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ABOUT TUTANKHAMUN | King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs

Tutankhamun was one of the last kings of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty. Though he appears to
have been a minor king and made only modest contributions to the Egyptian empire, he
lives large in modern archaeology.

Very little is known about his life because he was the son of Akhenaten, a pharaoh who
was declared a heretic (he introduced a new religion, the worship of Aten, banned other
gods and shut down temples), and records mentioning him and his successors were
destroyed by officials.

Tutankhamun was born around 1343 B.C. in the Egyptian city of Akhetan, now known as
Amarna. His mother is believed to be one of Akhenaten’s minor wives, most likely Kiya.
He became pharaoh at age 9 or 10, in 1333 B.C. In the third year of his reign, the king
and his court were moved from Amarna to Memphis. Shortly thereafter, the name of the
young king, originally Tutankhaten, was changed to Tutankhamun (meaning “the living
image of god Amun”) in recognition of the ascendancy of Amun. Around the age of 12,
scholars believe, Tutankhamun married his half-sister, Ankhesenamun, Akhenaten’s
third daughter by his wife Nefertiti. The couple had no surviving children, although
mummified fetuses of two stillborn children were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. DNA
testing is currently underway to determine if there is a relation to King Tut.

In his name a mighty program of restoring and rebuilding old temples was undertaken. A
stela found at Karnak commemorates the pious work, describing how the temples had
“fallen into neglect.”

Tutankhamun died under mysterious circumstances in 1323 B.C., in the ninth year of his
reign. Some Egyptologists have speculated that he was murdered by his successor Ay.
An X-ray taken in 1968 revealed damage to his skull, which could have been caused by
a fall, a blow to the head, or during mummification.

In 2005, King Tut’s mummy underwent a CT-scan as part of a landmark Egyptian


research and conservation project, partially funded by National Geographic, that will CT-
scan the ancient mummies of Egypt. The exhibition includes some of these scans and
information about the conclusions that were drawn about his life and death. Data from the
CT scan disproved a long-held theory that Tutankhamun had died from a blow to the
head. The data did reveal, however, that he had a badly fractured leg, which, scientists
theorize, may have become infected and caused his death.

Tutankhamun was buried in the Valley of the Kings, where he lay undisturbed for some
3,300 years until his tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in November 1922.
Although the vast collection of treasures found in his tomb has been removed, his
mummified remains still lie in his burial chamber.