King Tut was 5’ 6” tall and he died in 1323 B.C. so when his sealed tomb was discovered in 1922 he had been dead for 3,245 years. When the tomb was opened it had unbelievable riches. There were statues of all kinds of different animals including dogs and horses and there was even a real chariot inside. It was typical to put things in a tomb the person enjoyed in life so he’d have them in the afterlife. Many of the things discovered were laced with gold. There were two miniature coffins that looked like King Tut’s and they found stillborn babies inside them; they assumed were he and his wife’s.
Let me start with the mummy’s curse which has been used in many great movies. What scientists figured out is that after thousands of years there was life in the tomb. This life was toxic mold. It wouldn’t have been too much of a factor but the archeologist who went in the tomb first was already ill and it is suspected the toxins killed him. The other five people or so who died, died of natural causes; so it was just a great story for newspapers to sell. The thing I find most amazing about this whole thing is that mold survived for thousands of years. My guess is that if there were cockroaches in there, they would’ve survived as well.
How he died is the amazing story. When x-rays became available they processed King Tut and found various issues. He had broken bones but they didn’t know if it occurred after his death. Unfortunately he got a little mangled when his body was moved to see what riches were in his coffin. What peaked their interests when looking at the x-rays is it appeared he had a skull fracture and it looked like he had a fairly small but perfectly round hole in the back of his head. At this point they came up with the theory that he was murdered either in battle or inside the palace (kind of like Julius Cesar) by being struck in the head. The news media went wild with this theory and the mummy storyline once again played out in Hollywood movies.
Then as we all know, the CT Scan became available. The Egyptian authorities gave the research team exactly three hours to remove King Tut’s body from the tomb and run scans. They barely did it in time because the donated and brand new Seiman’s CT Scan unit shut down. At first they thought there might really be a mummy’s curse but then they figured out the air conditioning to the unit had broken. So they hoped and prayed the $10 fan they placed next to the unit would allow them to finish the job. Fortunately it worked.
Then the real work began as they brought in specialists from around the world to study the scans and it was amazing what they found after thousands of years. First of all, he didn’t have a fractured skull it was a fissure that is normally on someone’s skull at his age, eventually it would’ve grown together. The hole they found was due to a technique embalmers used back then to remove the brain. Apparently they did this and also went through the sinus cavity. So the original theory was debunked, he suffered no head trauma so he wasn’t murdered that way; at least it made for a good story.
But here’s what they did find: he suffered an extremely clean break in his kneecap; it looked like it was cut almost straight through. They began wondering if the embalmers did it for some reason or the archeologist who first moved his body, but then they noticed that embalming fluid had gone to different places in the break and there was a little bit of healing showing on the bones which meant it occurred before he died. So the question was what could have caused a completely clean break back then with the tools and weapons that were available. If he fell he would’ve have shattered his kneecap not cut it through.
It ended up being the paintings on the walls that helped them finally figure out the mystery of his death. Apparently King Tut although young wasn’t the type of person who liked to sit on the sidelines during a war. He was good with a bow and arrow and he loved to hunt. The paintings showed him in two battles and one was with the Hittites and this painting showed him right in the middle of the battle. The other one had him a little ways away from the action shooting arrows at the enemy. It just so happens the Hittites were a major enemy and unfortunately had figured out how to use steel in weapons; their favorite was the axe. In considering the design of these axes it was a perfect fit to King Tut’s injury because his knee, arteries, and tendons, had been cut straight through. So the research team had their answer. They pretty much ruled out blood loss after the injury as a cause of death because according to the bone growth it appeared he probably lived about a week after the attack. The inflammation they saw helped them figure out that he died of an infection (Gangrene).
King Tut’s story is absolutely amazing and I’ve only provided a fraction of a percent of it. If you have the chance, please read about him because you’ll be glad you did.