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Pharaoh Tutankhamun

The Pharaohs - The People

Pharaoh Tutankhaten to Pharaoh Tutankhamun

The enigmatic story of “the boy king”

Pharaoh Tutankhamun and his short reign would not be really known to the World without the discovery of his intact gold shimmering Tomb by Archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922

Born: Approx. 1342 BC, probably in Akhetaten, his father’s new Capital City
Parents: Pharaoh Akhenaten & his sister Kiya, The Younger Lady
Birth Name: Tutankhaten
Consort: Ankhesenpaaten (half-sister)
Reigned: From approx. 1334 – 1325 BC
Reigning Name: Tutankhamun
Consort’s Reigning Name: Ankhesenamun
Throne Name: Nebkheprure
Known for: Moving the Royal Court back to Thebes and Memphis; recommitting to the traditional Deities and restoring what his father’s Aten Followers had attacked
Died: Approx. 1325 BC in Thebes
Successor: In my opinion, his Great Uncle, Ay
Buried: KV62

The Life of the Pharaoh

Young Life

Pharaoh Akhenaten followed on from his father’s example and tried to break the religious, political and hugely strong grasp that the Priests of Amun had over the rule of Egypt. But Pharaoh took his father’s ideas one very large leap further. He wrote on the Stelae which was discovered in Akhetaten that he was, “led there by God Aten” and that his “God could not be jealous or depressed or angry or act on impulse; he simply existed and, by that existence, caused all else to exist”. His new deity, the Aten was so powerful required a new city built solely for his honour and worshipping. Akhetaten provided the place where he could pursue his vision of a society dedicated to the cult of the God Aten which had never been used before in Egypt and was “clean” from the worship of any other Gods or Goddess in his view. To visit Akhetaten, present day Amarna, click here.

Crown Prince Tutankhaten, being born and spending his young life in Akhetaten, the Capital City of his father’s dream, a young Crown Prince Tutankhamun would have known little to nothing of the religion that his father had abandoned or the vibrancy of the Priesthood and Temples that are found all over Egypt. Crown Prince Tutankhaten would have only known about the Aten, which is represented on the Throne found in his Tomb. Click here to see the Throne. He is known to have worshipped with his extended Royal Family at least once a day in either the Great or Smaller Temple of Aten in Akhetaten and to have followed his father and Nefertiti’s new religion.

 

Was Crown Prince Tutankhaten Disabled?

From his mummy osteoarchaeologists can ascertain that he had a deformity in his left foot with some bone necrosis, scoliosis and malaria. In basic terms, this would have meant that he had a crooked foot which would have required him to use a Cane for stability and ease of movement. This conjures many viewpoints and images of a disabled young man but as with other Kings, most notably English King Richard III, the scoliosis and foot deformity with not have proved too detrimental for him in terms of being able to ride, hunt and drive a Chariot.

Marriage

Crown Prince Tutankhaten married his older but not his eldest half-sister, Princess Ankhesenpaaten. This is where we need to look at the probable Family Tree of Akhenaten’s direct children – see below.

Standardly, the Crown Prince i.e. the child of the Pharaoh who will inherit the Throne is the eldest son of Pharaoh and his Great Royal Wife. For example, Pharaoh Akhenaten himself was the second in line to the Throne after his elder brother, Crown Prince Thutmose. But the Crown Prince died leaving the then named Crown Prince Amenhotep as the future Pharaoh Akhenaten. The future Pharaoh then marries his eldest Sister or half Sister; or if no suitable candidate is available then he marries for the political stability to the Throne. His father was married to his sister Kiya as well as Queen Nefertiti who he chose as his Great Royal Wife.

But why is Crown Prince Tutankhaten not married to his eldest female sibling or even the second eldest female sibling?

It appears, and again this is staring through the murky depths of time, that his eldest half-sister, Princess Meritaten, was married to their father and then possibly to Pharaoh Ankhkheperure Smenkhkare who ruled after the death of Pharaoh Akhenaten for approx. 1 year.

His second eldest half-sister, Princess Setepenre, was probably married to Pharaoh Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten who ruled for approx. 2 years after the rule of Pharaoh Ankhkheperure Smenkhkare.

Therefore, his third eldest half-sister, Princess Ankhesenpaaten, became his wife and consort.

Reign

Pharaoh Tutankhaten ascended to the Throne when he was approx. 8 or 9 years old. Although this age, for the time period, was not considered too young to rule without a Regent, it can be safely assumed that Pharaoh needed assistance. As said above, his father has ripped up the standardised religion, banished all the former Gods and Goddesses and forbidden their worship. Meaning that thousands of years of status quo and the Priesthood had been made irrelevant. Pharaoh Tutankhaten had to resolve this animosity for the stability of his own reign.

Furthermore, his father after the death of his own mother, Pharaoh Tutankhaten’s grandmother, Queen Tiye, it appears that Pharaoh Akhenaten let the formally robust Egyptian Foreign Policy be forgotten and allowed former Egyptian Territories to fall into the hands of his enemies. To learn more about this, click here and scroll down to the “Beginning of the End” section. Pharaoh Tutankhaten had to restore Egypt’s standing on the international scale or risk total invasion.

In order to begin these monumental tasks, it is known that the new Pharaoh took on the advice of his great-uncle, the Vizier Ay, Treasurer Maya, and his father’s Head of the Military, General Horemheb. It appears that Tutankhaten was already close to the General as Horemheb recorded that Pharaoh appointed him as the, “lord of the land” and the General would be called on to ease Pharaoh’s anxiety and tempers.

In any event, Pharaoh would have needed these powerful political and military figures on his side in order to bring a sense or reorder and stability back to Egypt.

 

What did Pharaoh do?

Regnal Year 1

  • Used Vizier Ay’s knowledge and experience as his main Vizier in order to reunite the country under the previously known system of rule. It may well be that Vizier Ay did not hold the nominal lands to account for Pharaoh as would be the usual practice but could rather be considered as the Prime Minister for Pharaoh.
  • The Royal Family all renounced the God Aten and welcomed back the traditional deities.
  • He reached out to his neighbours to restore Egypt’s foreign relations, especially with the Mitanni – modern day Syria. This seems to have worked with the Mitanni as can be seen from the gifts which the Pharaoh was buried with. Regrettably, his offered hand of peace did not work with the Nubians or the Asiatics and General Horemheb was dispatched on various but necessary Military Campaigns. Pharaoh himself was fully trained, as every Pharaoh should be, in Archery, Hunting and Chariotry.
  • Restored all the priests and their Temple attendees to their former positions and granted them Royal Protection from being dissolved by future monarchs.
  • Appointed a Principal Vizier for Upper Egypt called Usermontu. From Noble Khonsu “To” ’s Tomb, Tomb TT31, Historians know that Usermontu had a brother called Huy who was a Prophet of Montu and may be related to the High Priest of Sobek, who was also called Usermontu. This appointment would have confirmed Pharaoh’s commitment to the Traditional Religion.
  • Appointed a Principal Vizier for Lower Egypt called Pentu, regrettably no further details are known about this Principal Vizier to date.
  • Pharaoh gave large personal donations to reprise the Cults and Priests for the God Amun and the God Ptah.
  • Reinstated the traditional Festivals, including the Festival of Opet. To learn more about the Festivals, click here.
  • Commissioned new highly decorated Processional Barques for the Deities from Lebanese Cedar Wood – the most expensive wood known to the Egyptians
  • Erected new Statues of a mixture of the Deities; all to be carefully made from the most expensive metals or stone available

 

Regnal Years 2 and 3

  • Pharaoh and his Queen changed their names from praising their father’s God, the Aten, to praising the main God of the traditional religion, God Amun. Introducing Pharaoh Tutankhamun and Great Royal Wife, Queen Ankhesenamun.
  • Moved his Royal Court and the Capital City back to the area of Thebes; probably back into his Grandparent’s Malkata City Palace Complex. Click here to visit the Malkata City Palace.
  • Removed all important burials from Akhetaten and reburied them in the Theban Valleys, including the Mummy of his Father. To learn about the Burials are Akhetaten, click here.
  • Began a campaign to rebuild and restore all the damage created by his father’s Followers of the Aten. This included Statues, Shrines, Stelae and whole buildings including at Karnak. Pharaoh Tutankhamun recorded these works in his Restoration Stelae and the copies of it which were distributed to the Temple Sites throughout Egypt. This was undertaken to ensure that the Deities understood that Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s role in the upheaval that his father caused was as an innocent child rather than a future Pharaoh who had any power against his father’s wishes. The Stela specifically blames Pharaoh Akhenaten for the abandonment of the Deities and the damage that this caused. To learn more, click here.

 

Later Reign

The young Pharaoh commissioned his own building works, the largest of which was at Karnak Temple, home of the Cult of Amun, the largest priesthood in Egypt at any point in Pharaoh’s life and throughout the ancient period. Here he built the Ram headed Avenue of Sphinx between the Precinct of Amun Ra and the Precinct of Mut. These had small Statuettes of Pharaoh Tutankhamun between their paws. Click here to see the Precinct of Amun Ra.  Click here to visit the Precinct of Mut. At Luxor Temple he finished the Decorating of the entrance way that had been commenced by his grandfather, Pharaoh Amenhotep III.

Due to the short length of his Reign, many of his building projects were not finished before his death and were later usurped by his successor, Pharaoh Ay, and the next Pharaoh, Horemheb.

 

Family

The young couple undertook their royal duties and Queen Ankhesenamun delivered a premature baby 5 to 6 months of her first pregnancy. Her second pregnancy she carried to term, but the baby appears to have died shortly after birth. Both babies were buried in their father’s tomb.

Death

The theories around the death of the Pharaoh have abounded for years as no known record of how he died has been found to date.

The “Murder” Theory
Pharaoh Tutankhamun was murdered by a blow to the back of his head.
This theory is based on a blow to the head due to 2 loose bone fragments seen inside the skull cavity on an x-ray taken in 1968; has now been confirmed as being due to the modern unwrapping of the skull. This has been concluded using newer x-rays and a CT scan which shows that the fragments remain loose. If these had been created as a death impact, the shards would be captured inside the embalming resin.

The Chariot Theory
Pharaoh Tutankhamun was killed in a Chariot accident where he was run over by a Chariot; perhaps proving that he was on a Military Campaign at the time of his death. This was proved by showing that part of the front of his Ribs and Chest Wall are damaged and some are missing. This has now been disproven by photos which were taken by Howard Carter and his Team during the mummy’s excavation which confirm that the Ribs and Chest Wall were present in 1926. An x-ray in 1968 show the missing Ribs and Chest Wall as well as a previously present Beaded Collar. It seems likely that the now missing Beaded Collar was “robbed” and this caused the damages to the Ribs and Chest Wall.

The latest medical information that Historians have gathered is that his body was weakened from the Malaria Infections that he had repeatedly suffered, compounded by a fracture to his left leg. The evidence to support this is that the leg fracture was caused just before death due to its ragged edges with no evidence of healing and that there were Embalming substances found inside the wound tract. Conclusion: this probably triggered circulatory shock which would have been fatal to his weakened immune system.

 

Mummification

It appears as though Pharaoh was not mummified in the usual way. It could be that he died away from his Capital City and was far enough away to require an initial embalming process before he could be returned home. This may not mean that he was on a Military Campaign but could have been travelling around his own country. Whatever occurred, it seems as though the first embalmer was inexperienced as:

  • the initial embalming incision is not in the normal location;
  • his heart is missing – the embalmers provided the Pharaoh with a Scarab inscribed with a Funerary Spell;
  • there was damage caused to his skull and shards broken off in the embalming process, as mentioned in the Murder Theory above;
  • a second embalming was needed to ensure the body’s preservation – this thought has been extrapolated due to the two levels of resin found inside the skull.

The Tomb

Click on the Image to visit the Tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun

The Excavation

Click on the Image to learn about Howard Carter’s excavation of KV62

Coffins & Death Mask

Click on the Image to see the Coffin and Death Mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamun

Funeral Goods

Click on the Image to see the Funeral Goods that were found inside Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s Tomb