Who was Tut Ankh Amun?
King Tut Ankh Amun (King Tutankhamun) was one of the kings of the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom of the Pharaonic period. He was the ruler of Egypt from 1334 until 1325 B.C.
Tut Ankh Amun became the king of Egypt when he was only 9 years old. The word “Tut Ankh Amun” in ancient Egyptian means “the living incarnation of Amun,” the most important god in ancient Egypt.
Tut Ankh Amun lived in a transitory period of ancient Egyptian history as he became the ruler of Egypt after Akhenaton, who tried to unify the multi-god system in Egypt into the worship of only one god, Aton, the god of the Sun.
However, when Akhenaton passed away, and Tut Ankh Amun became his successor, the multi-god system became prominent in Egypt once again, represented by the ascendance of the worship of Amun once again. The tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered in 1932 by Howard Carter and managed to garner major media attention worldwide. His grave was intact and featured some of the most beautiful burial items and furniture ever found. The funeral mask of King Tutankhamun wore is one of the most famous ancient artifacts in the world.
Another reason behind the worldwide fame of King Tutankhamun was his death at an early age, an incident that many historians find to be strange, especially after checking out his mummy and finding out there were some fractures in his skull. Most historians and Egyptologists believe that King Tut was the son of Amenhotep IV, better known as Akhenaton. It is also believed that his ruling period lasted only from 8 to 10 years
When scientists examined the mummy of Tut Ankh Amun, they found out that he died while he was young. In fact, they found he was less than 20 years old when he passed away, and his age was determined later to be 19 years old when he died
During the ruling period of Tut Ankh Amun, a revolt began in Tell El Amarna against the former king of Egypt at the time, Akhenaton. He had moved the capital of Egypt from Thebes to his new city Akhet Aton which was located near the governorate of Al Minya today and some people were angry at him.
In 1331 B.C., in the third year of the reign of Tut Ankh Amun, the multi-god system became prevailing once again, and the capital went back to Thebes again as well.
Reasons Behind The Death Of King Tut Ankh Amun
For a very long period of time, the reasons behind the death of Tut Ankh Amun were debatable, and many historical theories asserted that he was murdered. However, when the mummy of Tut Ankh Amun was scanned using the three-dimensional CT, the famous Egyptian Egyptologist Zahi Hawass announced that there was no evidence whatsoever that proved that Tut Ankh Amun was murdered.
Hawass added that the hole King Tut had in his skull was not due to the fact that he was hit in his head as it was believed in the past, but it was due to the mummification process of the king after his death. Hawass also noted that the fracture that was found in one of the thighs of Tut Ankh Amun was not due to any criminal actions but was because King Tut had a break in his leg before he died. The final report of the Egyptologists who examined the mummy of Tut Ankh Amun concluded that the reason behind his death was due to blood poisoning he was exposed to, which led to his death. Whether it was intentional is not known.
Discovery Of The Tomb of Tut Ankh Amun
The Tomb of Tut Ankh Amun was discovered on November 4, 1922, by the British archeologist Howard Carter. While doing some excavation work in the tunnel leading to the tomb of Ramses IV in the Valley of the Kings, Carter noticed that there was a large cellar. He went on with his excavation until he stumbled upon the tomb of Tut Ankh Amun.
The small burial chamber of Tut Ankh Amun had wonderful portrayals telling the story of the death of the king with marvelous colors and decorations. This discovery was among the most important scientific discoveries in the 20th century due to the fact that the mummy of King Tut Ankh Amun was found intact and in fairly good condition with all its wonderful necklaces, rings, sticks, and crowns made out of gold and the purest types of wood. Moreover, Howard Carter was the first person to enter the tomb of Tut Ankh Amun in around 3,000 years, as the tomb had been hidden in the sand of the mountain for centuries.
Carter noticed that there was a wooden box with golden ornaments in the middle of the burial chamber and when he opened this box, he found another similar wooden golden ornamented box. When Carter opened the second box, he found the third box, and at the end, Carter was able to find the sarcophagus of the king that was carved to look like Tut Ankh Amun. When Carter opened the sarcophagus, he found the main golden coffin of King Tut Ankh Amun: the most valuable item in the tomb that still amazes the whole world with its beauty.
Carter had to cut through three golden coffins in order to reach the mummy of Tut Ankh Amun, which was carefully wrapped in silk cloths. In the end, when Carter was able to take off the whole shroud, he found the mummy in good condition wearing all his royal necklaces and rings and with his pure golden crook and crown in amazing condition.
King Tutankhamun, colloquially known as King Tut, continues to mesmerize historians, archeologists, and enthusiasts centuries after his reign. Despite being a minor ruler in the grand narrative of ancient Egypt's illustrious history, Tutankhamun's legacy has been immortalized by discovering his nearly intact tomb, complete with his mummy and an astounding array of treasures. This article aims to explore Tutankhamun's life, reign, death, and the significant discoveries associated with his tomb.
The Early Life of Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun, originally named Tutankhaten, meaning "the living image of Aten," was born around 1341 BC during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten, known for his religious revolution favoring the worship of the solar deity, Aten. Tutankhaten's father, Akhenaten, was controversial due to his religious reforms, which led to nationwide destabilization in Egypt.
Parentage of Tutankhamun
The parentage of Tutankhaten remains shrouded in mystery. While genetic testing confirms that he was the grandson of the mighty Pharaoh Amenhotep III, the identity of his mother is still a subject of debate among historians. Some theories suggest his mother could have been one of Akhenaten's sisters or his principal wife, Queen Nefertiti
Ascension to the Throne
Upon Akhenaten's demise, the young Tutankhaten ascended the throne at the tender age of nine. Since he was relatively inexperienced, his reign was primarily guided by Ay, the Grand Vizier and possibly Tut's maternal grandfather, and Horemheb, the military's commander-in-chief.
Tutankhamun, The Restorer
Within the initial years of his reign, Tutankhaten moved his residence to Memphis and replaced his name with Tutankhamun, which translates to "the living image of Amun," signifying his commitment to restoring the traditional Egyptian religion. He reversed many of his father's religious decisions, restoring the conventional polytheistic form of ancient Egyptian religion, marking a significant shift from his father's monotheistic worship of Aten.
Tutankhamun's Reign: A Return to Tradition
Tutankhamun's rule marked a return to the traditional religious practices of ancient Egypt. The young king undertook the restoration of the sacred shrines of Amun, which had been severely damaged during his father's rule. He also oversaw the completion of the red granite lions at Soleb and continued construction at the temple of Karnak, showcasing his commitment to restoring the glory of the traditional gods.
King Tut's Personal Life
Around the same year he assumed power, Tutankhamun married Ankhesenamun, his half-sister and the daughter of Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti. The royal couple had two daughters, both likely stillborn, which further added to the enigma surrounding Tutankhamun's brief life.
The Mysterious Death of Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun's premature death at 19 remains a topic of intense debate among historians and scientists. Initial investigations indicated that the young Pharaoh might have been assassinated due to a hole in the back of his skull. However, later studies suggested this damage could have been caused post-mortem during mummification. Modern technology and research have also proposed other theories, including the possibility of Tutankhamun succumbing to a leg infection or malaria.
The Succession after King Tut
Following Tutankhamun's untimely death, his Vizier, Ay, assumed the throne, likely marrying Ankhesenamun, the young king's widow. Later, Horemheb, designated as heir by Tutankhamun, became Pharaoh, securing the throne and restoring the traditional Egyptian religion.
The Discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb
Tutankhamun's tomb, discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922, remains one of the most significant archeological discoveries ever. The tomb in the Valley of the Kings was found almost entirely intact, housing over five thousand artifacts, a sarcophagus with Tutankhamun's mummy, and his famous golden death mask.
Inside the Tomb
Tutankhamun's tomb, though smaller than other royal tombs, was filled with a trove of treasures. These included Tutankhamun's mummy, gold jewelry, chariots, statues, weapons, and clothing, all intended to accompany the king into the afterlife.
King Tut's Golden Death Mask
One of the most iconic artifacts discovered in Tutankhamun's tomb was his golden death mask. This elaborate mask, made of solid gold and adorned with gemstones, bore the likeness of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the afterlife. The mask is considered one of history's most famous works of art.
King Tutankhamun and Modern Egyptology
The discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb sparked a global fascination with ancient Egypt, leading to a surge in Egyptology studies. However, this fascination also sparked debates about colonial contests for Egypt's antiquities and the ethical considerations surrounding the excavation and display of such artifacts. Today, all the artifacts discovered in Tutankhamun's tomb are housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, symbolizing Egypt's reclaiming of its ancient heritage.
King Tut and Popular Culture
The discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb and its treasures has significantly impacted popular culture. Tutankhamun's influence is pervasive, from jazz songs and movies to jewelry and fashion designs. The allure of the 'boy king' continues to captivate the world, ensuring that his legacy endures millennia after his reign.
The Treasures Of Tut Ankh Amun
The Tomb of Tut Ankh Amun was discovered almost intact, and this was why the items that were found in the tomb clarified many facts about the religious and funerary beliefs of ancient Egypt.
The Pharaoh of Egypt was always buried with all his personal belongings, including all the items that he used since he was a child, like some of his toys.
Moreover, all the other things that the king used during his life, like pencils, colors, outfits and clothes, and jewelry that he would use in the afterlife, were buried along with him.
Among the most important items in the tomb of Tut Ankh Amun is the only surviving throne chair that dates back to ancient Egypt. There is also a chariot that is pulled by horses, and some weapons, including swords, daggers, arches, and bayonets.
The most precious item that was found in the tomb of Tut Ankh Amun was his golden coffin. It weighs more than 110 kilograms and is made of pure gold. Other extremely valuable items are King Tut's golden mask that is ornamented with precious stones and weighs 11 kilograms, two other coffins that were made out of wood ornamented with gold, and 314 “Shobaty” statues, which were put with the deceased to work instead of him in the afterlife.
Archeologists were also able to find 32 statues of Tut Ankh Amun and the gods of the afterlife, all made out of wood ornamented with gold. A lot of jewelry was found in the tomb of Tut Ankh Amun as well, and the collection included 143 golden items ornamented with precious stones, with most of them portraying the sun god in several forms.
A huge collection of alabaster was also unearthed along with King Tut, and it consists of many containers and vessels in the tomb of Tut Ankh Amun. This is in addition to a marvelously designed and crafted alabaster lamp. This lamp was put with the king in his tomb so he would be able to find his way in the afterlife.
The collection of jewelry of Tut Ankh Amun is among the most famous and rarest collections of ancient Egypt and also contains many necklaces, earrings, and crowns, as well as an ornamented pendant made out of gold, silver, garnet, precious stones, turquoise, and white, black, green, red, and blue colored glass. This piece is one of the most beautiful jewelry items found in the Tut Ankh Amun tomb.
The Importance Of The Collection Of Tut Ankh Amun
There are many reasons behind the importance of the collection of King Tut Ankh Amun. The first is that all the belongings of Tut Ankh Amun date back to the 18th dynasty, the most vibrant period of ancient Egyptian history, as Egypt had several commercial and political activities with regions located to the South and the East of the country. The second reason is that the treasures of Tut Ankh Amun are the most complete and intact Pharaonic treasures ever found in history. The treasures consist of more than 385 items that, include the marvelous golden mummy cover of Tut Ankh Amun, three golden coffins, and many magnificent items that people from all over the world visit Egypt to view and admire.
In conclusion, the life and legacy of Tutankhamun serve as a fascinating window into the rich tapestry of ancient Egyptian history. Despite his brief reign and relatively minor impact on Egyptian history, Tutankhamun remains one of the most well-known and studied Pharaohs. His tomb and its treasures continue to provide invaluable insights into ancient Egypt's practices, beliefs, and culture, making him a pivotal figure in the annals of archeology and Egyptology.