Tutankhamun (, Ancient Egyptian: twt-ꜥnḫ-jmn), Egyptological pronunciation Tutankhamen (British ) (c. 1342 – c. 1325 BC), was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who was the last of his royal family to rule during the end of the 18th dynasty (ruled c. 1334 – 1325 BC in the conventional chronology) during the New Kingdom of Egyptian history. His father was the pharaoh Akhenaten, believed to be the mummy found in the tomb KV55. His mother is his father's sister, identified through DNA testing as an unknown mummy referred to as; "The Younger Lady" who was found in KV35.
Tutankhamun took the throne at eight or nine years of age under the unprecedented viziership of his eventual successor, Ay, to whom he may have been related. He married his half sister Ankhesenamun. During their marriage they lost two daughters, one at 5–6 months of pregnancy and the other shortly after birth at full-term. His names—Tutankhaten and Tutankhamun—are thought to mean "Living image of Aten" and "Living image of Amun", with Aten replaced by Amun after Akhenaten's death. There are Egyptologists[who?] that believe the translation may be more like; "The-life-of-Aten-is-pleasing" or "One-perfect-of-life-is-Aten".
Tutankhamun restored the Ancient Egyptian religion after its dissolution by his father, enriched and endowed the priestly orders of two important cults and began restoring old monuments damaged during the previous Amarna period. He moved his father's remains to the Valley of the Kings as well as moving the capitol from Akhetaten to Thebes. Tutankhamun was physically disabled with a deformity of his left foot along with bone necrosis that required the use of a cane, several of which were found in his tomb as well as body armor and bows, having been trained in archery. He had other health issues including scoliosis and had contracted several strains of malaria.
The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun's nearly intact tomb, in excavations funded by Lord Carnarvon, received worldwide press coverage. With over 5,000 artifacts, it sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun's mask, now in the Egyptian Museum, remains a popular symbol. The deaths of a few involved in the discovery of Tutankhamun's mummy have been popularly attributed to the curse of the pharaohs. He has, since the discovery of his intact tomb, been referred to colloquially as "King Tut".
Some of his treasure has traveled worldwide with unprecedented response. The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities allowed tours beginning in 1962 with the exhibit at the Louvre in Paris, followed by the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art in Tokyo, Japan. The exhibits drew in millions of visitors. The 1972–1979 exhibit was shown in United States, Soviet Union, Japan, France, Canada, and West Germany. There were no international exhibitions again until 2005–2011. This exhibit featured Tutankhamun's predecessors from the 18th dynasty, including Hatshepsut and Akhenaten, but did not include the golden death mask. The treasures 2019–2022 tour began in Los Angeles and will end in 2022 at the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which, for the first time, will be displaying the full Tutankhamun collection, gathered from all of Egypt's museums and storerooms.
Tutankhamun was the son of Akhenaten (originally named Amenhotep IV) who is believed to be the mummy found in tomb KV55. His mother is one of Akhenaten's sisters. At birth he was named Tutankhaten, a name reflecting the Atenist beliefs of his father. His wet nurse was a woman called Maia, known from her tomb at Saqqara.
While some suggestions have been made that Tutankhamun's mother was Meketaten, (the second daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti) based on a relief from the Royal Tomb at Amarna,[a] given that she was about 10 years old at the time of her death, this has been deemed unlikely. Another interpretation of the relief names Nefertiti as his mother.[b]
In 2008 genetic analysis was carried out on the mummified remains of Tutankhamun and others thought or known to be New Kingdom royalty by a team from University of Cairo. The results indicated that his father was the KV55 mummy, identified as Akhenaten, and that his mother was the KV35 Younger Lady, who was found to be a full sister of her husband. This means that the KV35 Younger Lady cannot be identified as Nefertiti as she was not known to be a sister of Akhenaten. The team reported it was over 99.99 percent certain that Amenhotep III was the father of the individual in KV55, who was in turn the father of Tutankhamun. The validity and reliability of the genetic data from mummified remains has been questioned due to possible degradation due to decay. Researchers such as Marc Gabolde and Aidan Dodson claim that Nefertiti was indeed Tutankhamun's mother. In this interpretation of the DNA results the genetic closeness is not due to a brother-sister pairing but the result of three generations of first cousin marriage, making Nefertiti a first cousin of Akhenaten.
When Tutankhamun became king, he married his half-sister, Ankhesenpaaten, who later changed her name to Ankhesenamun. They had two daughters, neither of whom survived infancy. While only an incomplete genetic profile was obtained from the two mummified foetuses, it was enough to confirm that Tutankhamun was their father. Likewise, only partial data for the two female mummies from KV21 has been obtained so far. KV21A has been suggested as the mother of the foetuses but the data is not statistically significant enough to allow her to be securely identified as Ankhesenamun. Computed tomography studies published in 2011 revealed that one daughter was born prematurely at 5–6 months of pregnancy and the other at full-term, 9 months. Tutankhamun's death marked the end of the royal line of the 18th dynasty.
Tutankhamun was between eight and nine years of age when he ascended the throne and became Pharaoh, taking the throne name Nebkheperure. He reigned for about 9 years. During Tutankhamun's reign the position of Vizier had been split between Upper and Lower Egypt. The principal vizier for Upper Egypt was Usermontju. Another figure named Pentju was also vizier but it is unclear of which lands. It is not entirely known if Ay, Tutankhamun's successor, actually held this position. A gold foil fragment from KV58 seems to indicate, but not certainly, that Ay was referred to as a Priest of Maat along with an epithet of "vizier, doer of maat." The epithet does not fit the usual description used by the regular vizier but might indicate an informal title. It might be that Ay used the title of vizier in an unprecedented manner.
An Egyptian priest named Manetho wrote a comprehensive history of ancient Egypt where he refers to a king named Orus who ruled for 36 years and had a daughter named Acencheres who reigned twelve years and her brother Rathotis who ruled for only nine years. While the list gets confusing at this point, it is generally accepted that these represent the Amarna period rulers including Tutankhamun and Akhenaten.
Kings were venerated after their deaths through mortuary cults and associated temples. Tutankhamun was one of the few kings worshiped in this manner during his lifetime. A stela discovered at Karnak and dedicated to Amun-Ra and Tutankhamun indicates that the king could be appealed to in his deified state for forgiveness and to free the petitioner from an ailment caused by sin. Temples of his cult were built as far away as in Kawa and Faras in Nubia. The title of the sister of the Viceroy of Kush included a reference to the deified king, indicative of the universality of his cult.
In order for the pharaoh, who held divine office, to be linked to the people and the gods, special epithets were created for them at their accession to the throne. The ancient Egyptian titulary also served to demonstrate one's qualities and link them to the terrestrial realm. The five names were developed over the centuries beginning with the Horus Name.[c] Tutankhamun's[d] original nomen was Tutankhaten which did not have a Nebty name[e] or a Gold Falcon name[f] associated with it as nothing has been found with the full five name protocol.[g] Tutankhaten was believed to mean "Living-image-of-Aten" as far back as 1877 however, not all Egyptologists agree with this interpretation. English Egyptologist Battiscombe Gunn believed that the older interpretation did not fit with Akhenaten's theology. Gunn believed that such an name would have been blasphemous. He saw tut as a verb and not a noun and gave his translation in 1926 as The-life-of-Aten-is-pleasing. Professor Gerhard Fecht also believed the word tut was a verb. He noted that Akhenaten used tit as a word for 'image', not tut. Fecht translated the verb tut as "To be perfect/complete". Using Aten as the subject, Fecht's full translation was "One-perfect-of-life-is-Aten". The Hermopolis Block (two carved block fragments discovered in Ashmunein) has a unique spelling of the first nomen written as Tutankhuaten; it uses ankh as a verb, which does support the older translation of Living-image-of-Aten.
Once crowned and after "Taking council" with the god Amun, Tutankhamun made several endowments that enriched and added to the priestly numbers of the cults of Amun and Ptah. He commissioned new statues of the deities from the best metals and stone and had new processional barques made of the finest cedar from Lebanon and had them embellished with gold and silver. The priests and all of the attending dancers, singers and attendants had their positions restored and a decree of royal protection granted to insure their future stability.
Tutankhamun's second year as pharaoh began the return to the old Egyptian order. Both he and his queen removed 'Aten' from their names, replacing it with Amun and moved the capital from Akhetaten to Thebes. He renounced the god Aten, relegating it to obscurity and returned Egyptian religion to its polytheistic form. His first act as a pharaoh was to remove his father's mummy from his tomb at Akhetaten and rebury it in the Valley of the Kings. This helped strengthen his reign. Tutankhamun rebuilt the stelae, shrines and buildings at Karnak. He added works to Luxor as well as beginning the restoration of other temples throughout Egypt that were pillaged by Akhenaten.
The country was economically weak and in turmoil following the reign of Akhenaten. Diplomatic relations with other kingdoms had been neglected, and Tutankhamun sought to restore them, in particular with the Mitanni. Evidence of his success is suggested by the gifts from various countries found in his tomb. Despite his efforts for improved relations, battles with Nubians and Asiatics were recorded in his mortuary temple at Thebes. His tomb contained body armor, folding stools appropriate for military campaigns, and bows, and he was trained in archery. However, given his youth and physical disabilities, which seemed to require the use of a cane in order to walk, most historians speculate that he did not personally take part in these battles.
Given his age, the king probably had advisers which presumably included Ay (who succeeded Tutankhamun) and General Horemheb, Ay's possible son in law and successor. Horemheb records that the king appointed him "lord of the land" as hereditary prince to maintain law. He also noted his ability to calm the young king when his temper flared.
In his third regnal year Tutankhamun reversed several changes made during his father's reign. He ended the worship of the god Aten and restored the god Amun to supremacy. The ban on the cult of Amun was lifted and traditional privileges were restored to its priesthood. The capital was moved back to Thebes and the city of Akhetaten was abandoned. As part of his restoration, the king initiated building projects, in particular at Karnak in Thebes, where he laid out the sphinx avenue leading to the temple of Mut. The sphinxes were originally made for Akhenaten and Nefertiti; they were given new ram heads and small statues of the king. At Luxor temple he completed the decoration of the entrance colonnade of Amenhotep III. Monuments defaced under Akhenaten were restored, and new cult images of the god Amun were created. The traditional festivals were now celebrated again, including those related to the Apis Bull, Horemakhet, and Opet. His Restoration Stela erected in front of Karnak temple says:
"The temples of the gods and goddesses ... were in ruins. Their shrines were deserted and overgrown. Their sanctuaries were as non-existent and their courts were used as roads ... the gods turned their backs upon this land ... If anyone made a prayer to a god for advice he would never respond".
A building called the Temple-of-Nebkheperure-Beloved-of-Amun-Who-Puts-Thebes-in-Order, which may be identical to a building called Temple-of-Nebkheperre-in-Thebes, a possible mortuary temple, used recycled talatat from Akhenaten's east Karnak Aten temples indicating that the dismantling of these temples was already underway. Many of Tutankhamun's construction projects were uncompleted at the time of his death and were completed by or usurped by his successors, especially Horemheb. The sphinx avenue was completed by his successor Ay and the whole was usurped by Horemheb. The Restoration Stele was usurped by Horemheb; pieces of the Temple-of-Nebkheperure-in-Thebes were recycled into Horemheb's own building projects.
Tutankhamun was slight of build, and roughly 167 cm (5 ft 6 in) tall. He had large front incisors and an overbite characteristic of the Thutmosid royal line to which he belonged. Analysis of the clothing found in his tomb, particularly the dimensions of his loincloths and belts indicates that he had a narrow waist and rounded hips. In attempts to explain both his unusual depiction in art and his early death it has been theorised that Tutankhamun suffered from gynecomastia, Marfan syndrome, Wilson–Turner X-linked intellectual disability syndrome, Fröhlich syndrome (adiposogenital dystrophy), Klinefelter syndrome, androgen insensitivity syndrome, aromatase excess syndrome in conjunction with sagittal craniosynostosis syndrome, Antley–Bixler syndrome or one of its variants. It has also been suggested that he suffered from inherited temporal lobe epilepsy in a bid to explain the religiosity of his great-grandfather Thutmose IV and father Akhenaten and their early deaths. However, caution has been urged in this diagnosis.
In January 2005 Tutankhamun's mummy was CT scanned. The results showed that Tutankhamun had a partially cleft hard palate and possibly a mild case of scoliosis. The scan also showed his right foot was flat with hypophalangism, while his left foot was clubbed and suffered bone necrosis of the second and third metatarsals (Freiberg disease or Köhler disease II). The affliction may have forced Tutankhamun to walk with the use of a cane, many of which were found in his tomb. Genetic testing through STR analysis rejected the hypothesis of gynecomastia and craniosynostoses (e.g., Antley–Bixler syndrome) or Marfan syndrome. Genetic testing for STEVOR, AMA1, or MSP1 genes specific for Plasmodium falciparum revealed indications of malaria tropica in 4 mummies, including Tutankhamun's. This is currently the oldest known genetic proof of the ailment. The team discovered DNA from several strains of the parasite, indicating that he was repeatedly infected with the most severe strain of malaria. His malaria infections may have caused a fatal immune response in the body or triggered circulatory shock. The CT scan also showed that he had suffered a compound left leg fracture. This injury being the result of modern damage was ruled out based on the ragged edges of the fracture; modern damage features sharp edges. Embalming substances were present within the fracture indicating that it was associated with an open wound; no signs of healing were present.
There are no surviving records of the circumstances of Tutankhamun's death; it has been the subject of considerable debate and major studies. Ultimately it has been determined that his death was likely the result of the combination of his multiple weakening disorders, a leg fracture, perhaps as the result of a fall, and a severe malarial infection. The placement of the mummy's embalming incision is unique. This, combined with the two levels of resin inside his skull, have led to suggestions that an initial mummification was carried out by an inexperienced embalmer.
Murder by a blow to the head was theorised as a result of the 1968 x-ray which showed two bone fragments inside the skull. This theory was disproved by further analysis of the x-rays and the CT scan. The inter-cranial bone fragments were determined to be the result of the modern unwrapping of the mummy as they are loose and not adherent to the embalming resin. No evidence of bone thinning or calcified membranes, which could be indicative of a fatal blow to the head, were found. It has also been suggested that the young king was killed in a chariot accident due to a pattern of crushing injuries, including the fact that the front part of his chest wall and ribs are missing. However, the missing ribs are unlikely to be a result of an injury suffered at the time of death; photographs taken at the conclusion of Carter's excavation in 1926 show that the chest wall of the king was intact, still wearing a beaded collar with falcon-headed terminals. The absence of both the collar and chest wall was noted in the 1968 x-ray and further confirmed by the CT scan. It is likely that the front part of his chest was removed by robbers during the theft of the beaded collar; the intricate beaded skullcap the king was pictured wearing in 1926 was also missing by 1968.
A facial reconstruction of Tutankhamun was carried out in 2005 by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and National Geographic. Three separate teams – Egyptian, French, and American – worked separately to approximate the face of the boy king. While the Egyptian and French teams knew their subject was Tutankhamun, the American team worked blind. All teams produced very similar results, but it was that of the French team that was ultimately cast in silicone.
Tutankhamun was buried in a tomb that was unusually small considering his status. His death may have occurred unexpectedly, before the completion of a grander royal tomb, causing his mummy to be buried in a tomb intended for someone else. This would preserve the observance of the customary 70 days between death and burial. His tomb was robbed at least twice in antiquity, but based on the items taken (including perishable oils and perfumes) and the evidence of restoration of the tomb after the intrusions, these robberies likely took place within several months at most of the initial burial. The location of the tomb was lost because it had come to be buried by debris from subsequent tombs, and workers' houses were built over the tomb entrance.
The concession rights for excavating the Valley of the Kings was held by Theodore Davis from 1905 until 1914. In that time he had unearthed ten tombs including the nearly intact but non-royal tomb of Queen Tiye's parents, Yuya and Tjuyu. As he continued working there in the later years, he uncovered nothing of major significance. Davis did find several objects in KV58 referring to Tutankhamun which included knobs and handles bearing his name most significantly the embalming cache of the king (KV54). He believed this to be the pharaoh's lost tomb and published his findings as such with the line; "I fear the Valley of the Tombs is exhausted". In 1907 Howard Carter was invited by William Garstin and Gaston Maspero to excavate for George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon in the Valley. The Earl of Carnarvon and Carter had hoped this would lead to their gaining the concession when Davis gave it up but had to be satisfied with excavations in different parts of the Theban necropolis for seven more years.
After a systematic search, beginning in 1915, Carter discovered the actual tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62) in November 1922. By February 1923 the antechamber had been cleared of everything but two sentinel statues. A day and time were selected to unseal the tomb with about twenty appointed witnesses that included Lord Carnarvon, several Egyptian officials, museum representatives and the staff of the Government Press Bureau. On 17 February 1923 at just after two o'clock, the seal was broken.
There were 5,398 items found in the tomb, including a solid gold coffin, face mask, thrones, archery bows, trumpets, a lotus chalice, food, wine, sandals, and fresh linen underwear. Howard Carter took 10 years to catalog the items. Recent analysis suggests a dagger recovered from the tomb had an iron blade made from a meteorite; study of artifacts of the time including other artifacts from Tutankhamun's tomb could provide valuable insights into metalworking technologies around the Mediterranean at the time.
Almost 80% of Tutankhamun's burial equipment originated from the female pharaoh Neferneferuaten's funerary goods, including the Mask of Tutankhamun. In 2015, English Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves published evidence showing that an earlier cartouche on Tutankhamun's famous gold mask read "Ankhkheperure mery-Neferkheperure" (Ankhkheperure beloved of Akhenaten); therefore, the mask was originally made for Nefertiti, Akhenaten's chief queen, who used the royal name Ankhkheperure when she most likely assumed the throne after her husband's death. Neferneferuaten may have been deposed in a struggle for power and possibly deprived of a royal burial, or she was buried with a different set of Akhenaten's funerary equipment by Tutankhamun's officials, since Tutankhamun succeeded her as king. Neferneferuaten was likely succeeded by Tutankhamun based on the presence of her funerary goods in his tomb.
On 4 November 2007, 85 years to the day after Carter's discovery, Tutankhamun's mummy was placed on display in his underground tomb at Luxor, when the linen-wrapped mummy was removed from its golden sarcophagus to a climate-controlled glass box. The case was designed to prevent the heightened rate of decomposition caused by the humidity and warmth from tourists visiting the tomb. In 2009 the tomb was closed for restoration by the ministry of antiquities and the Getty Conservation Institute. While the closure was originally planned for five years to restore the walls affected by humidity, the 2011 Egyptian revolution set the project back. The tomb re-opened in February 2019.
For many years, rumors of a "curse of the pharaohs" (probably fueled by newspapers seeking sales at the time of the discovery) persisted, emphasizing the early death of some of those who had entered the tomb. The most prominent was George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who died on 5 April 1923, five months after the discovery of the first step leading down to the tomb on 4 November 1922.
The cause of Carnarvon's death was pneumonia supervening on [facial] erysipelas (a streptococcal infection of the skin and underlying soft tissue). The Earl had been in an automobile accident in 1901 making him very unhealthy and frail. His doctor recommended a warmer climate so in 1903 the Carnarvons traveled to Egypt where the Earl became interested in Egyptology. Along with the stresses of the excavation, Carnarvon was already in a weakened state when an infection lead to pneumonia.
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; Howard Carter died of lymphoma in 1939 at the age of 64. The last survivors included Lady Evelyn Herbert, Lord Carnarvon's daughter who was among the first people to enter the tomb after its discovery in November 1922, who lived for a further 57 years and died in 1980, and American archaeologist J.O. Kinnaman who died in 1961, 39 years after the event.
Tutankhamun's fame is primarily the result of his well-preserved tomb and the global exhibitions of his associated artifacts. As Jon Manchip White writes, in his foreword to the 1977 edition of Carter's The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun, "The pharaoh who in life was one of the least esteemed of Egypt's Pharaohs has become in death the most renowned".
The discoveries in the tomb were prominent news in the 1920s. Tutankhamen came to be called by a modern neologism, "King Tut". Ancient Egyptian references became common in popular culture, including Tin Pan Alley songs; the most popular of the latter was "Old King Tut" by Harry Von Tilzer from 1923, which was recorded by such prominent artists of the time as Jones & Hare and Sophie Tucker. "King Tut" became the name of products, businesses, and the pet dog of U.S. President Herbert Hoover.
Tutankhamun's artifacts have traveled the world with unprecedented visitorship. The exhibitions began in 1962 when Algeria won its independence from France. With the ending of that conflict, the Louvre Museum in Paris was quickly able to arrange an exhibition of Tutankhamun's treasures through Christiane Desroches Noblecourt. The French Egyptologist was already in Egypt as part of a UNESCO appointment. The French exhibit drew 1.2 million visitors. Noblecourt had also convinced the Egyptian Minister of Culture to allow British photographer George Rainbird to re-photograph the collection in color. The new color photos as well as the Louvre exhibition began a Tutankhamun revival.
In 1965 the Tutankhamun exhibit traveled to Tokyo, Japan where it garnered more visitors than the future New York exhibit in 1979. The exhibit was held at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art with almost 1.75 million visitors. The blockbuster attraction exceeded all other exhibitions of Tutankhamun's treasures for the next 60 years. The Treasures of Tutankhamun tour ran from 1972 to 1979. This exhibition was first shown in London at the British Museum from 30 March until 30 September 1972. More than 1.6 million visitors saw the exhibition. The exhibition moved on to many other countries, including the United States, Soviet Union, Japan, France, Canada, and West Germany. The Metropolitan Museum of Art organized the U.S. exhibition, which ran from 17 November 1976 through 15 April 1979. More than eight million attended.
In 2005, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, in partnership with Arts and Exhibitions International and the National Geographic Society, launched a tour of Tutankhamun treasures and other 18th Dynasty funerary objects, this time called Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. It featured the same exhibits as Tutankhamen: The Golden Hereafter in a slightly different format. It was expected to draw more than three million people but exceeded that with almost four million people attending just the first four tour stops. The exhibition started in Los Angeles, then moved to Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia and London before finally returning to Egypt in August 2008. An encore of the exhibition in the United States ran at the Dallas Museum of Art. After Dallas the exhibition moved to the de Young Museum in San Francisco, followed by the Discovery Times Square Exposition in New York City.
The exhibition visited Australia for the first time, opening at the Melbourne Museum for its only Australian stop before Egypt's treasures returned to Cairo in December 2011.
The exhibition included 80 exhibits from the reigns of Tutankhamun's immediate predecessors in the 18th dynasty, such as Hatshepsut, whose trade policies greatly increased the wealth of that dynasty and enabled the lavish wealth of Tutankhamun's burial artifacts, as well as 50 from Tutankhamun's tomb. The exhibition did not include the gold mask that was a feature of the 1972–1979 tour, as the Egyptian government has decided that damage which occurred to previous artifacts on tours precludes this one from joining them.
In 2018 it was announced that the largest collection of Tutankhamun artifacts, amounting to forty percent of the entire collection, would be leaving Egypt again in 2019 for an international tour entitled; "King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh". The 2019-2022 tour began with an exhibit called; “Tutankhamun, Pharaoh’s Treasures,” which launched in Los Angeles and then traveled to Paris. The exhibit featured at the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris ran from March to September 2019. The exhibit featured one hundred and fifty gold coins, along with various pieces of jewelry, sculpture and carvings, as well as the renowned gold mask of Tutankhamun. Promotion of the exhibit filled the streets of Paris with posters of the event. The full international tour ends with the opening of the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo where the treasures will be permanently housed.