Since the discovery of Egyptian King Tutankhamun’s body in 1922 by archaeologists Howard Carter and George Herbert, his life has served as a fascinating mystery to archaeologists and the public at large. He became Pharaoh at the tender age of 9 years old and reigned for 10 years before his untimely death at the age of 19.
In addition to determining Tut’s cause of death, the researchers may have solved another mystery – namely, why Tut’s body appeared to have been burned, something that Howard Carter noted in his initial discovery of Tut’s mummy.
For that, the research team turned to fire investigators, who determined that that combination of embalming oils led to a chemical reaction that caused King Tut’s body to spontaneously combust after it was already in the coffin. In other words, it seems likely that King Tut’s mummification process was botched.
“I think what the project shows is that when it comes to ancient material there is always more to learn, and there probably will be in the future,” Naunton said in a statement. “But with this study we have taken a big step forward in terms of understanding what happened at the end of Tut’s life.”
There are many mummies of Pharaohs in museums the world over...many of them more exalted and powerful than Tut but the fascination with the boy king has never diminished since he was discovered in 1922. He gave us a window into a glorious Egyptian past and into the life and times of a young Pharaoh. He is far more celebrated now than he ever was in life.