Archaeological discoveries

EGYPT. Tutankhamun, the club-footed pharaoh

A virtual autopsy made from 3D scanners of Tutankhamun's mummy paints an astonishing portrait of the most famous of Egyptian pharaohs. A 3D reconstruction of Tutankhamun's body, made from 3D scans of the royal mummy.

RECONSTITUTION. How far away the sumptuous mask of the famous Tutankhamun seems... With his club foot, his wide hips and his protruding teeth, the character, reconstructed below in computer-generated images, does not stick to the image that the you can get away with the pharaoh of the 18th dynasty! To admit it, one can even be a little scared watching the "Living Image of Amun" in "Tutankhamun:The Truth Revealed" … This documentary (which was broadcast on October 26, 2014 on the BBC) returns, thanks to an unprecedented virtual autopsy carried out from the 3D scanners of the royal mummy, on the latest research carried out on the 19-year-old pharaoh. An excellent summary of the work carried out in recent years. "Actually, there aren't really any new results but this documentary rightly points out it is unlikely that Tutankhamun died in a chariot accident, as has been said recently. He did indeed have a fractured left knee that did not heal, but it could be the result of a simple fall, explains Albert Zink, director of the Institute of Mummies and the Iceman, joined in Bolzano, Italy, at the time of the broadcast of the documentary. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that with a club foot this young man could have participated in chariot races" .

A 3D reconstruction of Tutankhamun's body, made from 3D scans of the royal mummy. Credit:BBC

Tutankhamun, a crippled pharaoh?

Still, the young sovereign did not enjoy flourishing health. According to Ashraf Selim, the Egyptian radiologist involved in these analyzes and interviewed on the BBC, "Tutankhamun had indeed developed Kohler's disease during his adolescence", a painful osteonecrosis of the dorsal side of the foot which causes a problem of locomotion. This would also explain the presence of more than 130 canes and sticks found in the pharaoh's tomb, some of which suggested that Tutankhamun was crippled and needed support to walk.

MALARIA. Many of them showed signs of wear. According to Albert Zink, his early death was caused not by an accident but due to a general state of weakness due to the malaria he had contracted and the genetic deficiencies inherited from the consanguineous marriage of his parents who were brother and sister like him. have shown genetic studies conducted by Albert Zink (read Sciences et Avenir n°758 April 2010 ). The Italian-based paleogeneticist conducted analyzes of the Tutankhamun family in 2010, together with Zahi Hawass, former head of Egyptian Antiquities, and an international team (see SetA graph below ).

The genealogy of Tutankhamun. Credit:Sciences et Avenir / Leemage / AP / Sipa

With surprising results on the complex and incestuous bonds that united one to another. In particular, they made it possible to establish that the father of the young pharaoh was indeed Akhenaten the "Heretic" (mummy KV55). But the Mom? Specialists have always thought it was the famous Nefertiti. Were not the two sovereigns represented side by side, on the pylons of the temples and other decorations, in all their majesty? But the genetic results had been...relentless! Nefertiti could in no way be linked to Tutankhamun. From then on, very smart who was going to be able to find a mother among all the wives who constituted the vast pharaonic harems!

Tutankhamun, the fruit of an incestuous relationship

It was without counting on the custom that the Egyptian sovereigns had of marrying their sisters (read interview on royal incest at the end of the article ). Tutankhamun's mother was revealed to be a sister of Akhenaten, a mummy known as "Young Lady" and identified as KV 35 YL. "We tried to continue our analyzes on mitochondrial DNA (the one transmitted by the maternal line, Editor's note) but the political situation in Egypt has not allowed it for the moment. That said, the preliminary results confirm our previous analysis. Tutankhamun's parents -KV 55 and KV 35- were probably brother and sister" , added Albert Zink. The virtual autopsy carried out for the needs of the BBC documentary would thus prove that the physical handicaps of this child-king, - an inexhaustible source of interest since its discovery in 1922 -, would have been directly caused by the hormonal imbalances linked to the siblings. of his parents. This did not prevent the young sovereign from marrying himself… his half-sister Ankhésénamon.


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