titular mummy's love interest in both the 1932 film and the 1999/2001
films shares a name with a real woman who lived in ancient Egypt from
around 1348-1322 BC. Although she dealt with vastly
different problems than her cinematic namesake, the real Ankhesenamun
did not have a long, peaceful life, either. In her
two-and-a-half decades, she faced a whirl of political intrigue
She is perhaps most famous as the Great Royal Wife of the Pharaoh Tutankamun, but as the daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti she was at the center of one of the most turbulent times in ancient Egyptian history. Her father (and father-inlaw/cousin/uncle...yeah, they were big on incest then) Akenaten led a religious revolution in Egypt, putting aside the traditional pantheon in favor of worshipping the sun-disc, The Aten. As might be expected whenever religious changes are forced on people, this didn't go over very well. Once the 18th Dynasty was over, Egypt returned to its polytheistic belief system.
Ankhesenamun was one of six
daughters born to Akhenaten and Nefertiti, and, like the movie
character, she was born in Thebes. At age 14, she
married Tutankhamun (believed to be her half-brother.)
They produced two stillborn daughters before Tut died around age
18, leaving no heirs.
After Tut's death, the fate of his widow is murky. One report indicates she may have been engaged to a Hittite prince, but he died under suspicous circumstances during the journey to Egypt.
Ankhesenamun then married Ay, who had succeeded Tut as pharaoh. Ay has been the Grand Vizier to Tutankhamun and was possibly also related to the royal family. Marrying his predecessor's widow helped cement his somewhat tenuous claim to the throne.
Ankhesenamun died around age 26 of unknown causes. A mummy discovered in 2010 in the Valley of the Kings might be her remains, but DNA analysis was inconclusive.
Some have theorized that Tutankamun was murdered, but the evidence is controversial and it is more likely that numerous health problems combined to end the young pharaoh's life. Still, it's tempting to imagine an ancient murder plot, even perhaps one involving Ay himself, wherein the historic Ankhesnamun had some of the same troubles as her cinematic counterpart...