Insights into King Tut’s horrible final months – from the horrible fracture of his leg to the fight against malaria

THE TRAGIC final months of King Tutankhamun’s life have been explored in a new documentary.

The “Boy King” who ruled Egypt 3,000 years ago suffered from bouts of malaria and a broken leg before his untimely death at the age of just 19.

Tutankhamun's famous solid gold death mask


Tutankhamun’s famous solid gold death maskPhoto credit: Getty – Contributor
Historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes with the mummy of King Tut at his tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings


Historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes with the mummy of King Tut at his tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the KingsPhoto credit: Channel 5

It is also believed that the famous pharaoh was limping in the years leading up to his death with a debilitating foot condition that left him disabled.

British historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes hosted a new program, Tutankhamun: Waking the Dead, about Tut’s life on Friday.

The documentary combined previous research with new evidence to examine the circumstances surrounding Tut’s untimely demise.

Tutankhamun, a pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt, ruled Egypt from 1332 to 1323 BC

He is best known for his age – experts believe the boy was nine years old when he assumed rule of the world’s most powerful empire.

His death 10 years later has puzzled experts for decades. Some believe he died from a broken leg or some other accident, while others suspect he was murdered.

Bettany traveled to Cario’s Egyptian Museum to speak with researchers working with some of the country’s famous royal mummies.

Professor Sahar Saleem, an X-ray technician and mummy expert, was part of a top team that scanned and examined Tut’s remains last year.

They revealed that the pharaoh may have spoken with a lisp, thanks to an overbite and a slight cleft palate.

“Since communication and public profile are essential for any ruler, the Boy King may have faced a major challenge right away,” Bettany said.


And that’s not the only difficulty the young man had to deal with – he also had family problems.

In 2010, Egyptologists extracted DNA from the mummified bodies of Tut and a number of other royal mummies.

They were able to confirm a long-standing theory that an unidentified woman found in the tomb of Amenhotep II in the Valley of the Kings was in fact Tutankhamun’s mother.

CT scans of the mummy, known only as “The Younger Woman,” revealed his family’s dark secrets.

The girl, who was found naked hiding next to two other bodies in a secret side chamber, is believed to have been married to her brother.

She died a violent death after a blunt object hit her face and ripped out a large portion of the skull around her jaw area.

Prof Saleem said: “She was quite young when she died. Her wisdom teeth hadn’t erupted yet, so she was maybe around 25 years old.”

CT scans of Tut's remains show he suffered from a debilitating foot condition


CT scans of Tut’s remains show he suffered from a debilitating foot conditionPhoto credit: Channel 5

The injury was determined to have happened before she was mummified and is likely what killed her.

Scans showed no signs of healing around the trauma before she died. It is believed to have been pierced by a blunt object such as a B. a club with a stone head, was brutally inflicted.

“It looks like an attack,” said Prof. Saleem. “The injury could have killed her because she choked on her own blood.

“Broken bones could have gotten into their airways. That could have been fatal.”

Clearly, when Tutankhamun was growing up, there were serious problems in his household.


When Tut took control of an empire at the height of his power, one of the biggest obstacles he faced was his health.

CT scans show he had an unusually elongated skull that may have been the result of inbreeding.

More than 130 walking sticks found in the ruler’s tomb are believed to have been needed due to a crippling foot condition.

“The right foot and left foot look quite different,” said Dr. Carolyn Rando, archaeologist at University College London, on Bettany.

“We can see that his left foot has a fairly high and pronounced arch, while his right foot is almost completely flat.

The mummy of Tut's mummy. She is said to have been killed by a violent blow to the face. Her chest was later crushed in by grave robbers


The mummy of Tut’s mummy. She is said to have been killed by a violent blow to the face. Her chest was later crushed in by grave robbersPhoto credit: Channel 5

“He probably put more weight on his right foot and less weight on his left foot for some reason.”

X-rays show signs of necrosis, or tissue death, on his right foot, likely the result of a painful bone infection that left him disabled.


Archaeologists have argued for decades that Tut was assassinated as a result of a power struggle at the top of the Egyptian regime.

Based on a dark smudge visible in early imaging efforts believed to be a pool of blood, experts had argued the boy was killed by a blow to the head. However, this is not backed up by later CT scans.

dr Rando said the skull is intact with no obvious signs of trauma, suggesting no fatal head injury occurred.

The dark spot seen in earlier images was actually resin that had accumulated there during the mummification process.

Other theories are that the boy suffered a horrific leg fracture in a chariot accident and later died of sepsis.

Scans show signs of a fracture on his left femur.

“This could indicate that he had some kind of side impact that hit the top of his left knee,” said Dr. Rando.

“It could have dislocated it and caused this large, potential fracture.”

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She added: “It’s hard to tell how close this happened to his death. There’s no cure, so he didn’t survive long after that.”

If the skin was broken, the wound was likely infected and could easily have become septic, said Dr. Rando.

This could have resulted in death very quickly, although it is impossible to know if it was actually sepsis that killed Tut.

“We know he died from it, but not what he died from,” added Dr. Rando added.

But there’s another – and far more gruesome – theory as to what killed the young ruler of the planet’s greatest empire.

DNA samples collected from the pharaoh contained genes from the parasite that causes malaria.

Evidence suggests that Tutankhamun suffered from bouts of the disease several times during his short life.

It is believed that the disease, which is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites, may have weakened the king.

A viral infection could then have ended the job while it was in a vulnerable state. However, archaeologists don’t know for sure – and may never find out.

Tut’s tomb was excavated in 1922 in the East Valley of the Kings near Cario by British archaeologist Howard Carter.

The find was unusual in that the site had never been visited by looters and the lavish treasures inside had remained undisturbed for 3,300 years.

It remains one of the most famous archaeological discoveries of all time.

Tutankhamun: Waking the Dead aired on Channel 5 on Friday.

British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered Tut's tomb in 1922


British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered Tut’s tomb in 1922
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