King Tutankhamun would have been a mere name lost in history, if his tomb was not discovered during the 1920s. The unearthing of his tomb have also resulted in the world knowing about numerous facts about this legend that were unknown before.
Often described as the 'Boy King of Egypt', King Tutankhamun ruled the empire for a very short term. It is believed that his reign was too short and uneventful to leave a mark in the history of ancient Egypt. However, with the discovery of his tomb and its fabulous treasures, the Pharaoh's name became famous overnight.
The life and death of this king was a mystery, till his tomb was discovered in 1922. Apart from the treasures found inside the tomb, it was the intact MUMMY of the king, that garnered worldwide attention. The 3000-year-old mummy was the only clue to the life and death of King Tutankhamun.
The Boy King of Egypt
~ One of the most interesting facts about King Tut is that he became a ruler at the age of nine.
~ His real name was Tutankhaten, which was changed to Tutankhamun, after he ascended the throne.
~ King Tut is believed to have reigned the Egyptian empire from 1333 BC to 1323 BC.
~ It is speculated that the king had powerful and strong advisers, who might have helped him in governance.
~ King Tut was the last king from the Thutmosid royal line.
~ Some of the great rulers of the Eighteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt belonged to the royal line of King Tut.
King Tut's Parents were Probably Siblings
~ Tutankhamun was born in 1341 BC and his father was Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV), who was the son of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.
~ It is believed that marriages between siblings were common among ancient Egyptian royal families, as they wanted to retain their bloodline.
~ There was no information about King Tut's mother, the DNA studies conducted during 2007 revealed that his parents were actually brother and sister.
~ According to DNA studies, mummy KV35YL is King Tut's mother. The mummy, referred to as the 'younger lady', is believed to be the daughter of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.
~ This could be one of the reasons for the possible congenital problems in King Tut, who died at a very young age.
The King was Frail and Weak
~ Nothing was known about the appearance and health condition of the king, before the discovery of his tomb and his mummy.
~ According to CT scans of his 'mummy', the king had a height of around five feet eight inches and was of slight build.
~ He had a cleft palate and his left foot was clubbed. King Tut might have suffered from scoliosis, a condition wherein the spine curves to one side.
~ The illustration of King Tut's skull X-ray was considered abnormal, due to the elongated shape of the skull. However, recent studies revealed that the shape is within the normal range and it could be a family trait.
~ It is also believed that King Tut was crippled and had some sort of walking impairment. This could be the reason for the presence of different types of cane and medicines in his tomb.
The King Was Married to His Half-sister
~ King Tut is believed to have been married to his half-sister, Ankhesenpaaten. After marriage, her name was changed to Ankhesenamun.
~ The queen is said to be the daughter of Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) and his queen Nefertiti. King Tut is the son of Akhenetan and one of his lesser-known wives.
~ King Tut had no offspring. However, DNA studies conducted on the mummies of two fetuses found in his tomb revealed that he had two still-born daughters.
The Tomb Lacked Grandeur
~ As compared to the tombs of the great emperors of ancient Egypt, the tomb of King Tut was smaller. This could be due to the untimely and early death of the king.
~ It is assumed that construction of a royal tomb was not possible within a short span and so, the king was buried in a smaller tomb that was meant for officials.
~ The tomb is located in the 'Valley of Kings', on the west bank of the Nile (today's Luxor).
~ It is marked KV:62 (KV stands for the Valley of Kings).
~ King Tut's tomb was discovered in 1922, by Howard Carter, an English archaeologist. It is said that the tomb got buried with stones and sand, possibly due to floods.
~ It is believed that more than half of the treasures were robbed, soon after the burial of the king.
~ However, some parts, especially the burial chamber remained untouched, till 1922, when Howard Carter discovered the tomb.
Tomb of Treasures
~ Though the tomb was small, King Tut was buried with hundreds of artifacts and other materials that were meant for his use, in his afterlife.
~ The tomb has been emptied, and the artifacts are now kept in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
~ The burial mask of King Tut is undoubtedly one of the most well-recognized symbols of ancient Egypt. The mask is made of solid gold and precious stones, like lapis lazuli, turquoise, and quartz. It weighs around 24 pounds.
~ The burial chamber of the tomb was almost filled with the outer shrine, which had three inner shrines.
~ The sarcophagus of the king was found inside the shrines, that were covered with gold.
~ The sarcophagus that was made of granite, contained three wooden coffins, covered with gold.
~ The mummy was found inside the innermost coffin that is made of 243 pounds of solid gold.
~ Most of the artifacts in the tomb were either made of gold or covered with the precious yellow metal. They include the throne that is covered with gold and encrusted with gemstones.
~ Other materials include furniture, chariots, bows and arrows, throwing sticks, clothing, footwear, food, wines, beer, games, jewelry, perfumes, oils, medicine, etc.
King Tut's Death Mystery
The death of the king still remains a mystery and there are so many stories associated with it. One version is that he was murdered, but some historians relate his death to some disease or injury.
~ One of the theories about King Tut's suggest that he died of a head injury. ~ According to an early study conducted on his mummy, the king was found to have had a head injury, located at the back of the skull, which could be caused by some accident or by a direct blow with some heavy object. So, the possibility of "murder" cannot be ruled out. ~ However, according to later studies, the head injury could have been caused during the embalming process or during Howard Carter's study.
~ As the rib cage (in the chest) of the king was missing, it is speculated that he had suffered a fatal fall, which resulted in a badly broken rib cage and death. ~ It is also claimed that the rib cage was removed by Howard Carter's men, while handling the mummy.
Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
~ Another theory suggests that the king had suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, which would have caused accidental falls and resultant bone injuries. ~ The king would have died of a fatal fall or it could be a sudden and unexplained death of epilepsy.
Malaria and Leg Fracture
~ According to this theory, the king had bone disorders in the foot. He had contracted malaria several times during his lifetime. ~ Just before his death, the king had suffered from a leg fracture, which became lethally infected. Bone necrosis, along with malaria and leg fracture could be the reason for his death.
Most of these theories are only speculations and there is no conclusive evidence to prove any of them. Though the possibility of murder cannot be ruled out, the most probable reason could be a combination of diseases and disorders.
King Tut's Curse
~ It was believed that anyone who dares to open the tomb of this king will suffer his wrath. ~ This belief about King Tut's curse was strengthened by the early death of some people, who entered the tomb during Howard Carter's mission.
~ Lord Carnarvon, who funded the king's tomb excavation mission died (in 1923) due to a mosquito bite, which became infected and resulted in blood poisoning. It is said that there were signs of a healed lesion on the cheek of King Tut's mummy, and Lord Carnarvon died due to the mosquito bite on his cheek. ~ Another story is that Lord Carnarvon's dog howled and died at midnight, shortly after his master's death.
~ Howard Carter, who undertook the tomb excavation, lived for more than 15 years, after his milestone discovery, there are stories about the death of his pet canary, due to snakebite, right after the tomb was opened. ~ However, there is no scientific evidence for King Tut's curse, as many of those associated with Carter had crossed seventy, before their death.
In short, the story of King Tut and the treasures of his tomb has always been fascinating. His mummy is now kept in the tomb itself, in a climate-controlled glass box, so as to prevent further decomposition. The artifacts from his tomb are kept in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.