King Tut - 'one sick kid'

2010-02-18 08:02

kalahari.com

Chicago - It turns out Egypt's beloved boy-king wasn't so golden after all.

But will research showing King Tut was actually a hobbled, weak teen with a cleft palate and club foot kill enthusiasm for a mummy that has fascinated the world for nearly a century?

Not likely, historians say, even though the revelations hardly fit the popular culture depiction of a robust, exotically handsome young pharaoh.

"This is one sick kid," Egyptologist Emily Teeter, assistant curator at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, said after learning of the research.

It shows that, based on DNA tests and CT scans, Tut had a genetic bone disease and malaria, which combined with a severe broken leg could have been what killed him about 3 300 years ago at age 19.

The results appear in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. They further dispel the more romantic and popular theories about what did him in, like being murdered by a sneaky palace foe.

The findings stem from the most rigorous research yet on a mummy that has fascinated the world ever since his largely intact, treasure-filled tomb was found nearly 90 years ago.

But historians say the new evidence will likely only intensify public interest in King Tutankhamun because it brings the boy ruler down to Earth.

More human

"It makes him all the more human and all the more fascinating," said Dr Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan.

The more realistic picture, fleshed out by testing Tut's mummy and those of his family, has its own mystique. Beneath the golden splendour in which they lived, ancient Egypt's royals were as vulnerable as the lowliest peasant: Three other mummies besides Tut's showed repeated malaria infections.

Moreover, their tradition of incestuous marriages only worsened their maladies.

The new research led by Egypt's top archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, bolstered previous theories that Tut's father was likely the Pharaoh Akhenaten. It also brought a new discovery: Tut's mother was Akhenaten's sister.

That would explain some of Tut's ailments, including the bone disease that runs in families and is more likely to be passed down if two first-degree relatives marry and have children.

In ancient Egypt, it wasn't really considered incest. Pharaohs were thought of as deities, so it makes sense that the only prospective mates who'd pass muster would be other deities, Markel said.

Now experts are trying to identify the mummy that DNA pinpointed as Tut's mother, as well as another confirmed as his wife, Hawass told reporters in Cairo on Wednesday. 

More mystery

The DNA project is also seeking a more illustrious figure, Queen Nefertiti, the wife of Akhenaten who was fabled for her beauty but whose mummy has never been identified.

"It will make more mystery about him, it will make more magic about him," Hawass said of the new discoveries.

Tut has long been big business. A 1970s Tut exhibit drew millions of visitors to US museums, and a popular revival including artefacts from his tomb and others' has been travelling around the United States for the past several years and is currently at San Francisco's DeYoung Museum.

Egypt's economy depends a great deal on tourism, which brings in around $10bn a year in revenues.

The King Tut exhibit at Cairo's Egyptian Museum is one of the crown jewels of the country's ancient past and features a stunning array of treasures including Tut's most iconic relic - the golden funeral mask.

Another tourist destination is Tut's tomb tucked in the Valley of the Kings amid Luxor's desert hills. In 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered it and the trove of fabulous gold and precious stones inside, propelling the once-forgotten pharaoh into global stardom.

Hundreds of tourists come daily to the tomb to see Tut's mummy, which has been on display there since 2007.

Though historically Tut was a minor king, the grander image "is embedded in our psyche" and the new revelations won't change that, said James Phillips, a curator at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.

"Reality is reality, but it's not going to change his place in the folk heroism of popular culture," Phillips said. "The way he was found, what was found in his grave - even though he was a minor king, it has excited the imagination of people since 1922."

Even if the research dents the myth, it won't change the most tangible part of Tut's image - all the intact relics that were found in his tomb.

"He's far more famous for what he owned and what he wore than what he actually did," Markel said.

- AP
Read more on:    egypt  |  archeology
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Wine
 

You HAVE to see this MTB Tsunami Fip!

You might not know what a Tsunami Flip is, but just watching this will turn your eyes into saucers. Check out this first-ever MTB Tsunami Flip in contest here.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Bear Grylls’ top 10 things kids should do outdoors
Mountain unicycling – say WHAT?
Top tips to ensure you’re running right
Stand-up paddle boarding a great workout

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

20% off Afrikaans books, music and DVDs. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Hot gaming titles – available for pre-order!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. Pre-order now!

Get a free eBook

Buy 3 eBooks and get the cheapest FREE. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Power and leadership are emphasized today. It is important to strategize and delegate well otherwise you may end up with too much...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.