King Tut suffered ‘massive chest injury that could have killed him’

Sunday, November 7, 2010

WASHINGTON - A new research has claimed that Tutankhamun, Egypt’s famous “boy-king”, suffered a “massive crushing tearing injury to his chest” that likely would have killed him.

X-rays and CT scans have previously shown that the pharaoh’s heart, chest wall, the front part of his sternum and adjacent ribs, are missing.

“The heart, considered the seat of reason, emotion, memory and personality, was the only major organ intentionally left in the body,” wrote Dr. Robert Ritner in the book Ancient Egypt.

The new research shows that while robbers stole some of Tut’s jewellery they didn’t take the body parts. Instead they were lost due to a massive chest injury Tut sustained while he was still alive.

Dr. Benson Harer said that while Tut’s jewellery was certainly stolen, the chest bones were already long gone.

Harer said, “The ribs are very neatly cut” and could not have been chopped off by modern day thieves. “The ribs were cut by embalmers and not by robbers.”

He added that, “if you try to cut through a 3,500 year old bone it is brittle, before you can saw up through it the pressure on the bone would crack a vast part and you would have jagged edges of the bone.”

In Ancient Egypt those organs were removed after death and put into canopic jars. Harer said that the embalmers used a “transverse incision” which was cut into Tut and went from his umbilicus (his navel), towards the spine.

They “took out the organs below the diaphragm. However they did not go through the diaphragm to extract the lungs - the chest was gaping open, they could just lift them out directly,” he said.

Normally, for religious reasons, there would be “a special amulet, an embalming plate, over the incision that the embalmer made.”

However, in this case, there is none. “Since the body already had a huge opening - it would be pointless to suture the abdominal incision and protect,” Harer.

When the first autopsy on Tut was done in 1925, it revealed that he had been stuffed like a turkey, filled with what Howard Carter called a “mass of linen and resin, now of rock-like hardness.”

“The chest was packed first, and as they did so, they pushed the flaccid diaphragm down - they inverted it,” said Harer.

However the packing improved the appearance of Tut’s chest, “the packing restored the normal contour of the chest and then the beaded bib (with Tut’s jewellery) was placed on top of it.”

Harer’s work was published in the journal Bulletin of the Egyptian Museum. (ANI)

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