5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About King Tut

On February 16, 1923, archaeologist Howard Carter entered the sealed burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamen. Here are five things you probably didn't know about that tomb and King Tutankhamun.


Tutankhamun Was Buried in The World’s Most Expensive Coffin Two of Tutankhamun’s three coffins were made of wood, covered with gold sheet.  But, to Howard Carter’s great surprise, the innermost coffin was made from thick sheets of beaten gold. This coffin measures 1.88m in length, and weighs 110.4kg. If it were to be scrapped today it would be worth approximately $1.7 million.  But as Tutankhamun’s final resting place it is, of course, priceless.

He Became a Pharaoh at The Age of Nine Tutankhamun is one of the youngest known pharaohs of all time and descended to power at the age of 9 after his father’s death. He was married to his half-sister, Ankhesenamun, which was a common practice among Egyptian royals. Although they had two children together, neither child lived, and they were both interred in the same tomb with their father.


His Original Name Was Not Tutankhamun Tutankhamun was originally named Tutankhaten. This name, which literally means “living image of the Aten”, reflected the fact that Tutankhaten’s parents worshipped a sun god known as “the Aten”. After a few years on the throne the young king changed his religion, abandoned the Aten, and started to worship the god Amun [who was revered as king of the gods]. This caused him to change his name to Tutankhamun, or “living image of Amun”.

King Tut’s Death Was Probably Accidental For years, it was speculated that King Tut’s death at age 19 came courtesy of a blow to the head, inflicted, perhaps, by a murderous rival. More recently, however, experts have determined that the damage to his mummy’s skull occurred after death, either during the embalming process or at the hands of Carter’s crew. So how did the boy king die? In 2005 a study revealed that he broke his leg and developed an infection in the wound shortly before death. According to one theory, the pharaoh sustained the injury by falling from his chariot during a hunt. Meanwhile, DNA testing in 2010 suggested that Tutankhamen had malaria. Alternate theories about King Tut’s demise still abound, however, including the hypothesis that he succumbed to the lethal bite of an enraged hippopotamus.

His Heart Was Missing The ancient Egyptians believed that it was possible to live again after death, but thought that this could only be achieved if the body was preserved in a lifelike condition. This led them to develop the science of artificial mummification. According to ancient Egyptians, the organ for reasoning was the heart and not the brain, and therefore, it was still essential for afterlife. Typically, the heart would be preserved, but in the case of Tut, the heart was missing in his mummy. It has been theorized that possibly Tut died when he was far away from home so that by the time they got his body for embalming the heart had already deteriorated so much that it could not be preserved and they had to get rid of it.