1-888-834-1448

Egypt: Tutankhamun (King Tut) of the 18th Dynasty


King Tut

by Jimmy Dunn

The Name of King Tut


At this point, it almost seems to be repetitive to remind readers that Tutankhamun (King Tut) was not a major player in Egypt Pharaonic history, or at least, in comparison with other pharaohs. In fact, prior to Howard Carter's discovery of his tomb, almost nothing was known of him and 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. For example, even who is father was remains a topic of some debate. That has not prevented writers from producing volumes of material on the Pharaoh.

We believe Tutankhamun ruled Egypt between 1334 and 1325 BC. He was probably the 12th ruler of Egypt's 18th Dynasty.

Tutankamun was not given this name at birth, but rather Tutankhaten (meaning "Living Image of the Aten), squarely placing him in the line of pharaohs following Akhenaten, the heretic pharaoh, 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 re reverted to the old religion prior to Akhenaten's upheaval. Even so, this did not prevent his name from being omitted from the 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.

Tutankhamun from the  back of his gold throne

Tutankhamun from the back of his gold throne.

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. We believe 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). We believe 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. And 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.

Kiya, a lesser wife of Akhenaten who was probably Tutankhamun's mother.

Kiya, a lesser wife of Akhenaten who was probably Tutankhamun's mother..

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, the Viceroy 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 likewise 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

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 Khonsu. 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 until very recently. Both forensic analysis of his mummy and 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. In fact, a recent medical examination now seems to indicate that he may very well have died from infection brought about by a broken leg.

Yet it is clear that others certainly had eyes on the throne.

After 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 messenger 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.

King Tut's funerary  mask

Tut's famous gold funeral mask.

Tutankhamun's famous tomb is located in the Valley of the Kings on the West bank across from modern Luxor (ancient Thebes). It is certainly less magnificent then other pharaohs of Egypt, yet, because of it, Tutankhamun has remained in our memory for many years, and will probably continue to do so for many years to come. Regardless of all the myths surrounding his tomb's discovery, including the "curse of the mummy" and other media hype, it is all a blessing to the boy-king. The ancient pharaohs believed that if their name was remembered, their soul would live on, so not even the powerful Rameses the Great's soul can be as healthy as King Tut's.

See Also:



Tut's Tomb


What's New ?

Featured King :HUNI The Last King Of Egypt's 3rd Dynasty



References:

Title

Author

Date

Publisher

Reference Number

Ancient Egypt The Great Discoveries (A Year-by-Year Chronicle)

Reeves, Nicholas

2000

Thmes & Hudson, Ltd

ISBN 0-500-05105-4

Atlas of Ancient Egypt

Baines, John; Malek, Jaromir

1980

Les Livres De France

None Stated

Chronicle of the Pharaohs (The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt)

Clayton, Peter A.

1994

Thames and Hudson Ltd

ISBN 0-500-05074-0

Complete Valley of the Kings, The (Tombs and Treasures of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs)

Reeves, Nicholas; Wilkinson, Richard H.

1966

Thames and Hudson Ltd

IBSN 0-500-05080-5

History of Ancient Egypt, A

Grimal, Nicolas

1988

Blackwell

None Stated

Monarchs of the Nile

Dodson, Aidan

1995

Rubicon Press

ISBN 0-948695-20-x

Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian

2000

Oxford University Press

ISBN 0-19-815034-2

Tutankhamun (His Tomb and Its Treasures)

Edwards, I. E. S.

1977

Metropolitan Museum of Art; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

ISBN 0-394-41170-6

Valley of the Kings

Weeks, Kent R.

2001

Friedman/Fairfax

ISBN 1-5866-3295-7

Valley of the Kings

Heyden, A. Van Der

Al Ahram/Elsevier

Last Updated: August 21st, 2011

Who are we?

Tour Egypt aims to offer the ultimate Egyptian adventure and intimate knowledge about the country. We offer this unique experience in two ways, the first one is by organizing a tour and coming to Egypt for a visit, whether alone or in a group, and living it firsthand. The second way to experience Egypt is from the comfort of your own home: online.