Was Tutankhamon Really Murdered?

In 1361 B.C. an insignificant 8 year old boy ascended to the throne of Egypt. His father, the Pharaoh, was a much loathed heretic who had abandoned Egypt’s traditions and had installed one god in place of the many that had been previously worshipped.

Akhenaton may have introduced the world to monotheism but scant few of his subjects appreciated it, especially the multitude of priests who had devoted their lives to the worship and promotion of the old gods.

When Akhenaton died he left no sons from his main marriage to Nefertiti. So it was that an 8 year old boy from a 2nd wife would come to power. Born Tutankaton, in deference to the one god of his father, he swiftly changed his name to Tutankhamon and reinstalled the old ways of his forefathers. Due to his age it is likely that these decisions were made for him by his advisors, Ay and Horemheb.

Besides correcting the “mistakes” of his father, Tutankhamon had no further significance in his lifetime. Nine years later he was dead, himself leaving no sons to succeed him. His wife, Ankhsenemun, attempted to remarry an old ally – the son of the Hittite leader Suppililiumas I - in order to create a King. On his way to the court this son was ambushed and murdered, probably by Horemheb. This was the cue for Ay to take up the Kingship for four years until his death at which point Horemheb, the commander of the armies, became Pharaoh.

A mildly interesting story that would have been forgotten and erased from history, but for one Howard Carter. In 1922 he uncovered Tutankhamon’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. For the first and only time in history a Pharaoh’s tomb had been found intact. The splendor of King Tut’s treasures is well documented, and leaves us wondering what would have been found in the more significant Pharaoh’s tombs had they have not been robbed.

Scientists too had a very real treasure. Tutankhamon’s mummy was in good condition and had many secrets to reveal. Original scans showed evidence of a blow to the back of the head. For many, this is clear evidence that he was murdered.

It is hypothesized that Tutankhamon was killed either because of his threat to Ay and Horemheb – as he grew older he relied less on their advice, effectively becoming the Pharaoh rather than their puppet, or that he was murdered due to continuing resentment towards his father.

With technology evolving, Tutankhamon’s mummy was scanned again and in more detail recently. These further scans revealed damage to his leg. As embalming fluid had seeped into the fracture here but not into the head wound it is now considered quite possible that this injury may have been more likely to have proven fatal. It is quite possible that a broken leg may have become infected, leading to Tutankamon’s death from an accident rather than a plot. One now has to ask – was Tutankhamon really murdered?

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