Tutankhamen, a pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt, reigning from about 1361 to 1352 B.C. He was a ruler of minor importance, but the discovery of his tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 was one of the most spectacular archeological finds of the 20th century. “King Tut,” as he came to be called in the newspapers, succeeded his father-in-law, Akhnaton, to the throne as a boy and died at about age 18. His name, also written Tutankhamun or Tutankhamon, means All life is in the hands of Amen (an Egyptian god).
Tutankhamen's tomb was the richest Egyptian tomb ever found, and the first to be found almost intact. (Robbers broke in shortly after the funeral, but officials resealed the entrance.) Although the tomb's treasures added little to historical knowledge, they stimulated popular interest in archeology and enabled scholars to see many objects that had only been known from drawings, carvings, or written descriptions.
The tomb was discovered by the British archeologist Howard Carter, on an expedition financed by the Earl of Carnarvon. Among the 2,000 objects in its four small chambers were a gilded throne inlaid with silver and semiprecious stones, gilded beds and chariots, chests of jewelry, alabaster vases, statues, weapons, and religious articles. Tutankhamen's mummy lay inside a solid gold coffin, surrounded by two outer coffins, a rectangular stone sarcophagus, and, finally, four shrines of gilded wood.
After the tomb's contents were recorded, most of them were moved to the Egyptian Museum at Cairo. Tutankhamen's mummy, his outermost coffin, and his sarcophagus were left in the tomb, which was opened to visitors.