THE PAINTINGS INSIDE THE TOMB were what told the true story and helped to solve the murder mystery.
On the walls of Tut’s tomb are images of Aye peering down at anyone inside the burial chamber. He is shown performing the Opening of the Mouth ceremony and wearing a king’s crown. This was the job of the new pharaoh. So not only did Aye perform the task, but he was pharaoh soon enough after Tut’s death to commission an artisan to paint his own likeness on the wall of Tut’s tomb.
Ironically, these two men, mortal enemies in life, were now linked for eternity inside this dank chamber. Tut would never be able to escape his tormentor.
My research showed similar paintings on the walls of Aye’s tomb. As with Tut’s burial chamber, there was an ocher and yellow painting of twelve guardian baboons, representing the twelve hours of the night. There was a painting of Aye hunting in the marshes. Upon Tut’s death, Aye was in charge of the wall paintings for the young pharaoh’s tomb and, of course, his own.
More important, Aye didn’t have Ankhesenpaaten depicted on the walls of Tut’s tomb. Ankhesenpaaten was Tut’s favorite and only wife. But Aye wanted her all to himself so he could claim the royal throne. His plan was clearly to make Ankhesenpaaten his queen, almost as if Tut had never existed.
So who was responsible for the murder? Who conspired to kill Tut? And why?
They all killed him. Remember, the queen actually ruled as pharaoh immediately after Tut’s murder. She clearly wanted power—witness her attempt to marry the Hittite prince. That was treason of the most desperate sort. And for what reason? The power to rule Egypt.
All three of them—Ankhesenpaaten, Aye, and Horemheb—succeeded Tut to the throne. Aye double-crossed Ankhesenpaaten by killing the Hittite prince. He was getting on in years, after all, and knew he wouldn’t have another shot at the throne. First he murdered the Hittite prince, and then he killed Ankhesenpaaten. The queen had agreed to Tut’s murder. No doubt worried that he might die anyway, she believed she could marry her Hittite prince, produce an heir, and continue to sit on the throne.
Ankhesenpaaten had no idea she would be double-crossed by Aye and then murdered.
Nor did Aye know he would be killed by his ally, General Horemheb, who would then succeed him as pharaoh.
Tut was killed by a conspiracy of the three people closest to him in life—Ankhesenpaaten, Aye, and Horemheb. Hundreds of thousands have visited the Tut exhibits, many millions believe they know the story, but few understand the sad tragedy of the Boy King.
Today, Tut’s mummy resides in a plain wooden tray that Carter had built for him. Investigators over the years have discovered that he had a broken right ankle that seems to have been in a cast; he had suffered a fracture of the right leg that was severe and possibly infected; he even suffered from an impacted wisdom tooth.
But Tut was murdered.
Tut, as he can be seen today, still inside the tomb where he has lain for thousands of years.