Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Tuesday, 8 March 2005

King Tut 'died from broken leg'

Zahi Hawass (AP)
Zahi Hawass believes the king should now be left in peace

King Tutankhamun was not murdered and may have died of complications from a broken leg, say researchers who hope the pharaoh will now be left alone.

A CT scan on the Egyptian king's 3,300 year-old mummified body indicates that he may have suffered the fracture shortly before his death, aged 19.

Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said the research suggests the boy king died after the wound became infected.

Not all the team agree, but all now reject the long-standing murder charge.

Little is known about Tutankhamun's 10-year rule after he succeeded Akhenaten, who had abandoned Egypt's old gods in favour of monotheism.

When the body was x-rayed in 1968, a shard of bone was found in his skull, prompting speculation that he was killed by a blow.

Some historians have argued he was killed for attempting to bring back polytheism.

Others believe he was assassinated by Ay, pharaoh's second in command and the man who succeeded him.

'Case closed'

Last November, Culture Minister Farouk Hosni approved a project to move Tutankhamun's body for the first time to the Cairo Museum.

We don't know how the king died, but we are now sure that it was not murder. Maybe he died on his own
Zahi Hawass

The mummy, consisting of a skull, chest bones and two other bones, underwent a scan which produced cross-sectional images of the remains.

Researchers, who announced the results of the scan performed in January, said they found no evidence of a blow to the back of his head, and no other evidence of foul play.

Their report said the bone shard in the skull was not the result of wounding but may have been broken during the embalming process.

"These cannot possibly have come from an injury from before death, as they would have become stuck in the embalming material," said the report.

They interpreted a fracture to the king's left thighbone as evidence that he may have badly broken his leg before his death.

"Although the break itself would not have been life-threatening, infection might have set in," they said in their report.

However, others in the team doubt this theory, suggesting that the bone chipping may have been caused later by archaeologists.

Whatever the case, Mr Hawass, chairman of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said he was confident that Tutankhamun, who lived in the mid-14th Century BC, was not murdered.

"We don't know how the king died, but we are now sure that it was not murder. Maybe he died on his own," he said.

"The case is closed. We should not disturb the king any more. There is no evidence that the young king was murdered."

Tutankhamun's tomb is considered to be one of the best preserved royal tombs with 5,000 artefacts, making him one of the most fascinating of the pharaohs.

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See X-ray pictures of Tutankhamen



SEE ALSO
Tests may end Tutankhamun mystery
13 Nov 04 |  Science/Nature
Tut's life and death unmasked
30 Sep 02 |  Science/Nature
Did disease kill Tutankhamun?
01 Aug 00 |  Science/Nature
Science lifts 'mummy's curse'
20 Dec 02 |  Health
Egyptian Museum opens its vaults
06 Aug 02 |  Entertainment

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