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The New Kingdom In Ancient Egyptian History History Essay

4037 words (16 pages) Essay in History

5/12/16 History Reference this

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Egyptian history is divided into many different time periods according to the centuries. The New Kingdom in ancient Egyptian history is defined as the time between the 16th century BCE and the 11th century BC. During this time period there were three major dynasties that took place, the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt, and the Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt. The Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt was a time of reign for Egypt’s most famous Pharaohs including Ahmose I, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. King Tutankhamun was a pharaoh that achieved very little in this short lifetime. Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. Tutankhamun’s tomb tells us about life and death of the New Kingdom period in Egypt. Tutankhamun lived over 3300 years ago during the period known as the New kingdom and he was the 12th pharaoh. He was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. Tutankhamun was a young boy who was established on the throne at the age of nine. Tutankhamun is one of the youngest pharaohs to ever reign over any country. Around the time of his birth Egypt began to fail, Egyptians lost battle, lost land and was in economical turmoil. He became pharaoh during the period of re-adjustment that followed the death of pharaoh Akhenaten. How Tutankhamun’s significance stems is from his rejection of the radical religious innovations introduced by his predecessor and father, Akhenaten.Tutankhamen. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.


There are substantial amount of reasons as to why Tutankhamun is significant Tutankhamun’s tomb was a major discovery of the 19th century. It was a phenomenal discovery that made headlines across the world. Up until the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, it was believed that all royal tombs had been robbed and drained of their treasure. For the first time, a tomb which was almost intact had been discovered and remained hidden from robbers for thousands of years. It was one of the few almost completely intact Egyptian tombs ever discovered. While archaeologists have found several Egyptian tombs, most were looted long ago by grave robbers. Tutankhamun’s tomb was the first pharaoh’s tomb ever discovered with its magnificent grave goods intact. His tomb, uniquely, in the Valley of the Kings, was discovered almost completely intact. The most complete ancient Egyptian tomb ever found.

The tomb revealed an elaborate lifestyle that many people could only dream about as well as providing clues and insight into the Pharaoh’s life and how he lived. Even though little is known about Tutankhamen’s life, we do know that he was given the throne at a young age. It has been estimated that he was about nine years old when this throne exchange took place. He was a child pharaoh. He was nine years old when he came to the throne. This was fairly unusual in ancient Egypt. He only reigned for ten years. In historical terms, Tutankhamun’s significance stems from his rejection of the radical religious innovations introduced by his predecessor, who is believed to be Akhenaten. During the time that this occurred, Egypt was in turmoil due to his father’s religious movement. His father, Akhenaten, had changed the religious system and the old beliefs that had been practiced for hundreds of years before him. This religious change angered many angry citizens and priests. Tutankhamen was left with an angry and chaotic Egypt to rule. After acquiring the throne he began to uphold his father’s beliefs, which was the worship of one god, the Aton.


At the age of nine, Tutankhamun attained the Egyptian throne, the youngest pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. After Tutankhamun became Pharaoh, he set about restoring the old deities, reverting to the old religions and thus giving the power back to the priests of Amun. According to the most important document of Tutankhamun’s reign, the Restoration Stele, his father’s supposed improvement left the country in a bad state. Consequently the traditional gods, seeing their temples in ruins and their cults abolished, had abandoned Egypt to chaos. When Tutankhamun came to the throne, his administration restored the old religion. Given his age, the king must have had very powerful advisors. The country was economically weak and in turmoil following the reign of Akhenaten. Diplomatic relations with other kingdoms had been neglected, and Tutankhamun sought to restore them. Evidence of his success is suggested by the gifts from various countries found in his tomb. Despite his efforts for improved relations, battles recorded showed that Tutankhamun was not always successful and believed to have not taken place in wars and battles. This is suggested by evidence, including body amours and folding stool. At the age of nine and having control for 10 years before his death, surely at such young age, fixing issues raised is no simple and effortless matter

Discovery and Excavation of Tomb

The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb was an immense occasion in 1923 that made Carter a prominent figure in modern history. Although the discovery may have been by mere luck, it gave Carter an attention that no archaeologist has received before. Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened hurriedly by grave robbers a few years after his death, but few items were stolen and the tomb was revealed by an unknown party. No one broke into the tomb afterwards, exactly because he and it had been forgotten. The British Egyptologist Howard Carter employed by Lord Carnarvon discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in The Valley of the Kings on November 4, 1922. With the turmoil caused by the war and Carnarvon suffering from regular symptoms of ill health, they only started exploring the Valley of the Kings in deeply and where matter became serious in 1919. Carter contacted his patron, and on November 26 that year both men became the first people to enter Tutankhamun’s tomb in over 3000 years. After many weeks of careful excavation, on February 16, 1923 Carter opened the inner chamber and first saw the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun.

On the morning of November 4, 1922, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, arriving at the Valley of the Kings, where the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered, uncovered eleven more steps leading to a doorway blocked with stones and plaster inside led them to the significant discovery. The upper-left hand corner had been re-plastered and resealed which told Carter that robbers had broken into the tomb previously. Carter then knew that something significant remained inside and pursued to find out. After making a small hole, Carter peeked inside the corridor and saw it filled with stones. Digging of the tomb began immediately. After the blocking of stones had been removed, a second plastered door was found at the end of the corridor. At 4:00 pm on November 26th, Carter made a hole in the doorway. His first impressions of the amazing discovery are recorded in his popular book, “The Tomb of Tutankhamun”. Carter expresses his great discovery by stating, the chamber included gold, strange animals and statues, which were the first things Carter seen. It was at that time that Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon became the main individual figures to the innovation of King Tutankhamun. Carter quickly assembled an expert team of English and American Egyptologists to begin excavating the tomb and recording its contents in detail.

Howard Carter

Howard Carter was an English archaeologist and Egyptologist noted as a primary discoverer of the tomb of Tutankhamun. The contribution of Howard Carter to the finding of the now the most famous pharaoh in the world has been inspiration for historians and archaeologist. The pure and absolute magnificence of the finds of the tomb have fascinated generations of people through the many decades of the time of discovery till present where it has been centre of a great deal of speculation. He died of lymphoma, a type of cancer, in Kensington, London, on 2 March 1939 at the age of 64.

Lord Carnarvon

Lord Carnarvon born June 26, 1866 – April 5, 1923 was an English noble lord best known as the financier of the excavation of the Egyptian New Kingdom Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. The two, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon are famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun which helped provide evidence of the ruling class and the role of the New Kingdom pharaoh.

Cause of Death

There are many theories and hypothesis as to the mystery behind how the young pharaoh died. Questions after questions raised, murder or illness perhaps as to the cause of death, yet the evidence does help and assist in giving more information as to the cause. Years of DNA tests and CT scans on Egypt’s famous pharaoh, King Tutankhamun produced surprising results revealing how he died at the young age of 19, and solving the century’s old mystery of his lineage. Ancient Egypt’s most famous pharaoh likely died of a leg injury which was complicated by bone disease and attack of malaria, according to the comprehensive analysis of mummies in his royal family. Study conducted took two years to finish and shows that because of multiple disorders, the boy King was likely a “frail king who needed canes to walk.” Their research showed the young king had a club foot and a cleft palate and his parents were probably siblings, incest. There had been theories that he had been murdered due to a hole that was found in his skull but this was ruled out in 2005 after CT scans suggested the hole was most likely the result of the mummification process. Taken together, the new research findings suggest that his death was not attributable to foul play but rather a constitutionally weakened condition caused by the combination of a leg fracture and infection with malaria. There are many barriers which could alter the outcome. Mistakes that could happen during excavation could destroy or remove vital information to the death. Maybe, we might not know the truth as to how the young king died but the evidence provided can help portray and expand our understanding. It could not only help us with his death but importantly the customs and events which have occurred in the New Kingdom. Mind due, the many possibilities of events that occur over time, day by day passing by, evidence by evidence it decreases. Although the evidence decreases, our resources of technology which help us gain more information increase. The advancement of technology helps us not only in what we have found in the past but by the vast amount of historical evidence in the world yet to be found. The technology we have now to produce a 3D face visual with the minimal evidence provided is itself just impressive and brilliant. Though it may not be 100% accurate, it still is enough to create the imagery of a human from the remains of a mummy helps us expand our knowledge. Murder or illness, surely it’s a matter of time before we reach the true conclusion

Burial Customs

The most persuasive and interesting aspect of Egyptians was the provision of all materials and equipment they made in their tombs for essential preparation to the afterlife. This is portrayed and expressed through the contents of the tomb, the architecture and decorations. The substantial amount of evidence that if provides for archaeologists and historians and just the immaculate intact tomb is truly something amazing.

The preservation of the body was essential for the ancient Egyptian to live again in the afterlife. Ancient Egyptians believed that the human body contains the soul and the guardian spirit Ka through which resurrection was thought to take place. The belief of the afterlife is believed to have come from the Osiris Legend. The Myth of Osiris and Isis, concerning the deities of Egyptian mythology Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Set, became one of the most important and powerful in Egyptian mythology during the New Kingdom. The myth concerns the death of Osiris and the birth of Horus.


Despite his early and unexpected death, Tutankhamun received traditional mummification. His body was laid in a bed of a white mineral substance which is the combination of salt and baking soda that naturally occurs in Egypt to dry out the flesh. This material was also stuffed into the body. The brain was removed through the nostrils with a long metal hook. The Preservation of the internal organs was an important aspect of mummification. The lungs, liver, stomach, and intestines were removed. Each were carefully dried in salts, and then wrapped them. They were placed in Canopic jars and stored in the burial chamber.

Funeral Procession

The correct rituals and equipment were essential in order to make Tutankhamun’s funeral successful and to maintain it in proper order. Priests placed the mummy inside a shrine and transported it to the burial site known as the “Beautiful West” in the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of the Nile where the sun sets. Priests performed the essential ritual of the Opening of the Mouth. They set the mummy upright and purified it with natron. Offerings of clothing and eye paint were also given to the deceased, and priests placed the mummy with seven special oils. After the Opening of the Mouth, priests carried the mummy to the tomb, draped it with floral garlands, and placed inside nested coffins decorated with protective scenes and spells. Like other 18th Dynasty kings, Tutankhamun was placed in a series of three coffins housed in a large rectangular sarcophagus of stone. A series of shrines were then built around the sarcophagus further shielding the body.


The ancient Egyptians dedicated much of their resources to building tombs and providing funerary cults. Achieving an afterlife with the gods required more than a tomb and a mummy. The deceased faced a final judgment wherein the heart placed on a scale had to balance with Ma’at, a goddess representing order and harmony. It was believed that the heard was placed on one side of a balance scale and the feather of Ma’at was placed on the other. If the heart weighed more, it was judged unfit and cast into the hungry jaws of the crocodile-headed monster Amamet. Even if an individual passed this test they would then be able to enter the afterlife successfully. This method of entering the afterlife is known as “The Heard Scarab”

Aspects of the Tomb

Tomb & Size and Structure

Found with more than 5,000 objects in the tomb. The cache of royal burial treasures found in the antechamber, annex, burial chamber, treasury, and corridors includes the king’s gold mask, golden throne, couches, royal robes, golden shrine, cup, perfume vases, necklaces, decorative pectoral, gold pendants, vases, caskets, chest, stools, chairs, weapons, statues, figurines, pottery, cups, amours, sandals, sticks, whips, bows, gloves, fruit baskets, model boats, paintings, boomerangs, and games.

The plan of Tutankhamun’s tomb differs from that of royal tombs of the time, both in size and in layout. The exhibit is divided into four sections to match the four rooms of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, and the photographs are displayed in the order in which the archaeologists encountered the rooms.

The first is the entrance passage and antechamber, the second the burial chamber itself, the next the treasury, and the last the annex. Starting from a small, level platform, 16 steps descend to the first doorway, which was sealed and plastered. Beyond the first doorway, a descending corridor leads to the second sealed door, and into the Antechamber. This was used originally to hold material left over from the funeral and material associated with the mummification of the king. The Antechamber was found to be in a state of chaos and contained approximately 700 objects. The ‘Annex’, originally used to store oils, ointments, scents, foods and wine. Although quite small in size, it contained approximately 280 groups of objects, totaling more than 2,000 individual pieces. The treasury was the burial chamber’s only side-room and was accessible by an unblocked doorway. It contained over 500 objects, most of them funerary and ritual in nature. The two largest objects found in this room were the king’s canopic chest and a large statue of Anubis. Other items included numerous shrines containing statuettes of the king, deities and model boats. The size and structure of all four sections are fairly small but the amount of beautiful structures, items and objects is purely amazing.

Burial Furniture


Wall Paintings

Archaeological Evidence

Written Sources

The finding of Tutankhamun gives us written evidence from the time of Tutankhamun’s reign and significance to his discovery. There are many written sources, these include:

Carter recorded his first impression in his popular book, “The Tomb of Tutankhamen”

At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues and gold-everywhere the glint of gold…I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, “Can you see anything?” it was all I could do to get out the words, “Yes, wonderful things.”


With over 5000 objects, items and belongings found in the chamber, where the tomb of Tutankhamen is, there are many interesting artefacts which provide evidence from the time of Tutankhamun, these include:


Jewellery Alabaster Perfume Jar

draft_lens2815722module22903982photo_1237938126Tutankhamun-Canopic-Jars.jpgFile:SenetBoard-InscribedWithNameOfAmunhotepIII BrooklynMuseum.png

Canopic Jars  Senet board game

Uniqueness of Tutankhamun’s Tomb

Eighteenth Dynasty

The Eighteenth Dynasty was boasting with a number of Egypt’s most famous pharaohs, it included Tutankhamun, the finding of whose tomb by Howard Carter in 1922 which was a sensational archaeological discovery despite it having been twice disturbed by tomb robbers. This dynasty often is combined with the Nineteenth and Twentieth dynasties under the group title New Kingdom. A new dynasty is mainly begun after the death of the last family lineage of the previous dynasty. As Tutankhamun died so did the dynasty. The royal line of the dynasty died out with Tutankhamun. After following his predecessor Akhenaten, the death of Tutankhamun meant the death of the Eighteenth Dynasty and as one Dynasty ends it was the beginning of the Nineteenth Dynasty. The Nineteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt was one of the periods of the Egyptian New Kingdom, founded by new pharaohs and kings.

The Curse of the Mummy

Fact or Fiction! Does the curse of the mummy really exist or was it made up? The curse of the mummy began when many terrible events occurred after the discovery of the Pharaoh’s tomb. Legend has it that anyone who dared to open the tomb would suffer the rage of the mummy. It wasn’t until the discovery of the young Pharaoh and the hype of the media that things would change forever. The sensationalised media hype began when Lord Carnarvon, one of the main individual figures with Howard Carter which discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb, died shortly after the discovery. Once Carnarvon died the media were untamed and went ballistic with stories of his death. They claimed Tutankhamun wanted vengeance and announced a mummy’s curse, which targeted those who had entered the tomb. Howard Carter lived a decade after the discovery of Tutankhamun, so why wasn’t he killed earlier if the curse really existed. During the decade and his existence Howard Carter spent his last years logging and recording every artefact found in the tomb which included over 5000 archaeological evidence. Did the Pharaoh’s Tomb really unleash a curse? New findings show that bacteria on the wall of the tomb might have been the cause of the curse. The bacteria would release spores into the air allowing it to be breathed. This in turn caused people who came into contact with these spores to become ill. Could this be what killed Lord Carnarvon? It appears that this could have contributed to his termination, as well as the fact that he was not in the best of health. Whether the mummy’s curse is fact or fiction, this story seems to interest people even today. The myth of the curse has remained with King Tut and continues to make people question as to whether the curse was really unleashed. What is known is that when you mix propaganda, facts, and hype you get a story that can be exciting. To some the curse of the mummy may seem like a ridiculous notion presented at the time. Could the deaths of these individuals be an accident or does the curse exist. Individually, this topic presented is one which is biases and what independently we believe.

Tutankhamun and Popular Culture

The reason as to why to Tutankhamun became too important throughout decades and centuries over time are for a substantial amount of reasons. The exhibits, the myths, questions raised as to past about Egypt, his reign and most importantly his reign. How at the age of nine such individual came into power to rule a country, his death and most importantly his tomb kept intact. Tutankhamun’s tomb is one of the most experienced and most seen artefacts over the world by tourists. The notion of Tutankhamun’s curse may have been one of the main reasons as to his popularity. The term ‘media hype’ could be one of the reasons of the beginning of the curse. Although most of the young pharaoh’s fame is derived from the supposed curse, most of it also was derived from the significance itself and his reign. Having to rule a country from his father’s lineage, at the age of nine, fixing the damage was not easy. It is for all reasons and more, that without doubt the discovery of Tutankhamun is one to surely remember for generations and decades. From his reign, to his tomb, the most intact tomb ever found with 5000 items and objects. The tomb provides sufficient evidence as to beliefs, practices and fixing what was damaged. Tutankhamun had been an individual that has been studied for years and years to come. Movies, documentaries and every other type of source of media have been created for and about the young king. Surely, it is to say, without a doubt, in future, we can expand our knowledge about the past to discover more from the young pharaoh.


If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday. Thus, it is now clear to say that surely the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen is one of the most discoveries ever made in history and the significance of the archaeological evidence found which provides evidence about the past. Although it may also have been out of mere luck, the two main individual figures, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovery should give and provide motivation and inspiration for all historians and archaeologists about evidence around the world yet left to be found. The sheer magnificence and beauty of the past which can help future generations. Every day, more evidence found provides more answers for all the questions. Also, through the advancement of technology, more questions can be answered. The discovery of Tutankhamun is just an example of what history provides. In conclusion, the significance lies within the evidence provided and the vast amount of written or archaeological artefacts left to be found, whether underwater or in the ground.

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