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Everyone knows King Tut. THe treasures found in his undisturbed tomb are the riches of a king and we have never found another tomb containing the riches that were found by Carter in 1922. We look at the contents of his tomb, the golden sarcophagi and the huge multi-layered boxes encasing his mummy and judge him a great king.
In fact, he was a little known pharaoh who reigned only about nine years as a young boy (he came to the throne at the age of nine) . The only truly interesting thing about him is a question of why he died so young and if anyone was responsible for it.
He is best known in Egyptian history as the pharaoh who returned to the worship of the traditional god Amun and the return of the priests of Amun to power in Thebes after the short, heretical period of worship of the sun-disk Aten by Akhenaton. He re-opened the temples of Amun and began major building campaigns in Luxor and Karnak. In fact, it is written that he paid the temple staff from his own coffers. The 'Restoration Stela" in Karnak tells the story of these activities.
The precise relationship between Akhenaton and his successor Smenkhkare to the young king are unknown. There are suggestions that Tutankhamun was the son of Akhenaton and Nefertiti, or that perhaps he was the brother of Akhenaton. He may have been a distant relative, or a cousin. He is often listed as the son of Smenkhkare -- who himself (herself?) may be either a son of Akhenaton, a brother, or, most surprisingly, his wife, Nefertiti.
He was originally named Tutankhaten and it is assumed that he was raised in Amarna. AFter the death of Akhenaton, however, he changed his name to Tutankhamun (I was told to pronounce this as 'toot-ahnk-uh-MOON', not the common pronunciation of 'toot'n-kah-m'n' that we often hear. The name is really three words -- Tut -ankh-amun, and should be pronounced as such).
When he was crowned at nine years old, he obviously took the throne with the help of advisors and chancellors, includingAy and Horemheb, who would eventually come to the throne themselves. The royal advisors managed the affairs of state while the young boy on the throne remained a figurehead.
Tutankhamun died when he was sixteen or seventeen years old, after less than 10 years on the throne. Current theories about as to the cause of death; common belief is that he was murdered by one of his advisors, based on the fact that fragment of bone can be seen in the skull of his mummy. The piece of bone leads some to believe that he was struck on the back of the head and, thus, murdered. The prime candidates are his two advisors -- chancellor Ay and General Horemheb. It is often stated that he died at the end of August but was not buried until November, a theory borne out by the observation that his body had begun to decay by the time it was mummified.
The famous tomb is not originally his tomb. KV23 was originally intended for Tutankhamun, but when he died it was unfinished and he was hastily buried in KV62 with the thousands of magnificent burial goods; however, they are undecorated. This was more like a storage room than a tomb. Inside the tomb two smaller coffins were also found, containing mummified fetuses that are believed to be his children, born prematurely to his young wife.