Tutankhamun, an ancient Egyptian, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who was the last of his royal family to rule during the end of the 18th Dynasty during the New Kingdom of Egyptian history. His father was the pharaoh Akhenaten. His mother is his father’s sister.
Tutankhamun took the throne at eight or nine years of age under the unprecedented support of his eventual successor, Ay. He married his half-sister Ankhesenamun. During their marriage, they lost two daughters, one at 5-6 months of pregnancy and the other shortly after birth at full-term. His names Tutankhaten and Tutankhamun are thought to mean “Living image of Aten” and “Living image of Amun”, with Aten replaced by Amun after Akhenaten’s death.
Tutankhamun restored the Ancient Egyptian religion after its dissolution by his father, enriched and endowed the priestly orders of two important cults, and began restoring old monuments damaged during the previous Amarna period. He moved his father’s remains to the Valley of the Kings as well as moving the capital from Akhetaten to Thebes. Tutankhamun was physically disabled with a deformity of his left foot along with bone necrosis that required the use of a cane, several of which were found in his tomb. He had other health issues including scoliosis and had contracted several strains of malaria.
The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun’s nearly intact tomb, in excavations funded by Lord Carnarvon, received worldwide press coverage. With over five thousand artifacts, it sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun’s mask, now in the Egyptian Museum, remains a popular symbol. He has, since the discovery of his intact tomb, been referred to colloquially as “King Tut”. Some of his treasure has traveled worldwide with an unprecedented response.
While some suggestions have been made that Tutankhamun’s mother was Meketaten, the second daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, based on a relief from the Royal Tomb at Amarna, given that she was about 10 years old at the time of her death, this has been deemed unlikely. Another interpretation of the relief names Nefertiti as his mother.
The Reign of king tut
Tutankhamun was between eight and nine years of age when he ascended the throne and became Pharaoh, taking the throne name Nebkheperure. He reigned for about nine years. During Tutankhamun’s reign, the position of Vizier had been split between Upper and Lower Egypt. The principal vizier for Upper Egypt was Usermontu. Another figure named Pentju was also vizier but it is unclear which lands. It is not entirely known if Ay, Tutankhamun’s successor, actually held this position. Ay was referred to as a Priest of Maat along with a title of “vizier, doer of maat.” The title does not fit the usual description used by the regular vizier but might indicate an informal title. It might be that Ay used the title of vizier in an unprecedented manner.
Kings were venerated after their deaths through mortuary cults and associated temples. Tutankhamun was one of the few kings worshiped in this manner during his lifetime. A stela discovered at Karnak and dedicated to Amun-Ra and Tutankhamun indicates that the king could be appealed to in his deified state for forgiveness and to free the petitioner from an ailment caused by sin.
In order for the pharaoh, who held divine office, to be linked to the people and the gods, special titles were created for them at their accession to the throne. The ancient Egyptian deity also served to demonstrate one’s qualities and link them to the terrestrial realm. The five names were developed over the centuries beginning with the Horus Name.
End of Amarna period
Once crowned and after “Taking council” with the god Amun, Tutankhamun made several endowments that enriched and added to the priestly numbers of the cults of Amun and Ptah.
He commissioned new statues of the deities from the best metals and stone and had new processional barques made of the finest cedar from Lebanon and had them embellished with gold and silver. The priests and all of the attending dancers, singers, and attendants had their positions restored and a decree of royal protection granted to ensure their future stability.
Tutankhamun’s second year as pharaoh began the return to the old Egyptian order. Both he and his queen removed ‘Aten’ from their names, replacing it with Amun, and moved the capital from Akhetaten to Thebes. He renounced the god Aten, relegating it to obscurity, and returned Egyptian religion to its polytheistic form. His first act as a pharaoh was to remove his father’s mummy from his tomb at Akhetaten and rebury it in the Valley of the Kings. This helped strengthen his reign. Tutankhamun rebuilt the stelae, shrines, and buildings at Karnak. He added works to Luxor as well as beginning the restoration of other temples throughout Egypt that was pillaged by Akhenaten.
Tomb of King Tut
Tutankhamun was buried in a tomb that was unusually small considering his status. His death may have occurred unexpectedly, before the completion of a grander royal tomb, causing his mummy to be buried in a tomb intended for someone else. This would preserve the observance of the customary seventy days between death and burial. His tomb was robbed at least twice of antiquity, but based on the items taken including perishable oils and perfumes and the evidence of restoration of the tomb after the intrusions, these robberies likely took place within several months at most of the initial burial. The location of the tomb was lost because it had come to be buried by debris from subsequent tombs, and workers’ houses were built over the tomb entrance.
After a systematic search, beginning in 1915, Carter discovered the actual tomb of Tutankhamun in November 1922. By February 1923 the antechamber had been cleared of everything but two sentinel statues.
There were 5,398 items found in the tomb, including a solid gold coffin, face mask, thrones, archery bows, trumpets, a lotus chalice, two Imiut fetishes, gold toe stalls, furniture, food, wine, sandals, and fresh linen underwear. Howard Carter took 10 years to catalog the items. Recent analysis suggests a dagger recovered from the tomb had an iron blade made from a meteorite; study of artifacts of the time including other artifacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb could provide valuable insights into metalworking technologies around the Mediterranean at the time.
On 4 November 2007, eighty-five years to the day after Carter’s discovery, Tutankhamun’s mummy was placed on display in his underground tomb at Luxor, when the linen-wrapped mummy was removed from its golden sarcophagus to a climate-controlled glass box. The case was designed to prevent the heightened rate of decomposition caused by the humidity and warmth from tourists visiting the tomb. For many years, rumors of a “curse of the pharaohs” probably fueled by newspapers seeking sales at the time of the discovery persisted, emphasizing the early death of some of those who had entered the tomb. The most prominent was George Herbert, five months after the discovery of the first step leading down to the tomb. A study showed that of the 58 people who were present when the tomb and sarcophagus were opened, only eight died within a dozen years.