*MISTERY OF TUTANKHAMUN*
The discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb by Howard Carter in 1922 is considered the most important archaeological find of the century. After years of painstaking work in the
Valley of the Kings, Carter's patron, Lord Carnarvon, had warned him that that would be the last season of work because nothing significant had been found. On November
22 of that year, Carter's persistence finally paid off. Tutankhamun became a household name, and his magnificent treasures became the measuring stick for all future
archaeological discoveries. The mysteries surrounding his life and death are gradually being solved. And his story continues to unfold as new theories are proposed in an
attempt to explain what really happened to the boy behind the golden mask.
The discovery of Tutankhamun's mummy revealed that he was about 17 when he died and was
likely to have inherited the throne at the age of eight or nine. He is thought to have been the son of Akhenaten, commonly known as the 'heretic king'. Akhenaten replaced
the traditional cult of 'Amun' with his solar deity 'Aten', thus asserting his authority as pharaoh in a new way. According to the most important document of Tutankhamun's
reign, the Restoration Stele, his father's supposed reforms left the country in a bad state. Consequently the traditional gods, seeing their temples in ruins and their cults
abolished, had abandoned Egypt to chaos. When Tutankhamun came to the throne, his administration restored the old religion and moved the capital from Akhetaten back
to its traditional home at Memphis. He changed his name from Tutankhaten - 'living image of Aten [the sun god]' - to Tutankhamun, in honour of Amun. His queen,
Ankhesenpaaten, the third daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, also changed the name on her throne to read Ankhesenamun. Although the reign of Tutankhamun is often
thought to have little historical importance, his monuments tell a different story. He began repairing the damage inflicted upon the temples of Amun during Akhenaten's
iconoclastic reign. He constructed his tomb in the Valley of the Kings, near that of Amenophis III, and one colossal statue still survives of the mortuary temple he began to
build at Medinet Habu. He also continued construction at the temple of Karnak and finished the second of a pair of red granite lions at Soleb.
The question of how the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen died has endured since his tomb was first discovered in 1922, but with a little bit of good fortune and a lot of great
science, a team of researchers appears to have finally solved the mystery. Over the years, scientists have puzzled over King Tut's life and death. It's generally thought that
he was a sheltered young king, protected from potential dangers by his elders, that he may have suffered from epilepsy, and he died as a result of a broken leg (possibly due
to suffering a fall during a seizure). Research in the '60s even proposed that he was the victim of a brutal assassination. However, more recent evidence tells a very different
story. The extensive injuries suffered by the boy king just before he died including crushed ribs, a shattered pelvis and a broken leg, as well as the mummy's missing heart
point to a more active life, and it was very likely a chariot accident that ultimately caused his death. The idea that he died in a chariot accident, possibly while out hunting or
maybe even during a joy-ride, has been around for a few years now.
The most recent findings, though, came from a few fortunate discoveries. Dr. Chris Naunton, the director
of the Egypt Exploration Society, found mention in Howard Carter's original notes that Tut's body had been burned, and Liverpool University anthropologist Dr. Robert
Connolly discovered a strip of Tut's skin in his collection.
Examination of the skin under an electron microscope confirmed the charring, and chemical analysis showed that a
reaction caused by the combination of embalming oils, the linens that wrapped him and oxygen caused Tut's body to spontaneously combust after it was sealed away in its
sarcophagus. Adding scientists from the Cranfield Forensic Institute to the team, a 'virtual autopsy' was performed on Tut's mummy, giving the team a good look at all the
injuries he'd sustained before his death.
Tutankhamun was the son of Akhenaten (formerly Amenhotep IV) and one of Akhenaten's sisters, or perhaps one of his cousins. As a prince he was known as
Tutankhaten. He ascended to the throne in 1333 BC, at the age of nine or ten, taking the throne name Nebkheperure. His wet-nurse was a woman called Maia, known from
her tomb at Saqqara.
When he became king, he married his half-sister, Ankhesenpaaten, who later changed her name to Ankhesenamun. They had two daughters, both stillborn. Computed
tomography studies released in 2011 revealed that one daughter died at 5–6 months of pregnancy and the other at 9 months of pregnancy. No evidence was found in either
mummy of congenital anomalies or an apparent cause of death. In his third regnal year, Tutankhamun reversed several changes made during his father's reign. He ended the
worship of the god Aten and restored the god Amun to supremacy. The ban on the cult of Amun was lifted and traditional privileges were restored to its priesthood. The
capital was moved back to Thebes and the city of Akhetaten abandoned. This is when he changed his name to Tutankhamun, "Living image of Amun", reinforcing the
restoration of Amun.