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Before Tut’s reign
•By the time Tutankhamun was born, Egypt had been a superpower for almost two centuries. •The nation itself had been formed about 1,600 years earlier, and the great pyramids at Giza were already ancient edifices more than one thousand years old. •King Tutankhamun had indeed inherited a mighty country, rich in resources, power, and history.
Tutankhamun's Royal Predecessors
A few highlights of the more famous rulers from this Dynasty include:
Ahmose—Founder of the New Kingdom and the 18th Dynasty, Ahmose completed the
defeat of the Hyksos, who had invaded Egypt almost 100 years earlier. Tuthmosis I—He was the first pharaoh to carve his tomb into the rocky slopes of the Valley of the Kings, where King Tutankhamun’s tomb was later built. Thuthmosis III—This pharaoh is remembered as a mighty military leader who enlarged the Egyptian empire to its greatest extent. Hatshepsut—One of the few female pharaohs, she built many famous structures, such as
her mortuary temple at Deir el Bahri.
Amenhotep II—The king who created one of the first known peace treaties, Amenhotop II ushered in a golden age of stability and prosperity.
l Father :
Akhetaten [He who serves Aten] l Mother: Kiya a minor wife of Akhenaten - Her title was "Greatly Beloved Wife of
l Major wife =
Nefer-Nefru-Aten [Beautiful is the Beauty of
l Tutankhamen = l Wife =
[means Living Image of Aten; ruler of Upper Heliopolis]
when she married the 9 year old Tutankhamun; had two stillborn daughters; aborted at about 5 and 8 months.]
Ankhesenamun [daughter of Akhenaten and his wife; was about 12
Tutankhamun Takes the Throne
Akhenaten died after 17-years rule. Exactly what happened afterwards is still a matter of debate. Some believe his famously beautiful wife Nefertiti ruled for a while on her own. Others believe Tutankhamun’s brother held the throne for a short time. In the end, Tutankhamun himself—probably Akhenaten’s 9year-old son by a lesser wife named Kiya—came into power. At home, the boy king faced profoundly hostile reactions to Akhenaten’s religious revolution. This young, untried child now had to lead his nation through religious and political turmoil.
Tutankhamun’s Early Reign
Sometime soon after Akhenaten’s passing, the ten-year-old Tutankhaten ascended the throne of Egypt. His coronation would have been a grand affair, full of pomp and pageantry. One of Tutankhaten’s first actions as pharaoh was to move away from the Amarna religion, because his father's belief in one god, the Aten, had proved to be quite unpopular with the people.
Tut as Pharaoh
Tutankhamun began life with the name Tutankhaten (“Living Image of the Aten”). Most likely the son of the heretic King Akhenaten and his lesser wife Kiya, the young prince would have grown up at Akhetaten, the controversial new capital city. l Near the time of his father’s death, Tutankhaten married Ankhsenpaaten — probably his half-sister and the daughter of Akhenaten by Nefertiti, the famous beauty and chief wife.
Restoring Traditional Beliefs
Tutankhaten quickly re-established the orthodox belief in the pantheon of the gods and reopened their temples. By his second year, King Tutankhaten and his queen had changed their names to Tutankhamun and Ankhsenamun.
Although they did not abandon Amarna completely, members of the royal family re-established the old capitals and now spent most of their time at the traditional administrative center of Memphis.
Religion in Tut’s Time
Religion in ancient Egypt was more than a belief system—it was a way of life, permeating every aspect of existence. The fundamental principle governing this system was maat, an abstract concept often translated as truth or justice and represented by the goddess Maat. Maat represented the way the world was supposed to be.
To maintain maat—order in the universe—the living constantly had to pacify the many deities and spirits in the afterworld. This system of beliefs persisted for thousands of years until Akhenaten (probably Tutankhamun’s father) introduced the concept of the one god Aten and did away with the pantheon of gods. After his father’s death, it then fell upon Tutankhamun to reinstate the old gods and restore order to Egypt…and the universe.
In traditional Egyptian belief, the pantheon was composed of many gods and goddesses, such as Osiris, Re, Ptah, and Amun. Often they were arranged in family groups of three consisting of father, mother, and child. The gods could be represented in art as human, animal, or a combination of the two. Each was linked to one or more sites where enormous temples were erected to house their images.
The Pharaoh’s Role in Traditional Religion
Considered semi-divine, the pharaoh was an intermediary between mortals and gods during his lifetime. He was responsible for the establishment and maintenance of maat and stood against the powers of chaos that threatened Egypt’s stability. In theory, the pharaoh was the high priest in every temple, although in actuality his role was often delegated to priests. But in temple art, it is always the king who is shown performing the cult rituals and thus eternally caring for the gods and goddesses who dwell within.
the beginning of the 18th Dynasty, the god Amun took center stage and became the chief god of the state. Other prominent gods at this time were the creator god Ptah, the great god of the Underworld, Osiris, and many more. Monumental temples to these gods were built across the land. l When Amenhotep IV (later called Akhenaten) came to the throne, he was steeped in these orthodox beliefs. But he soon brought a new religion to prominence that would have repercussions for Tutankhamun, his son.
The Amarna Heresy
By the third year of his reign, Amenhotep IV had begun a series of temples dedicated to the solar cult at Karnak. Called the Aten for short, this god was portrayed as a sun disk whose rays ended in human hands that extended ankh (“life”) symbols to the king. In the fifth year of his reign, Amenhotep IV shocked his subjects by changing his name to Akhenaten (“The One Who is Effective for the Aten”). He also moved the capital from Thebes to a new city on virgin soil, untainted by other gods. Called Akhetaten (“Horizon of the Sun Disk”), we now know this city as Amarna.
Restoring Harmony to the Universe
Only a few years into his reign, Tutankhaten (“Living Image of the Aten”) changed his name to Tutankhamun (“Living Image of Amun”). Likewise, his queen Ankhsenpaaten, became Ankhsenamun. During his rule of almost ten years, the young king worked hard to restore the worship of Amun and the other gods who had been neglected under Akhenaten. He rebuilt their temples, replenished their treasuries, and left Amarna to return to Memphis and Thebes.
Reconciliation After Tut’s Death
Tutankhamun’s untimely death, his elderly successor Aye, who reigned for less than four years, continued his policies of reconciliation. l Horemheb took the throne after Aye’s death and reigned for 13 years. He reaffirmed the might of Amun, but balanced it with the other great state gods, especially Re and Ptah. Taking credit for many of the policies initiated under Tutankhamun, Horemheb began the process of erasing the memory of the Amarna Period by claiming to be the direct successor of Amenhotep III. He died without an heir, and with his death the 18th Dynasty came to an end.
Tutankhamun and the Elite Lifestyle
The wealthy lived lives of luxury and privilege. Their clothing was of fine linen, and for festivals they wore wigs of human hair or flax. Men and women applied make-up to their eyes, lips, and cheeks. Anyone with money could commission expensive funerary goods for their afterlife. In Tutankhamun’s tomb we find numerous objects the young king might have used in daily life. The board game senet was probably a favourite pastime. A large number of unguent (ointment) vessels contained oils for his body. Numerous chests and boxes held his clothing and jewellery.
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