Tutankhamun, or better known as King Tut, was a pharaoh who accomplished little in his life. He did not expand Egypt’s borders nor enjoy triumphant victories like the many pharaohs before him; however, he is the most recognized and probably the most famous pharaoh today. But why is he so famous? This answer can be attributed to the discovery of his tomb and his elaborate treasure.
King Tut’s tomb was a major discovery of the 19th century. It was discovered November 4, 1922 in the Valley of the Kings by Howard Carter. It was a phenomenal discovery that made headlines across the world. Up until the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, it was believed that all royal tombs had been robbed and drained of their treasure.
For the first time, a tomb, which was almost intact, had been discovered and remained hidden from robbers for thousands of years. The tomb revealed an elaborate lifestyle that many people could only dream about as well as providing clues and insight into King Tut’s life and how he lived.
Even though little is known about Tutankhamun’s life, we do know that he was given the throne at a young age. It has been estimated that he was about eight or nine years old when this throne exchange took place. During the time that this occurred, Egypt was in turmoil due to his father’s religious movement. His father, which is believed to be Akhenaten, had changed the religious system and the old beliefs that had been practiced for hundreds of years before him. This religious change angered many angry citizens and priests. Tutankamun was left with an angry and chaotic Egypt to rule.
The birth name of Tutankhamun was Tutankhaton, which meant “Living Image of the Aten.” His father, which remains a mystery, is believed to be Akhenaten, although some evidence points to Amenhotp III. His mother remains a mystery as well but she is believed to be Kiya.
It is thought that Tutankhaton must have had a good childhood. He probably spent his younger years hunting, swimming, and studying. His tomb revealed he enjoyed board games. Like most children, he probably found politics unexciting and went about his environment enjoying leisurely activities. Because he was a child, he probably had an ignorant view about his father’s teachings and politics. He was also believed to be an ill child due to the many walking canes that were found inside his tomb.
After his father’s death, Tutankaton was given the throne. He was wed to his half-sister Ankhensenpaaton, the daughter of Nefertiti and Akhenaten. After acquiring the throne he began to uphold his father’s beliefs, which was the worship of one god — the Aton. A few years later Tutankaton started to bring back gods that were forbidden by Akhenaten. He soon changed his name to Tutankhamun along with changing his wife’s name to Ankhesenamun. Their names were changed to reflect their beliefs towards Amun (eighth Heh god of the Ogdoad) and probably to ease the angry priests who missed their old Egypt. They soon decided to leave their father’s capital Amarna and relocated to a new capital in Memphis and Thebes. This movement was probably suggested by Ay (a high ranking official and advisor) to show the Egyptians and priests that things were slowly returning to the original ways.
With the ancient beliefs restored and the movement of the new capital, King Tutankhamun threw lavish parties to show his support for Amun. Tuankhamun was only a child while the old gods were being reinstated, but could a child make decisions of this magnitude at such a young age?
It doesn’t appear so, and it appears that his adviser Ay most likely made major decisions for him. Ay and Hermhab were probably the sole drive behind the throne. Could this be why old gods were reinstated and King Tut changed his name? It could have been a great possibility due to the records left behind, which showed Egypt was in a poor state after Akhenaten.
Sometime during his tenth year of reigning, Egypt was at war with the Hittites. During this confrontation Tutankhamun suddenly died. How he died remains a mystery; however, it’s believed he was murdered.
King Tut had not left a male heir to the throne and the children that he had were stillborn. King Tut died at around eighteen or nineteen years old. Ay, who was a high official in Akhenaten’s court, staked his claim as pharaoh. Ay went on to rule for only 4 years and died shortly after acquiring the throne.