Mysterious life and death of Tutankhamun revealed

Nov 11, 2013

The University of Liverpool's Dr Matthew Ponting and Robert Connolly are featuring in a new TV documentary about the causes of the death of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Their research has shed new light on how the embalming process of the young king only partially succeeded.

Dr Matthew Ponting is a Senior Lecturer in Archaeomaterials at the University of Liverpool's Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology.

He said: "Theories about the life (and afterlife) of the Egyptian Tutankhamun have grown to legendary status since the excavation of the boy-king's tomb by Howard Carter in 1922. And on Sunday night a new TV documentary, with which I was involved, will put forward the case that he was killed in a chariot accident and looks in depth at how the Egyptians tried to preserve his corpse.

"My investigations focussed on the itself. We were able to compare a sample of Tutankhamun's skin with those of two other mummies provided by my Liverpool colleague Robert Connolly, who was part of the team that first x-rayed the Pharoah's remains in 1968.

"It was clear that this important burial ritual was botched by the ancient Egyptians. Using our we could detect carbonisation on the skin of the pharaoh that wasn't present on the two other samples. The combination of embalming oils, oxygen and linen used resulted in Tutankhamun's corpse being cooked at 200C – we think – soon after his mummification.

"We're one of the few archaeology departments in the country to have our own scanning electron microscope, and researchers and students routinely use it to investigate everything from Roman weapons to medieval stained glass.

"It's rare that you'll make a discovery that's as exciting as this, but it goes to prove that even when written sources are scarce and the physical evidence has been badly corrupted, it is still possible to find out more about the lives of people who lived and died millennia ago."

Explore further: Tutankhamun may have spontaneously combusted

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Heart disease found in Egyptian mummies

Nov 17, 2009

Hardening of the arteries has been detected in Egyptian mummies, some as old as 3,500 years, suggesting that the factors causing heart attack and stroke are not only modern ones; they afflicted ancient people, ...

Tutankhamen fathered twins

Sep 01, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Two foetuses found in the tomb of Tutankhamen may have been twins and were very likely to have been the children of the teenage Pharaoh, according to the anatomist who first studied the mummified remains ...

Recommended for you

Clippers and coiners in 16th-century England

Apr 14, 2014

In 2017 a new £1 coin will appear in our pockets with a design extremely difficult to forge. In the mid-16th century, Elizabeth I's government came up with a series of measures to deter "divers evil persons" ...

Serbia experts use heavy machinery to move mammoth

Apr 11, 2014

Serbian archaeologists on Friday used heavy machinery to move a female mammoth skeleton—believed to be one million years old—from an open mine pit where it was unearthed nearly five years ago.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Online reviews: When do negative opinions boost sales?

When purchasing items online, reading customer reviews is a convenient way to get a real-world account of other people's opinions of the product. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, negative review ...

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...