Forensic archaeology on King Tut

King Tutankhamun

The Egyptians believed their pharoahs were gods. As such, they could not marry mere mortals but had to marry others of divine blood within their own families. Even Akhenaten, who promoted a kind of monotheism that taught that the Sun was the only god, followed this custom. New forensic studies of his son King Tutankhamun’s mummified body showed that for all the glamor and beauty reflected in that golden mask and all of his treasures that he is known for, this teenaged boy was sickly, crippled, and in pain for much of his short life. But isn’t this forensic history fascinating?

Egypt’s famed King Tutankhamun had a cleft palate and a club foot, which probably forced him to walk with canes, and died from complications from a broken leg exacerbated by malaria, according to the most extensive study ever of his more than 3,300-year-old mummy.

The findings are based on two years of DNA testing and CT (computed tomography) scans on 16 mummies, including those of Tutankhamun and his family, said the team that carried out the study. An article on the findings is to be published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study establishes the clearest family tree for Tut, indicating for the first time that he was the child of a brother-sister union.

The study says Tut’s father was probably Akhenaten, a pharaoh who tried to revolutionize ancient Egyptian religion and force his people to worship one god. The mummy shown by DNA to be that of Tut’s mother turned out to be a sister of Akhenaten’s, although she has not been identified.

Tut, who became pharaoh at age 10 in 1333 B.C., ruled for nine years at a pivotal time in Egypt’s history. Although he was a comparatively minor king, the 1922 discovery of his tomb, which was filled with stunning artifacts, including the famed golden funeral mask, made him known the world over.

Speculation had long swirled over why the boy king died so young, at about 19. A hole in his skull fueled speculation that he was murdered, until a 2005 CT scan ruled that out, finding that the hole probably resulted from the mummification process. The scan also uncovered the broken leg.

In contrast to the golden splendor that Tut was buried with, he is revealed in the newest scans and DNA tests to have been a sickly teen, weakened by congenital illnesses and done in by complications from the broken leg aggravated by severe brain malaria.

via New study explains demise, parentage of King Tut – washingtonpost.com.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • scots

    >>sickly, crippled, and in pain for much of his short life<<

    and yet…a god…

  • scots

    >>sickly, crippled, and in pain for much of his short life<<

    and yet…a god…

  • Shannon

    Haha. Tutankhamun did not have a club foot! He did however have a bone in his foot that was deteriorating and was quite painful. He walked on his right heel and used a walking stick to keep his weight off the rest of his foot. I think you mean cleft palate? Which he also did not have! Sick? absolutely. Crippled? not even close.

  • Shannon

    Haha. Tutankhamun did not have a club foot! He did however have a bone in his foot that was deteriorating and was quite painful. He walked on his right heel and used a walking stick to keep his weight off the rest of his foot. I think you mean cleft palate? Which he also did not have! Sick? absolutely. Crippled? not even close.

  • mel

    king tut was an amzing pharoh so i dont understand why ppl would write lies about him… its really a shame.

  • mel

    king tut was an amzing pharoh so i dont understand why ppl would write lies about him… its really a shame.

  • Kc Casper

    I read these kind of articles all the time but this is the first I heard of a club foot honestly if your going to write an article the truth gets you further than a lie!

  • Kc Casper

    I read these kind of articles all the time but this is the first I heard of a club foot honestly if your going to write an article the truth gets you further than a lie!

  • kimmmmmmlol

    people tell lies about king tut but us that love him know the truth this is coming from a thirteen year old i mean really even i no the truth its a thing called reasearch and lots of it.

  • kimmmmmmlol

    people tell lies about king tut but us that love him know the truth this is coming from a thirteen year old i mean really even i no the truth its a thing called reasearch and lots of it.

  • http://idc Jennifer

    Man i wanna know if this is true i have this research for school
    but it seems like i can find the right one but i try …. man this is ganna be hard lol i am ganna get some facts from here i hope yhu do more research on king tut! plz

  • http://idc Jennifer

    Man i wanna know if this is true i have this research for school
    but it seems like i can find the right one but i try …. man this is ganna be hard lol i am ganna get some facts from here i hope yhu do more research on king tut! plz

  • http://idc Jennifer

    these are some good answers like i said ima take some info from here lol

  • http://idc Jennifer

    these are some good answers like i said ima take some info from here lol

  • Kupe

    Wow so many different ways he could have died and not one adds up to me, I really need some help because im doing a report on him in WH1 and i cant seem to find any conclusions any suggestions HELP!!!!!!

  • Kupe

    Wow so many different ways he could have died and not one adds up to me, I really need some help because im doing a report on him in WH1 and i cant seem to find any conclusions any suggestions HELP!!!!!!

  • shannon

    I could tell you his entire life story, but it wouldn’t do you any good because you wouldn’t be able to cite any of it. Fact is that nobody really knows what happened to King Tut. Egyptologists have run 1,700 cat scans on King Tut’s mummy, and they still don’t know the correct answer, even though the information is sitting right in front of them. The only thing that they got right is that he had malaria.

  • shannon

    I could tell you his entire life story, but it wouldn’t do you any good because you wouldn’t be able to cite any of it. Fact is that nobody really knows what happened to King Tut. Egyptologists have run 1,700 cat scans on King Tut’s mummy, and they still don’t know the correct answer, even though the information is sitting right in front of them. The only thing that they got right is that he had malaria.


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