The pharaohs of ancient Egypt had immense power and wealth, and great responsibilites. He made offerings to gain the gods’ favour, he performed ceremonies to ensure that the land would be fertile, and he had a duty to build monuments which would please the gods. He made the laws, and was also commander-in-chief of the army. His most important role was to maintain harmony and order and hold the regions of Upper and Lower Egypt together.
Very little is known about Tutankhamun. Experts still disagree about who he really was. Some think he was Akhenaten’s son, others believe he was Akhenaten’s brother.
It is thought that Tutankhamum was brought up in Akhenaten’s royal court at El-Armana. He became pharaoh, aged nine, in 1336 BC, and was crowned at Memphis.
He married his half-sister, Ankhesenamun. They had no children who survived, and two foetuses found in the tomb may have been their stillborn daughters.
Because Tutankhamun was just a boy, he was very dependent on his ministers. Most important decisions were taken by Ay, the elderly chief minister, and Horemheb, the head of the army.
The young king reintroduced the worship of Amun and the other gods. As a sign of this, he changed his name from its earlier version, Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun.
He died suddenly in 1327 BC, the ninth year of his reign, aged 18. He was succeeded by Ay.
Was He Murdered?
Two post mortems have been carried out on Tutankhamun’s corpse. Neither could prove the cause of death, but damage to the skull suggested that he either had an accident or was hit on the head. It is believed that Ay had Tutankhamun murdered so that he could be pharaoh.
An X-ray, taken in 1968, of Tutankhamun’s skull shows a piece of bone inside the skull. This could have been caused by a fall, a blow to the head, or the mummification process. Recent evidence suggests a blow was the most likely cause, so he was probably murdered.