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  • Emily Ryhal

The Teachings of King Tutankhamun

This story is part of our Mummy Stories collaboration with students of Dr Katie Clary from Coastal Carolina University in the USA. Find out more here:


I still remember the first time I was taught about Egyptian mummies, in my third-grade history class. Being as young as I was, the lesson was a general overview of this great ancient civilization . This class introduced me to an Egyptian mummy for the first time: that of King Tutankhamun. Although I have never seen his mummy in person, he still managed to impact me at such a young age, and has stuck with me still to this day.

As part of my third-grade class, students did projects about him, multiple readings, coloring books, and watched videos about him. While there may have been other mummies my teacher could have focused on, for some reason she only mentioned him, and so for a while, he was the only one I knew of.

As a child, any topic that would even mention the idea of death terrified me, but Egyptian mummies and especially Tutankhamun, did not. Instead, my curiosity got the best of me, and I had to know more about ancient Egypt and mummies. I would go to the school library each week and look for more books on Ancient Egypt, usually involving cartoonish portraits of mummies or the Kings themselves, with little descriptions to actually learn much from. Still, I would check out any book I could find, and being from such a small school, our Egypt section was lacking, but I made the best with what I had. I wish I could remember the name of the one book that impacted me the most, but I do remember that it was my favorite out of the few I had to choose from: a book all about Egyptian gods with eye-catching artistic styles and easy-to-understand descriptions of the few gods listed. The book, though simple, meant a lot to me and so I went back to it many times.

King Tutankhamun is estimated to have died around the age of nineteen, and he did not have a long reign, and therefore we know less about him and his impact than other rulers of ancient Egypt.[1] There are many other mummies that my teacher could have told us about, but for some reason, she decided to tell us all about him. As I have gotten older, I realized that her fascination with King Tutankhamun is understandable as he has found fame in the modern world. With a beautifully decoracted and fairly intact tomb in the Valley of Kings holding many artifacts, and the legend of a mysterious curse, it is no wonder many have found him intriguing over time.

I remember my teacher telling us the basics of what mummies were, how they were preserved, and why they were important to Ancient Egypt, and I loved every part of the history. I developed my own love and appreciation for Egyptian mummies and Tutankhamun himself, leading to me winning first place in my third-grade science fair, with a project about pyramids and the mummification process.

Although my great fascination with ancient Egypt slowly left me as I grew older, my memories of learning about King Tutankhamun and spending so much time looking over books has always stuck with me. I praise my third-grade teacher and my younger self’s curiosity for allowing me to indulge in my inquisitive side as I still do today; I now research multiple religions and cultures. I’ve found a deep appreciation for ancient and current religions as well as death practices, thanks to King Tutankhamun himself.

I may have never seen him in person, but he will forever impact my more curious side.

[1] Encyclopædia Britannica, ”Tutankhamun,”


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