Free «Tutankhamen’s Cause of Death» Essay Sample

All the mysteries of human history fade in comparison with the greatness of Egyptian civilization. It continues to surprise and impress not only tourists but also famous scholars. The findings in Tutankhamun’s tomb impressed the entire world at the beginning of the 20th century. However, it was only an introduction to new discoveries, revelations, and speculations. The cause of the king’s death was the subject of an extensive investigation, which did not introduce any versions proposing many doubtful hypotheses instead. Some scholars believed that the pharaoh was killed, and the others considered the idea of malaria, though the Dynasty having genetic disorders was the most surprising theory. Different methods of diagnosis and the most modern technical means cannot resist the destructive power of time. Although, the contemporary scientific innovations can give essential and accurate data, there is no certain specific conclusion concerning Tutankhamun’s death.

Theories of King Tuts Death Mystery

In the annals of Ancient Egypt, few stories captivate as much as that of King Tuts death. The boy king, whose tomb lay undisturbed in the Valley of the Kings for millennia, continues to hold the world in thrall. Theories abound about Tut’s death—from illness to accident, and even murder. Yet, it is the legend of King Tuts curse that endures, a tale that has become synonymous with the mysteries in Ancient Egypt. Whether fact or fiction, the curse is emblematic of the enduring allure that King Tut’s life and death have over our collective imagination.

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Several theories have been proposed over the years regarding the cause of King Tuts’s death:

Malaria and Infection

DNA tests and CT scans have indicated that King Tuts suffered from malaria and had a fractured lower leg, which could have led to an infection and possibly Tuts death.

Congenital Issues

The same scans also revealed congenital deformities, which are common in cases of inbreeding, such as a cleft palate, curved spine, and a long head. These conditions, however, were not directly linked to his death.

The Chariot Crash

A popular theory suggests that King Tuts died from injuries sustained in a chariot crash. This theory is supported by the fact that he was depicted riding chariots and had a deformed foot, which could have contributed to a fall.


Some researchers believe that King Tuts was murdered, citing damage to the back of his skull identified in X-rays. This theory suggests that he could have been struck from behind, possibly by someone within his court.

Natural Causes

Other experts suggest that King Tuts might have died from natural causes, which could include various diseases that were prevalent at the time.

The climate of Egypt, a contributing factor in malaria transmission, had a harmful effect even on the representatives of the royal family. Malaria killed about 1000 people in the state, and the cause of the disease was a simple mosquito bite. Actually, no one could be protected from the disease, not even the pharaoh. Therefore, some external factors could have caused a sudden death of a young healthy man. Thus, the scientists conducted genetic investigations and confirmed the following: “The HbS mutation that causes sickle cell disease may occur either in a homozygous genotype or in combined heterozygosity together with a wide range of mutations characteristic for beta-thalassaemias” (Timman & Meyer, 2010). The autopsy of the king’s mummy revealed multiple mutations and modifications on the cell level, which were possible in case of malaria. However, during the tests, the researches noticed some obvious features of a possible chronic illness or genetic disorder. The external body characteristics and the statues of his father illustrated some physical pathologies that could be the reason for those theories. The appearance of both Tutankhamun and his father Amenhotep was quite androgynous. Thus, the scholars proposed that Marfan syndrome could explain the appearance of the members of the royal family and its inheriting factor (Hawass et al., 2010). Moreover, the complicated form of the disease could have provoked his early death.

Nevertheless, other scientists proposed a different hypothesis, and it seemed to be the most convincing one: a murder. In 1998, the book The Murder of Tutankhamun proposed a theory of intentional homicide of the young king of Egypt (Brier, 1998). The book was translated into more than a dozen languages provoking new interest in the subject of tuts death (Brier, 1998). The scientists investigated many interesting and mysterious circumstances, which had a direct connection to a possible unnatural death. First, the arrangement of the king’s tomb was not typical of ancient traditions. It created an impression that all the funeral ceremonies and rituals were performed in a hurry. The scholars assumed that the possible killer organized the tuts death far away from the capital city and tried to hide all the facts and evidence. Moreover, the young king’s mummy had evidential confirmation of that theory. The scientists noticed some signs of trauma to the back of the skull. The skull being damaged could have possibly resulted in a sudden death or lethal outcome later (Brier, 1998). Egyptian traditions demanded appropriate preparation of the body before the funerals. The dead had to be mummified in accordance with important religious rituals that could last 2 month or more. However, the investigations confirmed that the body of Tutankhamun was not processed properly (Brier, 1998). Brier admitted also that the archeologists noticed that the tomb was obviously prepared for a woman (1998). The items in the funeral chamber could belong to his mother or a wife but not to the king. In addition to all those evidential facts, the historians admitted that there were many motives for the murder of the pharaoh. He was too young and incompetent compared to the famous ancient military leader Horemheb who was a better candidate (Brier, 1998). Horemheb started his career during the rule of Tutankhamun’s father Amenhotep IV; however, he did not accept his religious reformations. A well-known priest Aye supported Horemheb because the innovations of Amenhotep IV limited the influence of Aye in the governmental sphere. It could have been a significant reason for a riot against the incompetent king’s rule. In addition, there were many other essential details and facts confirming the possibility of the young king being murdered. Thus, this theory is the most acceptable. Of course, it does not reject Tutankhamun’s possible genetic disorders or infectious disease. However, the arrangement of the king’s funeral, the tomb, Tutankhamun’s mummy preparation, the damage to his skull, and the political circumstances in the country make the theory of Tutankhamun’s murder the most convincing one.

The “Curse of the Pharaoh”

The discovery of King Tuts tomb in the Valley of the Kings sparked not only immense interest but also tales of a curse — King Tuts curse — believed to afflict those who disturbed his eternal slumber. Despite these myths, King Tuts legacy endures, not through a supposed curse, but through the rich archaeological insights gleaned from his tomb, shedding light on the burial traditions in Ancient Egypt.

The legend of King Tuts curse is entwined with the mysteries of Ancient Egypt. It is said that those who dared to disturb the resting place of a pharaoh, particularly King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, would be struck by misfortune or death. This notion became widespread after Tut’s death and the subsequent opening of his burial site in 1922, with several involved parties meeting untimely ends.

Despite the ominous tales, many of these incidents are now understood to have natural explanations. For instance, the financial backer of the excavation succumbed to an infection, a common ailment in Ancient Egypt and beyond. Moreover, analyses indicate that the majority of the tomb’s discoverers lived full lives, often surpassing the era’s average lifespan.

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No actual “curse” text was discovered within King Tuts tomb, and the king tuts curse itself is generally regarded as a product of media sensationalism fueled by the public’s fascination in Ancient Egypt, rather than a phenomenon with any basis in reality.

King Tut’s Erased History

King Tutankhamun’s history is a tale of rediscovery after being lost to time. Following his death, subsequent rulers sought to diminish his legacy, erasing his name from monuments and excluding him from official records. This systematic obliteration was likely due to his association with the religious upheaval instigated by his father, Akhenaten, who had introduced monotheism to a polytheistic society.

Despite these efforts, King Tut’s existence was not entirely forgotten. Fragments of his story survived, scattered among the ruins of ancient texts and artifacts. It wasn’t until the discovery of his nearly intact tomb in 1922 that King Tutankhamun’s name resurfaced, bringing with it a wealth of knowledge about his life and the era he lived in.

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The treasures found within his tomb, over 5,000 artifacts, offered unprecedented insights into the life of the pharaohs and the customs of Ancient Egypt. Ironically, the attempt to erase King Tuts from history only amplified the world’s fascination with him when he was eventually rediscovered. His tomb’s discovery remains one of the greatest archaeological finds, providing a window into an ancient world that had tried to forget its young king.

Key Artifacts Found in King Tuts Tomb

  • Death Mask: King Tuts golden funerary mask is perhaps the most iconic artifact, symbolizing royal power and religious beliefs.
  • Iron Daggers: Among the items found were two daggers, one with an iron blade and another with a gold blade, showcasing the craftsmanship of the time.
  • Board Games: Games like Senet were discovered, indicating the leisure activities enjoyed by the pharaoh.
  • Garment Mannequin: A mannequin was found, possibly used by King Tuts to display or organize his royal attire.
  • Golden Sandals: These were designed to protect the feet of the king in the afterlife.
  • Coffin and Throne: Tutankhamun’s coffin and throne were both ornate and richly decorated, reflecting his status.
  • Chariots: Several chariots were found, emphasizing the importance of these vehicles in ancient Egyptian society.
  • Trumpets: The discovery of trumpets suggests their use in ceremonial or military contexts.
  • Anubis Shrine: A shrine dedicated to Anubis, the god of mummification, was part of the funerary goods.
  • Breastplate: A protective breastplate was included among the burial items.

These artifacts have provided invaluable insights into the culture, religion, and daily life of ancient Egypt. The preservation of these items has allowed historians and archaeologists to better understand the civilization that flourished thousands of years ago.

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What Role Did Howard Carter Play in the Excavation Process?

Howard Carter’s role in unveiling the secrets of King Tut’s tomb was monumental in the annals of Ancient Egypt. His discovery in the Valley of the Kings brought to light the circumstances surrounding Tut’s death and offered a rare glimpse into the opulence and mystique of pharaonic times. Carter’s meticulous excavation work pierced through the veil of King Tuts curse, debunking myths with the revelation of historical truths in Ancient Egypt.

His contributions have immortalized King Tut’s legacy, transforming what was once erased history into a tale of wonder for the ages. Howard Carter was a pivotal figure in the discovery and excavation of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. He first arrived in Egypt as a young artist to sketch artifacts but soon became an important archaeologist. Carter led the British-sponsored archaeological survey in Egypt and, in 1907, was hired by Lord Carnarvon to search for the tombs of Egyptian royalty, including that of King Tutankhamun.

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After years of meticulous searching, Carter’s efforts were rewarded on November 4, 1922, when he discovered the steps leading to Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. He and his team carefully excavated the site, and on February 16, 1923, Carter opened the burial chamber, revealing the sarcophagus of the young pharaoh.

Carter’s methodical approach to cataloging the thousands of objects found in the tomb over the next several years laid the foundation for modern archaeological methods. His detailed records and publications of the tomb’s treasures have provided invaluable insights into ancient Egyptian civilization. The discovery of King Tut’s tomb is considered one of the greatest archaeological finds in history, largely due to Howard Carter’s role in the excavation process.


To conclude, the death of Tutankhamun was the subject for multiple arguments and it resulted in the variety of theories and hypotheses. Some of them were worth investigating because of the convincing argumentation. On the one hand, the tests on the mummy proved that the king’s physical condition was inherited from his father, thus confirming the genetic disorder theory. However, the mutations on the cell level could have been provoked by malaria infection. On the other hand, these theories were not properly confirmed. His unexpected death, the subsequent erasure of his name from history, and the legendary curse associated with his tomb have captivated the imagination of scholars and the public alike. The discovery of his tomb by Howard Carter not only provided a treasure trove of artifacts but also revived the memory of a once-forgotten pharaoh. It’s a narrative that underscores the timeless intrigue of the Valley of the Kings and reminds us of the layers of history that continue to be unearthed in Ancient Egypt. King Tut’s story, from his reign to the discovery of his resting place, is a rich tapestry that blends mystery, science, and the quest for knowledge, leaving an indelible mark on our understanding of the ancient world.

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