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King Tut Chariot Race Injury Is How He Died, Scientists Think

Image: King Tut Chariot Race Injury Is How He Died, Scientists Think

By Michael Mullins   |   Monday, 04 Nov 2013 01:21 PM

King Tut might have died from having been hit by a chariot during a hunt – the 14th century B.C. version of a car accident that ended his life at just 18 years of age. That's the conclusion from a team of British scientist who with help of modern technology have revisited the death surrounding King Tutankhamun.

At the center of the research is a piece of flesh first cataloged in 1922 – when the tomb was initially discovered, that had been later x-rayed in 1968, and more recently subject to a series of chemical tests and an electron microscope at the Cranfield Forensic Institute.

As a result of the combined evidence, the British scientists determine that King Tut's body was likely burned at some point after his death, the USA Today reported.

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The fire occurred inside the king's tomb, and was likely not purposely set by a person, according to the researchers.

Forensic archaeologists Dr. Matthew Ponting and Dr. Robert Connolly told the British newspaper the Independent that the blaze was likely triggered by a botched embalming process in which the oils selected, when combined with the linen, caused a chemical reaction that resulted in nearly 400 degree Fahrenheit temperatures within the tomb that gave way to the fire.

The scientists further suggested that the chariot accident likely caused scarring to the body that could have been a reason for why the subsequent mummification was not properly carried out.

"The charring and possibility that a botched mummification led the body spontaneously combusting shortly after burial was entirely unexpected, something of a revelation," Dr. Chris Naunton, who was also involved in the research, told the Independent.

A "virtual autopsy" concluded that King Tut sustained severe injuries down just one side of his body, causing severe internal injuries to certain organs, which could explain why his heart was removed, making him the only pharaoh to be missing its heart in his burial tomb.

King Tut reigned from 1332 through 1323 B.C., and was the product of an incestuous relationship between the Pharaoh Akhenaten and his sister. He had two daughters during his reign – both were stillborn.

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