Mystery of King Tut's Death Solved

Pharaoh died of malaria, bone condition
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2010 12:36 PM CST
Mystery of King Tut's Death Solved
This undated file photo shows Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered King Tutankhamun's tomb, examining King Tut's sarcophagus.   (AP Photo/File)

Scientists armed with DNA evidence believe they’ve discovered the long-mysterious cause of King Tut’s death: a combination of malaria and bone abnormalities. The cause of the young pharaoh’s early demise has been a topic of speculation ever since his tomb was uncovered, with theories ranging from gangrene to murder to genetic conditions like Marfan’s Syndrome and gynecomastia, a hormone imbalance that makes males look female.

Researchers spent two years subjecting Tut to anthropological, radiological, and genetic testing. They also tested ten royal mummies related to Tut, and artifacts from his tomb. They were able to rule out gynecomastia and Marfan’s Syndrome, but did find evidence of another genetic condition: Kohler Disease II, a disorder that causes bones to collapse. They also found traces of malaria in Tut and some of his relatives. "Walking impairment and malarial disease sustained by Tutankhamun is supported by the discovery of canes and an afterlife pharmacy in his tomb," add the team. (More King Tut stories.)

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