King Tutankhamun (Tutankhamen) Biography

King Tutankhamun (Tutankhamen) Biography

Step back in time and meet a truly fascinating figure of ancient history – King Tutankhamun, or simply King Tut. This enigmatic pharaoh of ancient Egypt has long captured the imagination of people around the world.

Intriguingly, King Tutankhamun wasn't the last pharaoh of Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty, but his reign holds a special place in history, marking a crucial turning point in this dynasty's captivating narrative. Join us as we journey through the life, legacy, and mysteries of King Tutankhamun.

King Tutankhamun mummy photo

King Tutankhamun - Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt

Details Information
Full Name Tutankhamun (Tutankhamen)
Known as King Tut
Age Approximately 18-19 years at death
Date of Birth (DOB) 1341 or 1342 BC
Date of Death 1323 or 1322 BC
Born At Most likely in Akhetaten (modern Amarna), Egypt
Parents Akhenaten (father) and an unknown mother, possibly Kiya or another wife of Akhenaten
Marital Status Married
Wife Ankhesenpaaten (later Ankhesenamun)
Children Two daughters who died in infancy (names unknown)
Uncles Ay and possibly Smenkhkare
Ruled From - To Reigned for approximately 10 years, from around 1332 to 1323 BC
Ruled At Thebes, Egypt
Achievements Restored traditional polytheistic Egyptian religion, promoted art and architecture
Nationality Ancient Egyptian
Height Approximately 5 feet 8 inches (173 cm)
Language Ancient Egyptian, possibly also Hittite
Religion Initially followed Atenism (the worship of the sun god Aten) during his father Akhenaten's reign, but later restored traditional polytheistic Egyptian religion
Titles Pharaoh of Egypt, Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands, Son of Re (the sun god), Living Image of Amun (a major deity)
Capital Thebes (modern Luxor), Egypt
Archaeological Discovery His tomb, known as KV62, was discovered by Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings in 1922
Tomb Contents A vast collection of funerary treasures, including a golden burial mask, jewelry, chariots, furniture, and more
Curse of the Pharaohs Associated with the deaths of some individuals involved in the discovery and excavation of his tomb; the curse is considered largely a superstition
Legacy One of the most famous pharaohs in history, with his well-preserved tomb and treasures contributing significantly to Egyptology and global cultural awareness

II. Early Life and Ascension

A. Birth and Original Name (Tutankhaten)

King Tutankhamun, originally named Tutankhaten, was born into ancient Egypt during a pivotal period in its history. His birth name, Tutankhaten, held deep significance as it paid homage to the god Aten, associated with the sun disk. This was a time when Egypt was undergoing religious and political transformations, and young Tutankhaten's life would be closely tied to these changes.

B. Ascension to the Throne at a Young Age

The course of Tutankhaten's life took a remarkable turn when, at just around 9 years old, he found himself thrust into the role of Egypt's pharaoh. His sudden ascension to the throne was a result of complex political dynamics and the influence of his advisors. As one of the youngest pharaohs in Egypt's history, he faced the daunting task of leading a kingdom while still a child. It was a challenging period filled with decisions that would shape the destiny of Egypt.

C. Duration of His Reign

Despite his youth, King Tutankhamun's reign endured for approximately 10 years. In this relatively short time, he made significant contributions to Egypt's history and culture. His rule marked a transition from the religious reforms of his predecessor, Akhenaten, and a return to traditional Egyptian beliefs. Tutankhamun's reign would leave a lasting legacy on the kingdom he inherited, one that continues to captivate the world's imagination.

III. Religious Reforms and Actions

A. Countermanding of the Religiopolitical Changes Initiated by Akhenaten

King Tutankhamun's reign was marked by a significant reversal of the religiopolitical changes that had been initiated by his predecessor, Akhenaten. Akhenaten had introduced a monotheistic worship of the sun god Aten, sidelining traditional deities. However, Tutankhamun took measures to restore the old order, ensuring a return to Egypt's polytheistic beliefs. This shift in religious policy aimed to heal divisions in the kingdom and stabilize its religious identity.

B. Restoration of Traditional Polytheistic Ancient Egyptian Religion

One of King Tutankhamun's most notable actions was the restoration of the traditional polytheistic ancient Egyptian religion. Temples dedicated to the god Amun and other deities were reopened, and the worship of Aten was discontinued. This move was seen as a return to Egypt's cultural and spiritual roots, earning him the favor of the priesthood and his subjects.

C. Moving the Royal Court Away from Akhenaten's Capital, Amarna

To further distance his reign from Akhenaten's religious reforms, Tutankhamun made a significant decision to move the royal court away from Amarna, the capital established by Akhenaten. The capital was shifted back to Thebes, a city with deep religious significance. This relocation symbolized a return to traditional values and governance, cementing Tutankhamun's commitment to restoring Egypt's heritage.

D. Being Worshipped as a Deity During His Lifetime

A remarkable aspect of Tutankhamun's reign was the fact that he was worshipped as a deity during his lifetime. This deification highlighted his role in rejuvenating Egypt's religious practices and his significance as a restorer of the old order. Temples and monuments were dedicated to him as a divine ruler, demonstrating the profound impact of his religious reforms and actions.

IV. Archaeological Significance

A. Discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb (KV62) in 1922

The most remarkable archaeological event associated with King Tutankhamun is the discovery of his tomb, designated as KV62, in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. This monumental discovery was made by British Egyptologist Howard Carter. It marked a turning point in the field of Egyptology, capturing the world's attention and revealing a treasure trove of artifacts from ancient Egypt.

Tutankhamun tomb
1923, Thebes- tourists crowd around the entrance to the tomb to watch a large object being removed from Tutankhamun's tomb, on its way to the workroom

B. The Condition of the Tomb and Its Significance in Archaeology

Tutankhamun's tomb, unlike many others in the Valley of the Kings, was found nearly intact. This pristine condition was of immense significance to archaeologists and historians. It provided a rare and invaluable glimpse into the life, culture, and artistry of ancient Egypt during the Eighteenth Dynasty. The tomb's contents, including the famous gold mask, furniture, clothing, and more, offered rich insights into the material culture and religious beliefs of the time.

C. Colloquial Reference to Tutankhamun as "King Tut"

King Tutankhamun's archaeological significance extends beyond the discovery of his tomb. His global recognition is also reflected in the colloquial reference to him as "King Tut." This nickname reflects his widespread popularity and the iconic status he achieved in the public imagination. "King Tut" became synonymous with ancient Egypt and its treasures, making him one of the most recognizable pharaohs in history.

V. Inherited Turbulent Times

A. Background on the State of Egypt During Akhenaten's Rule

Akhenaten, Tutankhamun's predecessor, introduced significant religious and political changes during his rule. He shifted Egypt's state religion to the worship of the sun god Aten, causing disruptions in traditional religious practices and the power structure. His religious reforms and the relocation of the capital to Akhetaten (modern-day Amarna) had a profound impact on Egypt's stability and religious landscape.

B. Succession of Rulers Before Tutankhamun

Before Tutankhamun ascended to the throne, Egypt witnessed a series of rulers. After Akhenaten's death, he was succeeded by Smenkhkare and then Neferneferuaten, whose identities remain the subject of debate among Egyptologists. The instability caused by these transitions added to the turbulent times during this period.

C. Tutankhamun's Role in Restoring Stability and Traditional Religion

Tutankhamun assumed the throne at a young age, around nine years old, amid a period of religious and political turmoil. He played a crucial role in restoring stability to Egypt. One of his most significant actions was the countermanding of the religiopolitical changes initiated by Akhenaten. Tutankhamun reestablished the traditional polytheistic ancient Egyptian religion, reinstated the worship of gods like Amun, and moved the royal court away from Akhenaten's capital, Amarna, back to Thebes. 

These actions aimed to heal the divisions in Egyptian society and reaffirm the authority of the pharaoh. Tutankhamun's reign, although relatively short, marked a critical moment in Egypt's history as it returned to its religious and political traditions.

VI. Family and Parentage

A. Uncertainty Surrounding His Parentage

Tutankhamun's parentage has been a subject of uncertainty and debate among historians and Egyptologists. While it's widely accepted that he was the son of a pharaoh from the Eighteenth Dynasty, the identity of his parents was unclear for many years. This uncertainty has led to various speculations about his royal lineage.

B. DNA Analysis Identifying His Father and Mother

In recent years, advances in DNA analysis have provided significant insights into Tutankhamun's parentage. Genetic studies conducted on mummies and other remains have helped identify his father as Akhenaten, the pharaoh known for his religious reforms. Additionally, Tutankhamun's mother was revealed to be a lesser-known figure, known as The Younger Lady. These findings have shed light on his royal lineage and clarified his place in the Eighteenth Dynasty.

C. Speculations About His Mother and the Genetic Closeness Within the Family

While the DNA analysis resolved some questions about Tutankhamun's parentage, it also raised new speculations. The identification of his mother as The Younger Lady, believed to be Akhenaten's sister or half-sister, highlighted the practice of sibling marriages among Egyptian royalty. 

This practice was aimed at maintaining the purity of royal bloodlines but also posed potential health risks due to genetic closeness. It has led to discussions about the potential impact of such unions on the health and genetic makeup of the royal family during Tutankhamun's time.

King Tutankhamun mummy photos

VII. Marriage and Family

A. Marriage to Ankhesenpaaten (later Ankhesenamun)

Tutankhamun's marriage played a significant role in his reign. He was married to Ankhesenpaaten, who later changed her name to Ankhesenamun to reflect the return to traditional religious beliefs. Their marriage was a political and dynastic union, as Ankhesenpaaten was also his half-sister, the daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. This marriage was not uncommon among Egyptian royalty and served to consolidate their power.

B. Birth of Two Daughters, Both of Whom Died in Infancy

Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun had two daughters, but unfortunately, both of them died in infancy. The exact reasons for their deaths remain unclear, but it was a tragic loss for the royal couple and the hopes of continuing the dynasty.

C. The End of the Royal Bloodline of the 18th Dynasty

The deaths of Tutankhamun's daughters marked the end of the royal bloodline of the 18th Dynasty. With no direct heirs to succeed him, the dynasty's lineage was cut short. This had significant implications for the future of Egypt and its ruling families.

VIII. Reign and Administration

A. Tutankhamun's Accession to the Throne and Throne Name (Nebkheperure)

Tutankhamun, originally known as Tutankhaten, ascended to the throne of Egypt at a very young age, around 9 years old. His original name, Tutankhaten, reflected the religious changes initiated by his predecessor, Akhenaten. 

However, upon becoming pharaoh, he changed his name to Nebkheperure to signify his return to the traditional polytheistic ancient Egyptian religion. His reign lasted approximately 10 years.

B. The Role of Viziers and Notable Figures in His Administration

During his reign, Tutankhamun relied on key figures in his administration to help govern Egypt effectively. Viziers played a crucial role in the administration, assisting the young pharaoh in maintaining law and order. Notable figures such as Ay and General Horemheb were among his advisers and contributed to the stability and governance of Egypt during his rule.

IX. Mortuary Cult and Worship

A. The Worship of Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, the worship of pharaohs was a significant aspect of religious and cultural life. Pharaohs were often considered divine or semi-divine, serving as intermediaries between the people and the gods. Their rule was associated with maintaining cosmic order (ma'at) in the kingdom.

B. Tutankhamun's Deification During His Lifetime

During his lifetime, Tutankhamun was worshipped as a deity in Egypt. This deification was a reflection of the traditional belief in the divine nature of pharaohs. People offered prayers and devotion to Tutankhamun, recognizing him as a living god.

C. Temples and Cults Dedicated to Tutankhamun

Temples and cults dedicated to Tutankhamun were established in Egypt to honor the young pharaoh. These sacred sites served as centers of worship and rituals, where priests and devotees paid homage to Tutankhamun's divine presence. The cult of Tutankhamun continued even after his death, ensuring his enduring legacy.

X. Titulary and Name Changes

A. The Importance of the Pharaoh's Names in Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, a pharaoh's names held great significance. These names were not merely labels but carried profound meanings and connections to the divine. The pharaoh's names were integral to their identity and role in Egyptian society and religion.

B. The Evolution of Tutankhamun's Names, Including Their Meanings

Tutankhamun's names underwent changes during his lifetime, reflecting shifts in religious and political contexts. His original name, Tutankhaten, emphasized the worship of the sun god Aten during the Amarna Period. Upon his accession to the throne, he changed his name to Tutankhamun, giving greater prominence to the god Amun. This change symbolized his commitment to restoring traditional polytheistic religion in Egypt.

XI. End of Amarna Period

A. The Transition from Atenism to Traditional Religion

The end of the Amarna Period marked a significant transition in Egyptian religion. Tutankhamun reversed the religious changes initiated by Akhenaten, abandoning the worship of the sun god Aten and restoring the traditional polytheistic ancient Egyptian religion. This shift was a crucial aspect of his reign.

B. The Abandonment of Amarna as the Royal Court's Location

Tutankhamun took another crucial step by moving the royal court away from Akhenaten's capital, Amarna. This relocation signified a return to the traditional power centers of Memphis and Thebes, as Amarna had been established as a new and controversial capital during Akhenaten's rule.

C. The Return of Power to Memphis and Thebes

With the abandonment of Amarna, power shifted back to the cities of Memphis and Thebes, which had historically played significant roles in Egyptian politics and religion. Tutankhamun's actions in reestablishing these cities as centers of authority contributed to the restoration of stability and traditional religious practices in Egypt.

XII. Military Campaigns and Activities

A. Tutankhamun's Efforts to Restore Diplomatic Relations

Tutankhamun recognized the importance of diplomacy in maintaining Egypt's stability and influence. During his reign, he made efforts to restore diplomatic relations with neighboring kingdoms and territories. These diplomatic endeavors aimed to strengthen Egypt's alliances and secure valuable resources.

B. Battles with Nubians and Asiatics

While Tutankhamun sought diplomatic solutions, there were also instances of military confrontations with neighboring regions, including Nubia and Asiatic territories. These battles were part of broader efforts to protect Egypt's borders, maintain control over crucial trade routes, and assert authority over disputed areas.

C. Debate Over Tutankhamun's Direct Participation in Warfare

Historians and scholars continue to debate whether Tutankhamun personally participated in military campaigns or if he primarily played a strategic role as a pharaoh. The extent of his involvement in military activities remains a subject of research and discussion in Egyptology.

XIII. Health and Death

Health Conditions

  • Bone Necrosis: Analysis of Tutankhamun's remains has revealed evidence of bone necrosis, particularly in his left knee. This condition may have caused him considerable pain and discomfort.
  • Possible Clubfoot: Researchers have suggested that Tutankhamun may have had a congenital condition known as clubfoot, which could have affected his mobility.
  • Scoliosis: Examination of his skeletal remains has indicated that Tutankhamun had scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine.
  • Strains of Malaria: Genetic analysis has identified traces of the malaria parasite in Tutankhamun's remains, suggesting he may have suffered from this disease.
  • Large Front Incisors: Tutankhamun had unusually large front incisors, a feature that is visible in his mummy.
  • Overbite: His skeletal remains also reveal an overbite, which may have affected his speech and dental health.


Tutankhamun's death remains a subject of study and speculation. While the exact circumstances are not definitively known, several theories have been proposed:

  • Likely Cause: Complications from a Broken Leg: Some researchers believe that Tutankhamun may have suffered a broken leg, and complications from this injury could have contributed to his death.
  • Possible Role of Malaria in His Death: Given the presence of the malaria parasite in his remains, there is speculation that malaria may have played a role in his demise.
  • Absence of Evidence for Murder or a Blow to the Head: Contrary to earlier theories, there is no concrete evidence to support the idea that Tutankhamun was murdered or suffered a fatal blow to the head.

Theories about Tutankhamun's Early Death

Various theories have been put forth to explain Tutankhamun's early death, including:

  • Genetic Analysis and Health Conditions: Genetic studies have been conducted to better understand Tutankhamun's health and potential genetic disorders.
  • Speculation About Inherited Disorders: Some researchers have explored the possibility that Tutankhamun may have inherited certain health conditions or genetic predispositions.
  • The Possibility of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy: Temporal lobe epilepsy has been suggested as a potential explanation for some of Tutankhamun's experiences and behaviors.

XIV. Genealogy and Population Affinities

Genetic Study

Modern genetic analysis has provided valuable insights into King Tutankhamun's ancestry. Key genetic findings include:

  • Tutankhamun's Haplogroups:
    • YDNA: R1b
    • mtDNA: K
  • Family Connections Established Through Genetic Analysis: Genetic research has allowed the identification of familial relationships and connections in King Tutankhamun's lineage.

Population Affinities

Understanding Tutankhamun's population affinities involves the study of various genetic markers, such as short tandem loci (STR) data. This research has revealed:

  • Affinities with Sub-Saharan Africans: Genetic analysis has indicated some affinities between Tutankhamun's genetic markers and those of sub-Saharan African populations.
  • The Complexity of His Biological Heritage and the Challenges in Interpretation: Tutankhamun's genetic makeup is complex, and interpreting his population affinities involves navigating the intricate web of his genetic ancestry.


The discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb marked a significant archaeological event:

  • Excavations in the Valley of the Kings: Tutankhamun's tomb was located in the renowned Valley of the Kings, an iconic burial site for Egyptian pharaohs.
  • Discovery Made by Howard Carter in 1922: The tomb was unearthed by British archaeologist Howard Carter in the year 1922, revealing an extraordinary treasure trove.


An overview of the remarkable items found within Tutankhamun's tomb:

  • Overview of Items Found in Tutankhamun's Tomb: The tomb contained an astonishing array of artifacts, including treasures, furniture, and personal belongings of the young pharaoh.
  • Significance of These Artifacts: The items discovered in the tomb offered invaluable insights into ancient Egyptian culture, art, and the burial practices of pharaohs.
  • Recent Studies on the Composition of a Dagger Found: Ongoing research has focused on analyzing the materials and craftsmanship of specific artifacts, such as a dagger found in the tomb, shedding new light on ancient metallurgy.

Display and Restoration

After discovery, the handling, display, and restoration of the tomb and its contents:

  • Tutankhamun's Mummy Placed on Display: Tutankhamun's mummified remains were carefully prepared for public exhibition, allowing people to witness the pharaoh himself.
  • Closure and Restoration of the Tomb: The tomb underwent a meticulous restoration process to preserve its historical and cultural significance for future generations.
  • Reopening of the Tomb for Public Viewing: Eventually, the tomb was reopened to the public, giving visitors from around the world the opportunity to explore this remarkable archaeological site.

XVI. Rumored Curse

Curse of the Pharaohs

Exploring the enduring myth of the Curse of the Pharaohs:

  • Rumors and Superstitions Surrounding the Curse: Delve into the superstitions and rumors that have surrounded the supposed curse associated with disturbing the resting place of pharaohs.

Deaths of Individuals Associated with the Tomb

Examining the unfortunate deaths of those linked to the tomb's discovery:

  • Notable Individuals Affected by the Curse: Learn about the individuals who were believed to be affected by the curse, including members of the archaeological team and other prominent figures.

Explanations for Deaths

Seeking rational explanations for the fatalities attributed to the curse:

  • Analysis of Deaths Related to the Tomb: Analyze the circumstances surrounding the deaths of individuals associated with the tomb's discovery and consider alternative explanations.
  • Scientific Theories and Explanations: Explore scientific theories and explanations that challenge the supernatural aspects of the curse, shedding light on the true causes of these unfortunate events.

XVII. Legacy

Tutankhamun's Fame

Exploring the reasons behind Tutankhamun's enduring fame:

  • Fame Attributed to His Well-Preserved Tomb: Discover how the remarkable preservation of Tutankhamun's tomb contributed to his lasting fame in the world of archaeology and history.
  • The Transformation of Tutankhamun into "King Tut": Learn about the modern neologism "King Tut" and how it became synonymous with the young pharaoh's name, perpetuating his legacy.
  • Incorporation of Ancient Egyptian References in Popular Culture: Explore how Tutankhamun's legacy has influenced popular culture, from music to merchandise, with references to ancient Egypt becoming common.

International Exhibitions

Highlighting the global exhibitions of Tutankhamun's artifacts:

  • Introduction of Tutankhamun's Artifacts to the World: Learn about the groundbreaking exhibitions that brought Tutankhamun's treasures to international audiences, sparking worldwide fascination.
  • The 1962 Louvre Museum Exhibition: Discover how a 1962 exhibition at the Louvre Museum in Paris, organized by Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, played a pivotal role in the Tutankhamun revival.
  • Tutankhamun Revival and Impact on Egyptology: Explore how these exhibitions revitalized interest in Egyptology and led to new discoveries about ancient Egypt.
  • The Treasures of Tutankhamun Tour (1972-1979): Learn about the global tour of Tutankhamun's artifacts, starting at the British Museum in 1972 and attracting millions of visitors.
  • Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs (2005-2008): Explore the 2005 exhibition that showcased Tutankhamun's treasures and other 18th Dynasty funerary objects, drawing millions of attendees.
  • International Tour "King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" (2019-2022): Discover the latest international tour of Tutankhamun's artifacts, featuring a wide array of treasures and cultural significance.

Exhibition Highlights

Examining noteworthy aspects of Tutankhamun exhibitions:

  • Inclusion of Artifacts from Tutankhamun's Predecessors: Learn how exhibitions often featured artifacts not only from Tutankhamun's tomb but also from the reigns of his immediate predecessors.
  • Absence of the Iconic Gold Mask in Recent Exhibitions: Discover why the iconic gold mask, a prominent feature of earlier exhibitions, was not included in recent displays.

Future Housing

Discussing plans for the permanent housing of Tutankhamun's treasures:

  • The Plan to Permanently House the Treasures: Explore the intentions to provide a permanent and secure home for Tutankhamun's priceless artifacts.
  • The Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo: Learn about the state-of-the-art museum in Cairo designed to house these treasures, preserving them for future generations.
  • Expected Opening Date: Stay informed about the anticipated opening date of the Grand Egyptian Museum, where Tutankhamun's legacy will continue to shine.


In conclusion, the life and legacy of King Tutankhamun, often affectionately known as "King Tut," have left an indelible mark on the world's understanding of ancient Egypt. Despite ascending to the throne at a remarkably young age and reigning for a relatively short time, Tutankhamun's impact on history and archaeology is immeasurable.

His reign witnessed a return to traditional Egyptian religion and the restoration of stability in a time of turbulence. His tomb, discovered by Howard Carter in 1922, revealed an astonishing array of well-preserved artifacts, captivating the global imagination and sparking a revival of interest in Egyptology.

Tutankhamun's fame extended far beyond his lifetime, with international exhibitions showcasing his treasures to millions of visitors worldwide. While his reign may have been brief, his cultural significance endures through the artifacts, temples, and museums that continue to honor his memory.

As we look to the future, the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of King Tutankhamun, a pharaoh whose name has become synonymous with the wonders of ancient Egypt. His story serves as a reminder of the power of discovery, the richness of history, and the enduring fascination with one of the world's most enigmatic rulers.

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