Abstract: Tutankhamun: The Life and Death of a God King


The Son of the Sun, Tutankhamun (1334-1325 BCE) was a god in his own time; but he was also a mortal on earth.  While his monuments and the contents of his tomb tell us a great deal about his divine status, what do they tell us about his life and death—his human side?  What did he really look like?  Who were his parents?  How did he die, and how old was he?  Did he have any children?  What role did his widow Ankhesenamun attempt to play in the selection of the next king?  What was his relationship with his successor, the aged Aye.  Why was his tomb equipment so richly provided, including personal gifts donated by important officials and courtiers?  Tutankhamun is still a man of mysteries: many uncertainties remain concerning his life and death.  Scholars hold very different opinions about him; and many details of their narratives cannot be proven, nor can they be disproven. The new traveling Tutankhamun exhibits present us with an occasion to reexamine some of these issues, even though some of them cannot yet be resolved with complete confidence.  Ancient history is built up of probabilities, based on “facts” and their sometimes complex interrelationships. The simplest explanation is often the best, and the most probable hypothesis explains the greatest number of data, with the fewest loose threads, gaps, and inconsistencies.  The recent DNA analysis undertaken on the mummies of Tutankhamun and several of his relatives has come under professional criticism, both in terms of historical method and scientific technique.  A reconstruction of Tutankhamun’s family relationships is presented here, along with the factors which seem to have determined the line of succession at the end of the 18th Dynasty.

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