King Tut's broken leg may have killed him, scan reveals

The mystery of how Tutankhamun - the boy king of ancient Egypt - died has been partly solved. He was not murdered but he had a broken leg that could have killed him.

The mystery of how Tutankhamun - the boy king of ancient Egypt - died has been partly solved. He was not murdered but he had a broken leg that could have killed him.

A CT scan of his mummy shows that the 19-year-old king suffered a badly broken leg shortly before his death that could have become lethally infected, Egypt's Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, said yesterday.

The results of the CT scan were announced about two months after it had been performed on the mummy.

Dr Hawass said that the remains of Tutankhamun, who ruled about 3,300 years ago, showed no signs that he had been murdered - dispelling a mystery that has long surrounded the pharaoh's death.

He added: "In answer to theories that Tutankhamun was murdered, the team found no evidence for a blow to the back of the head, and no other indication of foul play.

"They also found it extremely unlikely that he suffered an accident in which he crushed his chest."

Dr Hawass said some members of the Egyptian-led research team, which included two Italian experts and one from Switzerland, interpreted a fracture to Tut's left thighbone as evidence that the king may have broken his leg just before he died.

"Although the break itself would not have been life-threatening, infection might have set in. However, this part of the team believes it also possible, although less likely, that this fracture was caused by the embalmers."

Some in the team believe that the bone chipping may have been caused later by archaeologists.

Some 1,700 images were taken of Tut's mummy during the 15-minute scan aimed at answering many of the mysteries that shrouded his life and death - including his royal lineage, his exact age at the time of his death and the reason he died.

Tutankhamun is believed to have been the 12th ruler of ancient Egypt's 18th dynasty. He ascended to the throne at about the age of eight and died around 1323BC.

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