, but no one can dispute the finds and contributions he has made to archaeology or the way he is helping to bring in modern science to solve ancient mysteries.
Dr. Hawass has been a leader and pioneer in the study of ancient Egypt and has come to approach problems with the help of modern science. His approach to Egyptology has allowed us to learn more than ever about Tutankhamun's life and death. In 2005 Dr. Hawass had a CT scan preformed on King Tutankhamun's mummy, and was able to show that he had not died from a blow to the head, as many believed (Hawass 2010: 34). During the scan it was also discovered that Tutankhamun's left foot was clubbed, one toe was missing a bone, and the bones in part of the foot were destroyed (Hawass 2010: 34). Having clubbed foot and bones missing in his feet it would have made walking hard for Tutankhamun. With the results of the scan there was finally an explanation as to why Tutankhamun was buried with 130 walking sticks (Hawass 2010: 34).
However, it should be noted that staffs were also a symbol of power. Staffs, also known as scepters, were a sign of nobility and were made to look like enemies of the king so that he might crush his enemies and make them submit as he saw fit. (Zaki 2008:118) The CT scan of the damage to Tutankhamun's foot revealed new bone growth had occurred in response to the injury, proving Tutankhamun had foot problems while he was alive (Hawass 2010: 34). In addition to modern evidence we have the depictions from ancient Egypt of Tutankhamun as the only Pharaoh sitting while performing his duties(Hawass 2010: 34). As Dr Hawass sums it up, "this was not a king who held a staff just as a symbol of power. This was a young man who needed a cane to walk" (Hawass 2010: 34).