Computed Tomography Images Suggest King Tutankhamen Died from an Infected Leg Wound


MALVERN, Pa. -- Using images generated by a mobile computed tomography (CT) system from Siemens Medical Solutions, experts in Egypt have examined the cause of King Tutankhamen's death some 3,000 years ago. The CT scan of the Pharaoh's mummy did not find evidence that Tutankhamen was murdered.


The mummy of Tutankhamen was discovered in Egypt's Valley of Kings in 1922. An initial X-ray analysis in 1968 revealed a bone splinter embedded in the Pharaoh's skull. This fact -- coupled with the body's obviously hasty mummification and burial -- led to speculation that Tutankhamen had died from head injuries, and possibly been murdered.


The now-completed CT examination, based on images generated from a total of 1,700 slices, found no evidence for this theory. But the Pharaoh may have suffered from a broken thigh shortly before his death at the age of 19. Some members of the examination team say that the Pharaoh may have died from an infection of this wound. They refer to the fact that the CT images revealed embalming resin inside the wound, and that there was no sign of a healing process. Other scientists on the team doubt that the injury was the cause of the king's death. They believe the wound could have been inflicted later by archaeologists examining the mummy, arguing that there was no evidence for haematoma, which should be there if the injury was inflicted during the Pharaoh's lifetime.


This examination is part of a research project being conducted by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. The project also includes meticulous CT scans of a large number of other Egyptian mummies. To support the project, Siemens has provided a special CT system, which is installed it a trailer -- making it transportable to wherever it is needed. With this device, the fragile remains of Egypt's ancient people can be studied with a minimum of movement and disturbance.


The CT system donated for the project, the SOMATOM Emotion 6, provides important prerequisites for this study: It combines advanced imaging capabilities with minimal sitting requirements. Because of its wide opening, the mummies can be positioned without difficulty. Also, it is capable of displaying the finest details in three-dimensional imaging.


Source: Siemens Medical Solutions

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