Tutankhamun: Life after death

‘Can you see anything?’ ‘Yes… wonderful things.’

Howard Carter’s famously understated words when first looking into the tomb of Tutankhamun marked the beginning of a worldwide fascination with the boy Pharaoh. King Tut is the most famous ancient Egyptian Pharaoh of all time, because of the wonders that were discovered in his intact, hidden tomb in the Valley of the Kings. But despite the library of books that have been written about the King, there are still mysteries that surround his death and burial.

HH_HowardCarterHoward Carter (right) and Lord Carnarvon at the famous opening of King Tut’s tomb.

Source: The Mystery of the Burnt Mummy

In a new Channel 4 documentary, Director of the Egypt Exploration Society Chris Naunton, sets out to uncover how Tutankhamun died, and what happened to his body after death.

King Tutankhamun was killed in battle, possibly struck down by a chariot. With the help of car crash experts who recreate scenarios for court cases, Chris and the team have managed to discover how exactly this happened, to create the injuries seen in King Tut’s skeleton. It seems that Tut was kneeling on the ground when a chariot wheel hit him straight on, leaving him with fractures down his left hand side. It sounds pretty painful, but this could prove that Tutankhamun was a great warrior king who died in battle – despite only being 18 years old when he died.

But what happened after he died is the really bizarre bit… It seems that his body was mangled and therefore the mummification process ended up being a botched job. The oils and bandages used to wrap up the king caused an exothermic reaction when he was sealed in his coffin. In other words – his body self-combusted and charred his skin, resulting in the burnt and blackened remains we see today.

HH_TutsFeetKing Tut’s remains… Now that is one king who needs a pedicure

Source: The Mystery of the Burnt Mummy

Things don’t get better for poor Tutankhamun after death. Evidence suggests that Tut’s advisor and eventual successor, the Pharoah Ay, switched tombs with the boy King – giving Tut a burial chamber too small for all his possessions whilst stealing the larger tomb for himself when he died. What Ay couldn’t know was that shifting geological conditions would end up covering King Tut’s tomb with sand– protecting it from looters. Whilst Ay’s tomb was broken into along with most of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, Tut’s remained a hidden secret waiting for Howard Carter to come and discover it’s ‘wonderful things’ that would secure his place as the most famous Pharaoh of all. It seems size isn’t everything Ay – and that’s justice for you!

HH_KingTut4Clockwise: Valley of the Kings, King Tutankhamun’s death mask, the swapped tomb, and successor Pharaoh Ay. 

Source: The Mystery of the Burnt Mummy

 

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