Egypt to scan mummy for clues
Reuters in Cairo
Monday November 15, 2004
Egypt plans to x-ray the mummy of Tutankhamun to find out what killed the king who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago and died while only a teenager.
Archaeologists will move the body from its tomb, which was found packed with treasure in 1922, to Cairo for tests which should resolve whether or not he was murdered.
"We will know about any diseases he had, any kind of injuries and his real age," Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said. "We will know the answer to whether he died normally or was he killed."
A Cat scan, which will produce a 3D x-ray of his remains, will be completed this year, he said.
Tutankhamun's treasures, including a gold mask which covered his mummy, were removed from the tomb in Luxor's Valley of the Kings by British archaeologist Howard Carter. They are usually on show in the Cairo Museum.
But his mummified remains were left in the tomb in a stone coffin. Archaeologists last opened the coffin in 1968, when an x-ray revealed a chip of bone in his skull.
That fuelled speculation that a blow to the head had killed the king, whose high priest and army commander have been singled out as chief suspects.
"No one has seen the mummy since 1968," Mr Hawass said.
The scan of what seems to be a fracture would show if it had been caused by a blow to the head, said Brando Quilici, a film-maker with National Geographic, which is partly sponsoring the research.
Mr Hawass said Tutankhamun's mummy had largely been smashed to pieces by Carter's expedition, when tools were used to remove the king's gold mask from his body. The mask had been firmly attached with resin, he said. But that would not hinder the research. "Even if it is just bone, we can examine each bone."
Mystery has surrounded Tutankhamun since the discovery of his tomb. Lord Carnarvon, Carter's sponsor and among the first to enter the tomb, died soon afterwards from an infected mosquito bite. Newspapers said Carter had unleashed a pharaonic curse which killed Carnarvon and others linked to the discovery.
Scientists have suggested a disease lying dormant in the tomb might have killed him.