A guide to...
Why is Tutankhamun famous?
Tutankhamun (sometimes written Tutankhamen) was an Egyptian pharaoh who has became well-known in modern times because his burial tomb was discovered in 1922. British archaeologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon made the discovery to find that remarkably the tomb still contained the sarcophagus of the pharaoh and a wealth of treasure that had been buried with him. The discovery was unusual and very exciting because most of the grave goods buried with other Egyptian pharaohs had been stolen long ago. The thousands of objects found in Tutankhamun’s tomb have given historians important information about life and death in Ancient Egypt.
What do we know about Tutankhamun himself?
It is likely that Tutankhamun was born around 1346 BC in Akhetaten, which was then the capital of Egypt. He was called the ‘boy king’, becoming pharaoh when he was only 9 years old. He later married but did not have children. Archaeologists have used forensic evidence from clues found in his tomb to tell us that he died at the young age of 19. He was mummified and buried with many treasures to take with him to the afterlife.
Why had Tutankhamun's tomb not been discovered before 1922?
Most royal tombs had been found by raiders and looted of their treasures. One reason historians believe that Tutankhamun’s grave was undiscovered before 1922 is because it seems like there was a deliberate attempt to make people forget about this pharaoh after his death. He became unpopular with the Egyptian people after trying to make changes to the way that people worshipped the gods. Historians think that after Tutankhamun died, he was buried in haste and his name and image were removed as much as possible in order to forget about him and the changes he tried to make. Details of his life were not recorded in the usual manner for pharaohs and until 1922 historians were unaware that his tomb even existed. This makes the archaeological discovery even more exciting and important.
You can find a full KS2 lesson plan about Tutankhamun's Tomb in our Ancient Egyptians Resource Pack.