While some historians argue that the young pharaoh’s reign was shy of noteworthy, the mummification of Tut’s corpse and the priceless treasures found in his tomb have proven to be sensational enough to keep millions of people in awe. (Not to mention that bit about his mysterious death and the rumors of his curse.) To prepare you for the renewal of the Tut craze, here’s a complete history of Tut in life, in death, and on Saturday Night Live. --Lauren Lagor
1343 BC Tutankhaten is born.
1333 BC Tut is crowned pharaoh. He’s nine.
1331 BC The king leaves the kingdom -- but he takes it with him. Tut moves Egypt’s capital from Amarna to Memphis, where he builds his own Graceland. He also changes his name to Tutankhamun.
1325 BC Tut’s reign ends abruptly when he mysteriously dies around the age of 18. (See “1968” for theory on murder; see “2005” for theory debunking that theory.)
In a 70-day process, Tut is embalmed and mummified, his organs placed inside a solid-gold coffinette. His body is put inside a coffin (also solid gold) that is then placed into another coffin (like Russian nesting dolls!); both are placed in a stone sarcophagus. The tomb is filled with miscellaneous treasures to assist Tut in the afterlife … you know, like a Golden Throne, a wooden war chest, furniture, a chariot, weapons … the usual.
The tomb remains undisturbed for 3,000 years.
1922 After five years of searching Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and through the financial backing of Lord Carnarvon, archaeologist Howard Carter, 49, and crew discover Tut’s tomb. Some say the words “Death Shall Come on Swift Wings to Him Who Disturbs the Peace of the King” were written over the doorway. If so, it deterred no one.
1923 Lord Carnarvon dies at the age of 56 from an infected mosquito bite on his cheek. The rumors of a curse stream rampantly through the media.
1925 Carter and his crew unravel the mummified teenager for the first time.
1935 They shouldn’t have disturbed his peace: According to some, 21 people associated with Tut’s tomb had died by 1935. Curse or coincidence? (Reality check: It’s probably more like six people, including Carter.)
1939 The Three Stooges go mummy hunting for King Rutentuten in the short We Want Our Mummy, a parody of the discovery of King Tut.
1966 King Tut becomes a villain in the Batman TV series and stumbles into the Batcave, making him one of Batman’s only foes to discover the superhero’s true identity. BAM! WHAM! Tut is knocked out and loses all memory of who Batman really is.
1968 An X-ray in England reveals a bone fragment in Tut’s skull. Theories of murder by a blow to the head escalate.
1976 The golden boy parts the Nile and comes to America for his first exhibition. “Treasures of Tutankhamun” draws eight million visitors during its two-year, eight-city tour.
1978 Steve Martin and the Toot Uncommons become an overnight musical sensation with their performance of “King Tut” on Saturday Night Live.
1986 The Bangles teach overcrimped, overteased, and overzealous crowds how to “Walk like an Egyptian.”
2005 A CT scan of the mummy finally negates the theory of the boy king having died from a blow to the head. (The bone fragment found through previous X-rays is deemed “after-death damage.”)
June 2005 The first showing of “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” premieres at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and travels to three other cities over 27 months.
2007 Tut’s treasures are displayed in London at the O2 Arena.
October 2008 The exhibit makes an encore tour and lands at the Dallas Museum of Art. “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” will run through May 17, 2009.