Death on the Nile: was King Tut's killer the general by the pyramid?

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The Independent Online
In what must be the longest running "whodunnit" of all time, new evidence has emerged into the mysterious death, 3,000 years ago, of King Tutankhamun.

The combined skills of a former Scotland Yard detective and a medical expert suggest that the boy pharaoh may have been murdered by one of his top officials or a general.

Ever since Tutankhamun, who died at the age of nine in 1352BC, was discovered buried in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt 1922 there has been intense speculation about his demise.

Now the magazine MAG - Museums and Galleries - has brought together a "historic murder squad" to investigate the case. Their findings, published on Monday, suggest that foul play ended the young king's life.

Analysis of X-rays of Tutankhamun's skull by Professor Ian Isherwood, a retired neuro-radiologist with 33 years experience, revealed a small depressed fracture in the back of the skull. Professor Isherwood believes the injury was probably caused by a blow to the head which most likely took place before his death.

"During mummification you often get [this sort of injury] in limbs but not in the skull," he said yesterday. He added: "It doesn't imply mal- intent, unless there's circumstantial evidence to support it."

So the question is whether there was anyone with a motive.

In steps Graham Melvin, a former detective inspector with the Metropolitan police. His prime suspects are Ay, the king's vizier, and the head of the army, General Horemheb. "You would need two. If Ay was acting alone, wouldn't Horemheb have been angry with him for murdering his king? Anyway, Ay would have needed the army's support."

Further circumstantial evidence is that Ay took over Tutankhamun's throne and married the dead king's widow. Following Ay's death Horemheb took power and destroyed the young Pharaoh's monuments. The name of Tutankhamun was removed from the list of kings.

Mr Melvin said: "It wasn't about power per se. If it had been about power, why wait. They'd have bumped him off long ago.

"It was about the greater glory of the country. Ay was old. They agreed, on a handshake, that he'd take over, and Horemheb knew when Ay was dead, he could do as he liked."

Despite this new inquiry and fresh list of suspects, no charges are expected.