Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Tutankhaten was born around 1341 BC in the Egyptian capital of Akhetaten. He was the son of the pharaoh Akhenaten and an unknown woman (but not Nefertiti). His father died when he was only seven years old. He became the ruler of Egypt, if only in name, in 1333 at the age of eight.

In 1331, all the changes his father had made since 1346 were reversed. The powerful priests of Amun easily restored the old ways of doing things and their control over them. They got the new ruler to change his name from Tutankhaten (“Living Image of Aten”) to Tutankhamun (“Living Image of Amun”). They persuaded him to move the capital of Egypt back to Thebes. The priests got rid of Aten and restored both the worship of Amun and their wealth.

Tutankhamun ruled for perhaps 10 years and died around the age of 18 in 1323. The priests of Amun gave him a proper burial. They mummified his body, laid it in a solid gold casket, placed a mask of gold and jewels over his wrapped head, and finally had thousands of precious objects set in his burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings.

During the 30 years following his death, however, a new ruler tried to destroy every record of the name of Tutankhamun. Later lists of pharaohs made no mention of him. Eventually no one even remembered the existence of his tomb.

In 1891, over 3,200 years after Tutankhamun's death, 17-year-old Howard Carter left England to participate in his first archaeological excavation in Egypt. At 18 he worked for a year at Akhenaten’s capital of Amarna. He then worked for 10 years in the Valley of the Kings.

By 1917, archeologists had discovered records of Tutankhamen. Carter began looking for his tomb. He finally found it in November 1922 and entered the actual burial chamber in February 1923. Tutankhamun’s tomb was the most intact one ever found in Egypt. News of the priceless objects it contained created a worldwide sensation.

The thousands of objects discovered there were recorded then cleared from the burial chamber over the next 10 years. We may see many of them today in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
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