Tutankhamun was an ancient Egyptian king, and the discovery of his tomb in 1922 made the mummified teenager one of the most famous pharaohs. Although volumes have been written about Tutankhamun, who came to be called King Tut, much remains unknown. Scholars still debate about his parentage, as well as the cause of his death.
Many Egyptologists accept the common belief that Tutankhamun was the son of Akhenaten and one of his wives, Kiya. However, Tutankhamun's parentage remains questionable, and some scholars speculate that his father may have been Amenhotep III, who is generally believed to be Akhenaten's father. Tutankhamun was born Tutankhuaten, meaning the "living image of Aten." He later changed his name to Tutankhamun, meaning the "living image of Amun". Aten was a solar deity worshipped by Akhenaten and his followers. Amun was a deity once recognized as "King of the Gods."
The Boy King
Tutankhamun ruled between 1334 and 1325 B.C. Archaeologists believe he was the 12th ruler of Egypt's 18th dynasty. Tutankhamun was known as the boy king because he took the throne at the age of nine. Some scholars maintain that he was just seven or eight years old. Since he was so young, King Tutankhamun was no more than a figurehead. His royal and military advisers actually ran the kingdom. In the same year that he became king, he was married to his half sister, Ankhesenpaaten, who later changed her name to Ankhesenamun.
From Polytheism to Monotheism and Back Again
Under the rule of Akhenaten, polytheism was abolished. Akhenaten instigated the monotheistic worship of one supreme deity, Aten, the sun god. Akhenaten was revered as a living deity, and only he and the royal family could communicate with the god Aten directly. The priests of Amun, who no longer held any power, were not happy with the religion that was being forced on them. During his reign, King Tutankhamun restored polytheism. He also sought to restore diplomatic relations with Egypt's neighbors who had been overlooked during previous reigns and moved the royal court from Amarna to Memphis.
The Death of King Tut
Most scholars agree that Tutankhamun was approximately 19 years of age when he died. The young king had no living children, although it seems that he and his wife had two daughters who were either stillborn or died in infancy. Their mummified remains were found in Tutankhamun's tomb. The cause of Tutankhamun's death remains unknown. One of the most common theories is that he may have died from an infection resulting from a broken leg. Other theories suggest that Tutankhamun may have been murdered as a means to usurp the throne. The ancient Egyptian pharaohs believed that if their name was remembered, their soul would live on, and King Tutankhamun's name is certainly well known.
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