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The damage to Tutankhamun's skull, which early historians cited as proof that he was murdered, has come to be understood as the work of the embalmers who removed the brain; and the injuries to the body of the skeleton are the result of its removal from the sarcophagus during the CE excavation when the head was removed from the body and the skeleton was violently pried loose because it was stuck to the bottom of the sarcophagus with resin. It has also been speculated that Tutankhamun died of an untreated abscessed tooth or infection from a broken leg but these theories have also been disproved.

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Another theory is that Tutankhamun was the product of an incestuous union and so was simply not genetically disposed to a long life. Historians who support this theory point to the two children of Tutankhamun and Ankhsenamun who were both stillborn their mummies were buried with their father and discovered in his tomb as physical evidence of the incestuous practices of Egyptian royalty of the 18th dynasty. Whether Akhenaten and Kiya were related, however, is not known and so this theory also cannot be confirmed.

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All that is clearly known is that Tutankhamun died in January of BCE and that his death was unexpected as evidenced by the hasty construction of his tomb. Hawass notes:. The country would have fallen in disorder at the sudden death of Tutankhamun, who left the land with no heir. At the moment of his death, it is possible that Egypt was engaged in battle with the Hittites, in which case it is likely that Horemheb, who might otherwise have been expected to take the throne, was in the north leading the troops.

Another high official, [named] Ay, supervised the king's trip to the afterlife instead. By burying Tutankhamun, Ay proclaimed himself the next king Ankhsenamun was now expected to marry Ay in order to ensure the continued balance of the land but she clearly had other ideas. She wrote to the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I for help:. My husband has died and I have no son. They say that you have many sons.

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You might give me one of your sons and he might become my husband. I would not want to take one of my servants. I am loath to make him my husband Hawass, While Egyptian pharaohs often married foreign women , it was unheard of for an Egyptian woman, especially one of royal blood, to marry a foreigner. This would have been as much an affront to universal harmony as Akhenaten's reforms had been.

In fact, it was a long-standing practice in Egypt to refuse to send women as wives to foreign countries and this would have been understood by Ankhsenamun even as she wrote her letters. That she would make this gesture, in defiance of tradition and the concept of ma'at, shows her desperate circumstances but why, exactly, she was so desperate is not clear. The letters of Ankhsenamun, however, have been cited by those who support the theory that Tutankhamun was murdered by Ay or through a plot involving both Ay and Horemheb.

The Hittite king was more than happy to oblige Ankhsenamun and sent one of his sons, Zananza, to Egypt; but the prince never arrived. He was killed at some point before reaching Egypt's borders and it has long been suggested that this was the work of Horemheb and, perhaps, Ay. Whether Ankhsenamun married Ay is not known. She disappears from the historical record after the incident with the Hittite king. Ay ruled Egypt for three years and died without an heir. Horemheb then took the throne. As he was not of royal blood, he needed something to legitimize his reign and he chose religion as the most effective means in this.

Claiming that he had been chosen by the god Horus of Hutsenu to restore Egypt to prominence and glory, he instituted a program of return to orthodox religious practices. He destroyed all public records and monuments erected by Akhenaten and erased the memory of Tutankhamun. Hawass points out that, "He tried, in fact, to erase all evidence of Akhenaten and his immediate successors from the pages of history" Tutankhamun's tomb was buried by the sands and his name was forgotten until Howard Carter and his team discovered the site in CE.

The tomb was broken into twice during the reign of Ay and resealed and then, because Horemheb had erased Tutankhamun's name from the records, the tomb was overlooked by grave robbers and remained intact until its discovery in the 20th century CE. Hawass writes, "By effectively wiping the name of Tutankhamun from the annals of the pharaohs, Horemheb actually succeeded in insuring that the name of the golden king would resound through the corridors of time" The treasures from the tomb of Tutankhamun have regularly drawn crowds in Egypt and also whenever they have gone on exhibit outside of their present home at the National Museum in Cairo.

His fame rests mainly on the magnificent artifacts found in his tomb and the sensational discovery which was headline news worldwide on 4 November CE. The curse myth comes from a misinterpretation of an inscription found in the tomb. The curse myth spread quickly and seemed corroborated by an event which took place a few months after the tomb was opened. After Carnarvon, the death of anyone who was in any way involved in opening the tomb was blamed on the curse. Regarding this, Hawass writes:. In fact, there were no real mysteries surrounding the death of Carnarvon.

He died of blood poisoning triggered by [an] infected mosquito bite, which he had cut open with his razor while shaving…the mortality rate of the people most closely associated with the tomb was very low. Arthur Mace died in , but he had been sickly for a long time. Carter himself lived until , Breasted died in ; Lucas died in ; Gardiner lived until ; and Lady Evelyn died in at the age of seventy-nine The curse, which was never a curse to begin with, is still associated with Tutankhamun and this, along with the story of the discovery of his tomb and its splendor, has made his name famous around the world and kept his memory alive.

Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication. We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Become a Member. Mark, J.

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Ancient History Encyclopedia. Mark, Joshua J. Last modified April 01, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 01 Apr Written by Joshua J. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. Mark published on 01 April Remove Ads Advertisement. Tutankhamun's reforms would have an immense impact on the people of Egypt.

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About the Author Joshua J. Mark has lived in Greece and Germany and traveled through Egypt. He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy at the college level. Related Content Filters: All.


Articles 8. The concept of the afterlife changed in different eras of Egypt's Although marriages in ancient Egypt were arranged for communal The practice of mummifying the dead began in ancient Egypt c. A story on a papyrus dating from the 2nd century CE relates that Help us write more We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. National Geographic 01 June Bloomsbury Visual Arts 27 December Who Was the Father of Tutankhamun? Books on Demand 30 November Bibliography Bunson, M.

Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Osiris was the Egyptian god of the afterlife. Ancient Egyptians believed that kings preserved in the likeness of Osiris would rule the Kingdom of the Dead. It never totally replaced the older cult of the sun, in which dead kings were thought to be reanimated as the sun-god Re, whose body was made of gold and lapis lazuli.

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This confluence of old and new beliefs resulted in a mixture of emblems inside Tutankhamun's sarcophagus and tomb. Although it is usually removed when the mask is on display, it has a triple-string necklace of gold and blue faience disc-beads with lotus flower terminals and uraeus clasps.

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King Tut did more in death for the knowledge of ancient Egypt than he ever accomplished in life.

Tutankhamen: Life and Death of a Pharaoh. The Griffith Institute. University of Oxford. Retrieved 28 November The Unknown Tutankhamun. Bloomsbury Academic. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 10 April Ahram Online. Retrieved 18 December The Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The American University in Cairo Press. Dr Zahi Hawass. The New York Times. Retrieved 16 December Daily News Egypt. Retrieved 24 January CNN News. Retrieved 1 July Tour Egypt. Retrieved 19 December Treasures of Tutankhamun.

Curse of the pharaohs Exhibitions.

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