The young king was sent into the afterlife accompanied by his two tiny daughters.
In 1922 King Tutankhamun captured the world's attention with the discovery of his treasure-packed tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
This year he has done it all over again, with the proposal by Egyptologist Dr Nicholas Reeves that Tutankhamun's tomb was actually carved for his step-mother, Queen Nefertiti. Where it gets really interesting is the suggestion that her untouched burial lays on the other side of a wall in Tutankhamun's burial chamber. Dr Reeves has been invited to Egypt to examine Tutankhamun's tomb more closely and help plan what to do next.
Whether Nefertiti is discovered on the other side or the wall or not, the fact remains that Tutankhamun wasn't buried alone. The king was sent into the afterlife accompanied by his two tiny daughters.
Among the jumble of shrines and chests stacked up in the 'Treasury' in Tutankhamun's tomb, was a plain wooden box in which two small gilded coffins lay side by side. They were decorated with golden bands of hieroglyphs that referred to each of the coffin owners simply as 'the Osiris'. Whoever was inside the coffins were buried without being given a name.
The outer coffins contained even smaller coffins, and within those, two tiny mummies; little girls who had sadly died prematurely. These were, presumably, royal princesses; the daughters of Tutankhamun and his young wife, Ankhesenamun.
Researchers think that the smaller daughter was probably born at around 25 weeks, and the larger daughter at around 37 weeks.
DNA testing in 2010 confirmed that Tutankhamun was indeed the father of the two young girls. The same tests showed that Tutankhamun's father, Akhenaten, married his sister. In turn, it is likely that Tutankahmun's wife, Ankhesenamun, wasthe king's half-sister, increasing the risk that their children could carry congenital defects and be born prematurely. It must have been heartbreaking.
Tutankhamun was the last pharaoh of the mighty 18th Dynasty, which had ruled over Egypt for well over 200 years. After his death, with no living heirs, the throne passed to a series of men who were either on the periphery, or outside of the royal family; military men like Horemheb, Seti I and the great Ramesses II.
We are left to ponder what might have been if either of the little princesses had lived. As Carter put it, " ... had one of those babies lived there might never have been a Ramesses."
Pictured are the inner and outer coffins of Tutankhamun's larger daughter, who was born at around 7 months. You can see where the toes of the larger coffin have been hacked away to allow the lid of the box that contained them to close. Photo: Kenneth Garrett.