King Tutankhamun also known as King Tut was an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled between the period of 1334 and 1325 BC. He is believed to the 12th ruler of the 18th Dynasty of Egyptian history. His precious mummy discovered in 1922 in the Valley of Kings by Howard Carter and George Herbert first brought king Tutankhamun to light. His tomb filling with treasures gathered curiosity from all over the world. Before Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun’s mummy, nothing was known about him. It is the discovery of Tutankhamun’s mummy that first made Tutankhamun and his lineage a subject of public interest worldwide. A lot of facts have been uncovered about him ever since and all these facts and information made him the most widely known Egyptian pharaoh. There are many things that pique our curiosity about Tutankhamun. He was a boy king who died very young. There are a lot of speculations surrounding the mystery of his death, which according to many, has been a murder. On the other hand, some people believe that because he was born of incestuous relationship, he suffered from some congenial genetic defects contributing to his early demise. Of all the facts that make Tutankhamun the most widely known Egyptian Pharaoh, facts related to the discovery of his treasure-filled tomb, his coronation at the age of 9 years, the speculations surrounding the cause of his death and the belief of his mummy’s curse are worth taking a note of.
One of the very facts that make Tutankhamun famous is the discovery of his treasure-filled tomb. The British archaeologist Howard Carter who unearthed his mummy in 1922 described the opulence of the tomb contents as "the property-room of an opera of a vanished civilization" (Marchant 2013). The mummy of Tutankhamun was found wearing a gold mask weighing 24 pounds. The vulture and cobra on the forehead and falcon heads on the shoulders of the mask symbolized divine authority. The body of king Tut was preserved using ample quantity of anointing oils which over the years formed a thick black layer sticking the mummy to the coffin and the golden mask. In addition to the golden mask, there were two golden hands lying upon the chest of Tutankhamun's mummy holding the royal insignia and below that was an enormous gold Ba-bird to give protection to the mummy. Besides this, there were a lot of jewels and amulets found between the wrappings of the mummy. The coffin of King Tut was made of solid gold. He was laid in three coffins; all fitted one inside the other (Death Mask of Tutankhamun). All of these gold objects and jewelries made the process of unwrapping the mummy very difficult but Carter and his team braving all the obstacles very meticulously unwrapped the mummy using hot knives to melt the black layer of resin to remove the jewels. Before Carter made the discovery of Tutankamun’s mummy, very little was known about the boy king. It is after Howard’s discovery of the treasure-filled tomb of Tutankamun that made the pharaoh a subject of great public interest and lot of facts and information related to his family were uncovered since then.
Tutankamun was a boy king who sat at the throne at the age of 9 under the supervision of two senior members of the kingdom of his father, Ay and Horemheb. Both Ay and Horemheb were military generals. Ay was the brother of Tiy, Amenhotep III's wife. Amenhotep III is believed to be the grandfather of Tutankhamun. Tutankamun was originally named as Tutankhaten who was the son of Akhenaten also known as Amenhotep IV. His mother was Kiya who besides being a wife of Akhenaten was either one of his sisters or one of his cousins and that makes Tutankamun a child born out of incestuous relationship. He grew up in Amarna. When he was nine years old, he got married to his half-sister named Ankhesenpaaten who later was known as Ankhesenamun (Dunn 2011). It is believed that Ankhesenamun was older than Tutankhamun because she already had a child from her previous marriage to Tutankhamun's predecessor. It is speculated that they had two daughters from their marriage but both the children were stillborn. It is believed that Tutankamun didn't succeed his father immediately to the throne, it was an older brother or an uncle named Smenkhkare who proved himself unfit to be a king and thereupon, Tutankamun at the age of 9 years was crowned the king with Ay and Horemheb appointed as his advisors. Though Tutankamun was seated at the throne, most of the important decisions were taken by Ay and Horemheb. Though his reign of 10 years is considered to have little historical significance, there is evidence that he has restored the temples of Amun which were ravaged during the reign of Akhenaten. He built his tomb in the Valley of Kings and continued with the construction of Karnak temple.
There are a lot of speculations surrounding the mystery of Tutankhamun's death. Scientists have tried over the years to come to a conclusion about the cause of death of the boy king who died at a tender age of 19. There are several theories made about the cause of his death. According to many, his death was caused by a blow to the head, a murder plot designed by Ay who succeeded to the throne after Tutankhamun and married his widow, Ankhesenamun. A CT scan result of boy king’s skull made many scientists come to this conclusion of Tutankhamun’s death by a blow on the head. But a CAT scan exposed a broken leg of the king which led many to believe that the king might have suffered an accidental fall due to which gangrene had spread quickly through his body, resulting in his death. According to others, the boy king being born out of incestuous relationship suffered from some congenital genetic defects leading to his death. A good many diseases have been cited as possible explanations for his death including Klinefelter syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Antley–Bixler syndrome, Fröhlich syndrome and epilepsy. Dr. Hutan Ashrafian, an eminent surgeon at the Imperial College London taking note of King Tut's enlarged breasts speculates that the enlarged breasts might be signs of a condition called gynecomastia which indicates that the boy pharaoh might have suffered a fall and died due to temporal lobe epilepsy. He stated that "People who have epilepsy have a much higher incidence of dying from accidents and falls at a young age. They can also suffer from something called SUDE, Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy. In general, they have much higher incidents of dying young" (Rosenbaum 2012). Another group of scientists claim that the boy pharaoh died because of genetic defects. They believe that King Tutankhamun was a frail, weak teenager who suffered from congenital bone disease. Incest was common among the pharaohs as they were believed to be descendants of Gods. Not only King Tutankhamun's parents were brother and sister, Tutankhamun himself too married his half-sister Ankhesenpaaten and they shared the same father. The scientists, who claim that they have studied the DNA samples of both of Tutankhamun's parents and grandparents, believe that the genetic bone disease ran in the pharaoh families (Bates 2010). According to them, the king was frail and weak who had to walk with the support of canes and that explains why there were over 100 canes found in his tomb. These scientists believe that the sudden leg fracture that the King Tutankhamun suffered due to a fall might have worsened after the malaria infection occurred, resulting in his death.
Another reason for Tutankhamun to be famous was the belief that those who opened his tomb were subjected to his curse. After the discovery of his mummy by Howard and his team in 1922, a novelist called Mari Corelli published a warning that those who entered his tomb would suffer from some deadly consequences. This revelation was stimulated by the fact that Howard Carter's pet canary was swallowed by a cobra on the day the tomb was opened. Cobra is a symbol for pharaoh's protector. Further, Lord Carnarvon who funded the explorations made by Howard Carter suffered from poor health for more than 20 years after meeting a motor accident. His death in 1923 from pneumonia, a few weeks after the warning published by Mari Corelli sent the world to an edge. Many including author Conan Doyle believed that the death of Lord Carnarvon could be triggered by a 'Pharaoh's curse' (Warren 2011). Many newspaper of that time randomly published news killing off many people who were connected to the tomb's discovery. As per one such publication, 26 people associated with the tomb's discovery died within a decade after that whereas in actuality, merely six people died within a decade. The main explorer Howard Carter lived up to 17 years after the tomb's discovery dying little short of his 65th birthday (Warren 2011).
In conclusion, Tutankhamun also renowned as King Tut was an Egyptian pharaoh who is believed to have ruled between the era of 1334 and 1325 BC. Very little was known about King Tutankhamun prior to the discovery of his mummy by Howard Carter. It was the discovery of Tutankhamun's mummy and the precious gold mask and jewels that all of a sudden brought him to the light. Overnight after the discovery of his tomb, King Tutankhamun became a subject of great public interest. Scientists from all the over the world engaged in researching about him and revealed many information that was hitherto unknown to people. Especially the facts related to the discovery of his treasure-filled tombs, his coronation at the age of 9 years, his death at a tender age of 19 and the speculations surrounding the mystery of his death and Tutankhamun's mummy's curse that cost the lives of many associated with the tomb's discovery made this Egyptian Pharaoh world famous. Tutankhamun's tomb located in the Valley of Kings might be less magnificent than that of other pharaohs of Egypt, but the stories and facts surrounding his life and death make him an enigma in our eyes, etching his name in the our memories for many more years to come.
Marchant, Jo. 9 Bizarre Facts You Didn't Know About King Tut's Mummy (PHOTOS). Huffington Post. 7 May 2013. Web. 2 Oct 2013 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jo-marchant/bizarre-things-you-didnt-_b_3542221.html>
Dunn, Jimmy. Egypt: Tutankhamun (King Tut) of the 18th Dynasty. 21 Aug 2011. Web. 2 Oct 2013 <http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/tut.htm>
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Rosenbaum, Matthew. Mystery of King Tut’s Death Solved?. ABC News. 14 Sept 2012.Web. 2 Oct 2013 <http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/09/14/mystery-of-king-tuts-death-solved/>
Bates, Claire. Unmasked: The real faces of the crippled King Tutankhamun (who walked with a cane) and his incestuous parents. Daily Mail. 20 Feb 2010. Web. 2 Oct 2013 <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1251731/King-Tutankhamuns-incestuous-family-revealed.html>
Warren, John. Egypt: The Mummy Curse of Tutankhamun. 22 Jun 2011. Web. 2 Oct 2013 <http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/curse.htm>