Tutankhamun’s tomb theories debunked by expert
Tutankhamun is probably one of if not the most famous figures ever to come out of ancient Egyptian archaeology. While the boy king may not be the most important aspect of Egyptology today — although the vast hoard of artefacts and treasures found in his tomb helped the discipline tremendously — he has been immortalised in popular culture. He became a pharaoh after the death of his father, Akhenaten, one of ancient Egypt’s most controversial rulers who banned every god within the kingdom apart from one, Aten, the sun god.
The Egyptian people were furious with this, and after his death, destroyed many of his statues and the monuments constructed during his reign.
While Tutankhamun was just nine years old when he took the throne, he worked quickly to restore the old religious order — likely under the supervision and guidance of a team of advisors — and went on to rule for ten years, later buried in the Valley of the Kings.
But while he is now one of the best-known pharaohs that ever lived, that name — Tutankhamun — was not actually assigned to him at birth.
His original name, according to Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley writing for BBC History Extra, was in fact Tutankhaten.
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The name literally means “living image of the Aten” reflecting his parents’ worship of the sun god.
After a few years on the throne, however, the boy king switched his religion and began to worship the god Amun — revered as king of the gods.
This led him to change his name to Tutankhamun, or “living image of Amun”.
Yet, not even this was the name that the Egyptian people knew him by, as Tutankhamun actually had five royal names.
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These names took the form of short sentences that outlined the focus of his reign.
Ms Tyldesley explained: “Officially, he was, Horus Name: Image of births; Two Ladies Name: Beautiful of laws who quells the Two Lands/who makes content all the gods; Golden Horus Name: Elevated of appearances for the god/his father Re; Prenomen: Nebkheperure; Nomen: Tutankhamun.”
She continued: “His last two names, known today as the prenomen and the nomen, are the names that we see written in cartouches (oval loops) on his monuments.
“We know him by his nomen, Tutankhamun.
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“His people, however, knew him by his prenomen, Nebkheperure, which literally translates as ‘[the sun god] Re is the lord of manifestations’.”
Myriad mysteries surround Tutankhamun away from his birth name, like the fact that his tomb was one of the smallest in the entire Valley of the Kings.
The inconspicuous nature of his resting place helped it evade grave robbers for thousands of years — he died in 1324 BC — and he was only found 100 years ago by Egyptologist Howard Carter, the extent of his life slowly unravelling in the following years.
While his tomb was filled with ancient relics, Mr Carter found it in a state unfit for a king, shoddily put together and vastly different from his fellow pharaohs.
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This was previously explored by the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary, Secrets: Tut’s Tomb, where Adam Lowe, director of Factum Arte explained that the spots were a result of the tomb being sealed before the paint had dried.
It suggests that the painters were in a rush to get the job done, a strange thought considering years and years go into the making of a king’s tomb, long before they reach old age.
Taking high-resolution photographs of the burial chamber’s paintings, Mr Lowe and his team were able to reveal each individual brushstroke of the painters, finding traces of hastily made brush marks.
Mr Lowe said: “The application of the ochre colour is done very fast with bigger brushes.
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“My estimate is that it wouldn’t have taken a team of skilled painters much over a week to paint Tutankhamun’s tomb.”
Some believe that the tomb was rushed due to Tutankhamun’s early death — he died aged around 19 — or because his successor, Ay, allocated Tut’s tomb for himself and ordered another, less grand tomb to be built for the recently deceased Tutankhamun.
The civilisation of ancient Egypt can be traced back to around 3000 BC, well before Tutankhamun.
It would endure for three millennia, and lives on today in books, films, art and the minds of millions of people around the world.