King Tut Was Killed In A Gruesome Chariot Accident, Says Science

Illustration for article titled King Tut Was Killed In A Gruesome Chariot Accident, Says Science

Tutankhamen was the most famous of all the Egyptian Pharaohs, but it's always been a bit of a mystery how he died. He passed at only 19, and he seemed to have pretty bad injuries at his death, but there was no record of an assassination. Thanks to Science, we now know it was probably due to a chariot accident.


King Tut is best known because when his tomb was found in 1922, it was in relatively good condition compared to other, more ransacked pharaonic resting places. The sarcophagus and mummy were still there, which is always a good sign, and his remains could potentially tell us more about ancient Egyptian life. Unfortunately it's been a bit of a tough nut to crack, owing to many different reasons, not least of which was that his body was mysteriously burned. But don't worry, Science figured that out too.

The teenage Pharoah was engaged in a pastime enjoyed by many in his age group throughout history, except back then they had no cars so they had to make do with chariots and the like. Chariot racing, though, can be dangerous just like any form of racing, according to The Independent:

Working with scientists from the Cranfield Forensic Institute, researchers performed a "virtual autopsy" which revealed a pattern of injuries down one side of his body. Their investigation also explains why King Tut's mummy was the only pharaoh to be missing its heart: it had been damaged beyond repair.

The pharaoh's injuries have been matched to a specific scenario – with car-crash investigators creating computer simulations of chariot accidents. The results suggest a chariot smashed into him while he was on his knees – shattering his ribs and pelvis and crushing his heart.

Now the question is why was he on his knees when he was run over by a chariot. Had he fallen out of his own chariot? Maybe one of his stupid friends thought it would be a funny joke to push the King into oncoming traffic? Which of those two theories that I just made up sound more plausible?

As for why his body had been literally cooked, apparently the people who embalmed him screwed up. The oils they used combined with the linen wrapping used in the mummification process and oxygen in the air, causing poor Tut to spontaneously combust.


Photo credit: Jorge Elías


Gabor Vajda (@Gabor_V)

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