Tutankhamun (alternatively spelled with Tutenkh-, -amen, -amon) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (ruled ca. 1332 BC – 1323 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. He is popularly referred to as King Tut. His original name, Tutankhaten, means “Living Image of Aten”, while Tutankhamun means “Living Image of Amun”. In hieroglyphs, the name Tutankhamun was typically written Amen-tut-ankh, because of a scribal custom that placed a divine name at the beginning of a phrase to show appropriate reverence. He is possibly also the Nibhurrereya of the Amarna letters, and likely the 18th dynasty king Rathotis who, according to Manetho, an ancient historian, had reigned for nine years—a figure that conforms with Flavius Josephus’s version of Manetho’s Epitome.
The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter and George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon of Tutankhamun’s nearly intact tomb received worldwide press coverage. It sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun’s burial mask remains the popular symbol. Exhibits of artifacts from his tomb have toured the world. In February 2010, the results of DNA tests confirmed that he was the son of Akhenaten (mummy KV55) and Akhenaten’s sister and wife (mummy KV35YL), whose name is unknown but whose remains are positively identified as “The Younger Lady” mummy found in KV35.
Tutankhamun was the son of Akhenaten (formerly Amenhotep IV) and one of Akhenaten’s sisters,or perhaps one of his cousins. As a prince he was known as Tutankhaten. He ascended to the throne in 1333 BC, at the age of nine or ten, taking the throne name of Tutankhamun. His wet-nurse was a woman called Maia, known from her tomb at Saqqara.
When he became king, he married his half-sister, Ankhesenpaaten, who later changed her name to Ankhesenamun. They had two daughters, both stillborn.Computed tomography studies released in 2011 revealed that one daughter died at 5–6 months of pregnancy and the other at 9 months of pregnancy. No evidence was found in either mummy of congenital anomalies or an apparent cause of death.
Given his age, the king probably had very powerful advisers, presumably including General Horemheb, the Vizier Ay, and Maya, the “Overseer of the Treasury”. 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.
Domestic policyIn 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 abandoned. This is also when he changed his name to Tutankhamun.
As part of his restoration, the king initiated building projects, in particular at Thebes and Karnak, where he dedicated a temple to Amun. Many monuments were erected, and an inscription on his tomb door declares the king had “spent his life in fashioning the images of the gods”. The traditional festivals were now celebrated again, including those related to the Apis Bull, Horemakhet, and Opet.