- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2005

CAIRO — New medical tests done on King Tut’s mummy indicate the boy-king was not murdered, but may have suffered a badly broken leg shortly before his death at age 19 — a wound that could have become infected, Egypt’s top archaeologist said yesterday.

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, announced the results of the CT scan about two months after it was performed on Tut’s mummy.

Mr. Hawass said the remains of Tutankhamen, who ruled about 3,300 years ago, showed no signs that he had been murdered — dispelling a mystery that long has surrounded the pharaoh’s death.

“The team found no evidence for a blow to the back of the head, and no other indication of foul play,” according to a statement released by Mr. Hawass’ office.

Mr. Hawass said that, while ruling out the theory that Tut was killed violently, he had no idea how the king actually died.

“I have two theories — that he may have died from natural causes or that he was poisoned,” Mr. Hawass said. “We are going to look at his viscera to see if his organs show any signs, but it is virtually impossible to prove how he died.”

Mr. Hawass said some members of the Egyptian-led research team, which included two Italian experts and one from Switzerland, interpreted a fracture to Tut’s left thighbone as evidence that the king may have broken his leg badly just before he died.

“Although the break itself would not have been life-threatening, infection might have set in,” the statement said.

About 1,700 images were taken of Tut’s mummy during the 15-minute CT scan aimed at answering many of the mysteries that shrouded his life and death — including his royal lineage, his exact age at the time of his death and the reason he died.

Tutankhamen’s short life has fascinated people since his tomb was discovered in 1922 in the fabled Valley of the Kings in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor by a British archaeologist, Howard Carter. The find revealed a trove of fabulous treasures in gold and precious stones that showed the wealth and craftsmanship of the Pharaonic court.

The CT scan, the first probe of its kind performed on a member of Egypt’s ancient royalty, showed that Tut was of a slight build, well-fed and healthy and suffered no major childhood malnutrition or infectious diseases.

The boy-king also had a slight cleft palate, which, however, was not associated with an external expression, like a cleft lip, or other facial deformities.

Tut’s lineage also has long been in question. It’s not clear if he is the son or a half-brother of Akhenaten, the “heretic” pharaoh who introduced a revolutionary form of monotheism to ancient Egypt and who was the son of Amenhotep III.

Tut is thought to have been the 12th ruler of ancient Egypt’s 18th Dynasty and ascended to the throne at about the age of 8 and died around 1323 B.C.

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