The Boy King Biography
Tutankhamun, or King Tut as he is now commonly known, 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 1344 B.C. in the Egyptian city of Akhetatan, now known as Amarna. His mother is believed to be one of Akhenaten’s sisters. He became pharaoh at age 9 or 10, around 1336 B.C. In the early years 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 halfsister, Ankhesenamun, Akhenaten’s third daughter by his wife Nefertiti. The couple had no surviving children, although mummified fetuses of two stillborn daughters were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb.
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 shortly after an accident around 1326 B.C., in the ninth or tenth year of his reign. 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. More recent CT scans suggest the likely cause of death was infection from a fracture in his left leg. The exhibition includes information about some of these findings and present-day conclusions that have been drawn about his life and 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 has been removed, his mummified remains still lie in the tomb.