Akhenaten and Tutankhamun

One of the most interesting pharaohs ever to rule Egypt was named Amenhotep IV, who later renamed himself Akenaten. This pharaoh changed the Egyptian religion and the style of Egyptian art and even moved the capital city of the kingdom from Thebes to a brand new city he built called Amarna. For that reason, this time in history is called the "Amarna Period."

Akhenaten receiving the rays of Aten

Akhenaten and his wife, Nefertiti, were the center of the new religion. The Egyptian people were expected to worship the ATEN, or the visible rays of the sun.

The wife of Akhenaten, Queen Nefertiti, was an exceptionally powerful woman. This famous bust of the queen is in the Neues Museum in Berlin
Click here for an article about the search for Queen Nefertiti's tomb!

In the comments, can you describe any specific changes that Akhenaten put in place?

* Egyptian, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, 1349–1336 B.C.

    Height x width x depth: 51 x 105.5 x 5.2 cm (20 1/16 x 41 9/16 x 2 1/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
    Architectural elements

Accession Number
On view
    Egypt: New Kingdom - 210
Although Akhenaten's religious reforms purged Egyptian art of many of its most familiar manifestations, the king remained fond of the sphinx and often had himself depicted as that fantastic creature - part man, part lion. In Old Kingdom times, the Great Sphinx at Giza probably stood for the king presenting offerings to the sun god, while in the Eighteenth Dynasty the mighty monument was reinterpreted as the sun god Horemakhet, or Horus in the Horizon. Its impeccable solar credentials therefore made the sphinx an appropriate image for Akhenaten at el-Amarna, the city he called Akhetaten, "Horizon of the Sun Disk."

This relief was one of a pair flanking a temple doorway. The sphinx on it rests on a plinth, suggesting that it represents a statue. A pair of such reliefs flanking the doorway of a small temple would have evoked the grand avenues of sphinxes that traditionally led up to the entrance pylons of larger Egyptian sanctuaries. Here the sphinx is equipped with human arms and hands to enable him to make offerings to his god, the sun disk, Aten, who appears at the upper left. He wears the uraeus of kingship while behind him (to the left) are two cartouches containing his lengthy official name. The sun's life-giving rays end in so many hands, some holding ankh-signs. Below are three offering stands. To the right, Akhenaten as sphinx raises one hand in adoration while in the other he holds a neb sign, a basket signifying lordship, holding Aten's cartouches. These same cartouches appear a third time in the upper right where they are joined with the cartouches of Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti, who is thus present in name if not in image. The rest of the inscription describes the "great, living Aten" as "dwelling in the Sunshade temple [called] Creator of the Horizon [which is] in Akhetaten." The temple named here, yet to be located, must be the one for which this block was carved. 

Akhenaten's religious revolution was accompanied by a change in the way pharaoh was depicted, showing a marked departure from the idealized images favored by his predecessors. Even though the king's face has been sadly hacked away, one can still discern his characteristic slanted eyes, long nose, hollow cheeks, drooping lower lip, and pendulous chin.

Provenance: Probably from el-Amarna. By 1964: with Ernst E. Kofler, Lucerne, Switzerland; October 4, 1964: purchased by the MFA from Ernst E. Kofler. 

(Accession Date: October 14, 1964). Credit Line:
Egyptian Curator's Fund

King Tutankhamun

According to new research, DNA test results show that the famous King Tut (Tutankhamun) died of malaria and other possible diseases. Also, while he was alive King Tut was weak, and walked with a cane because of a bone deformity in his feet. Here's the full article from National Geographic:

GREAT feature article about King Tut's family tree, including DNA analysis of his royal ancestors:
National Geographic: KING TUT'S FAMILY SECRETS

King Tut Mysteries Solved: Was Disabled, Malarial, and Inbred"Frail boy" needed cane, says study, which also found oldest genetic proof of malaria

Ker Than
for National Geographic News

Published February 16, 2010

King Tut may be seen as the golden boy of ancient Egypt today, but during his reign, Tutankhamun wasn't exactly a strapping sun god.

Instead, a new DNA study says, King Tut was a frail pharaoh, beset by malaria and a bone disorder—his health possibly compromised by his newly discovered incestuous origins.

The report is the first DNA study ever conducted with ancient Egyptian royal mummies. It apparently solves several mysteries surrounding King Tut, including how he died and who his parents were.

"He was not a very strong pharaoh. He was not riding the chariots," said study team member Carsten Pusch, a geneticist at Germany's University of Tübingen. "Picture instead a frail, weak boy who had a bit of a club foot and who needed a cane to walk."

Regarding the revelation that King Tut's mother and father were brother and sister, Pusch said, "Inbreeding is not an advantage for biological or genetic fitness. Normally the health and immune system are reduced and malformations increase," he said.

Short Reign, Lasting Impact of King Tut

Tutankhamun was a pharaoh during ancient Egypt's New Kingdom era, about 3,300 years ago. He ascended to the throne at the age of 9 but ruled for only ten years before dying at 19 around 1324 B.C. 

Despite his brief reign, King Tut is perhaps Egypt's best known pharaoh because of the wealth of treasures—including a solid gold death mask—found during the surprise discovery of his intact tomb in 1922.

More information about King Tutankhamun
A partial bust of King Tut's head from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Head of King Tutankhamen

New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamen
1336–1327 B.C.

Height x width: 29.6 x 26.5 cm (11 5/8 x 10 7/16 in.)



In 1922, Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes. The smallest of the royal tombs, it was the only one that preserved its fabulous treasures virtually intact, the king’s mummy resting undisturbed in its four coffins and four shrines nested one inside the other. 

Despite the unprecedented media coverage lavished on this sensational discovery, Tutankhamen remains a mysterious figure. He was probably born at el-Amarna, the new capital city built by Akhenaten. Succeeding to the throne as a boy of nine or ten years of age, Tutankhamen was taken in hand by the traditionalist clergy and made to repudiate Akhenaten’s religious reforms. He abandoned el-Amarna, reopened the other temples, and showered attention on the old gods. He received little thanks for his piety, however, for later rulers continued to associate him with the heretic Akhenaten. His memory was suppressed, and his statues were appropriated by other rulers, notably Horemheb. 

When he was remembered at all, it was as a minor ruler. No wonder his tomb treasures caused such a sensation. So familiar are the “boy king’s” gentle features now, that one immediately recognizes a sculpture as his even if it had been usurped by a later ruler or, as here, lacks an inscription. Traces of paint show that the nemes headdress was striped alternately blue and yellow as on the famous gold mask from his tomb.

A video about the "mystery" surrounding King Tut's death...(coinci-curse anyone?):

Feature Article: "King Tut Revealed" from National Geographic magazine:
Click here to read more

A BBC documentary about King Tut's tomb:

A short clip about the discovery of King Tut's tomb by Howard Carter in 1922: