Yasser Metwally

My life…and the world

The story of king Tutankhamen

The story of king Tutankhamen

Also spelled Tutankhamun original name Tutankhaten king of Egypt (reigned 1333–23 BC), known chiefly for his intact tomb discovered in 1922. During his reign, powerful advisers restored the traditional Egyptian religion and art, both of which had been set aside by his predecessor Akhenaton, who had led the “Amarna revolution.”

Medical analysis of his mummy shows that Tutankhaten was probably a brother of Smenkhkare, his immediate predecessor, and son-in-law of King Akhenaton, with whom Smenkhkare was coregent. As suggested by a docket from Tell el-Amarna (Akhenaton’s capital Akhetaton) and other circumstantial evidence, young Tutankhaten probably became king after the deaths of Akhenaton and Smenkhkare. Seals from Tell el-Amarna suggest that Tutankhaten resided there during his first year or two as king. He was married to Ankhesenamen, Akhenaton’s third daughter, probably the eldest surviving princess of the royal family, to solidify his claim to the throne. Because at his accession he was still young, his vizier and regent, Ay, who had ties with the royal family, and the general of the armies, Horemheb, became his chief advisers.

Under their tutelage, Tutankhaten moved his residence to Memphis, the administrative capital, near modern Cairo, and restored his father’s Theban palace. He also changed his name to Tutankhamen—at the latest by the fourth year of his reign—and issued a decree restoring the temples, images, personnel, and privileges of the old gods and also admitting the errors of Akhenaton’s course. In spite of these capitulations to the Amon priesthood, no proscription or persecution of the Aton, Akhenaton’s god, was undertaken. Royal vineyards (up to the king’s death) and elements of the army still remained named after the Aton.

During the ninth year of Tutankhamen’s reign, perhaps under Horemheb, the Egyptians marched into Syria to assist Egypt’s old ally, the Mitannian kingdom of northern Syria, which was embroiled in hostilities with vassals of the Hittites. As reinforcements sent by the Hittite king hastened to aid his vassals, Tutankhamen unexpectedly died, aged about 18 years. Because none of his children survived, Ay succeeded him, perhaps marrying his widow.

Sometime after his death, Tutankhamen’s tomb in western Thebes (not his original, which Ay had appropriated for himself) was entered twice by plunderers who, however, were caught after doing only minor damage. The burial chamber was not entered and remained intact until it was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, the English Egyptologist who excavated the tomb. When in the 19th dynasty the “Amarna kings”—Akhenaton, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamen, and Ay—were stricken from the royal lists and publicly condemned, the location of Tutankhamen’s tomb was forgotten, and his relatively few monuments were usurped, primarily by his former general, Horemheb, who subsequently became pharaoh. In the 20th dynasty, when the tomb of Ramses VI was cut immediately above that of Tutankhamen, the stone rubble dumped down the side of the valley covered the young king’s tomb with a deep layer of chips. The workers of the 20th dynasty came close to Tutankhamen’s tomb and clearly had no knowledge of it. The tomb escaped the great series of robberies at the end of the 20th dynasty and was preserved until a systematic search of the Valley of the Kings revealed its location.

Click here to see Tutankhamen, gold funerary mask found in the king’s tomb, 14th century BC

Inside his small tomb, the king’s mummy lay within a nest of three coffins, the innermost of solid gold, the two outer ones of gold hammered over wooden frames. On the king’s head was a magnificent golden portrait mask (see photograph), and numerous pieces of jewelry and amulets lay upon the mummy and in its wrappings. The coffins and stone sarcophagus were surrounded by four shrines of hammered gold over wood, covered with texts, which practically filled the burial chamber. The other rooms were crammed with furniture, statuary, clothes, a chariot, weapons, staffs, and numerous other objects. But for his tomb, Tutankhamen had little claim to fame; as it is, he is perhaps better known than any of his longer-lived and better-documented predecessors and successors. His renown was secured after the highly popular “Treasures of Tutankhamun” exhibit traveled the world in the 1960s and ’70s. The treasures are housed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Click here to see more images of the golden treasury of king tuttankhamen (visit my photogallery at: http://gallery.yassermetwally.com) (Click here to download king Tutankhamen publication)

  • Additional Reading

Books on the subject include Howard Carter and A.C. Mace, The Tomb of TutankhAmen, 3 vol. (1923–33, reissued 1963), also available in an abridged one-volume edition with the same title (1954, reissued 1972); Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, Tutankhamen: Life and Death of a Pharaoh (1963, reprinted 1989); I.E.S. Edwards, Harry Burton, and Lee Boltin, Tutankhamun: His Tomb and Its Treasures (1976); and Nicholas Reeves (C.N. Reeves), The Complete Tutankhamun (1990).

Video 1. Tutankhamen golden treasury


November 28, 2007 - Posted by | Ancient Egyptian panorama

1 Comment »

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