Forgotten Facts About King Tut, The Boy Pharaoh

Tutankhamun, often referred to as King Tut, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh and the last of his family’s line during the New Kingdom period of Egyptian history. He ascended the throne at the young age of eight or nine years and ruled for nine years until his death in 1325 BC. In 1922, Howard Carter discovered Tut’s nearly untouched tomb with over 5,000 artifacts, sparking worldwide interest in ancient Egyptian culture, with Tutankhamun becoming a symbol of ancient times. Now, take a look into the personal life of Tutankhamun and what made the boy king’s reign so notable.

He Changed His Name

Statue of Amun
Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty Images
Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty Images

Although most people know him as Tutankhamun or King Tut, his original name at birth was actually Tutankhaten. The name translates to “living image of the Aten,” who was the sun god that his parents worshiped and decided to name their son after.

While ruling as a teenager, he made the decision to stop following his parent’s god and chose to worship Amun instead, who was the King of the Gods. This led him to change his name to Tutankhamun, which means “living image of Amun.”

He Wasn’t Left To Rule The Country On His Own

image of Tut sitting on his throne
Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images
Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images

Tut was just a small boy when he became Pharaoh of Egypt and was only seven years old when his father, Akhenaten, died. Two years later, Tut was named king at the age of eight or nine, although he was not left without guidance.

Until he was of age, the country was run by viziers, in particular, a man named Ay, who is thought to have been related to Tut. Upon being named pharaoh, he took the throne name of Nebkheperure, which he would have been referred to as by his people.

Rumors About The Pharaoh’s Curse Began To Circulate After The Discovery Of His Tomb

Photograph of Howard Carter and Carnarvon
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Known around the world, the Pharaoh’s Curse is allegedly inflicted upon any person who disturbs a mummy from ancient Egypt, especially that of a pharaoh. After Tut’s tomb was discovered, belief in the curse became increasingly widespread, especially with the help of author Marie Corelli.

After the opening of Tut’s tomb, Corelli documented that Lord Carnarvon, who was present at the opening, got a mosquito bite that became infected and resulted in his death. Although there are curses written on the walls of some tombs, the Pharaoh’s Curse is essentially baseless.

He Changed The Religion Of Egypt

Tut and Amun statues
DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini via Getty Images
DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini via Getty Images

During his reign, one of the biggest decisions that he made was changing the religion of Egypt. However, he didn’t create a new religion; instead, he reverted back to Egypt’s former religion, which had been disowned by his father in favor of the sun god Aten.

His father’s decision to do this was not popular among people who didn’t like being told stop worshiping Amun and to start worshiping Aten. So, Tut went back to worshiping Amun which helped him win over the favor of the people.

Not The Biggest Tomb Around

Inside King Tut's tomb
Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images
Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images

For a pharaoh, King Tut’s tomb is relatively small in size. It’s the smallest tomb in the Valley of Kings, whereas other pharaohs had massive monuments built for them. One theory is that after Tut’s death, his close adviser Ay ended up switching tombs with the former king.

This is because once Ay died, he was buried in the most lavish tomb in the Western Valley. Due to the small size of Tut’s tomb, for some time, archaeologists believed that there was a hidden room behind one of the walls, possibly the location of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb. However, no such room has been found.

His Grandmother Was An Influential Woman

Statue of Queen Tiye
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Ancient Egypt was a highly progressive civilization, especially when it came to gender equality, as both men and women ruled Egypt. Tut’s grandmother, Queen Tiye, was a particularly influential woman.

Marrying King Amenhotep III when she was just 11 or 12 years old, it has been revealed that she played a major role in a lot of the decisions that he made during his reign. She is the first Egyptian queen to be recorded in records, with many people speaking to the king through her. Even the portraits made of her contained elements that were typically reserved for pharaohs!

His Death Mask Is A Icon Of Ancient Egypt

king Tut's death mask
MyLoupe/UIG Via Getty Images
MyLoupe/UIG Via Getty Images

Arguably the most recognizable and famous symbol of ancient Egypt, King Tut’s death mask is definitely something to marvel at. Royal death masks were used in ancient Egypt to cover the faces of the mummy so that the soul would recognize its body as well as to guard against evil spirits in the afterlife.

Tut’s mask is made of solid gold, weighs well over twenty pounds, and is decorated with semi-precious stones with its eyes made from obsidian and quartz. However, research has suggested the mask was intended for Nefertiti, as her name was found partially erased on the inside of the mask.

There Was A Slight Issue With The Burial

Drawing of Tut's burial
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

King Tut’s mummy was buried beneath three separate golden coffins that were stacked inside of each other. Those three coffins were then placed in a large rectangular stone sarcophagus. As it turns out, the outer coffin was too big, resulting in the stone sarcophagus not shutting properly.

Carpenters were brought in, and the toe of the coffin lid was cut off so the sarcophagus could be tightly sealed. When Howard found the tomb, chippings from the coffin were lying at the base of the sarcophagus.

He Enjoyed Hunting Ostriches

King Tut's fan
Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images
Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images

Ostriches were revered birds in ancient Egypt, and hunting them was considered to be to a royal sport, which Tut frequently participated in. An ostrich-feather fan was found in his tomb with a golden handle and palm-shaped piece that held 42 ostrich feathers.

Although the feathers have disintegrated, writing on the handle states they were taken by Tut himself while hunting in present-day Cairo. On the fan itself is a relief of Tut on his chariot hunting and returning with his kill.

An Iron Dagger Was Likely One Of His Prized Possessions

Iron and gold dagger
ShantiUniverse
ShantiUniverse

While excavating Tut’s burial site, Howard Carter discovered two daggers wrapped inside Tut’s mummification bandages. One of them was a typical knife with a golden blade, and the other was incredibly valuable with an iron blade.

In ancient Egypt, iron was a rare and precious metal, referred to as “iron from the sky,” because it was almost entirely taken from meteorites, which is likely how the blade was made. The knife is also believed to be important after researchers discovered that King Tushratta of Mitanni sent a metal dagger to Amenhotep III, Tut’s grandfather. So, it’s possible that the dagger is also a valuable family heirloom.

It Is Suspected That He Was Assassinated

Drawing of King Horemheb
Bildagentur-online/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Bildagentur-online/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Horemheb was a close adviser to King Tut. However, he is also suspected of assassinating him. Upon Tut’s death, he became his successor and was named the Pharaoh of Egypt.

After taking the throne, he attempted to wipe away the history of his close predecessors, destroying all records and even erasing their names from monuments and replacing them with his own. In a sense, he succeeded, as many of the previous kings were almost forgotten until the discovery of Tut’s tomb in the 20th century.

He Suffered A Terrible Accident

King Tut rising a chariot and firing a bow
Roger Wood/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Roger Wood/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

After the inspection of King Tut’s remains, it was revealed that he had been involved in a serious accident that resulted in the shattering of his rib cage, damage to internal organs, and a broken pelvis. His injuries were comparable to someone who had been in a modern-day car accident.

It is known that Tut frequently used chariots as a form of transportation and for recreation, so it’s assumed that he could have been involved in a serious accident in one. It still hasn’t been discovered whether his injuries were the cause of his death.

His Burial Jars Were Unique

Burial jars in Tut's image
MyLoupe/UIG Via Getty Images
MyLoupe/UIG Via Getty Images

During the mummification process, a person’s organs such as the lungs, intestines, stomach, and liver are removed from the body, embalmed, and stored in what are known as canopic jars.

The ancient Egyptians believed that the deceased would need their organs in the afterlife, and each jar’s lid was commonly carved to symbolize the sons of Horus. Tut’s canopic jars, on the other hand, were not carved to depict any gods but instead were in his likeness.

His Body Looked Like It Had Been Burned

Painting of the discovery of the tomb
Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis via Getty Images
Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis via Getty Images

After the tomb of King Tut was finally discovered, researchers noticed his body looked like it had been burned inside the coffin. Eventually, researchers discovered that his body and coffins were covered in resin and oil that could have caught fire.

After the oils had soaked into his burial shroud, when exposed to oxygen, combusted, and started a small fire in the coffin. The reason he was covered in the resin remains unknown.

He Was Buried Without A Heart

Scarab made up of precious stones
DEA / S. VANNINI/De Agostini via Getty Images
DEA / S. VANNINI/De Agostini via Getty Images

The Egyptians mummified important people who had died so that they could be whole in the afterlife. Typically, the internal organs were removed and placed in jars to be buried with the body, although the brain was disposed of.

The ancient Egyptians believed that the heart was a person’s source of reasoning, so they made sure to keep the heart within the body after death. However, King Tut was buried without a heart, which was replaced with an amulet of a scarab that was inscribed with a funerary spell. Researchers still debate over the reason.

There’s A Replica Of His Tomb

inside the replica of the tomb
DEA PICTURE LIBRARY/De Agostini via Getty Images
DEA PICTURE LIBRARY/De Agostini via Getty Images

Because of the fascination surrounding King Tut, his tomb has become an incredibly popular tourist attraction. However, the vast number of people visiting his burial site has resulted in some serious wear and tear on the tomb. In an attempt to preserve what remains of the historical site, Egyptian conservationists have created a life-size replica of the tomb in order to satisfy people’s curiosity.

Using 3D printing, they have been able to make the replica almost identical to the real thing, even down to the sand on the floor. Although the project was met with some resistance, it’s believed to be the best way to protect the tomb.

He Was The Product Of Incest And Paid For It

Statue of Tut
Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images
Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images

In 2010, researchers running DNA tests on King Tut’s remains discovered something peculiar about his ancestry. They believed that he was the son of the pharaoh Akhenaten and one of his sisters.

At the time, this wouldn’t have been unusual as the royal families made efforts to keep their bloodlines pure, believing they were descended from the gods. Because of this, Tut suffered from congenital defects such as a cleft palate, scoliosis, a club foot that required him to walk using a cane, and an incredibly weak immune system.

He Wasn’t Buried Alone

Howard Carter looking in sarcophagus
Apic/Getty Images
Apic/Getty Images

On top of his lavish sarcophagus, Tut was also buried with thousands of possessions such as clothing, chariots, weapons, furniture, and more. Also found in the tomb were two small coffins that contained two fetuses.

DNA testing showed that one of the remains was his stillborn daughter, and it is assumed the other was his daughter as well. With both of his children dying, Tut left behind no heirs, and it is believed that any that lived would have been born with congenital disorders.

He Married His Half-Sister

Tut and his wife
DEA / S. VANNINI/De Agostini via Getty Images
DEA / S. VANNINI/De Agostini via Getty Images

After ascending the throne around 1332 BC, Tut married his half-sister Ankhesenamun, the daughter of Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti. It is assumed that none of their children lived due to the effects of incest, although it remains unclear.

When Tut died at the age of 19, evidence shows that Ankhesenamun may have reached out to the king of the Hittites with hopes to marry one of his sons, but ended up marrying Tut’s advisor, Ay, instead. After her marriage, Ankhesenamun slowly disappeared from history.

Tut Was A Skilled Archer

Compound bow found in tomb
STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images
STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images

The bow and arrow was a popular weapon in ancient Egypt, used for both warfare and recreation. Judging by the number of arrows and bows found in his tomb, researchers have concluded that King Tut was a skilled archer, especially when riding a chariot.

In total, there were 14 regular bows, 32 composite bows, and more than 400 arrows. The people who buried him wanted to make sure that he had enough archery equipment to satisfy Tut in the afterlife.