KING TUTANKHAMEN - (1336-1327 B.C.)

Tutankhamun was not a major player in Egypt Pharaonic history, or at least, in comparison with other pharaohs. Prior to Howard Carter's discovery of his tomb, almost nothing was known of him Interestingly, the one disappointment in Carter's discover was that there was little in the way of documentation found within his tomb. Therefore, we still know relatively little about Tutankhamun.

He was the 12th king of the 18th Dynasty and nine years old at his succession.

His name at birth, was Tutankhaten "Living Image of the Aten", placing him in the line of pharaohs following Akhenaten, who was most likely his father.His mother was probably Kiya, though this too is in question. He changed his name in year two of his rule to 'Tutankhamun' or Heqa-iunu-shema, which means 'Living Image of Amun', , Ruler of Upper Egyptian Heliopolis", which is actually a reference to Karnak as Egypt reverted to the old religion prior to Akhenaten's upheaval.

Even so, this did not prevent his name from being omitted fromthe classic kings lists of Abydos and Karnak. We may also find his named spelled Tutankhamen or Tutankhamon, among other variations.

His throne name was Neb-Kheperu-re, which means "Lord of Manifestations is Re.

We do know that he spent his early years in Amarna, and probably in the North Palace. He evidently even started a tomb at Amarna.

At age nine he was married to Ankhesenpaaten, his half sister, and later Ankhesenamun.

It is believed that Ankhesenpaaten was older then Tutankhamun because she was probably of child bearing age, seemingly already having had a child by her father, Akhenaten. It is possible also that Ankhesenamun had been married to Tutankhamun's predecessor.

It seems he did not succeed Akhenaten directly as ruler of Egypt, but either an older brother or his uncle, Smenkhkare (keeping in mind that there is much controversy surrounding this king).

Tutankhamun probably had two daughters later, but no sons.

At the end of Akhenaten's reign, Ay and Horemheb, both senior members of that kings court, probably came to the realization that the heresy of their king could not continue. Upon the death of Akhenaten and Smenkhkare, they had the young king who was nine years old crowned in the old secular capital of Memphis. Since the young pharaoh had no living female relatives old enough, he was probably under the care of Ay or Horemheb or both, who would have actually been the factual ruler of Egypt.

Ankhesenpaaten, Tutankhamun's wife from the back of his gold throne.

We know of a number of other officials during the reign of Tutankhamun, two of which include Nakhtmin, who was a military officer under Horemheb and a relative of Ay (perhaps his son) and Maya, who was Tutankhamun's Treasurer and Overseer of the Place of Eternity (the royal necropolis).

Others included Usermontju and Pentu, his to viziers of upper and lower Egypt, as well as Huy, theViceroy of Nubia. Immediately after becoming king, and probably under the direction of Ay and Horemheb, a move was made to return to Egypt's traditional ancient religion.

By year two of his reign, he changed his, as well as Ankhesenpaaten's name, removing the "aten" replacing it with "amun". Again, he may have had nothing to do with this decision, though after two years perhaps Ay's and Horemheb's influence had effected the boy-king's impressionable young mind.

One reason why Tutankhamun was not listed on the classical king lists is probably because Horemheb, the last ruler of the 18th Dynasty, usurped most of the boy-king's work, including a restoration stele that records the reinstallation of the old religion of Amun and the reopening and rebuilding of the temples.  The ownership inscriptions of other reliefs and statues were changed to that of Horemheb, though the image of the young king himself remains obvious.  Even Tutankhamun's extensive building carried out at the temples of Karnak and Luxor were claimed by Horemheb.

Of course, we must also remember that little of the statues, reliefs and building projects were actually ordered by Tutankhamun himself, but rather his caretakers, Ay and Horemheb. Kiya, a lesser wife of Akhenaten who was probably Tutankhamun's mother.

His building work at Karnak and Luxor included the continuation of the entrance colonnades of the Amenhotep III temple at Luxor, including associated statues, and his embellishment of the Karnak temple with images of Amun, Amunet and There were also a whole range of statues and sphinxes depicting Tutankhamun himself, as well as a small temple in the king's name.

We also know, mostly from fragments, that he built at Memphis.

At Kawa, in the far south, he built a temple.  A pair of granite lions from that temple today flank the entrance to the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery at the British Museum.

Militarily, little happened during the reign of Tutankhamun, a surprising fact considering that Horemheb was a well known general. Apparently there were campaigns in Nubia and Palestine/Syria, but this is only known from a brightly painted gesso box found in Tutankhamun's tomb. It portrays scenes of the king hunting lions in the desert and gazelles, while in the fourth scene he is smiting Nubians and then Syrians.

There are paintings in the tomb of Horemheb and as well as the tomb of Huy that seem to confirm these campaigns, though it is unlikely that the young Tutankhamun actually took part in the military actions directly. The campaigns in Palestine/Syria met with little success, but those in Nubia appear to have gone much better.

Though we know that Tutankhamun died young, we are not certain about how he died.  Both forensic analysis of his mummy and seal clay seals dated with his regnal year support his demise at the age of 17 or no later then 18.

As to how he died, a small sliver of bone within the upper cranial cavity of his mummy was discovered from X-ray analysis, suggesting that his death was not due to illness. It has been suggested that he was possibly murdered, but it is also just as likely the result of an accident. Yet it is clear that others certainly had eyes on the throne.

Afther Tutankhamun's death, Ankhesenamun was a young woman surrounded by powerful men, and it is altogether obvious that she had little interest or love for any of them.  She wrote to the King of the Hittites, Suppiluliumas I, explaining her problems and asking for one of his sons as a husband.

Suspicious of this good fortune, Suppiluliumas I first sent a messanger to make inquiries on the truth of the young queen's story.  After reporting her plight back to Suppilulumas I, he sent his son, Zannanza, accepting her offer.

However, he got no further than the border before he was murdered, probably at the orders of Horemheb or Ay, who, both had both the opportunity and the motive.

So instead, Ankhesenamun married Ay, probably under force, and shortly afterwards, disappeared from recorded history.

It should be remembered that both Ay and Horemheb were military men, but Ay was much older then Horemheb, and was probably the brother of Tiy who was the wife of Amenhotep III.

Amenhotep III was most likely Tutankhamun's grandfather. He was also probably the father of Nefertiti, the wife of Akhenaten. Therefore, he got to go first, as king, followed a short time later by Horemheb.

Tutankhamun died at the age of 19 by a head injury. Many suspect that he was murdered. He was buried in the Valley of the Kings. Two mummified fetuses were found in coffins that had been sealed by his name. These are believed to have been his children that were born prematurely.

This throne was produced in the early years of the reign of Tutankhamun, prior to the religious counter reformation that marked the definitive end of the Amarna Period.

Tutankhamun from the back of his gold throne.

The grace of the forms combines well with the richness of the decoration and the luminosity of the colors, giving rise to a composition of exquisite craftsmanship. The scene depicts the sovereign relaxing on his throne with his feet resting on a low stool with cushions. He is wearing a short wig surmounted by a composite crown and the typical pleated robe of the era, which left the prominent stomach uncovered, another feature typical of the Amarna period.

The arms of the throne are in the form of two winged and crowned serpents holding the cartouche of Tutankhamun in front of them. The legs, which were linked at the front and rear with a heraldic motif symbolizing the union of southern and northern Egypt, terminate in leonine paws. Two lions' heads also emerge from the front section of the throne. The rear of the backrest is decorated with a frieze of asps.

Tutankhamen was supposedly murdered at the age of 19 and was succeded by Ay (1352-1348), who married Tutankhamen's widow, Ankhesenamen, and furnished the former king's tomb. Although all the other tombs in the Valley of the kings at Thebes were later plundered, the tomb in which Tutankhamen was ultimately buried was hidden by rock chips dumped from cutting the tomb of a later king. Tutankhamen's tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter It was filled with extraordinary treasure, including a solid gold coffin, a gold mask, jewelry, and many artifacts.



Tut's life and death unmasked BBC - October 2002
King Tut Unmasked with Facial Reconstruction CNN October 2002

A high-tech facial reconstruction has shed new light on the looks of King Tutankhamun, the teenage king of ancient Egypt immortalized for nearly a century by his golden death mask. Scientists and special effects artists used digital techniques applied in crime investigations to fashion a fiberglass model they say provides the closest possible likeliness of the pharaoh's looks. The model shows a wide-faced young man with high cheekbones, smaller eyes and a heavy brow.

King Tut Had Spine Disease October 2002 - Discovery