The Life Of Kingtut From Ancient Egypt

King Tut, a famous pharoah from ancient Egypt, is very important in helping modern day archaeologists and historians understand this ancient civilization.

Songs have been written about him. Jokes have been told. Even dance steps have been choreographed in his name, which is a household word. Although we all know the name "King Tut", what is the mystery behind the man?

King Tut was born in approximately 1350 BC as Tutankhaten, in southern Egypt. Not much else is known of his childhood or background, as there has never been much mentioned of parental heritage. We can assume he was born into a royal family and many believe he was the son of Queen Tiye and Pharaoh Amenhotep III, while other historians believe he was the son of King Akhenaten and Queen Kiya. For now, a definitive answer on his parentage will have to wait.

As a child Tutankhaten lived under the reign of Akhenaten. During his rule, Akhenaten had controversial religious beliefs that divided Egypt. He did away with polytheism (belief in several gods) and pushed the belief in only one god, Aten, or the god of sun. Akhenaten also destroyed the temples of all of the gods whose worship he had banned. He had the royal family moved to a location called Amarna. At this point Akhenaten was only interested in the worship of his god and the nations of Egypt appeared to many to be in disarray.

Akhenaten died when Tutankhaten was nine years old, and at this young age he was next in line to be king. Being only nine, and having lived in near isolation in Amarna, Tutankhaten knew little about the outside world. Although he was king, the real ruler of Egypt at that time was his advisor, (and some say his uncle), Ay.

Not long after he became king, Tutankhaten left Amarna and returned to the original capital of Thebes. The polytheistic worship of the old gods was reinstated, and he changed his name from Tutankhaten, which meant "the living image of Aten", to Tutankhamen, "the living image of Amen", who was an ancient diety of Egypt and worshipped as their most important God. He also had the temples and places of worship that were desecrated by Akhenaten restored and rebuilt. As far as his reign goes, this is his most noted legacy, as returning to worship of the ancient dieties brought peace back to the kingdom of Egypt.

From artifacts and drawings we can get a brief glimpse into his short life. It has been noted that he was a keen student that graduated with honors and he enjoyed outdoor activities, such as swimming, hunting, and archery. He was also married early in his reign, and some historians believe he was married to his predecessor, Akhenaten's wife, Ankhespaten, while others claim he married a half-sister, Ankhesenamen, who was near his own age. Regardless, paintings and drawings and artifacts in his tomb point to a happy marriage. They show his queen handing him his arrows for hunting, or flowers, or anointing him with perfume. Some historical sources say Tutankhamen and his wife traveled much throughout the Egyptian countryside.

At the young age of 18, Tutankhamen passed away. There is much controversey surrounding the cause of his death. One theory holds that he simply had poor health and a weak immune system. The other, more popular theory, states that he was murdered. This theory came about in 1968, when examining King Tut's skull with x-ray technology, bone fragments were found inside the skull, suggesting a blow to the head. Historians vary on who the murderer could be, but there are two main suspects, both of whom were close enough to King Tut to get in position to inflict such a blow.

The first is his uncle and advisor, Ay. It is believed that as King Tut grew older he became interested in the politics and ruling of his country, which would have taken the decision making power away from Ay. Ay did inherit the throne when Tuthankamen died and married his wife, Ankhesenamen, which officially established his claim to it. The other suspect is General Horemheb, another of Tut's close advisors. Due to Tut's young age when he became pharoah, Horemheb built up and controlled Egypt's armies. It is thought that he feareed Tut would take over the armies as he came of age and became actively involved in the reign of Egypt.

Although Ay had claim to the throne when Tutankhamen died, it does not appear that he reigned more than two to three years after becoming king. Nothing is known of his death, other than that upon his death, General Horemheb then became pharoah. While he was in power, Horemheb had all references to Tutankhamen erased and replaced with his own name. He also had the names of Akhenaten, Tutankhamen and Ay removed from the official list of pharoahs. It is this action that points to him as having motive in the death of Tut.

The little that we know of Tutankhamen's life mainly came to us, ironically, through his death. It is also through his death that he laid his claim to fame, which was the discovery of his nearly untouched tomb.

Upon his death, Tutankhamen's body was mummified and taken to burial in what is called the Valley of the Kings. King Tut's tomb was discovered on November 22, 1922 by Howard and George Carter, who were English Egyptologists. It appeared the tomb had been broken into twice but no major damage was done. In fact, until the Carters in 1922, the burial chamber had never been entered and remained intact. Rooms were found with statues of gold, furniture and tools needed for a comfortable afterlife. In the burial chamber was found a golden coffin with the 3000 year old body inside. Also found in the tomb were two mummified fetuses. It is believed they were miscarried children of Tut and Ankhesenamen.

Shortly after the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb, George Carter mysteriously died. It was also reported that others who had been at the tomb had also passed away. These reports led to another famous claim associated with King Tut, and that is the belief in the curse of the mummies' tombs.

Never has there been a more impressive arhaeological find, definitely not one as important as the discovery of King Tut's tomb. This discovery helped further our understanding of the history and culture of ancient Egypt. It is ironic that King Tut's claim to fame lies not in his life, but in his death.

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