King Tut: Case Closed
Zahi Hawass (left) watches the mummy of King Tutankhamun enter the CT scan.
(AP Photo/Saedi Press)
By Steven Ehrenberg
Monday, March 14A 3,300-year-old mystery has been cracked, announced science sleuths on Tuesday. The ancient pharaoh King Tut wasn't murdered after all. He died of . . . a broken leg.
King Tutankhamun (too-TANG-ka-min) was a boy king who ruled Egypt from 1361 to 1352 B.C. Archaeologists, or scientists who study ancient peoples and culture, discovered his tomb in near-perfect condition in 1922. They found the mummy of the 19-year-old ruler, surrounded by treasures of gold and gems.
Tut became the most famous mummy in the world, leading many to ask: Why did he die so young? Some, noting what seemed to be a bump on his skull, wondered if somebody had struck him on the head and killed him.
The mystery was solved with modern technology. Scientists submitted the mummy to a CT scan, or a computerized tube that takes X-rays. The scan showed no evidence of a whack to the head or any other kind of suspicious blow. Instead, it found that young Tut had badly broken his leg, and that his leg had become infected.
"I believe these results will close the case of Tutankhamun, and the king will not need to be examined again," said Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. "We should now leave him at rest."
Hawass believes that Tut died from the infection. Not everybody agrees with his analysis, but they're pretty sure he wasn't murdered.
The scan also turned up details about Tut's appearance. He was a little, healthy fellow, with slightly crooked lower teeth and an overbite. Tut's overbite was no surprisethe royal family was famous for it.
Tut was not a major king, ruling for only eight years, but he reigned during the height of Egyptian civilization. His kingdom was expanding and rich. His major decision was to restore the traditional religious practices to Egypt that the previous king had suspended. The previous king, Akhenaten, wanted everybody to worship a minor sun god. Tut put an end to that, and Egyptians worshipped a whole mess of gods once again.
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