Tutankhamun: The Boy King of Egypt

Tutankhamun: The Boy King of Egypt

On November 26, 1922, egyptologist Howard
Carter entered the tomb he discovered just a few weeks prior. After decades of fruitless searching, he found
something more amazing than he could have ever hoped for. When asked if he saw anything inside, he simply
replied “Yes, wonderful things.” Carter had located the tomb of a pharaoh from
the 18th dynasty who ruled over ancient Egypt during the 14th century BC. More importantly, though, it was a tomb that
had been mostly undisturbed for over 3,000 years. That pharaoh was Tutankhamun, who ascended
to the throne as a young boy and who died when he reached adulthood. His life was short and lacked accomplishments,
but that did not matter. For Tutankhamun, death was only the beginning… He achieved far more fame and glory in death
than he could have ever dreamed of while he ruled over the land of the Nile. This young king and his tomb rich with artifacts
helped modern society understand ancient Egypt far better than anyone else and, in the process,
turned King Tut into the most famous pharaoh in history. Family Life Ok, let’s start off with the name. We all know him as Tutankhamun, but things
were not really that simple. In fact, according to the royal protocol of
ancient Egypt, the full titulary of the pharaohs contained five names. First was their Horus name, the oldest cognomen
which dated all the way back to prehistory. In Tut’s case, this was Ka nakht tut mesut. Then came the Nebty name, or the Two Ladies,
referring to the goddesses Nekhbet and Wadjet. For Tut, this was Nefer hepu segereh tawy. Then there was the Golden Horus name which,
for Tut, was Wetjes khau sehotep netjeru. Lastly, there were the throne name, or prenomen,
and personal name, or nomen. They were the ones that pharaohs were typically
referred by and are similar to our standard of first name and last name. For our young pharaoh, these were Neb kheperu
Ra and Tut ankh Amun. These last two names were always marked distinctly
in Egyptian inscriptions to show that they referred to a royal name by encasing them
in an oval with a line at one end called a cartouche. So, if we put it all together and translate
it, Tut’s full name would have been “The strong bull, pleasing of birth; One of perfect
laws, who pacifies the Two Lands; Elevated of appearances who satisfied the gods; Lord
of the forms of Ra; The living image of Amun.” That’s quite the mouthful so it is not surprising
that most people simply call him Tutankhamun, although there are some ancient inscriptions
with variants on his name which are even longer. You would think that is the end of it, but
there is actually one more point to make about his name. When he was born circa 1341 BC, his personal
name was actually Tutankhaten, meaning “the living image of Aten.” This was because of his father, Akhenaten
or Amenhotep IV, who was one of the most controversial pharaohs in history and someone you will likely
see on this channel in the future. The religion of ancient Egypt is still pretty
well-known to this day as we’ve all heard of gods like Horus, and Anubis, and Osiris,
and, most important of all, the Sun God Amun-Ra. Well, Akhenaten decided to do away with all
of that and focus worship on a single deity – Aten the sun disk. The pharaoh even had a new city built dedicated
to the god which was intended to function as the new capital of his empire. He called it Akhetaten, modern day Amarna. Suffice to say that the people did not take
too kindly to this religious revolution. After Akhenaten died, they quickly relocated
the capital back to Thebes and went back to their old religion. They even submitted Akhenaten to damnatio
memoriae, the practice where they try to completely wipe him from history by erasing his name
from all inscriptions. Well, we are talking about him right now so,
clearly, they did not do a very good job, but this is why Tutankhamun originally had
the name Tutankhaten and why he changed it afterwards. As far as Tut’s mother goes, she is a bit
more of a mystery since surviving inscriptions do not make her identity clear. Some egyptologists argue that his mother was
Nefertiti herself, the famous Egyptian queen who was Akhenaten’s main wife, or Great
Royal Wife, as she was called. Others are convinced that his mother was an
unnamed mummy discovered over a century ago, referred to simply as the Younger Lady. Modern DNA tests support this assertion, but
some experts are still not convinced. Some of them argue that the tests are inconclusive
due to decayed samples while others opine that the mummy is, in fact, Nefertiti, as
her remains have never been found. The Reign of King Tut Tutankhamun’s ascension to the throne is
somewhat murky because, as we said, later pharaohs tried to make it look like that part
of their history never happened. To the best of our knowledge, Akhenaten reigned
for 17 years and was followed by two short reigns before Tutankhamun took the throne. Those reigns belonged to Smenkhkare, a pharaoh
about whom we know almost nothing, and Neferneferuaten, a female pharaoh who was, most likely, Nefertiti,
or one of Akhenaten’s daughters. One or both of them may have reigned as co-regents
with Akhenaten prior to his death. Around 1334 BC, Tutankhamun assumed power. He was still just a young boy, only eight
or nine years old, so his decisions were heavily influenced by his advisors. Particularly, one advisor named Ay who served
at the king’s court since the time of Akhenaten. It is believed he was the main power hiding
in the shadows who actually made the decisions during Tut’s reign and, indeed, after the
young king died, Ay became the new pharaoh. He only lasted for a few years before he was
succeeded by another one of Tut’s officials, Horemheb, who ended up serving as the last
pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. Tutankhamun’s 10-year reign as ruler of
Egypt was unremarkable. The country was still in chaos due to his
father’s religious revolution and the young pharaoh, undoubtedly guided by his advisors,
renounced his father’s ideas and began restoring things to how they were before the Amarna
period. This mostly involved rebuilding temples, monuments,
and stelae which were either destroyed or defaced during the time of Akhenaten; abandoning
the city of Akhetaten and moving the capital back to Thebes, and changing his name from
Tut-ankh-aten to Tut-ankh-amun to show the pharaoh’s devotion to the once-mighty god. Tut married his half-sister, Ankhesenamun,
and together they had two daughters who both died in infancy. Some scholars believe that the queen went
on to marry Ay after Tutankhamun’s death, but there isn’t conclusive evidence to support
this. Perhaps the most noteworthy event that happened
during that time came courtesy not of King Tut, but his wife. After the young pharaoh’s death, Ankhesenamun
may have wrote a letter to the King of the Hittites, Suppiluliuma I, asking for one of
his sons in marriage. The Hittites had long been a thorn in Egypt’s
side and, taking advantage of the chaos during the reign of Akhenaten, they grew to be just
as powerful. It would have been the first time that the
son of a foreign king would have ruled over Egypt and, obviously, Suppiluliuma was over
the moon with this idea. He sent his son, Prince Zannanza, to marry
Ankhesenamun, but he died somewhere on the way. The exact circumstances of his death are not
known, although many speculate that he was assassinated on the orders of Ay or Horemheb
(or both). As for Tutankhamun, like we said, his reign
was nothing to write home about. The boy king would surely have been relegated
to a footnote in the history books were it not for the events that occurred thousands
of years after his death in 1325 BC. Death Is Only the Beginning We now leave ancient Egypt and travel over
3,000 years into the future. We are in the same region, which is now known
as the Valley of the Kings because it had been used as a burial site for pharaohs and
other important ancient officials for almost 500 years. It had been excavated by archaeologists since
the early 1800s and, at the start of the 20th century, there was a belief that everything
there was to be found had already been found. The man in charge of the excavations, American
explorer Theodore Davis, famously ended a paper published in 1912 with the words “I
fear that the Valley of the Kings is now exhausted.” Davis died in 1915 and the rights to excavate
the valley were bought by an English aristocrat named George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. He had in his employ an archaeologist named
Howard Carter who had been digging for him since 1907, but without any tremendous success. Carter relocated to the Valley of the Kings
and resumed his work for Lord Carnarvon but, again, many years went by without any significant
discoveries. In 1922, Carnarvon started to feel like Davis
may have been right all along and there truly wasn’t anything left in the Valley of the
Kings. He told Carter that he would only fund one
more season of digging before he abandoned the valley for good. Carter’s time was running out but, in November
of that year, he made the discovery of the century. According to his own journal, the serendipitous
moment occurred by accident on November 4th when his water boy stumbled over a stone. Upon closer inspection, that stone turned
out to be the top of a set of stairs buried in the sand. Understandably excited, Carter excavated the
spot and found that the stairs led to a burial site of great significance based on the royal
seals. He wrote to Lord Carnarvon and waited for
the arrival of his benefactor before going inside. On November 26, Carter, Carnarvon and his
daughter, Evelyn Herbert, became the first people to enter the tomb of Tutankhamun in
over 3,000 years. Almost immediately, the archaeologist realized
the magnitude of the find as he saw “everywhere the glint of gold” – statues, cups, beds,
and even a throne filled an antechamber which led to another room with a sealed doorway. At this point, it wasn’t clear yet what
Carter had found – was this simply a treasure cache or was there an actual burial chamber
waiting for them behind that doorway? They had to wait a bit to get their answer. It wasn’t until February 1923 that Carter
was finally able to enter the closed chamber and glimpse, for the first time, the sarcophagus
of Tutankhamun. Afterwards, Carter and his team spent the
next decade cataloguing, preserving and removing over 5,000 objects that were sitting in that
tomb. Inside the Tomb The tomb of Tutankhamun which was designated
KV62 consisted of four rooms, a corridor, and a staircase. Contrary to what is commonly believed, the
burial site was not completely pristine. It had actually been targeted by thieves in
the past, it’s just that the looting happened soon after Tut’s burial and Egyptian officials
had time to fix the problem. Some of the doors showed signs of repairs
and being sealed more than once. It appears that the tomb was robbed twice. First time, the thief or thieves didn’t
get away with much, but they did steal things like oils and cosmetics which were highly
prized in ancient Egyptian society. Such items would not have lasted long so,
obviously, the theft occurred soon after the objects were placed inside the tomb. The second occasion was more complex and organized
and involved digging a tunnel inside the burial chamber and accessing the treasury. That room was filled with jewelry and, while
thieves stole a lot of it, the scene suggested that they had been caught in the act and had
to make a hasty getaway which was why they left so much stuff behind. Even with these acts of vandalism, KV62 was
still the most complete pharaoh’s tomb ever discovered. Then, of course, there was the burial chamber,
the main event, as it were, which contained the mummy of the boy king. This was the only room which had decorations
on the walls which depicted the pharaoh and multiple deities taking part in various ceremonies. The bulk of the room was taken up by four
gilded shrines made out of wood. The shrines were each smaller than the last
and were placed inside each other like Russian nesting dolls and, inside the smallest shrine,
there was the sarcophagus. Inside the sarcophagus we had a similar situation
as the mummy was placed inside three coffins. The outer two were made of gilded wood like
the shrines, but it was the innermost coffin which immediately attracted attention as it
was made of over 240 lbs of pure gold. Inside the coffin was the pharaoh’s mummy,
of course, wearing a gold funerary mask adorned with precious jewels which has probably become
the most famous artifact from ancient Egypt. As egyptologists studied this treasure trove
of artifacts, they couldn’t help but notice that this tomb may have never been intended
for Tutankhamun at all. Some items showed signs that they previously
contained different names which had been erased and “Tutankhamun” written on top of them. This alone could have been explained simply
by officials wanting to remove the pharaoh’s original name, Tutankhaten. However, there were plenty of other curious
features which suggested that the tomb was originally built for an older man. The most common theory is that it was intended
for Smenkhkare, the mysterious pharaoh that ruled for a little bit before King Tut. For decades, scholars have argued over the
possibility of there being more chambers hidden inside KV62. One of them could even contain the elusive
resting place of Nefertiti. But this argument seemed destined to remain
unsettled since, for obvious reasons, nobody was allowed to start smashing up the burial
chamber in search of undiscovered rooms. However, modern technology provided us with
an unintrusive solution to the problem – ground-penetrating radar scans. This technique was not without controversy. The first scans took place in 2015 and detected
the presence of open spaces which backed up the idea that there was more to find in Tut’s
tomb. However, a subsequent test failed to replicate
these results. A third and final scan was performed in 2018
by three different companies which negated the initial findings and detected nothing
but solid rock. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has accepted
these results and there are no plans to search for more chambers in the near future. As far as the items inside the tomb are concerned,
we are obviously not going to talk about all of them since there are over 5,000 of them. We already mentioned the most important ones,
but there are a few more curious objects that merit inclusion. For example, the tomb contained a pair of
trumpets, one silver and the other either bronze or copper, which may be the oldest
still-functional trumpets in the world. These ancient instruments were actually played
once in 1939, on an international BBC broadcast which was heard by approximately 150 million
people. There is one final item to mention which is
out of this world…literally. It is a dagger whose blade was made out of
iron meteorite. Its exact origins are unclear as the quality
metalwork is uncharacteristic of Egypt in Tut’s time so either ancient Egyptians were
far more skilled iron craftsmen than we previously thought or the dagger was a gift from another
place. Its extraterrestrial credentials were confirmed
with the help of a spectrometer which detected high levels of nickel and cobalt, indicative
of meteoritic iron. The Mummy Studying all the artifacts inside the tomb
was all well & good, but what about the mummy? It won’t surprise you to learn that the
body of Tutankhamun has been examined and discussed extensively. It probably also won’t surprise you to discover
that the young, inbred king wasn’t exactly the peak of good health. In fact, he was frail, disabled, suffered
from one or more genetic abnormalities, and probably needed a cane to walk around. Before we get into any specifics, we should
mention that Tutankhamun’s health is the subject of multiple studies and many of them
contradict or disagree with each other so there isn’t universal acceptance regarding
the pharaoh’s health problems and they also include a fair bit of speculation. Let’s start with the minor stuff. Tut had several features which were believed
to be genetic traits of his bloodline. They included a small cleft palate, an overbite,
and larger-than-normal center incisors. He also had an unusually elongated skull shape
which, again, was thought to be an abnormality that ran in the family. Tut had trouble walking and, although it was
initially believed this was due to a stress fracture caused by an accident, recent research
indicates that he was actually born with a severe club foot. His condition may have gotten even worse as
the years went by as he may have also suffered from a degenerative bone condition called
Kohler disease. His spine was curved and showed fusion in
the upper vertebrae which some believed could have been a sign of Marfan’s syndrome, although
this idea was later dismissed by the most recent tests. The malformation on his leg would have been
so extreme that the pharaoh would not have been able to walk without a cane. As proof of this, scholars point to the fact
that over 100 walking canes were buried with the young king in his tomb. There is a reason why not everyone is onboard
with this idea and it is because it cancels out one of the main theories regarding Tutankhamun’s
death. Some egyptologists are of the firm opinion
that the boy king died from injuries suffered in a chariot crash. However, if his foot was as bad as this new
study indicates, then it would have been impossible for him to ride in a chariot. This brings us neatly to our next point – what
killed Tutankhamun? There is no mention of his cause of death
in ancient records and examining his remains didn’t reveal an obvious answer. For decades, it was believed that Tut’s
death came as the result of foul play. X-ray scans performed in the 1960s showed
that the young pharaoh had bone fragments inside his skull, indicative of a blow to
the head. However, newer tests revealed that the bits
of bone ended up there in modern times, when the mummy was removed from its coffin. There were no other signs to suggest a fatal
head blow. Then there is the aforementioned “chariot
crash theory” which asserts that Tutankhamun died either due to direct injuries sustained
in a chariot crash or from an infection that came as a result of it. Adherents of this idea point to damage done
to the young king’s ribs and chest which could be indicative of crushing injuries,
plus images in his tomb that depict the pharaoh riding a chariot in battle. Again, opponents of this theory believe these
injuries were caused recently while handling the mummy. The most up-to-date research actually suggests
that Tut died from malaria. Tests performed a decade ago found traces
of the infection in four mummies, including Tutankhamun. This, compounded with all the other health
problems that lowered his immune system, could be the culprit that cut the pharaoh’s reign
short. There is no universally-accepted solution,
but this is, at the moment, the most prevalent theory. The obsession with death surrounding Tutankhamun
hasn’t really been restricted to his own demise. After all, many other people died after the
tomb was opened because they dared to disturb the sleep of the pharaoh. Didn’t they? Yes, we’ve all heard about the notorious
curse of the pharaohs. It has been mentioned since the 19th century,
but it was the discovery of Tut’s tomb that made it infinitely more popular and helped
it reach the public consciousness. Although, curiously, there is no actual curse
inscribed anywhere inside KV62. It was a fabrication of the newspapers. This was more of an Old Kingdom practice,
while Tut’s 18th dynasty ruled firmly during the New Kingdom. There is one suspicious death surrounding
the discovery of the tomb, one single death that set off the mania of the “mummy’s
curse.”. Lord Carnarvon, the man who funded Carter’s
digging, died a few months after entering the tomb. He succumbed to blood poisoning and the newspapers
immediately started touting the “curse of the pharaohs.” Since then, anything bad or remotely suspicious
that happened to one of the dozens of people involved with the mummy was ascribed to the
curse. However, the British Medical Journal actually
did a scientific study and found that the life expectancy rate for those people wasn’t
higher or lower than the average. It was just that the abnormal cases received
much more media attention. The study also debunked another notion which
said that there was a more direct way in which the tomb caused the demise of Carnarvon and
others – ancient mold spores which they inhaled and caused damage to their respiratory systems. This didn’t happen, either, and, if it did,
it would have killed them a lot sooner, not in months or years. So you can rest assured that, should you ever
disturb the pharaoh’s slumber, you will not be cursed…probably.

100 thoughts on “Tutankhamun: The Boy King of Egypt”

  1. King Tut? Ohh, you mean Pharoah Ka Nakht Tut Mesut Nefer Hepu Segereh Tawy Wetjes Khau Sehotep Netjeru Neb Kheperu Ra Tut Ankh Amun!

  2. Excellent work, thank you for the wonderfull videos. How about producing some for giants of classical music of the 18th and 19th century?

  3. Hi Simon could you please make a video of Horatio Nelson and Miguel Grau. Maybe two of the greatest sailors in history. Thanks

  4. Fun fact: Lord Caernarfon's home estate is the building used in "Downton Abbey." Mostly because his living descendant rents it out for the revenue.

  5. It's speculated that the young pharoah might have met his demise riding a chariot while playing a childrens cardgame.

  6. Please make a bio about Ignaz Semmelweis, his name is getting more popular last days in health related articles, but often they include some misinformation…

  7. 5:00 Nubian song, we don't really appreacite being associated with Egyptians and yes I know some of us live there but I'm speaking on behalf of the Sudanese side

  8. This is going to be the first one in ages that I'll skip. Why? I watched a 45 minute documentary on Tut a week ago and I can't take any more right now. Sorry^^
    It'll go to "Watch later", don't worry. My curiosity will come back soon enough…

  9. And it survived because he wasn't that big a Pharaoh and his tomb was hurried so was in an unusual place and when a massive rock slide hid it no one bothered to clear it and then it was thankfully forgotten about.

  10. Do you think If somebody told you, you’d be as famous and influential and important (as a learning device) as King Tut, but you had to die at 19 you’d be ok with that? Why/why not?

  11. "He coulda won a Grammy
    Buried in his jammies
    Born in Arizona
    Moved to Babylonia
    He was born in Arizona
    Got a condo made of stona
    King Tut"
    –Steve Martin

  12. In all honesty how many of those "grey bits" were there where you are staring at the camera and sound completely deranged? ;~) On a side note I do believe Rachel Weisz might disagree with the lack of a Mummies curse ;~)

  13. Thank you for not whitewashing him and showing him as he was and how the Egyptians saw him. A native born black african. GOOD JOB👍👍👍👍👍👍

  14. Well, I''ll let you know if I get cursed if I find an ancient Egyptian pharaoh's tomb… as I live in Canada, and don't really travel, you may be waiting for some time.

  15. I've always known who tutankhamun was and knew the curse story etc. But thanks for this I actually know something proper about him lol

  16. You make the most detailed and most interesting historical videos ive seen, i have learned more from you than i have from any other source. Your videos are extremely captivating and you are educating a entire generation, and for that we thank you.

  17. "They performed a scientific study and concluded that the life expectancy of these people where no lower than average."
    That's kinda funny.

  18. "Later Pharaohs tried to make it look that parts of their history never happened…"
    ah so I see where we get the tradition

  19. FYI: As for the female mummy that may or may not be his mother, there are some that think Tutankhamen was actually the nephew of Akhenaten, instead of his son, so Nefertiti wouldn’t be his mother in that scenario. So that mummy may be his mother, but may not be Nefertiti. When Akhenaten was removed from power by the priests, there is the supposition that the royal family, with lots of daughters, were killed (like the Romanov Family in Russia), with Akhenaten’s nephew being installed in power as a puppet ruler for the priests. And indeed, Tutankhamen returned Egypt back to the old gods, just as the priests desired.

    In addition, there are stories of Nefertiti fleeing Egypt after her husband/brother Akhenaten died. In that story, she tried to take some of her treasures with her, only being slowed down in her desperate escape. Supposedly she stashed them in a cave in the desert, & continued on, never to be heard from again.

  20. How about a video about Hatschepsut? She was, by many accounts, a savvy politician, and because of the whole, in later life, having acquired enough power, she adopted a male style apparel. I find her story very interesting.

  21. Love the video. Love everything about Ancient Egypt.

    But it bothers me to no extent that people mispronounce his name. Simon even says it right when breaking it up at the beginning!
    It is: Tut-Ankh-Amun. Three clear words, one of which is a god. Say it like the three words would be read.

  22. Honestly, I wouldnt be surprised by the clubbed foot thing. I know little of the ancient age but I do know the royals usually married siblings. Just like Carlos II of the Spanish Hapsburg line.

  23. The elongated skull shape was common in many dynasties. It is speculated that the pharaos head would be stretched out as a baby. This is something that is done in other African societys as well.

  24. 7:14 Am I watching biographical or business blaze?!

    Also if you haven’t checked out business blaze, you’re doing YouTube wrong.

  25. So was Ahten the first monotheistic religion? Didn't go over too well, huh? Monotheism is weird because it makes one god responsible for everything. The good and the bad. Which kinda sucks because why would one all powerful god do shite things to good people? It makes much more sense to have evil gods responsible for all the bad while the good gods help you out. Right?

  26. Only 9 mins on the biography. Nothing to put into context what his life would actually have been like day to day. Lots on the modern stuff 😔 Very rarely disappointed by any of Simon's videos, but this was a poor attempt at an ancient biography

  27. You should also do a biographics on the Hittite empire since so many people have never heard of them but they were an interesting people!!!!

  28. Hey Simon, would you do videos on pivotal rock icons? David Bowie, Prince, the Seattle sound of the late 80s.

  29. I'm not even doing history but I stumbled on your video and never looked back. Your voice is smooth and calming. Keep making these interesting videos

  30. another words, like most parents , they thought theirs was the best , to bad it was far from it dieing in youth

  31. Dude, look, I love all of your channels to bits and I watch as much as I can. But that sudden shift the B&W and the shift back to normal scared the hell out of me. Please, please, please, don't use that effect again.🙁🙁🙁

  32. "The most famous Pharaoh of them all" ?
    I think the bible helped Ramses take that one…Amenhotep IV is probably third…no, Ramses Ii wins, right?
    Oh, do we count Cleopatra? She takes the cake then


  34. There is a popular thinking nowadays that Carter staged the entire thing. There are too many inconsistencies about the tomb and what is in it. The thinking is that Carter needed a find, or he would lose all his funding (fact), so he put together a museum piece, and decorated it himself. The paintings on the walls were still wet when the tomb was sealed, which doesn't make sense. The tomb is also too small for a Pharaoh, and was clearly made for a female. Most of what is in it, has nothing to do with Tut, either. Interesting theory

  35. did everyone forget that the Pharaohs married their own siblings? maybe that's why Tutankhamun was born that way.

  36. Tut was likely murdered by I the following pharaoh , high priest and their top general for fear of Tut doing what his father did and the lack of TuT not willing to let them control him.

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