Centre for Continuing Education

Tutankhamun Course: Life and Death of the Boy King

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The discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, an Egyptian Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, by Howard Carter in 1922 was an international sensation. This previously little known pharaoh was suddenly famous. But there is still much that we do not know about him. Conclusions based on DNA and physical analysis remain controversial and not widely accepted. The tomb contained a vast array of treasures but recent analysis suggests it may have hidden chambers. This study day explores what we know about this fascinating King.


At the completion of this history course participants will have:

  1. Explored the scientific data for the death or Tutankhamun.
  2. Examined the latest evidence for the family relationships of the period.
  3. Investigated the archaeological evidence for the reign of Tutankhamun.


DNA analysis and the family of tutankhamun

The relationship of Tutankhamun with his predecessors has long been based on inscriptional evidence. Recent DNA analysis of the mummy of Tutankhamun and other royal mummies has led to a range of theories about the boy king’s association with his predecessors King Akhenaten and Smenkh-kare. The mother and wife of Tutankhamun has now been identified – but who were they?

The reign of tutankhamun

The reign of Tutankhamun was brief and relatively obscure. The Egyptians were in conflict with the Hittites over control of Syria and plague was ravaging the region. Most of the boy kings inscriptions were subsequently erased by pharaohs who followed him but archaeology has retrieved new texts. What can we say about the 10 years of his reign?

The tomb and its discovery

The tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered in November 1922 by Howard Carter. It lay near the floor of the Valley of the Kings and had been hidden by spoil from the tomb of Ramesses VI. The tomb does not conform to standard royal tombs of the period. Recent scientific analysis of the tomb hints that hidden chambers lie off the burial chamber.

The contents of the Tomb

Tutankhamun was buried with a rich array of artefacts which included a solid gold sarcophagus and burial mask. It has long been known that the tomb contained objects which were originally made for other rulers including Akhenaten, Smenkh-kare and Nefertiti. What do these tell us about the boy king and his relationship with his predecessors?

Death of a King

The body of Tutankhamun has been examined on a number of occasions over the last 90 years. These studies have made vastly different conclusions from a blow to the back of the head to a broken leg. Recent studies suggest about the health of the king was poor and suggest new ideas about the probable cause of his death?

Intended Audience

This history course is suitable for personal interest adult learners, university students and active retirees who have an interest in history and Tutankhamun and the discovery of the tomb.

Delivery Style

This history course in Sydney will be delivered as a face-to-face, interactive lecture where questions and open discussions will be encouraged.

Recommended Reading

Aiden Dodson, Amarna Sunset. Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemhab, Cairo, 2010


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion