TUTANKHAMEN

 

Original name TUTANKHATEN king of Egypt (reigned 1361-52 BC), known chiefly for his intact tomb discovered in 1922. During his reign powerful advisers restored the traditional religion and art style after the death of

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 the great King

Akhenaton with whom Semenkhkare was co-regent. 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 his co-regent. Seals from Tell el-Amarna suggest that

Tutankhaten resided there during his first year or two. He was married to Akhenaton's third daughter, probably the eldest surviving princess of the royal family,  to solidify his claim to the throne. Since 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, at the latest by year four, to Tutankhamen and issued a decree restoring the temples, images, personnel and the

privileges of the old gods and also admitting the errors of Akhenaton's course.

 

In spite of these capitulation to the Amon priesthood, no proscription or persecution of Aten, Akhenaton's god, was undertaken. Royal vineyards (up to the King's death) and elements of the army still remained

named after the Aten.

 

During his ninth year, 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. As none of his children

survived, AY succeeded him, perhaps marrying his widow.

 

Some time after his death, Tutankhamen's tomb (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, chiefly by his former general Horemheb who later 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

Tombs of the Kings revealed its location.

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, and

numerous pieces of jewelry and amulets lay upon the mummy and in its

wrapping. Four shrines surrounded the coffins and stone sarcophagus

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.

 

See more Tutankhamen Tomb Photos

 

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