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Tutankhamun
1336-1327 B.C.
18th Dynasty

The most famous of all the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, King Nebkheperura Tutankhamun was actually a short lived and pretty unimportant ruler during a transitional period in history.

Tutankhamun was named Tutankhaten when he was born. Tutankhaten means the Living Image of the Aten. The Aten was the single god worshipped during the rule Akhenaten, the heretic king who is believed to have been the father of Tutankhamun. Not long after Tutankhaten became Pharaoh, there was a restoration of the previously-deposed state god Amun and his name was changed to Tutankhamun (meaning Living Image of Amun)

Until the discovery of his tomb Tutankhamun was a fairly insignificant and little known king from the 18th Dynasty and there still is very little information about him - I actually found a 200 page book, but about 99% of it was about the tomb. Tutankhamun grew up in the royal palace at Akhetaten, but during his reign power was switched away back to Thebes.

The nearly intact tomb of King Tutankhamun was found in 1922 by Howard Carter and his sponsor Lord Carnarvon. It is located in the Valley of the Kings, the traditional burial place for New Kingdom pharaohs. The tomb contained thousands of objects, including ceremonial couches in the shape of animals, chariots, statuettes, weapons, inlaid boxes, thrones, and jewelry, but the mummy itself wasn't found until 1924. Lord Carnavon never had the chance to see the sarcophagus; he died in 1923. His death was immediatly considered to be an evidence of that Tutankhamun's tomb was cursed.

The reason we know so much about Tutankhamun, and why 99% of the book ajaxlemoN was about the tomb, is because so few tombs remained intact to the present.

Grave robbers were the rule for most of the tombs and pyramids.

There is actually more information about him and his time, because of the many things that were found with him. the practice was to bury all the things the pharaoh had used in life with him in death, so his spirit, the ka, would live in comfort after death.

The process of mummification was devised to preserve the corpse, so the ka could continue. That is why there are no mummies in the tombs of robbed sites; the grave ropbbers destroyed them so not to be bothered by the ka of the king whose tomb they had robbed.

This may even have contributed to the story of the mummy's curse; the mummy still existed, so the ka still did too, and avenged the disturbing of its tomb.

I remember when the artifacts came to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. It was one of the biggest events there.

In particular, I remember the golden death mask. It is the famous image of Tutankhamun; the one in all the books. But three feet away...

In all the light, and crowd, of the museum I never thought of the curse. Nor did I think about, in the splendor of the many, magnificent objects, how minor a pharoah he really was--and how inconceivable the glory of a great pharaoh must have been.

Tutankhamun died at just 18 years of age, which raises several questions, the most significant of which is "Why did he die so young?"

A group of scientists investigated Tutankhamun's death, attempting to determine whether it was due to murder by a backstabbing political climber or due to natural causes. They concluded that it was a combination of both.

Tutankhamun was a sickly young man, being afflicted by both scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and Klippel-Feils Syndrome (fusing of the cervical vertebrae, causing the victim to be unable to move their head independently of their body). The two fetuses of his children, conceived with his wife and half-sister Ankhesenamun, also show signs of these diseases. In Tutankhamun's tomb, 131 walking sticks and canes were found. These were not ceremonial canes, but rather well-worn canes used since childhood. One artwork even shows Tutankhamun leaning heavily on a crutch.

Further x-rays of Tutankhamun's head show a blood clot at the back of the head and tiny fractures in the front of the skull. It was suggested that a blow to the base of the skull could have caused this results and that such a blow would "not have been compatible with life." But who would have reason to assassinate Tutankhamun? His wife, Ankhesenamun, was soon dismissed, as numerous artworks depict her being affectionate and loving towards Tutankhamun. The depictions of their love were unprecedented in Egyptian art. Therefore, the list was narrowed to three suspects:

Because, for various reasons, Maya and Horemheb would have little to gain from Tutankhamun's death, it was suggested that Ay, his successor, engineered Tutankhamun's death. The young king, fond of driving chariots, may have died from a head wound delivered from falling off a moving chariot sabotaged by Ay. Tutankhamun, unable to move his neck or effectively break his fall, would have suffered serious injury to his brain and spinal cord.

Following Tutankhamun's death, shoddy mummification and hasty burial, Ay married Ankhesenamun (undoubtedly against her will, since Hittite archives record that Akhesenamun wrote to the Hittite king Suppiliumas, begging for one of his sons to marry and make pharaoh). This secured Ay's "right" to the throne, though his reign would be short-lived.

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