Marrying a close relative, as ancient Egyptian royalty often did, is not a good thing to do. Archeologists have often commented on the strangely distorted images of King Tut, which seem to indicate extreme birth defects. Now it’s been discovered that Tutankhamun had a club foot, walked with a cane and was killed by malaria.
Researchers took this information from DNA samples taken from 11 mummies, as well as from a replica of Tut’s death mask, which is currently on display in Germany. King Tut died just nine years into his reign, which lasted from 1333-1324 BC. Some researchers thought his death was due to an accident, since his body showed signs of a leg fracture, but new DNA studies show that he was been infected with a parasite that causes an often deadly form of malaria, and his inbreeding may have caused him to have a weakened immune system. While he probably did die of a fall, perhaps from a chariot, it turned into a life-threatening condition when he contracted malaria.
Scans and DNA testing show that some of his disorders ran in his family, including bone disease and a club foot, which would have caused him to walk with a cane.
Also, artifacts have shown the royalty of that era as having a somewhat feminized or androgynous appearance. Various genetic diseases that have been suggested to explain this appearance, however, most of the disease diagnoses are hypotheses derived by observing and interpreting artifacts and not by evaluating the mummified remains of royal individuals apart from these artifacts.
Now DNA testing has revealed that Akhenaten, the pharaoh who ruled from around 1351-1334 BC and radically transformed Egyptian religion by introducing the idea of a single god, was Tut’s father and that Tutankhamun’s mother was Akhenaten’s sister. Tut was the father of two daughters, both stillborn.
If there’s one person who knows all about ancient Egypt, it’s William Henry, who leads a unique tour there every year and comes back with extraordinary insights to share with us.
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