Saturday, February 20, 2010

Newsy: Golden King Tut Was Deformed, Frail

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A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals King Tut was physically weak and deformed, and died of disease and injuries, not murder.
Generations have paid homage to popular culture's image of the Egyptian boy king. But results from over two years of DNA testing and Computerised Tomography scans on his mummy are shedding light on the real King Tut.
Almost a century ago, archeologists discovered King Tut's mummy in a pure gold coffin. His tomb was fit for a king, but the study reveals he wasn't the regal, handsome ruler portrayed in pop culture. He was frail, had a clef palate and club foot.
The blog Popular Fidelity explains how the discoveries are transforming King Tut's image:
"When you think of an Egyptian pharaoh, you probably think of some golden man astride a mighty chariot, wearing a big gold headdress and carrying some curly scepter...the reality was not so pretty."

The study also shakes up understanding of physical appearance in ancient Egyptian culture. Artifacts often portray King Tut with wide hips and female-like breasts.
On CBC News, a researcher calls for more research, after scientists found no genetic cause for King Tut's feminine features:
"They're not based on a physical deformity and that's very interesting, because then, we have to answer the question of what they do mean."

In another discovery, scientists say King Tut was not murdered as many have speculated, but died of malaria and complications from a broken leg.
On CNN, a doctor explains how this revelation will affect the future of medical science. But an article from Oneindia reveals other experts aren't as convinced:
"We didn't know exactly when malaria started or how it changed over the years. But 3,000 years ago they can find DNA evidence of malaria. That's a game changer. If you can start to find other clues throughout history as to how this particular pathogen evolves, it can give you an idea of how other pathogens might evolve as well. Experts say this is no big deal, however, as mummies thought to be from this period and earlier have already been shown to have had P. falciparum malaria."

Still, on France 24, a proponent of the study believes the same DNA testing will be helpful in the future:
"If the results of the DNA analysis are confirmed by other historical tests, well that would mean we finally have a way to analyze the other unknown mummies."

But in a press release on EurekAlert!, one doctor says not so fast:
"Before disturbing the dead with the penetrating wonders of 21st-century medical science, it is essential to follow the lead of these authors by pondering all the ethical implications of such inquiries to avoid opening a historical Pandora's box."

So what do you think? Do these findings change your image of King Tut? Should scientists conduct DNA testing on other mummies?

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