The Journal of the American Medical Association doesn’t usually report autopsy results. But they make an exception this week: for King Tut. The study of the boy king involved DNA analysis and CAT scans.
Researchers [led by Zahi Hawass of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, Egypt] used genetic fingerprints from Tut and 10 presumed relatives to map out his most accurate five-generation family tree to date. It reveals a family history of clubfoot and scoliosis. And CAT scans of Tut turned up foot deformities, like a missing toe bone, and bone necrosis, which means some of his foot bones were dying due to poor blood circulation. Previous scans had identified a femur fracture.
The tests also found DNA from Plasmodium falciparum, meaning that the teenager and his great-grandparents had malaria infections. It's the oldest genetic proof for malaria in well-dated mummies. DNA also shows that Tut was probably spared bubonic plague, tuberculosis, leprosy or leishmaniasis.
So here's the scenario the researchers propose: an already frail pharaoh, hobbling around on his cane, breaks his leg, maybe in a fall. Throw in that malaria infection, and around 1324 B.C., just nine years after taking the throne, King Tut was history.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
For more, check out the article Tutankhamen's Familial DNA Tells Tale of Boy Pharaoh's Disease and Incest