King Tut


Join Active Minds as we tell the story of the famous Egyptian pharaoh and the time in which he ruled. We will place King Tut's life and reign in the broader context of ancient Egyptian history as well as cover the extraordinary discovery of his tomb in 1922 and King’s Tut’s contributions to history.

Key Lecture Points

  • King Tutankhamun falls in the middle of the 3000 year history of the Ancient Egyptian civilization.  He was part of the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom of Egypt; he ruled from 1334-1325 BCE.  Like many Egyptian rulers, her strived to keep together a vast and diverse land.  His brief rule was highlighted by his effort to return Egypt to a polytheistic religious belief system which had been rejected by his father.
  • The discovery of Tut’s tomb in 1922 by London-born explorer Howard Carter during a time of British colonial occupation of Egypt brings into focus some of the difficult politics of the study of ancient Egypt.  Western fascination with ancient Egypt fostered a growing science, which brought with it an inherent respect for the Egyptian culture.  At the same time, the advances (and profits) Egyptology were made by way of exploration of tombs in an occupied land.
  • In the recent past, Egypt has taken greater control of its antiquities. In the 2000s, under the leadership of Dr. Zahi Hawass, a University of Pennsylvania trained archaeologist, Egypt began to profit more significantly from global fascination about Ancient Egypt (including King Tut).   These profits have been invested in the construction of a new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, scheduled for opening (after multiple delays) in November 2022.  When fully opened, the new museum will house the entirety of the Tutanhamun artifacts.
  • In 2011, Dr. Hawass was dismissed from his role in the immediate aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring and the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.  As political stability (albeit via a return to authoritarianism) returned to Egypt, plans for another global tour of the King Tut artifacts took shape.  However, the 2019-22 tour (including a planned return to the US) was interrupted by a global pandemic.

Exploration Questions

  • What factors led to the rise of the Egyptian Kingdom? Why do you think it had such a long history?
  • Why was religion so important to the daily life of the Ancient Egyptians?

Reflective Questions

  • Why do you think we continue to be fascinated with Ancient Egypt, and especially with King Tut?
  • Have you ever been to Egypt? A previous King Tut exhibit? What do you remember most about the experience?

More to Explore

Books for Further Reading

  • Patterson, James and Martin Dugard. The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King—a Non-Fiction Thriller. Little, Brown and Company, 2009. 352 pages. The authors use historical evidence to arrive at their account of King Tut’s life and death.
    Click here to order
  • Vannini, Sandro.  King Tut: The Journey Through the Underworld. Taschen, 2020. 512 pages.  Comprehensive photographic collection of the relics discovered in Tut’s tomb.
    Click here to order