King Tutankhamun

King Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun was one of the last kings of 18th dynasty. He ascended the throne at a very young age at about nine years old and ruled for almost nine or ten years. He followed Akhenaton to the throne, as his right to the throne was established through the marriage with princess Ankhesenpaaten (third daughter of King Akhenaten and queen Nefertiti).

King Tutankhamun

At the beginning of his reign, he lived in the royal palace at Tell el Amarna (for only three years) under the care of the royal nurses; the tomb of his royal wet-nurse was discovered recently at Saqqara. He was probably brought up together with his wife-to-be Ankhesenpaaten; they could have taken lessons together from the same teachers and scribes giving them instructions about the new religion of Aton.

          Either before or immediately after the king ascended the throne, he came under the influence and authority of the priests of Amon especially Ay and returned to the cult of Amon. He also left El Amarna, and the court was moved to Memphis as a transitional stage since Thebes was full of anger because of the new religion of Aton. Also from Memphis, it was easier to mount expeditions and control military operations in Asia Minor against the rising power of the Hittites.

          Later on, he moved to Thebes and changed his name from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun and the name of his wife name changed to Ankhesenamun. He also returned to the main burial place of the New kingdom kings at the Valley of the Kings by burying some funerary equipments of Amarna royalty in KV 55 in which the tomb sealing prove that the one who made these deposits is Tutankhamun. At Thebes also, he erected the Restoration Stela, which was found at the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak upon which he mentioned that he restored the stability in the country and returned to the cult of Amon and the other deities who had been neglected during the time of Akhenaton and he reopened temples and made restoration works there, also he participated in festivals such as the Opet festival as illustrated on the walls of the Colonnade of Luxor Temple.

          During his reign there were two powerful characters:

1)     Hor-m-heb who was an army general; he was a very strong military man.
2)    Ay who was a high priest of Amon.

 They were the two persons who actually ruled the country from behind the scenes especially when the king was a child. Throughout out the reign of Tutankhamun, the administration of Egypt’s affairs was in the hands of Ay who was the head of the government and his vizier.

Tutankhamun Death

 The Death of King Tutankhamun

There are different theories concerning his death:

We used to believe that he died as a result of a blow to his head because there was a big hole at the back of his skull, but because Tutankhamon didn't make any military activities this idea was not widely accepted.

There was another theory that he died of Tuberculosis (chest disease) but after examination of the mummy, this idea was denied. 

Tutankhamun Death

Also there was a theory about his death because of a brain tumour, because the cavity around his brain was relatively big, but this also was denied.

A CT scan performed in 2005 by a group of scientist led by professor Zahi Hawass on the whole mummy revealed the following:

1-     The hole in the head didn't cause his death because the Egyptian scientists concluded that the hole was created post-mortem (after his death) in order to insert mummification liquid or maybe the workers of Howard Carter when trying to remove the heavily glued mask from his head thus causing this type of injury. (It was glued by means of resin)
2-     There was another injury in his left leg (thigh). This has probably contributed to his death, it happened because of a fall from a big height when he was riding his chariot (probably while hunting). The wound got infected and didn’t heal properly causing gangrene, which resulted in his death.
3-     His height was about 170 cm.

 Tutankhamun DeathTutankhamun Death

Recent investigations 2010 of  Tutankhamun  Death

In February 2010 the results of a study conducted on the DNA of the family of Tutankhamun were revealed. This project was called “Tutankhamun family project”, and it lasted for two years from Sept 2007 till Oct. 2009. The study was conducted through the Egyptian Mummy Project (EMP) headed by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and a team composed of Egyptian scientists from the National Research Center, members from the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University, and two German DNA specialists.

 Tutankhamun Death

11 royal mummies of the family of Tutankhamun were studied using radiology and DNA technology. These mummies came from KV 35, 55, 62 and 21A and B. (Only three of these mummies’ identities were certain: Yuya, Thuya and Amenhotep III, in addition to the mummy of Tut).
They concluded that:
-         Yuya and Thuya were identified as great-grandparents of Tutankhamun and Amenhotep III
-         Amenhotep III and KV 35 Elder Lady (Ty) as his grandparents
-         KV 55 male (Akhenaten) and KV 35 Younger Lady are his sibling parents.
-         Amenhotep III could be clearly identified as father of KV 55 male (Akhenaten) and the testing of Amenhotep III as father of Tutankhamun was negative.
SO the results showed that the mummy of KV 55 is the son of Amenhotep III and father of Tutankhamun leading to the assumption that KV 55 male can be certainly identified as Akhenaten. Also KV 35 Elder Lady was identified as daughter of Yuya and Thuya indicating that she could be queen Ty.
Ø     To sum up:

1.Concerning his Parentage:

Recent evidence, however, has indicated that he was in fact born in Tell el-Amarna. It had been revealed that Tutankhamun’s father was the “heretic” king, Akhenaten, whose body is now almost certainly identified with the mummy from KV 55 in the Valley of the Kings. His mother, who still cannot be identified by name, is the “Younger Lady” buried in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV 35). The mummy of the “Elder Lady” from the same tomb can now be conclusively identified as Tutankhamun’s grandmother, Queen Ty. 

This is a figure showing the family tree of Tutankhamun as concluded by the “Tutankhamun Family Project”, published in Feb 2010.

Tutankhamun Death
family tree of Tutankhamun

The project is not yet able to identify Tutankhamun’s mother by name, although the DNA studies also show that she was the daughter of Amenhotep III and Ty and thus Akhenaten’s full sister. Thus Tutankhamun’s only grandparents, on both his paternal and maternal sides, were Amenhotep III and Ty.

 Tutankhamun Death

2.Concerning his Wife:

Two stillborn foetuses were found mummified and hidden away in a chamber of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Preliminary DNA analysis supports the Egyptological belief that these were children of the young king’s. This analysis has also suggested a mummy known as KV21A, a royal female whose identity was previously completely unknown, as the most likely mother of these children and thus as Tutankhamun’s wife. As Tutankhamun’s only known consort was Ankhsenamun, the daughter of Akhenaten and his chief queen Nefertiti, further study of this mummy should help to illuminate further the complex relationships within this family.

3.Concerning his Death:

New light was shed on the cause of death for Tutankhamun with the discovery of DNA from the parasite that causes malaria; it is likely that the young king died from complications resulting from a severe form of this disease.

Medicinal foodstuffs (i.e., drugs to fight fever and pain) found within the tomb support the team’s contention that the young king suffered from a severe malarial infection. The CT scan also revealed that the king had a lame foot, caused by avascular bone necrosis (a disease known as Kohler disease, affecting the blood supply of the bone leading to degeneration of the bone). This conclusion is supported Egyptologically by the presence of over one hundred walking sticks in the tomb and by images of the king performing activities such as hunting while seated.

The project believes that Tutankhamun’s death was most likely a result of the malaria coupled with his generally weak constitution. The CT scan of the pharaoh earlier confirmed the presence of an unhealed break in the king’s left thigh bone; the team speculates that the king’s weakened state may have led to a fall, or that a fall weakened his already fragile physical condition.

The Tomb of King Tutankhamun

It carries no 62 in the Valley of the Kings (KV 62). It is a small tomb it is cut down into the bedrock of the valley, probably been made initially for the high priest Ay.

The entrance stairway consists of 16 steps going down to the Corridor and this corridor leads to the Antechamber and the antechamber leads to the Annexe at the northern end while the eastern side leads to the Burial Chamber, which leads in its turn to the Treasury on the eastern side. The burial chamber is the only decorated room in the tomb.

  The Tomb of King Tutankhamun

Everything found there was crammed over each other, every space was used that is because of the king’s sudden death, which caused the people to put everything in very rapidly even the daily life equipments were put in together with the funerary equipment. Also there was no time to decorate the whole tomb. Only the burial chamber was decorated because the dead king would need all the spells depicted on the walls closer to his body for his protection in the afterlife. 

  The Tomb of King Tutankhamun
  The Tomb of King Tutankhamun

The walls were painted very quickly and the tomb was rapidly closed. That’s why when the burial chamber was opened, the walls were covered with fungus because the paints didn't have time to fully dry, and this maybe one of the reasons that caused people’s death after the discovery; not as was said because of the curse of the pharaohs. "Death will come on swift wings for those who will disturb the king" but these words were just a spell, or not?!

 The Tomb of King Tutankhamun

 The Tomb of King Tutankhamun

 The Tomb of King Tutankhamun

Some events triggered the famous so-called “Curse of the Pharahs” related to the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun:
         Carter’s canary was eaten by a cobra on the day of discovery
         Death of Lord Carnarvon as a result of a mosquito bite, after slashing his cheek while shaving and the wound became infected.
         However, many others who visited the tomb or helped to discover it lived long and healthy lives. A study showed that of the 58 people who were present when the tomb and sarcophagus were opened, only eight died within a dozen years. All the others were still alive, including Howard Carter, who later died of lymphoma at the age of 64 in 1939

 The Tomb of King Tutankhamun

 The Tomb of King Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun’s Burial:

Around the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun there are 4 shrines one inside the other in order to protect the mummy. After the outermost shrine everything remained completely intact so they didn't reach the precious jewellery, which were placed directly on the mummy as a kind of protection as jewellery was used as amulets for protection.

The Tomb of King Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun coffins in Cairo museum
 The Tomb of King TutankhamunThe Tomb of King Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun’s mummy was originally put in one sarcophagus and three coffins. It used to be kept in the outermost quartzite sarcophagus in the burial chamber of his tomb. Recent news confirmed that the mummy was moved from inside the sarcophagus to a nearby glass showcase with very accurate temperature controls to make sure that the mummy stays in perfect condition after signs of decay have been observed by Egyptologists.

 The Tomb of King TutankhamunThe Tomb of King Tutankhamun

The 4 funerary containers are:
1-     Quartzite sarcophagus, still in situ at the tomb.
2-     1st gilded wooden anthropoid coffin
3-     2nd gilded wooden anthropoid coffin wood inlayed with semi-precious stones and covered with thick gold leaf.
4-     The innermost anthropoid coffin which is made of pure gold (110 Kg of solid gold)  

 The Tomb of King Tutankhamun

Finally there was the golden mask covering the face of the mummified king with a total weight of 11 kg of pure solid gold. 

King Tutankhamun


The Tomb of King Tutankhamun


 The Annex of Tutankhamun Tomb


 The Antechamber of Tutankhamun Tomb


The Burial Chamber of Tutankhamun Tomb


The Treasury of Tutankhamun Tomb


Discovery of the tomb of king Tutankhamun

The tomb was discovered in a remote area called the Valley of the Kings (or KV) at the western bank of Luxor, about 720 km south of Cairo. His tomb carried no KV 62. Inside the tomb there were treasures of a great value that had been lying under the ground for about 3300 years.

It was uncovered by two British men: Howard Carter –under the sponsorship of Lord Carnarvon in 1922.

Discovery of the tomb of king Tutankhamun

However we should also mention another American archaeologist his name was Theodore Davis, since he also discovered items bearing the name of King Tutankhamon. He was originally a lawyer interested in excavations and he was sponsoring archaeological digs in the area of the Valley of the King from 1902-1914. He discovered a large number of tombs including the tomb of Yuya and Thuya (parents of queen Ty).

His assistant Ayrton, discovered in 1906 a cup inscribed with the name of Tutankhamun. In 1907, he discovered some vessels in a small pit which is known as KV 54, some of the vessels were inscribed with the name of Tutankhamun, the pit also included some items of his funerary banquet. After Ayrton, Theodore Davies hired another assistant who discovered in 1908 a small tomb in which he discovered pieces of gold foil; one of which has a representation of Tutankhamun shooting arrows and another one inscribed with the name of Ay. As a result of this, Davies convinced himself that this tomb is the tomb of Tutankhamun. 

Discovery of the tomb of king Tutankhamun

In 1912 he felt that the area had been exhausted and needing no more excavations, so he sent what he found to Mr. Winlock who was in charge of the Egyptian equipment in the Metropolitan museum of Arts in New York. Winlock was sure that there was a tomb which belonged to Tutankhamon in the Valley of the Kings, but he didn’t announce that and just communicated with Howard Carter till the discovery of the tomb.

Lord Carnarvon was a rich man who came to Egypt in 1903, as he was advised by his doctors to spend the winter in a warm country perfectly suited to his delicate health. He developed an interest in Egyptology as a hobby. However, as he wasn’t an expert, he teamed up with Howard Carter in 1907, who needed a financier for his work

 Discovery of the tomb of king Tutankhamun

Howard Carter came to Egypt in 1891 at the age of 18 and he was working as a draughtsman. He worked in Beni Hassan and Deir el Bersha. Then a year later in 1892 he moved to Tell el Amarna where he met Sir Flinders Petrie who gave him his first experience as an excavator. After that he went to El Deir el Bahari in 1893, where he was copying some scenes off the walls of Queen Hatshepsut's temple.  In 1900 he was appointed as inspector of the monuments of Upper Egypt. At this date he made his first important discovery when he was on his way home, the leg of his horse fell into a hole which turned out to be the entrance to an ancient burial, that is the tomb of Mentuhotep II Nebhepetre at Deir el Bahari. Expecting a major find, he invited important dignitaries to the opening of the newly discovered tomb, but when he opened it he just found some vessels and the statue of king Mentuhotep II that is now displayed at the Egyptian Museum; this was a great disappointment to them. So he decided that in the future he should check his discovery first before inviting any VIPs.

 In 1902 he joined Theodore Davis who was working in the Valley of the Kings. Then in 1904 he was transferred to Lower Egypt working at Saqqara but he had to resign as a problem happened between him and some French people which caused a diplomatic problem between the English and French people so Carter had to resign and went back to work in Upper Egypt in 1905 which was lucky for us because at that time he began the excavations to search for the tomb of King Tutankhamon.

 Discovery of the tomb of king Tutankhamun

 Howard Carter joined Lord Carnarvon in 1907 and they started digging in Draa Abu el-Naga, Deir El-Bahari and other sites but unfortunately they couldn’t find any trace of the tomb until they took the concession of digging in the Valley of the Kings in 1914. The work was interrupted because of the World War I and they didn’t make the major discovery until the winter of 1922 when Lord Carnarvon informed Carter of his desire to stop the excavation because he was fed up. Carter asked him to give him another chance because he was sure that there was an area in the valley at the foot of the tomb of Ramses VI where there were some stone huts, which were used by ancient tomb builders that has never been excavated. So Carnarvon agreed.

Howard carter continued the excavations and by the 4th of November he had cleared several of those stone huts then they came upon a step in the bedrock. This actually happened by chance as one of the boys who used to bring the drinking water (water boy) was digging a small hole in order to fix the container of the water, when he found the 1st step and informed Howard carter. Further digging revealed other steps until they were 16 in number. The workers of Carter worked all day clearing sand until at last they found a blocked and sealed doorway. Howard Carter then sent a telegram to Lord Carnarvon who was in England telling him that there is a wonderful discovery in the valley. Lord Carnarvon arrived in Egypt accompanied by his daughter on 23rd of November.

Howard Carter
Lord Carnarvon

  On 26th November Howard Carter made a hole in the intact wall of the doorway that lead to the antechamber and held a candle with one hand and put it inside the hole in order to see what was inside but he couldn’t see anything because the hot air escaping from the tomb caused the candle to flicker but when his eyes got used to the dark he was very pleased of what he saw. Lord Carnarvon asked anxiously: “Can you see anything Carter?” so Carter replied: “Wonderful things!”

The official opening of the antechamber and the annexe was on 29th November 1922, but the official opening of the burial chamber was on 17th February 1923. It took him about 10 months to completely clear the tomb.