The Life & Legacy of King Tutankhamun

The young boy pharaoh known as King Tutankhamun is currently one of the most well-known pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, and his golden mortuary mask is typically seen as one of the symbols of both antiquity and Ancient Egypt. Although the young pharaoh’s reign was quite forgettable and rather short-lived, there’s no denying that he’ll be remembered for quite a while – all simply because his tomb was one of the best – if not THE best – preserved royal tombs in Ancient Egypt.

As part of the royal family and as the son of Akhenaten, the man who is occasionally referred to as “the first monotheist in history,” Tutankhamun lived in Akhetaten with his father and his mother – the beautiful Nefertiti – while practicing the rather uncommon and quite unpopular monotheistic religion of the time. After his parents’ deaths, however, Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhesenamun, along with their royal court, moved out of his father’s city of Akhetaten and restored the old polytheistic religion of Ancient Egypt as the country’s official religion. It’s thought that during this time – and even for most, if not all, of Tutankhamun’s reign – his advisors and generals, most notably General Horemheb and the Royal Vizier Ay, held most of the power while Tutankhamun was more of a figurehead due to the fact that Tutankhamun ascended the throne at the young age of 9 years old.

A mere ten years after Tutankhamun became king, he passed away from health complications due to several hypothesized reasons. While several archaeologists and anthropologists are currently working on trying to figure out exactly how and why Tutankhamun passed away, the several more popular reasons include:

  1. A broken leg that became infected
  2. Malaria
  3. A long history of family inbreeding

After his sudden and unexpected death, Tutankhamun was buried in a smaller and relatively plain tomb (as compared to the other royal pharaohs of Ancient Egypt), most likely due to his own tomb not being finished and ready for him to use at the time. Over the course of the next 2-3 millennia, the location of his tomb was forgotten and his reign was erased from memory – for no reason other than that it was quite forgettable and deemed as unimportant.

That is, until his tomb was found by Howard Carter.

By the early 20th century, the young Howard Carter made his way to Egypt from England as a sketch artist for other archaeologists excavating the Valley of the Kings near Thebes in Egypt. After several dig seasons, Howard soon began leading his own digs and eventually got funding from another Englishman by the name of Lord Carnarvon. Several grueling and difficult years passed by before Carter made the world-famous discovery of King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. It was this discovery that helped archaeologists and anthropologists better understand how Egyptian pharaohs lived and were buried along with getting a better picture of how Ancient Egyptians may have lived their daily lives.

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