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New Explanations

Tut Pharaoh death revealed

Hazel Heyer, eTN  Feb 18, 2010

New explanations show what killed the boy Pharaoh King Tutankhamun. A study being announced today exposes an analysis supposedly revealing how the boy king died. Egypt's Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni broke the news at the Cairo Museum including new discoveries about the family of Tut and the cause of death.

Research on the family of Tut done through the Egyptian Mummy Project (EMP) revealed the king died at the age of 19; contrary to earlier stories, he was murdered by a blow to the back of the head. Egyptian scientists found out that the hole on the skull was traditionally done in 18th Dynasty when filling the skull with mummification liquid. Scientists also noted that the young king suffered a fracture to his left leg a day or so before his death.

According to newswires, results emerge from what the researchers call molecular Egyptology, in this case an analysis of DNA extracted from the bones of 11 royal mummies of the New Kingdom. The scientists took two to four DNA samples from each mummy, including Tut, who died sometime 1324 BC, the 10th year of his reign. Comparing the genetic fingerprints allowed them to identify one previously unknown mummy as Queen Tiye, mother of the pharaoh Akhenaten and grandmother of Tutankhamun, another as Akhenaten (Tut's father) himself, and a third as Tutankhamun's mother.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, heads the EMP team composed of Egyptian scientists from the National Research Center, members of the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University, and two German DNA specialists. The study was performed inside two DNA laboratories working under the supervision of the SCA. One is located in the basement of the Cairo Museum, the other, at the Faculty of Medicine in Cairo University. These are the only two DNA laboratories used exclusively to study ancient mummies.
In the past, the EMP has conducted two other studies on ancient Egyptian mummies. The first project done in 2005 performed a CT-Scan on the mummy of Tutankhamun.

The EMP's second project succeeded in identifying the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut from among remains found in KV 60 in the Valley of the Kings. These findings have been published in scientific articles around the world.
Hawass and the scientists in this project sent an article to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), who approved of the study's scientific method. The article findings will be released today, February 17.

Archaeologists moved Tutankhamun's body from his tomb - discovered packed with treasure in 1922 - to the museum a couple of years back for tests, which should resolve the mystery over whether he died naturally or was murdered. The mummy moved end of November with the CT scan that produced a three-dimensional X-ray of his remains.

Tutankhamun's treasures, including a stunning gold mask which covered the head of his mummy, were removed from the tomb in Luxor's Valley of the Kings by British archaeologist Howard Carter. They are usually on show, too, at the Cairo Museum.

Tut's mummified remains were left in the tomb in a stone coffin for years. Archaeologists last opened the coffin in 1968, when an X-ray revealed a chip of bone in his skull. The mummy was smashed to pieces by Carter's expedition, when tools were used to remove the king's gold mask from his body. The mask was firmly attached to the mummy by resin.

Nothing hindered the research. Hawass ordered for the mummy to be returned back to its tomb after the completion of the research.

Mystery has surrounded Tutankhamun since the discovery of his tomb. Lord Carnarvon, Carter's sponsor and among the first to enter the tomb, died shortly afterward from an infected mosquito bite. Discovery Channel airs King Tut Unwrapped this Sunday, February 21, and Monday, February 22.

Tut Pharaoh death revealed
Fragile remains of King Tut / Image via

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