Tutankhamun began his life as Tutankhaten; the name highlights his role as the ‘living image of the sun disc’. Tutankhamun was the last ruler of a magnificent dynasty. His father is most likely to have been Akhenaten, Egypt’s ‘heretic’ pharaoh. Akhenaten had shocked the world with his worship of a single solar deity – the Aten.
On his accession, Tutankhamun faced a great period of transition as he re-established the old gods and attempted to restore diplomatic relations with neighbouring countries. Being young, his rule was dominated by a controversial figure – his uncle, the military commander, Ay.
His short reign was largely unremarkable – he was virtually unknown to Egyptologists until his tomb was rediscovered in the 1920s. However, he commissioned the construction and restoration of many monuments including the temple of Amun at Karnak and his own tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
Tutankhamun died between the ages of 18 and 20 when the throne passed to Ay. Some believe that the young king was assassinated.