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Tutankhamen
Reigned 1361-1352 B.C.
 



Tutankhamen, the twelfth King of the Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty, became the most famous of the Pharaohs when his treasure-filled tomb was discovered in the 20th century.
 

 

The parentage of Tutankhamen is unknown. When he became king, he was only a child, for although he reigned 8 full years, examination of his body showed that he was little more than 18 years old at the time of his death.

Tutankhamen acceded to the throne shortly after the death of Ikhnaton. He may have owed his accession to his marriage to Ankhnesamun, the third daughter of Ikhnaton and Nefertiti. Tutankhamen had originally been named Tutankhaten, but both he and Ankhnesamun (originally Ankhnespaten) deleted from their names all reference to the sun disk Aten as soon as they abandoned Amarna, the city built by Ikhnaton for the sole worship of Aten. Tutankhamen apparently left the city very early in his reign, for, with the exception of a few scarabs, no trace of him has been found at Amarna.

The addition to Tutankhamen's name of the epithet "Ruler of Southern On" indicates that he regarded Thebes as his principal city. There can be little doubt that he made every effort to placate the supporters of the god Amun, and a stele erected near the Third Pylon of the temple of Karnak depicts Tutankhamen offering to Amun and Mut. The accompanying text refers to the state of decay into which the temples and shrines of the gods had fallen during the period of the Atenist heresy. Tutankhamen had a large peristyle hall at Luxor decorated with reliefs illustrating the festival of Amen-Re.

Despite the existence of conventional representations of the Pharaoh slaying his foes, it is doubtful that Tutankhamen engaged in any serious military operations. There is some indication that the actual power behind the throne was an elderly official named Ay, who is depicted on a fragment of gold leaf with Tutankhamen. On another fragment Ay bears the title of vizier. He had already posed as a coregent before the death of Tutankhamen; and as regent Ay is represented undertaking his obsequies on the walls of the young pharaoh's burial chamber.

Tutankhamen is probably the best-known of the pharaohs owing to the fortunate discovery of his treasure-filled tomb virtually intact. His burial place in the Valley of the Kings had escaped the fate of the tombs of his predecessors. The entrance was hidden from plunderers by debris heaped over it during the cutting of the later tomb of Ramses VI.
 


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Nebkheperure Tutankhamun (alternately spelled with Tutenkh-, -amen, -amon), was a 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, meant "Living Image of Aten", while Tutankhamun meant "Living Image of Amun". 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 exactly with Flavius Josephus' generally accurate version of Manetho's Epitome.


Significance

In historical terms, Tutankhamun is of only moderate significance, and most of his modern popularity stems from the fact that his tomb in the Valley of the Kings was discovered almost completely intact. However, he also is significant as a figure among those who managed the beginning of the transition from the heretical Atenism of his predecessors Akhenaten and perhaps Smenkhkare back to the familiar Egyptian religion. As Tutankhamun began his reign at age nine, his vizier and eventual successor Ay was probably making most of the important political decisions during Tutankhamun's reign. Nonetheless, Tutankhamun is, in modern times, one of the most famous of the pharaohs, and the only one to have a nickname in popular culture ("King Tut"). The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun's nearly intact tomb (subsequently designated KV62) received worldwide press coverage and sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun remains the popular face.


Parentage

Tutankhamun's parentage is uncertain. An inscription calls him a king's son, but it is not clear which king was meant. Most scholars think that he was probably a son either of Amenhotep III (although probably not by his Great Royal Wife Tiye), or more likely a son of Amenhotep III's son Akhenaten around 1342 BC. However, 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. Tutankhamun was married to Ankhesenpaaten (possibly his sister), 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. They are known to have had two children, both stillborn girls—whose mummies were discovered in his tomb. The "boy king" died at the age of nineteen by reasons still disputed. Some believe that he was murdered by his advisors, but it is also possible that he died from injuries suffered in an accident or while at war. He was buried in the Valley of the Kings, in a small tomb today known as KV62, that was not intended for a king.

The first theory was that he was a son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye. This theory seems unlikely since Tiye would have been more than fifty years old at the time of Tutankhamun's birth. Another theory is that Tutankhamun was the son of Smenkhkare and Meritaten. This is possible, but not plausible. Smenkhkare came on the scene when Akhenaten entered year 14 of his reign and it is thought that during this time Meritaten married Smenkhkare. So, if Smenkhkare is the father of Tutankhamun, he would have needed at least a three year reign, because if it had been shorter, Tutankhamun would have been barely seven when he came to the throne. However, if there had been lengthy co-regency between Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, Amenhotep definitely could be Tutankhamun's father.

The current theory is that he was the son of Akhenaten and his minor wife 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 that a royal fan bearer standing next to Kiya's death bed, fanning what is either a princess or more likely a wet nurse holding a baby, which would indicate that the wet nurse was holding the boy-king-to-be.


Reign

During Tutankhamun's reign, Akhenaten's Amarna revolution (Atenism) was being reversed. Akhenaten had attempted to supplant the traditional priesthood and deities with a god who was until then considered minor, Aten. In Year 3 of Tutankhamun's reign (1331 BC), when he was still a boy of about eleven and probably under the influence of two older advisors (Akhenaten's vizier Ay and perhaps Nefertiti), 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. The young pharaoh adopted the name Tutankhamun, changing it from his birth name Tutankhaten. Because of his age at the time these decisions were made, it is generally thought that most if not all the responsibility for them falls on his advisors. Also, King Tutankhamun restored all of the traditional deities and restored order to the chaos that his relative had caused. Many temples devoted to Amun-Ra were built. Tutankhamun's wooden box depicts him going to war against Hittites and Nubians suggesting that he may have gone to war in the last few years of his reign, and perhaps even died from injuries suffered in the campaign.


Events after his death

A now-famous letter to the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I from a widowed queen of Egypt, asking for one of his sons as a husband, has been attributed to Ankhesenamun (among others). The royal lineage of Egypt was carried by its women. Marriage to a woman of the royal line was essential for a male pharaoh, even if he came from outside the lineage. Suspicious of this good fortune, Suppiluliumas I first sent a messenger to make inquiries about the truth of the young queen's story. After receiving reports that the situation was as related to Suppiluliuma I, he sent his son, Zannanza, accepting her offer. However, Zannanza got no further than the border before he was killed, according to the Hittite archives. If Ankhesenamun were the queen in question, and his death a strategic murder, it was probably at the orders of either Horemheb or Ay, who both had the opportunity and the motive to kill him.


Cause of death

For a long time the cause of Tutankhamun's death was unknown, and it is still the root of much speculation. How old was the king when he died? Did he suffer from any physical abnormalities? Had he been murdered? Some of these questions were finally answered in early 2005 when the results of a set of CT scans on the mummy were released, but many still remain to be solved.

The body originally was inspected by Howard Carter’s team in the early 1920s, although they were primarily interested in recovering the jewellery and amulets from the body. To remove these objects from the body, which often were stuck fast by the hardened embalming resins used, Carter's team cut up the mummy into various pieces: the arms and legs were detached, the torso cut in half and the head was severed. Hot knives were used to remove it from the golden mask to which it was cemented by resin.

Since the body was placed back in its sarcophagus in 1926, the mummy has subsequently been X-rayed three times: first in 1968 by a group from the University of Liverpool, then in 1978 by a group from the University of Michigan, and finally in 2005 a team of Egyptian scientists led by Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass, who conducted a CT scan on the mummy.

X-rays of his mummy, which were taken previously, in 1968, had revealed a dense spot at the lower back of the skull. This had been interpreted as a subdural hematoma, which would have been caused by a blow. Such an injury could have been the result of an accident, but it also had been suggested that the young pharaoh was murdered. If this were the case, there are a number of theories as to who was responsible. One popular candidate was his immediate successor Ay and other candidates included his wife and chariot-driver. Interestingly, there seem to be signs of calcification within the supposed injury, which if true, meant Tutankhamun lived for a fairly extensive period of time (on the order of several months) after the injury was inflicted.

Much confusion had been caused by a small loose sliver of bone within the upper cranial cavity, which was discovered from the same X-ray analysis. Some people have suggested this visible bone fragment for the supposed head injury. In fact, since Tutankhamun's brain was removed post mortem in the mummification process, and considerable quantities of now-hardened resin introduced into the skull on at least two separate occasions after that, had the fragment resulted from an injury while he was alive, some scholars, including the 2005 CT scan team, say it almost certainly would not still be loose in the cranial cavity. But other scientists suggested, that the loose sliver of bone was loosened by the embalmers during mummification, but that it had been broken before. A blow to the back of the head (from a fall or an actual blow), is said to have caused the brain to move forward, hitting the front of the skull, breaking small pieces of the bone right above the eyes.


Discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb

Tutankhamun seems to have faded from public consciousness in Ancient Egypt within a short time after his death, and he remained virtually unknown until the early twentieth century. His tomb was robbed at least twice in antiquity, but based on the items taken (including perishable oils and perfumes) and the evidence of restoration of the tomb after the intrusions, it seems clear that these robberies took place within several months at most of the initial burial. Subsequently, the location of the tomb was lost because it had come to be buried by stone chips from subsequent tombs, either dumped there or washed there by floods. In the years that followed, some huts for workers were built over the tomb entrance, clearly not knowing what lay beneath. When at the end of the twentieth dynasty the Valley of the Kings burials were systematically dismantled, the burial of Tutankhamun was overlooked, presumably because knowledge of it had been lost and even his name may have been forgotten.

For many years, rumours of a "Curse of the Pharaohs" (probably fuelled by newspapers seeking sales at the time of the discovery) persisted, emphasizing the early death of some of those who had first entered the tomb. However, a recent study of journals and death records indicates no statistical difference between the age of death of those who entered the tomb and those on the expedition who did not. Indeed, most lived past seventy.

Some of the treasures in Tutankhamun's tomb are noted for their apparent departure from traditional depictions of the boy king. Certain cartouches where a king's name should appear have been altered, as if to reuse the property of a previous pharaoh—as often occurred. However, this instance may simply be the product of "updating" the artifacts to reflect the shift from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun. Other differences are less easy to explain, such as the older, more angular facial features of the middle coffin and canopic coffinettes. The most widely accepted theory for these latter variations is that the items were originally intended for Smenkhkare, who may or may not be the mysterious KV55 mummy. Said mummy, according to craniological examinations, bears a striking first-order (father-to-son, brother-to-brother) relationship to Tutankhamun.

The 1922 discovery of the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamen made "King Tut" an instant celebrity and placed him among the most famous of Egypt's ancient rulers. Tut's tomb was broken into by English archaeologist Howard Carter. One of the best-preserved tombs ever found, it was filled with thousands of artefacts, and the golden death mask which covered his mummy is now a famous relic of the ancient world. Before Carter's discovery, Tutankhamen was practically unknown, and his life still remains something of a mystery; probably he was the 12th ruler in Egypt's 18th Dynasty. Tut most likely was the son of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (also known as Akhenaten), and was married to his probable half-sister Ankhesenamun, the daughter of Akhneten and the famous Queen Nefertiti. Tut died when he was about 18, having ruled for nine years, and so is often called the Boy King. Tut's death is also something of a mystery. X-rays taken in 1968 indicated he may have been killed by a blow to his head, but 21st-century scientific analysis suggested he may have died after a broken leg led to fatal blood poisoning.

Tutankhamen (reigned 1361-1352 B.C.), the twelfth King of the Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty, became the most famous of the Pharaohs when his treasure-filled tomb was discovered in the 20th century.

The parentage of Tutankhamen is unknown. When he became king, he was only a child, for although he reigned 8 full years, examination of his body showed that he was little more than 18 years old at the time of his death.

Tutankhamen acceded to the throne shortly after the death of Ikhnaton. He may have owed his accession to his marriage to Ankhnesamun, the third daughter of Ikhnaton and Nefertiti. Tutankhamen had originally been named Tutankhaten, but both he and Ankhnesamun (originally Ankhnespaten) deleted from their names all reference to the sun disk Aten as soon as they abandoned Amarna, the city built by Ikhnaton for the sole worship of Aten. Tutankhamen apparently left the city very early in his reign, for, with the exception of a few scarabs, no trace of him has been found at Amarna.

The addition to Tutankhamen's name of the epithet "Ruler of Southern On" indicates that he regarded Thebes as his principal city. There can be little doubt that he made every effort to placate the supporters of the god Amun, and a stele erected near the Third Pylon of the temple of Karnak depicts Tutankhamen offering to Amun and Mut. The accompanying text refers to the state of decay into which the temples and shrines of the gods had fallen during the period of the Atenist heresy. Tutankhamen had a large peristyle hall at Luxor decorated with reliefs illustrating the festival of Amen-Re.

Despite the existence of conventional representations of the Pharaoh slaying his foes, it is doubtful that Tutankhamen engaged in any serious military operations. There is some indication that the actual power behind the throne was an elderly official named Ay, who is depicted on a fragment of gold leaf with Tutankhamen. On another fragment Ay bears the title of vizier. He had already posed as a coregent before the death of Tutankhamen; and as regent Ay is represented undertaking his obsequies on the walls of the young pharaoh's burial chamber.

Tutankhamen is probably the best-known of the pharaohs owing to the fortunate discovery of his treasure-filled tomb virtually intact. His burial place in the Valley of the Kings had escaped the fate of the tombs of his predecessors. The entrance was hidden from plunderers by debris heaped over it during the cutting of the later tomb of Ramses VI.

Nebkheperure Tutankhamun (alternately spelled with Tutenkh-, -amen, -amon), Egyptian twt-?n?-i?mn; *tuwt-?ankh-yaman, was a 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, meant "Living Image of Aten", while Tutankhamun meant "Living Image of Amun". 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 exactly with Flavius Josephus' generally accurate version of Manetho's Epitome.


Significance

In historical terms, Tutankhamun is of only moderate significance, and most of his modern popularity stems from the fact that his tomb in the Valley of the Kings was discovered almost completely intact. However, he also is significant as a figure among those who managed the beginning of the transition from the heretical Atenism of his predecessors Akhenaten and perhaps Smenkhkare back to the familiar Egyptian religion. As Tutankhamun began his reign at age nine, his vizier and eventual successor Ay was probably making most of the important political decisions during Tutankhamun's reign. Nonetheless, Tutankhamun is, in modern times, one of the most famous of the pharaohs, and the only one to have a nickname in popular culture ("King Tut"). The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun's nearly intact tomb (subsequently designated KV62) received worldwide press coverage and sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun remains the popular face.

 

 

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