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Controversy still surrounds King Tut 95 years after discovery of his tomb

November 26, 2017 - EGYPT

British archaeologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered the then-intact tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings, 95 years ago. The anniversary sees some Egyptian archaeologists believing that the boy king, who reigned from 1333-23 BCE, is being slandered 3,300 years after his death.

A new virtual reconstruction of Tutankhamen portrays him as a broad-hipped, big-breasted, weak-boned pharaoh who died in his teens due to congenital problems brought on by incest. The analysis is the centrepiece of recent documentaries aired by Smithsonian Magazine in the United States and the BBC in the United Kingdom

The Egyptian archaeologists take issue with claims that King Tut suffered from genetic disorders because he was the progeny of a line of incestuous royal marriages, and they complain about the an unflattering body reconstruction that shows Tut with protruding buck teeth and a gnarled clubfoot.

Al-Ahram Weekly quoted Cairo University archaeologist Ahmed Said as saying that the results are speculation, without any archaeological or historical evidence. Encyclopedia Britannica notes that in 2010 scientists found traces of malaria parasites in Tut's mummified remains and posited that malaria in combination with degenerative bone disease may have been the cause of death.

The lack of definitive evidence arises in part from the way the pharaoh's mummy was handled in the decades after the two archaeologists found it, with incomparable treasure, in the untouched tomb. They came upon a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nesting within each other. Inside the final coffin, made out of solid gold, was the mummified body. His treasures, including the iconic death mask, are housed in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. His remains are said to show signs of extreme mishandling, which adds to confusion about the cause of his demise at 19, with some damage possibly incurred during the mummification process.

King Tutankhamen biography (Encyclopedia Britannica)

The Controversial Afterlife of King Tut (Smithsonian Dec 2014)

Tut Mummy on Public Display for First Time (Nat Geo 4 Nov 2007)

Date written/update: 2016-12-02