Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Did Malaria, Bone Disease Kill King Tut?

DNA Analysis of Mummy Yields New Clues to Pharaoh's Death

Searching for the Cause of King Tut's Death continued...

Tutankhamun and 10 other mummies that researchers say were those of people possibly or definitely related to him were studied. In addition to King Tut and the 10 suspected relatives, five other royals who lived in an earlier period known as the early New Kingdom were examined.

Genetic study allowed the scientists to develop a five-generation pedigree of King Tut's immediate lineage, the researchers write. A number of the anonymous mummies, including one believed to be that of Tut's mother, were identified. They also identified mummies believed to be that of Tut's father, Akhenaten, and his grandmother, Tiye.

The researchers say no evidence was found of genetic conditions such as Marfan's syndrome affecting connective tissue or Kleinfelter's syndrome (having an extra X chromosome) that may have explained the androgynous appearance seen in ancient art depictions of Tutankhamun and his family.

A sudden leg fracture from a fall might have led to a life-threatening condition when a malaria infection occurred, the researchers suggest.

In an accompanying editorial, Howard Markel, MD, PhD, of the University of Michigan, writes that studying the remains of the dead raises ethical questions.

"What will the rules be for exhuming bodies to solve vexing pathological puzzles?" he asks. "Are major historical figures entitled to the same privacy rules that private citizens enjoy even after death? Most pragmatically, what is actually gained from such studies? Will they change current thinking about and prevent threatening diseases such as influenza? Will they change the understanding of the past?"

He writes that all historians are "guilty of enjoying reading the mail and personal materials of others," but that "before disturbing the dead" with 21st century technologies, questions ought to be raised "to avoid opening a historical Pandora's box."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply