[2016] Austin Hendershot: Pharaoh Tutankhamun

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[2016] Austin Hendershot: Pharaoh Tutankhamun

Probably one of the best known pharaohs of ancient Egypt, Tutankhamun was a minor pharaoh in ancient Egyptian history. The boy king of the 18th Egyptian dynasty was the son of the powerful Akhenaten and one of Akhenaten's sisters. His short reign of eight years accomplished little, but the discovery of his nearly intact tomb in 1922 has led many to attempt to unravel the mysteries of his life and death.

Pharaoh Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun was born circa 1341 B.C.E. and given the name Tutankhaten, meaning "the living image of Aten." Tutankhaten's father, Akhenaten, had forbidden the worship of many gods in favor of worshiping Aten, the sun disk. As the populace was forced to honor Aten, the religious conversion threw the society into chaos. The capital was changed from Thebes to Armana, and Akhenaten put all of his efforts into the religious transition, neglecting domestic and foreign affairs. Following a 17-year reign, Akhenaten died soon after. Following his death, 9-year-old Tut took over around 1332 B.C.E.


Early Life

Much of what is known about King Tut, derives from the discovery of his tomb in 1922 by Howard Carter. Upon entering the interior chambers of the tomb, to his amazement, he found much of its contents and structure miraculously intact. . Inside one of the chambers, murals were painted on the walls that told the story of Tut's funeral and his journey to the afterworld. Also in the room were various artifacts for his journey. The most fascinating item found was the stone sarcophagus containing three coffins, one inside the other, with a final coffin made of gold. When the lid of the third coffin was raised, King Tut's royal mummy was revealed.

Because Tut and his wife had no children, this brought further chaos to Egypt. Upon Tut's death, his wife contacted the king of the Hittites, asking for one of his sons as a husband. The Hittite king sent a candidate, but he died during the journey. Evidence shows that she later remarried before disappearing from history. Tut was buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings. It is believed that his early death required a hasty burial in a smaller tomb. The body was preserved thorugh mummification. Tutankhamun's body was laid to rest and the tomb was sealed. There are no known records of Tutankhamun after his death, and, as a result, he remained virtually unknown.

Tut's Death

Tut is one of the world's best known pharaoh, largely because his tomb is among the best preserved. Nearly 5400 items were found in the tomb, including a solid gold coffin, face mask, thrones, archery bows, food, wine, sandals and fresh linen underwear. Relics from Tutankhamun's tomb are among the most traveled artifacts in the world.

Tut's Tomb

The same year that Tutankhaten took power, he married his half sister. The young couple had two daughters, both stillborn. Tut reversed Akhenaten's decree to worship Aten, in favor of the traditional polytheistic beliefs. Tutankhaten changed his name to Tutankhamun, which means "the living image of Amun," and had the royal court moved back to Thebes. He sought to restore better relations with ancient Egypt's neighbors during his reign. He also tried to restore the old order, in the hope that the gods would once again look favorably on Egypt. He ordered the repair of the holy sites and continued construction at the temple of Karnak. He also oversaw the completion of the red granite lions at Soleb.

Tut's Reign



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