King Tutankhamun


Greg Beerbower


King Tut

The lifestyle of pharaohs in Ancient Egypt is far a better one than most of us could ever expect or hope to see. Pharaohs lived quite the life with lavish riches and constant servitude at their every beck and call. Among these ancient pharaohs is one that should ring a bell to many: Tutankhamun (King Tut). King Tut is remembered not for influence over Egypt but rather more so for the riches found in his nearly perfectly intact tomb.

Contents

Discovery
Speculation of Lifestyle and Reign
Speculation of Death and Aftermath
Conclusion
References

Discovery

In the Valley of the Kings, the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered on November 4, 1922 [2]. It was the first time a tomb had been found almost completely intact, so this was a ground breaking day of discovery. The effort primarily involved Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, and the first public release was not until December 22, 1922 [1].

The media was quite passionate over this discovery. The tomb proved to be one of a kind and attracted even more attention from the media upon the death of Lord Carnavon. Carnavon had been shaving and cut open a mosquito bite which became infected [1]. He eventually died on April 5, 1923, just months after the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb. This brought about what the media portrayed as the "The Curse of Tutankhamun," something that would become further incorporated into the tale of King Tut.



Howard Carter with Tut

Speculation of Lifestyle and Reign

Little is known or can even be speculated about King Tut. It is estimated though that he assumed the throne between the ages of eight and nine [2]. His father is believed to have been Akhenaten, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh that had fought to change the religious practices of Egypt, which had been scared for hundreds of year [2]. Tutankhamun's original birth name was Tutankhaton, meaning "living image of the Aten" [2].

King Tut was thought to have a good lifestyle growing up as a child but an ill one as well. In his tomb, board games were discovered along with many walking canes [2]. It was also believe that he hunted, swam, and studied as a child [2].

Upon his father's death, the throne was handed down to Tutankhamun. He was married to his half-sister, Ankhensenpaaton, suggesting that incest was an accepted practice in Ancient Egypt, at least by members of the royal family [2]. The rationale behind this likely was that members of the royal family can be thought of as divine, and the mixing of bloodlines would adulterate the blood of the royal family [1].

It is speculated that he took over Egypt in turmoil due to the religious changes his father imposed. For hundreds of years, Egypt had been polytheistic, while his father was monotheistic and banned Egypt's more traditional form of religion. Initially, Tutankhamun had stayed the course and practiced his beliefs of one God, but years later he changed his ways back to match the traditional Egyptian standard of many Gods [2]. He also changed his birth name, Tutankaton, to Tutankhamun to match the new practiced beliefs that he put back into effect in Egypt [2]. This change was believed to be put into practice in order to ease tension in Egypt, bringing back the old style of life that so many desired.



King Tut's Open Tomb

Speculation of Death and Aftermath

It is thought that King Tut was murdered. Tutankhamun's passing occurred suddenly during his tenth year of reign when Egypt was at war with the Hittites [2]. This is not a definitive answer to how he died; it merely speculation. It is believed King Tut died at the age of 18 or 19 [2].

There was no heir left to take over King Tut's throne. His wife had given birth to two daughters, but they were stillborn [2]. Ay, Tut's advisor claimed the position of pharaoh upon Tutankhamun's passing. His rule was short-lived though, and he passed away only four years later [2].

It was believed that upon death by the Ancient Egyptians, that the Ba and Ka were separated from one another and were critical parts of a person's identity. The ka was the life force and needed to be fed and nourished while the ba was the actual soul of the person [1]. From there, King Tut's body underwent mummification, a funeral, and proper burial. It was thought that without the appropriate mummification process, a proper funeral and burial that the fallen could not become an akh, or "an effective and blessed spirit that could dwell in peace for eternity" [1].



The Curse of King Tut's Tomb Board Game

Conclusion

King Tutankhamun's life and death remains a mystery, but is one of the most studied topics in Ancient Egyptian history. While his influence on Egypt may be dismissed as trivial, his death provided something that was the first of its kind: a nearly perfectly intact tomb. Never before has such mystery, discovery, and prestige surrounded a death from long ago in Ancient Egypt, and perhaps it never will again.



The Skull

References


[1] "King Tut | Tutankhamun's Life." Ancient Egypt | Ancient Egyptian Resource Center | Includes Pyramids, Pharaohs, Queens, and More! Web. 02 Nov. 2011. .

[2] "About King Tut." The Franklin Institute - Home - 215.448.1200. Web. 02 Nov. 2011. .