Family Tree of King Tutankhamun
The King Tut Family Tree is interesting in that it reveals a number of incestual relationships within the royal family. Incest was not uncommon among the royal families of Ancient Egypt, as it was believed to maintain the purity of the royal bloodline and ensure a strong dynastic succession.
In this article about the family tree of King Tutankhamun, we trace as far back as Tutankhamun’s great-grandfather, Thutmose IV, and focus especially on the five pharaohs who reigned before him.
The King Tut Family Tree
In 2009, extended DNA-tests were carried out on the mummy of Tutankhamun, as well as other members of his family. The results of these tests were published in 2010 and were interesting to say the least.
It was now proven that Akhenaten was not Tutankhamun’s father-in-law as had previously been believed, but his actual father. It was also discovered that Amenhotep III was his grandfather and that Ankhesenamun was not just his wife, but also his older half-sister. Finally, it was discovered that Nefertiti was both his step-mother and his mother-in-law.
These incestual relationships were actually very common amongst the Egyptian Royal Family, as it was thought to guarantee the succession of bloodlines. However, biologically, it came at a price. Tutankhamun and his half-sister had at least two miscarriages, the unborn foetuses of which (Mummy 317a and Mummy 317b) were buried with the pharaoh in his tomb. And Tutankhamun himself suffered from a number of conditions and maladies, which are believed to be hereditary due to his incestual bloodline.
Before it is possible to properly discuss Tutankhamun and his reign as pharaoh, it is important to first put his short reign into context, which means taking a closer look at the King Tut Family Tree, beginning with his great-grandfather, Thutmose IV.
Thutmose IV was not actually ever meant to be pharaoh; he managed to usurp his older brother, the crown prince, as ruler. The famous Dream Stele, which was erected between the two paws of the Sphinx in ca. 1400 BC, makes claim to a divine legitimisation of his right to be pharaoh.
According to the story inscribed in the Stele, the Sphinx supposedly spoke to Thutmose IV in a dream and asked the prince to free him from the sand. In return, the Sphinx offered the prince the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. The dream about the Sphinx was not the only enlightenment that Thutmose IV had. He also had spiritual visions about the sun-disk, Aten, and during his reign the importance of Aten grew considerably.
Thutmose IV died young and the clearing of the Sphinx was the most notable achievement in his ten-year reign, which was considerably shorter than both his grandfather’s reign of nearly 54 years and his father’s reign of 26 years. Thutmose IV’s mummy was discovered in 1898, by Victor Loret, within the mummy cache at KV35, and an examination of his body showed him to have been very ill during the final months of his life.
A later analysis, by the Imperial College London, suggested that the early death of Thutmose IV, as well as those of his grandson, Akhenaten, and great-grandson, Tutankhamun, may well be due to familial temporal epilepsy. This would certainly account for his untimely death and explain his religious enlightenment, as this type of epilepsy is associated with intense spiritual visions. Thutmose IV was succeeded to the throne by his son, Amenhotep III.
Mutemwiya was a minor wife of Thutmose IV, and would most certainly have been overshadowed at court by the pharaoh’s first Great Royal Wife, Nefertari. However, Mutemwiya was important in that she was able to give her husband an heir to the throne in Amenhotep.
Following her son’s accension to the throne, Mutemwiya gained more prominence as the new pharaoh’s mother, and there are scenes in the Luxor temple depicting the divine birth of her son, Amenhotep III.
Amenhotep III, the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty, was an extremely successful ruler and is often referred to as Amenhotep the Magnificent.
Amenhotep III has the distinction of having the most surviving statues of all the pharaohs. Over 250 of his statues have been discovered and identified as being him, which is perhaps not surprising as Amenhotep III reigned for 38 years, during which time Egypt enjoyed an unprecedented period of prosperity.
When Amenhotep III died, Egypt was at the very height of its power, both politically and financially. Unlike most of the pharaohs, he was buried in the Western Valley of the Valley of the Kings, in Tomb WV22. However, later on Amenhotep III’s mummy was moved from this tomb and placed in a side-chamber of KV35, along with several other pharaohs, where it lay until Victor Loret discovered it, in 1898.
Tiye, the Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep III, was the mother of pharaoh Akhenaten and the grandmother of Tutankhamun. Tiye wielded a great amount of power at court, not only during her husband’s reign, but also during her son’s reign as well.
Tiye was the daughter of Yuya, a wealthy landowner from the town of Akhmim, in Upper Egypt. Meanwhile, her mother, Thuya, played an important role in different religious cults and may well have been a member of the royal family herself.
Tiye had at least one brother, called Anen, and under her husband’s reign he became the Chancellor of Lower Egypt, Second Prophet of Amun, and Sem Priest of Heliopolis, and acquired the title, Divine Father.
Historians now generally agree that Tiye also had a second brother, who went on to have an even more impressive career than Anen did. The brother in question is none other than Kheperkheprure Ay, the Grand Vizier to the pharaohs Akhenaten, Smenkhare and Tutankhamun, before then becoming the fourteenth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt himself.
Tutankhamun’s father, Akhenaten, reigned for 17 years and is probably the most controversial of all the Egyptian pharaohs. Up until the fifth year of his reign, the pharaoh Akhenaten was actually known as Amenhotep IV. He then changed his name to Akhenaten as a show of his devotion to the sun-disk, Aten.
The rather strange portrayals of Akhenaten, with his long, thin face, his large breasts and sagging stomach, have led many scholars to believe that he was suffering from some kind of hereditary disease. Others believe that the feminine depictions of Akhenaten in pictures and statues are not to be taken literally, but instead relate to some form of religious symbolism, due to the fact that the god Aten was referred to as “the mother and father of all humankind”.
During the reign of Akhenaten’s father, Amenhotep III, the solar Aten was extensively worshipped as a god, where it was depicted as a falcon-headed man, in much the same way as Ra. However, when Akhenaten became pharaoh, the status of the sun-disk, Aten, was elevated to the one true god. This was the first known example of Monotheism, i.e. the belief in one god.
Akhenaten also moved the capital away from the city of Thebes to the new city of Akhenaten, the site which is known today as Amarna. This was so that he could break the influence of the powerful temples and establish his own preferred choice of deity. Soon he began to repress the worship of Amun, which did not go down at all well with the High Priest of Amun, nor the other priests of the old religion.
“The Younger Lady”
Akhenaten’s Great Royal Wife was, of course, Queen Nefertiti (see below), who would eventually reign in her own right. However, Nefertiti was unable to provide her husband with a male heir, unlike his until now unidentified minor wife and full sister, commonly known as “The Younger Lady”.
The Younger Lady is the nickname given to a mummy discovered in tomb KV35 by the archaeologist, Victor Loret, in 1898, and the best guess by historians is that she was one or other of Akhenaten’s younger sisters, Nebetah or Beketaten.
Thanks to DNA tests, we do now know that “The Younger Lady” was the mother of King Tutankhamun, but it has been speculated that she may also have been the mother of the Pharaoh Smenkhkare, although this particular “fact” has been disputed.
Following the reign of Akhenaten, the next two rulers of Egypt both took the coronation name, Ankhkheperure, which means ‘Living are the forms of Re, who is beloved of the Sole one of Re’. The second of these pharaohs was female, but the first was male and is believed to be Smenkhkare.
Probably less is known about Smenkhkare than any of the other pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. It is not certain whether he was Tutankhamun’s brother, or step-brother, or even his uncle (i.e. a younger brother of Akhenaten). However, it is now generally believed that he was the eleventh pharaoh of the Eighteen Dynasty and that his short reign lasted between one and three years.
At the beginning of his reign, Akhenaten married his cousin, Nefertiti, who became his Great Royal Wife, and is one of the most famous queens of Egypt, thanks in part to the Queen Nefertiti Bust, by the sculptor Thutmose, which has become an icon of feminine beauty.
It is not known for certain who Nefertiti’s parents were, but it is now believed that Ay may very well have been her father. It is known that Ay’s wife, Tey, was definitely Nefertiti’s wet nurse growing up, but this means she may also have been her step-mother as well. And it has now been speculated that Nefertiti’s sister, Mutbenret, eventually became the wife of the fifteenth and final pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, Horemheb.
Akhenaten and Nefertiti had a total of six daughters, including their oldest daughter, Meritaten, and Ankhesenamun, who would later become the Great Royal Wife of Queen Nefertiti’s step-son, Tutankhamun. Akhenaten and Nefertiti may also have had a son together, Smenkhkare, although this has yet to be proven beyond doubt (see above).
It is known that the twelfth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, Neferneferuaten, also took the coronation name, Ankhkheperure, and ruled for a couple of years before the boy pharaoh ascended the throne. However, it is still not known for certain whether Neferneferuaten was Queen Nefertiti herself or her daughter, Meritaten, who as well as being Smenkhkare’s wife, was also most likely his sister or half-sister.
The true identity of Neferneferuaten may never be known, but there is no question as to the identity of the thirteenth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. His name was Tutankhamun, the most well-known pharaoh of them all (thanks to his mostly intact tomb), who ascended the throne of Egypt at just nine years of age.