Ay was the advisor and immediate successor of Tutankhamen, and was apparently of non-royal birth and came from Akhmim. Attempts to tie his genealogy to that of Yuya and Thuyu, the parents of Queen Tiy, or to Nefertiti, are not convincing. Under both Akhenaten and Tutankhamen, Ay held the title “God’s Father” and perhaps served as a senior counselor to the king. His wife, Tiy, was a nurse in the court of Amarna. No offspring are known.
It was Ay who oversaw the move of the royal court from Akhetaten back to Thebes, and supervised the burials of Akhenaten and his family. Later, he also supervised the burial of Tutankhamen in KV 62. Ay became pharaoh at an advanced age and ruled Egypt for not more than four years. He continued the decorative programs of Tutankhamen at Karnak and constructed a small shrine at Akhmim, his birthplace. Ay had a tomb dug for himself at Amarna (southern tomb number 25), but it was left unfinished, although an elaborate copy of the “Hymn to the Aten” was carved on its walls.
Ay was finally buried at Thebes in the West Valley tomb KV 23. His memorial temple, today a patch of weeds and broken stone, lies near the later temple of Rameses III at Madinat Habu. It was usurped by Ay’s successor, Horemheb. Like Akhenaten, Tutankhamen, and Semenkhkara, Ay’s name is missing from later king lists - an indication that he, too, was considered a part of the hated Amarna heresy and therefore anathematized.