Tutankhamun, Pharaoh of Egypt

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Nebkheperre Tutankhamun

Also Known As: "King Tut", "King Tutankamun"
Birthplace: Waset, Egypt
Death: Died
Place of Burial: Egypt
Immediate Family:

Son of Amentotep IV AkenAton, Pharaoh of Egypt and "Meritaten" Younger Lady
Husband of Ankhesenpaaten I Ankhesenpaaten
Father of Still-born Daughter, 1 and Still-born Daughter, 2
Half brother of Meritaten; Meketaten; Ankhesenpaaten I Ankhesenpaaten; Neferneferuaten Tasherit; Neferneferure and 6 others

Occupation: Ruled 1333 BC – 1324 BC
Managed by: David John Bilodeau
Last Updated:

About Tutankhamun, Pharaoh of Egypt

Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (ruled ca. 1332 BC – 1323 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. He is popularly referred to as King Tut.

His original name, Tutankhaten, means "Living Image of Aten", while Tutankhamun means "Living Image of Amun". In hieroglyphs, the name Tutankhamun was typically written Amen-tut-ankh, because of a scribal custom that placed a divine name at the beginning of a phrase to show appropriate reverence.[3] He is possibly also the Nibhurrereya of the Amarna letters, and likely the 18th dynasty king Rathotis who, according to Manetho, an ancient historian, had reigned for nine years—a figure that conforms with Flavius Josephus's version of Manetho's Epitome.

The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter and George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon[5][6] of Tutankhamun's nearly intact tomb received worldwide press coverage. It sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun's burial mask remains the popular symbol. Exhibits of artifacts from his tomb have toured the world. In February 2010, the results of DNA tests confirmed that he was the son of Akhenaten (mummy KV55) and Akhenaten's sister and wife (mummy KV35YL), whose name is unknown but whose remains are positively identified as "The Younger Lady" mummy found in KV35

Tutankhamun and his wife, Ankhesenepatan, who later changed her name to Ankhesenamun, had two stillborn daughters (Note 5.^ a b c Hawass, Zahi et al. "Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun's Family" The Journal of the American Medical Association, February 17, 2010. Vol 303, No. 7 p.638-647)


Tutankhamun (alternately spelled with Tutenkh-, -amen, -amon), Egyptian twt-ˁnḫ-ı͗mn; tVwa:t-ʕa:nəx-ʔaˡma:n (1341 BC – 1323 BC) was an Egyptian Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty (ruled 1333 BC – 1324 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. His original name, Tutankhaten, means "Living Image of Aten", while Tutankhamun means "Living Image of Amun". Often the name Tutankhamun was written Amen-tut-ankh, meaning "living image of Amun", due to scribal custom which most often placed the divine name at the beginning of the phrase in order to honor the divine being. He is possibly also the Nibhurrereya of the Amarna letters. He was likely the eighteenth dynasty king 'Rathotis', who according to Manetho, an ancient historian, had reigned for nine years - a figure which conforms with Flavius Josephus' version of Manetho's Epitome.

The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun's intact tomb received worldwide press coverage and sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun's burial mask remains the popular face.

Tutankhamun was nine years old when he became pharaoh and reigned for approximately ten years. In historical terms, Tutankhamun's significance stems from his rejection of the radical religious innovations introduced by his predecessor Akhenaten and that his tomb in the Valley of the Kings was discovered by Carter almost completely intact — the most complete Ancient Egyptian royal tomb ever found. As Tutankhamun began his reign at such an early age, his vizier and eventual successor Ay was probably making most of the important political decisions during Tutankhamun's reign.

Tutankhamun was one of the few kings worshiped as a god and honored with a cult-like following in his own lifetime. A stela discovered at Karnak and dedicated to Amun-Re 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 wrongdoing. Temples of his cult were also built as far as Kawa and Faras in Nubia. The title of the sister of the Viceroy of Kush included a reference to the deified king indicative of the universality of his cult.

Tutankhamun's parentage is uncertain. An inscription calls him a king's son, but it is not clear which king was meant.

He was originally thought to be a son of Amenhotep III and his Great Royal Wife Queen Tiye. Later research claimed that he may have been a son of Amenhotep III, although not by Queen Tiye, since Tiye would have been more than fifty years old at the time of Tutankhamun's birth.

At present, the most common hypothesis holds that Tutankhamun was the son of Akhenaten, also known as Amenhotep IV, and his minor wife Queen Kiya. Queen Kiya's title was "Greatly Beloved Wife of Akhenaten" so it is possible that she could have borne him an heir. Supporting this theory, images on the tomb wall in the tomb of Akhenaten show a royal fan bearer standing next to Kiya's death bed, fanning someone who is either a princess or more likely, a wet nurse holding a baby, considered to be the wet nurse and the boy, king-to-be.

Professor James Allen argues that Tutankhamun was more likely to be a son of the short-lived king Smenkhkare rather than Akhenaten. Allen argues that Akhenaten consciously chose a female co-regent named Neferneferuaten as his successor, rather than Tutankhamun, which would have been unlikely if the latter had been his son.

Another theory is that Tutankhamun was the son of Smenkhkare and Meritaten (one of the six daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti). Smenkhkare appears when Akhenaten entered year 14 of his reign and it is thought that during this time Meritaten married Smenkhkare. Smenkhkare, as the father of Tutankhamun, needed at least a three year reign to bring Tutankhamun to the right age to have inherited the throne. However, if there had been lengthy co-regency between Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, Amenhotep definitely could be Tutankhamun's father.

Tutankhamun was married to Ankhesenpaaten (possibly his aunt, since Ankhesenpaaten is unequivocally recorded as another of the six daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti), and after the re-establishment of the traditional Egyptian religion the couple changed the –aten ending of their names to the –amun ending, becoming Ankhesenamun and Tutankhamun. It is assumed they had two children, both girls, whose mummies were discovered in Tutankhamun's tomb - they both died as babies, and medical evidence suggests they may have been stillborn. DNA testing began in August 2008 on the two fetuses to determine whether they were indeed his children or not.

In view of his age the king had very influential advisors such as General Horemheb, the Vizier Ay and Maya the "Overseer of the Treasury". Horemheb records that the King appointed him Lord of the land as Heriditary Prince to maintain law and how he could also calm the young King when his temper flared in the palace.

In his third regnal year the King changed his name from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun. Akhenaten's Amarna revolution (Atenism) was now reversed. Akhenaten had attempted to supplant the traditional priesthood and deities with a god, Aten, who was until then considered minor. The ban on the old pantheon of deities and their temples was lifted. The traditional privileges were restored to their priesthoods, and the capital was moved back to Thebes with the city of Akhenaten abandoned.

The "Restoration Stela" erected in the temple at Karnak describes the pharaoh's perception of the changes brought about by Ahkenaten and the reasons for his reversals:

The temples of the gods and goddesses ... were in ruins. Their shrines were deserted and overgrown. Their sanctuaries were as non-existent and their courts were used as roads ... the gods turned their backs upon this land ... If anyone made a prayer to a god for advice he would never respond – and the same applied to a goddess.

As part of his restoration process the king initiated building projects, in particular at Thebes and Karnak where he dedicated a temple to Amun. Many monuments were also erected, an inscription on his tomb door declaring that the king had "spent his life in fashioning the images of the gods". The traditional festivals were now celebrated again including those related to the Apis Bull, Horemakhet and Opet. His Restoration Stela declares

Now the gods and goddesses of the land are rejoicing in their hearts...the provinces all rejoice and celebrate throughout this whole land because good has come back into existence.

The country was economically weak and in turmoil following the reign of Akhenaten. Diplomatic relations with other kingdoms had been neglected and Tutankhamun sought to restore them, in particular with the Mittani, and evidence of his success is witnessed by the gifts from various countries found in his tomb. Despite his efforts for improved relations battles with Nubians and Asiatics were recorded in his mortuary temple at Thebes. His tomb contained body armour and campaign folding stools but in view of his age there is speculation that he did not take part personally in these battles.

On becoming king he married Ankhesenepatan who changed her name to Ankhesenamun when he changed his to Tutankhamun. They had no surviving offspring but two female babies were found in small coffins in the kings tomb, neither of whom had reached full gestation. The only name found on their coffins was "Osiris", a reference to rebirth in the next life.

Tutankhamun was buried in small tomb relative to his status. His death may have occurred unexpectedly, before the completion of a grander royal tomb, so that his mummy was buried in a tomb intended for someone else, perhaps Ay. This would preserve the observance of the customary seventy days between death and burial.

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