King Tut is the Son of Akhenaton
Zahi Hawass

I had an exceptional adventure recently in Middle Egypt at a site known as El Ashmunein. In Greek the site was known as Hermopolis after the Greek god Hermes – the ancient Egyptian god Thoth, the god of wisdom. The site contained a temple dedicated to Thoth and a large statue of Thoth in the form of a baboon still can be seen today. I hold El Ashmunein close to my heart because forty years ago I started my career as an inspector of antiquities, only a few kilometers away, at Tuna El Gebel.

I spent two incredible years in Tuna El Gebel. I stayed in a beautiful rest house in the desert. In the evenings, I was completely alone with my thoughts and dreams, in this mysterious large house surrounded by desert. Everyday, I would sit in the garden and look up at the sky. I was not a patient man, but living in this spectacular isolation taught me the virtue of patience and I started to write. I kept a diary and recorded my memories and I wrote letters everyday to my girlfriend that I left behind in Alexandria.

Near my rest house was another rest house that was built for our great man Taha Hussein when he was the minister of education. He used to come in the winter and everyday he would visit the tomb of Isadora, a lady who lived during the Roman Period. Isadora drowned in the Nile and her lover built a beautiful tomb for her. Her lover used to travel about 50 kilometers from Sheikh Abada, on the east of the Nile, to Tuna El Gebel, on the west of the Nile, to light a pottery lamp in her memory. When Taha Hussein was in residence, he would light this lamp everyday.

In El Ashmunein, during the last century, a limestone block that was broken into two pieces was found. The first piece of the block has an inscription that reads: the king’s son of his body Tutankhaton. On the other piece of the block the inscription reads: the daughter of the king, of his body, his great desire of the king of Two Lands, Ankhesenpaaton. Scholars suggest that this inscription is not only one of the few pieces of evidence showing Tut is from Tell El Amarna but also showing Akhenaton is the father of Tut because Tut is mentioned as the son along with the well-known daughter of Akhenaton, Ankhesenpaaton. Ankhesenpaaton was the third daughter of Akhenaton and Nefertiti and she was the wife of Tut.

When I began to study the family of king Tut and investigate the identity of his biological father and mother, I knew that it was important to find this block. The block is not registered in the registry book for the magazine in El Ashmunein. Therefore, I started to ask scholars who had discussed this block in their work about the location of the block – and no one knew where it was! I called Adel Hassan, the director of Minya, and asked him to search for the block. After a few days, he informed me that they had found it. I went to El Ashmunein and entered the storeroom and learned that they only had the side of the block that mentioned Tut’s name but not his wife, Ankhesenpaaton. We immediately started to search, among the numerous stones from the Aton Temple that were reused by Ramesses II in a temple at El Ashmunein in hopes of finding the other half of the block. And we were happily surprised when we located it. Brando Quilici, who is shooting a documentary about the family of Tut and accompanied me to the storeroom, was surprised and thrilled that we rediscovered this important piece of evidence.

Some people believe that Tut is the son of Amenhotep III because he is mentioned in the monuments found at Thebes. Also, the hieroglyph “king’s son” can be translated as son-in-law or grandfather. But it is important to understand that when Tut became king and moved to Thebes, he could not mention the name Akhenaton. The priests of Amun hated Akhenaton for changing the religion to only worship the one god, Aton and for moving the capital from Thebes to Tell El Amarna. After the death of Akhenaton, the religion returned to the old ways and the priests of Amun regained their power. Therefore it is most probable that Tut, on his monuments wanted to identify himself with his powerful grandfather Amenhotep III. Hence, the hieroglyphs on the monuments found in Thebes that read: “son of king” can be translated as “grandson of king”.

The block from Tell El Amarna is an accurate piece of evidence that proves Tut lived in Tell El Amarna with Akhenaton and he married his wife, Ankhesenpaaton while living in Tell El Amarna. On the block and while he lived in Tell El Amarna, his name was Tutankhaton, honoring Aton, but when he became king and moved to Thebes he changed his name to Tutankamun, honoring Amun. This block can also be seen as evidence that Tut is in fact the son of Akhenaton. I am sure this archaeological evidence will instigate much discussion and debate among Egyptologists.


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