I’ve just returned from the International Conference on Ancient Studies in Dubai. By the time I left I was almost deliriously tired, enough perhaps to find a passionate and fiery exchange between two wonderful speakers from the conference, Ahmed Osman and Andrew Collins, debating who or what killed Egypt’s King Tut as we drove to the airport, highly comical. I can already hear in my mind Mr. Osman’s contempt for this report in the New York Times (he firmly believes that the boy king was murdered):
King Tutankhamun, the boy pharaoh, was frail, crippled and suffered “multiple disorders” when he died at age 19 in about 1324 B.C., but scientists have now determined the most likely agents of death: a severe bout of malaria combined with a degenerative bone condition.
The mummified feet of King Tutankhamun in a 2007 photograph. Scientists have now determined that the boy pharaoh most likely died of a severe bout of malaria combined with a degenerative bone condition.
The researchers said that to their knowledge “this is the oldest genetic proof of malaria in precisely dated mummies.” Several other mummies in the study also showed DNA evidence for the presence of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, perhaps not surprising in a place like the Nile Valley.
The application of advanced radiological and genetic techniques to royal Egyptian mummies marks a new step in the ever deepening reach of historical inquiry through science.
The study, reported Tuesday, turned up no evidence of foul play, as had been suspected by some historians and popular writers familiar with palace intrigues in ancient Egypt. Previous examinations of the Tut mummy had revealed a recent leg fracture, possibly from a fall. This might have contributed to a life-threatening condition in an immune system already weakened by malaria and other disorders, the researchers said…
[continues in the New York Times]