Born: 1341 B.C.
Died: c. 1323 B.C. (malaria?)
Best known as: Ancient Egyptian ruler and famous 20th-century mummy
The 1922 discovery of the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamen made "King Tut" an instant celebrity and placed him among the most famous of Egypt's ancient rulers. Tut's tomb was broken into by English archaeologist Howard Carter. One of the best-preserved tombs ever found, it was filled with thousands of artefacts, and the golden death mask which covered his mummy is now a famous relic of the ancient world. Before Carter's discovery, Tutankhamen was practically unknown, and his life still remains something of a mystery; probably he was the 12th ruler in Egypt's 18th Dynasty. Tut most likely was the son of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (also known as Akhenaten), and was married to his probable half-sister Ankhesenamun, the daughter of Akhneten and the famous Queen Nefertiti. Tut died when he was about 18, having ruled for nine years, and so is often called the Boy King. Tut's death has also been something of a mystery. X-rays taken in 1968 indicated he may have been killed by a blow to his head, and testing in 2005 suggested death by infection from a broken leg. But DNA analysis a few years later showed that Tut had a severe form of malaria that affected his brain and probably killed him.
Extra credit: His name is also rendered Tut-Ankh-amun... Comedian Steve Martin had a hit with the novelty tune King Tut, from his 1978 album A Wild and Crazy Guy.
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