How did King Tut die? Cause of Death Established

How did King Tutankhamun die at such a young age? Dr Zahi Hawass explains how modern science is helping to answer this question. Click the image to skip to the video.Hes the most famous figure in ancient Egyptian history, but theres still plenty of mystery surrounding King Tut. Who better to clear up a few of them for us than Dr Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities?

In part one of King Tut Revealed a four part video interview exclusive by Sandro Vannini Dr Hawass broaches the tricky and controversial subject of how the Boy King, whose tomb KV62 was famously discovered in the Valley of the Kings by Howard Carter in 1922, met his premature end in 1323 BC at just 19 years of age.

The Mummys Mummy

Dr Hawass begins by discussing King Tuts parentage, which is a matter of intense debate. Initially, as he explains, it had been thought that Tutankhamun a minor Egyptian king and a generally shadowy figure in the grand scheme of Egyptian history was the brother of Akhenaten and the son of Amenhotep III. Recent evidence, however, has indicated that he was in fact born in Tell el-Amarna the short-lived 18th Dynasty capital of Egypt and was most likely the son of Akhenaten.

Thats why we believe that his mother is Kiya, says Dr Hawass, referring to Akhenatens wife, a minor wife (the Royal wife was Queen Nefertiti of controversial Neues Museum bust fame).

Dr Zahi Hawass watches over the King Tut mummy as it undergoes a CT Scan. Image Credit - Supreme Council of Antiquities.Now we have evidence that [Kiya] was an Egyptian and she died when she was delivering him as a child. In another recent video interview with Heritage Key, Hawass told us that he believes KV63 the tomb discovered in 2005 near KV62 in the Valley of the Kings to have been the tomb of Kiya, before it was looted.

DNAtests on Tutankhamen’s mummy should soon offer more information on this issue.

The Mysterious Hole in the Head

The idea that Tutankhamun was murdered is one that has gained significant traction, with most homicide theorists pointing to a suspicious puncture in the back of Tuts head as proof he was bludgeoned to death. Yet, results of a CT scan on Tuts mummy carried out by a team led by Dr Hawass in 2005 has proven as conclusively as possible that the cause of his death was very likely another wound, one inflicted accidentally.

It was a hole that they opened in Dynasty 18 when they do mummification, Hawass explains of the skull fracture, as were shown fascinatingly detailed images of Tuts mummy captured by the CT scanner. Mummification was a complex business, that involved all kinds of strange and gruesome ritual treatment of the corpse, in particular when it came to the brain. Its definitely possible that the hole in Tuts leg was a deliberate post-mortem perforation.

On His Last Leg

A fracture in Tuts left leg is the most likely cause of the young pharaohs demise. His mummy was haphazardly handled by Howard Carter and his team, and ended up broken into 18 separate bits by the time his iconic golden death mask was removed.

The Golden Mask of King Tutankhamun, photographed by Sandro Vannini. Click through to see a 360 view of the Death Mask.Many people think that this [leg] fracture could happen because of that damage that Howard Carter did, says Hawass. But the CT scan again proved otherwise, by shedding new light on the injury. Radiologists found that this is not true, Hawass adds, and that this fracture happened to Tutankhamun one day before he died. Probably Tut contracted a deadly infection through the wound, and it quickly killed him.

A Tragic Accident?

The injury that may well have precipitated King Tuts death has been identified beyond reasonable doubt, then. But how did he come to suffer such a nasty wound? Hawass outlines two theories. Tutankhamun used the desert of Memphis for hunting, he says. He could number one have died when he was hunting in the desert. Or the second thing maybe in a war. Many he was participating in a war and he died?

There is no scientific way of testing such speculation, and well most likely never know how Tutankhamun suffered the fracture that killed him. But at least we can know now the cause of his death for the first time, Hawass concludes. Keep a look out for more installments of the King Tut Revealed interview on Heritage Key, including Dr Hawasss thoughts on the legendary curse of Tutankhamun.

HD Video: King Tut Revealed (Part 1/4) How He Died Featuring Dr. Zahi Hawass

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