The Death of Tutankhamen

TheDeath of Tutankhamen

TheDeath of Tutankhamen

Tutankhamenwas one of the Egyptian Pharaohs who ruled in the eighteenth dynastyduring a period that is commonly referred to as the New Kingdom. Thediscovery of Tutankhamen’sintact tomb in 1922 opened a new area of research that attracted manyscientists while had an interest in discovering the cause of hisdeath (Zauzich, 1992). Currently, scientists have agreed in one sensethat Tutankhamenwas king Akhenaten, but DNA tests have failed to prove his biologicalmother and the actual cause of his death. This paper will address thetwo major theories (including temporal lobe epilepsy and malaria) ofTutankhamen’sdeath. The paper will also provide two reasons that support thetheory of TTutankhamen’smurder as the most plausible hypothesis that explains his death inmost reasonable manner.

of the theories

Malariaas the primary cause of Tutankhamen’sdeath

Thistheory was put forward by a group of Egyptian scientists andarchaeologists led by doctor Zahi Hawass. Hawass and colleagues usedsome remains of Tutankhamen and about ten other mummies to confirmTutankhamen’s genetic fingerprints (Robberts,2010). Inthe process of picking these remains, the researchers identifiedtraces of malaria parasite in Tutankhamen’s blood. This wasdocumented as one of the oldest genetic proof for malarial infectionin the ancient populations. Although doctor Hawass agreed with otherresearchers about the fact that Tutankhamen had other medicalconditions that culminated to a fracture in his leg, the researcherasserted that malaria infection introduced a new life threateningcondition that killed the king. Fruits and seeds used to treatmalaria were discovered in Tutankhamen’s tomb, which gives aconfirmation that the physicians of the time had attempted treatinghim shortly before his death.

Temporallobe epilepsy as the major cause of Tutankhamen’sdeath

Thetheory was put forward by Doctor Hutan Ashrafian, who was a surgeonworking with the Imperial College London. Apart from identifying thegenetic relationship between Tutankhamen and other former rulers, theresearcher found out that all his relatives suffered from geneticmedical conditions that resulted in early deaths (Rosenbaum,2012). Artifactsshowed that Tutankhamen and former rulers of his family had feminineand curvaceous appearances, which suggests that there must have beensome heritable conditions in Tutankhamen’s family line.

Thetheory of temporal lobe epilepsy gives a better explanation of whatmight have caused the death of Tutankhamen. There are two factorsthat confirm temporal lobe epilepsy as the major cause of his death.First, Tutankhamen had enlarged breast suggesting that he sufferedfrom genetic condition known as gynecomastia that is added to otherfamilial and historical evidence to indicate that died of temporallope epilepsy (Rosenbaum,2012). Secondly,researchers identified a working stick in Tutankhamen’s tomb, whichsuggests that had many incidents of fall and he might have died fromone of them (Rosenbaum,2012). Thisis supported by the notion that people suffering from epilepsy have ahigher tendency of dying young from falls and accidents.

Inconclusion, Tutankhamenis one of the Egyptian Pharaohs who died at a tender age, but thecause of his death is still controversial. Most of the theories putforward to explain the possible cause of Tutankhamen’s death arebased on scientific facts different, but researchers have failed toagree on a single notion. However, the use of the theory of temporallobe epilepsy as the major cause of Tutankhamen’s death is morerealistic.


Robberts,M. (2010). Malariaand weak bones may have killed Tutankhamen.London: British Broadcasting Corporation.

Rosenbaum,M. (2012). Mysteryof king Tut’s death solved.ABC Corporation. New York: ABC Corporation.

Zauzich,K. (1992). Hieroglyphswithout mystery.Austin: University of Texas Press.