Tutankhamen & Akhenaton


Dr. Freeman, I very much enjoyed your photo gallery, the pictures are exquisite - some of the best I have ever seen. Some have stated that Queen Tiye was King Tutankhamen's mother; also some have stated that Tutankhamen was Akhenaton's brother. I may be confused, but I thought  Tutankhamen was married to one of Akhenaton's sisters or one of his daughters. Would you please clarify this for me, as from what I have gathered, there is very little known about the parentage of Tutankhamen, as he had made no major contributions and had died at such an early age. The fame of Tutankhamen that we are familiar with today is due to the discovery of his tomb.


In the book Egypt Revisited, edited by Ivan Van Sertima, in a chapter by Asa Hilliard, Tut's relationship to Akhenaton is mentioned, among other things (page 231):
"Ankh-en-Aten is well known as the husband of Nefertiti. He is described as a visionary. He was the son of Queen Tiye and Amenhotep III. He was the brother of King Tut-Ankh-Amum...

...Ankh-en-Aten did lead a religious revolution toward a new form of monotheism. This religion of Aten, using the sun as the symbol of one God, did not survive as the national religion. Some believe that the prophet Moses was a student of this religion, if not a student of Ankh-en-Aten. In the New Testament Book of Acts 7:22, we are told that Moses was 'learned in all the wisdom of Egypt'. Sigmund Freud has done a detailed study of the relationship of Moses to the Kemetic religion."

Later on in the same book, Legrand Clegg states that Tut was the son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye (page 253) and that Tut's Chief Queen was Ankhesenamun -- daughter of Akhenaton and  Nefertiti (page 254). Tutankhamen married her when she was 12 years old. Tut died when he was 19.

Only a few select people have ever seen this mummy in person. For ever since Howard Carter discovered  his tomb in November 1922, the Pharaoh's mummy has remained in his tomb unseen by the public. Forensic examination of Tutankhamen's mummy has thrown little light on the probable cause of death. X-rays of his skull have revealed that he suffered a severe blow to the head. The wound, however, shows some signs of healing, and thus early observers have dismissed it. It now seems probable that this healing could have taken place while Tutankhamen was in a coma, and that the blow was sufficient to have killed him. Whether the blow was sustained by accident or by intent cannot be proved.

Circumstantial evidence, however, suggests that the young king, influenced as he undoubtedly was by his early years at the court of Akhenaton, may have shown signs of moving his policies more in line with those of his predecessor. This would have been sufficient to cause alarm, not only to the court but also to the priesthood, and it may have been to prevent chaos returning to Egypt that Tutankhamen was killed. What is clear is that Tutankhamen died unexpectedly and without heirs. His own tomb was unfinished and it seems that he was buried in a tomb originally intended for Ay.


"Dr. Freeman, there is nowhere in Egypt that has recorded the parentage of Tuthankhamen. The reason I am so adamant about this is because earlier this year I was trying to do my research on his parents after I had bought a papyrus (of a mother kissing her infant on the lips) in Qorna, and the proprietor told me it was taken from a wall engraving of Tutankhamen and his mother. I later found out that this wasn't so. It was then that I started trying to research Tutankhamen's parents, and I kept hitting a blank wall. So it seems that the only answers I had received were based on speculation. Also, I have quite a few books here at home, as well as access to the internet. I went through everything, but could not find the answer that I want. However, I very much appreciate the prompt attention that you have given to me - it's just that I need to see this matter written in stone. It is difficult because Tutankhamen was more or less obscure, as he did not live very long, and because he made no great accomplishments, there is very little concerning his history."


-- Here is another view from an Egyptologist from Oxford, UK:

"There are no sources specifically stating who Tutankhamen's parents were, but most Egyptologists now believe that his father was Akhenaton and his mother one of Akhenaton's minor queens, probably Kiya. The argument about Tut's parentage is quite complicated; the current view is the most probable one can arrive at from evidence available. There is no doubt that Tutankhamen's queen, Ankhesenamun, was one of Akhenaten's daughters."


-- And a view from Anthony Di Paolo, MS, JD:

"Before the spectacular discovery of his almost intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings (KV 62) in November 1922, Tutankhamun was a shadowy and little known figure of the late 18th  Dynasty. To a certain extent he still is, despite the prominence he has acquired from the contents of his tomb. Tutankhamun's name was known in the early years of this century from a few references, but  his exact place in the sequence of the 'Amarna kings' was uncertain. Like Akhenaten and Ay, his name  had been omitted from the classic king lists of Abydos and Karnak, which simply jump from Amenhotep III to Horemheb. Indeed, Tutankhamun's exact identity - and his parentage - is still a matter of some conjecture, although it is clear that the young prince was brought up at Amarna, probably in the North Palace. A number of items found in his tomb are relics of his life at the Aten court, notably the Aten's disc shown protecting him and his young wife, Ankhesenamun, on the pictorial back panel of  his gold-inlaid throne.

Towards the end of Akhenaten's reign the senior members of the court, especially Ay and Horemheb, probably realized that things could not go on as they were. Smenkhkare, Akhenaten's brother (or son?) and co-regent, must have come to the same conclusion since he had left Akhetaten and moved back to the old secular capital, Memphis, where he may have been in contact with the proscribed members of  the priesthood of Amun before his death and burial at Thebes. Soon after Akhenaten's death, Tutankhaten (as he then was) was crowned at Memphis.  Aged about nine when he succeeded, the young king would have had no close female relatives left - his probable mother Kiya, his stepmother Nefertiti and his eider step-sisters all being dead. He was probably under the direct care and influence of Ay, the senior civil servant, and Horemheb, the military man. Tutankhaten's wife, Ankhesenpaaten, was evidently older than he since she was already of child-bearing age, seemingly having had a daughter by her father, Akhenaten.

As soon as the new king had been installed, a move was made back to the old religion. This was signified radically in Year 2 when both king and queen changed the -aten ending of their names to -amun. Tutankhamun probably had little to do with this or indeed many other decisions - his 'advisors' were the ones who held the reins and manipulated the puppet strings of the boy-king. A great 'Restoration' stele records the reinstallation of the old religion of Amun and the reopening and rebuilding of the temples. The stele is known from two copies, both of which were later usurped by Horemheb, as were many other monuments of Tutankhamun. A large number of reliefs and statues have been identified as originally belonging to Tutankhamun (the majority showing him either in the company of Amun or as the god himself); for although the inscriptions have been changed, the king's boyish features are clearly recognizable. Extensive building works were carried out at Karnak and Luxor in Tutankhamun's name, especially the great colonnade and the relief scenes of the Festival of Opet at Luxor, but all were subsequently taken over by Horemheb."


-- And still yet another view:

Although the treasures of Tutankhamen have made this young king known world wide, we really know very little about his life. We are not even sure who his parents were. Indeed, his parentage is one subject which keeps scholars busy, year after year, hence there are always new theories. Perhaps the most convincing and currently acceptable is that he was the son of the heretic king Akhenaton. His mother was not Akhenaten’s famous wife Nefertiti, but probably a minor wife of the king. Another popular theory makes Tutankhamen the half brother of Akhenaton, as son of the Pharaoh Amenophis III and his queen Tiye. Whoever his parents were, it is certain that he was of the Royal House of Amarna, and that his claim to the throne was strong enough for him to succeed as Pharaoh of all Egypt in about 1333 BC, when he was only nine years old.


King Tut's relationship to the "heretic king" Akhenaton almost certainly caused the downfall and death of the young king Tutankhamen. For his short reign of only nine years seems to have been taken up with rectifying the chaos and errors bequeathed to him by Akhenaton. 

Tutankhamen or as he was first called Tutankhamen, was born in a time of great change and upheaval. The 18th Dynasty of Egypt had, until the reign of Akhenaton, been a prosperous one. The Pharaohs had been great warriors. They had added to their country’s wealth, and added to Egypt’s territories, from which came valuable minerals and particularly gold. Akhenaton was the complete antithesis of these early kings. He was not a warrior, he was a dreamer and philosopher more interested in theoretical theology and the arts, than in
mastering the art of kingship. 

He brought in great changes to a conservative land. He introduced the worship of the sun-disc, the Aten, as the official religion, removing the royal patronage from the god and priests of Amun. He moved the capital from Thebes and established a new capital 240 miles to the north, which he called Akhenaton “The Horizon of the Aten”. He neglected to secure Egypt’s borders, and chaos broke out, vassal princes broke away and the economy fell into ruins. Thus at his death, he had the establishment, the priesthood, and the people against him. It was against this background that Tutankhamen succeeded to the throne. In line with Egyptian tradition he secured his position by marrying his half sister (or sister or other relation, depending to which theory is correct) Ankhesenpaaten, the third daughter of Akhenaton and Nefertiti.


-- This was sent in by someone who has studied this subject for years --

It has come to my attention through many years of study that there is no possible way the King Tut could be Amenhotep the thirds son. He took reign at the age of nine and Amenhotep had been long since past away. Also my theory is that General Hormeheb had the Pharaoh Akhenaten murdered as the way of life that he declared was not the order that the Egyptians were accustomed.

Horemheb must have thought that the boy King would conform to the old way of life. only to find that at the age of eighteen King Tut was a defiant young teenager who hadn't forgotten the ways of his father and much to his despair was going to go back to those heretic ways of belief.  Horemheb could not let this happen so he had him murdered. He then placed Ay in the reign realizing that by that time Ay was a very old man and would only hold the throne for a short period of time, that of which he could wait. a small price to pay for taking the throne as his own. That would explain the reason that there is no mention of either of the Kings in the hall at Abydos.  Horemheb had them stricken from the honor.

Further more if Nefertiti was still alive and it is highly doubtful after such chaos in the royal family, she would have fled along with her remaining daughters. I would have to say that king Tut was the son of Akhenaten and his first daughter who died in childbirth. Since Akhenaten had no sons it was necessary to produce an heir to the throne and to keep the royal blood in tact as it was slowing watering away.  As for Ankhesenamun which sent to another country for a husband. It was not Ay that she was talking of "I will not take my servant as my husband" it was Horemheb that was the servant she would not take and the prince from afar paid dearly.  Whom better to execute such a plan than the general himself?

We will keep this page updated, as we all learn together. Email me with any corroborated information about Tutankhamen and Akhenaton.

~ Information written at the exhibit in Cairo Museum ~
"Stela representing Akhenaton, Nefertiti and three of their daughters in an informal pose
holding an earring out to Meryet-Amon (later chief queen of co-regent Smenkhare), the
eldest child standing between her parents, while their daughter (who will die prematurely)
and Ankhesenamun (later Tutankhamen's wife) are respectively standing and sitting on
their mother's lap."

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