cover image Tutankhamen: 
The Search for an Egyptian King

Tutankhamen: The Search for an Egyptian King

Joyce Tyldesley. Basic, $29.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-465-02020-1

British Egyptologist Tyldesley (Daughters of Isis) adds her voice to numerous books and articles illuminating the life, reign, and death of the world’s best-known pharaoh. Tutankhamen was the young 18th Dynasty king who famously rejected the chaotic and unpopular radical religious innovations of his sun-god-worshipping predecessor, Akhenaten, for the certainties of traditional Egyptian polytheism. Reigning for 10 years, 3,000-plus years ago, his untimely death at 18 plunged his country into a succession crisis that caused the 18th Dynasty to fall. Records of the early 19th Dynasty Ramesside kings, X-rays, autopsy evidence, and grave artifacts indicate that, contrary to popular belief, Tutankhamen probably wasn’t a great or victorious general, didn’t die of tuberculosis, and wasn’t murdered by his successor, but likely died by accident, perhaps while engaging in the dangerous royal sport of ostrich hunting. While still a child, Tutankhamen married the third-born daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, and Tyldesley presents the DNA analysis pointing to the likelihood that his wife was his older half-sister, guiding readers through the maze of complex royal family relationships and issues of identification of mummies. His mother was one of Akhenaten’s secondary harem queens and his elderly successor, Ay, was possibly King Tut’s great-grandfather. This is an authoritative, well-documented addition to a much-trodden field of inquiry. Photos, maps. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Mar.)