The fearsome mummy that spawned a legendary curse and a generation of horror movies turns out to have been a slender, buck-toothed teenager who probably died after a serious accident. A team of Egyptian scientists recently put King Tutankhamen through a medical scanner, generating 1,700 highly detailed three-dimensional images of the boy king's remains. Using an exact model of Tut's skull, three forensic teams then reconstructed the face behind the famous golden mask. The process is documented in a National Geographic Channel special, King Tut's Final Secrets, airing May 29. The images also debunk the notion that Tut was murdered. The mysterious lump in the back of his skull, discovered in a 1968 X ray, was just a hardened clump of embalming resin.
THE MUMMY SHOWS ITS FACE ...
THE EYES OF A KING?
Guided by the skull model, precise measurements and two carvings of Tut as a youth, French sculptor Elisabeth Daynes re-created the king as a doe-eyed teenager.
Using the same materials, an Egyptian team produced a similar face. The most prominent difference is in the shape of the ears, which cannot be determined from the skull.
A U.S. team was given the same skull data and measurements but was not told where they came from. This Tut has a markedly weaker chin and sharper nose.
... AND GIVES UP ITS SECRETS
When archaeologist Howard Carter discovered King Tut's tomb in 1922, he found the mummy in an elaborate coffin cradled in a red quartzite sarcophagus. When Carter's team tried to remove the mummy, they found that it had become stuck to the innermost coffin. Unfortunately, their solution was to cut out the mummy, which damaged it extensively. The CT scans enabled scientists to distinguish that damage from injuries Tut suffered when he was alive.
A MAN IN PAIN
Investigators found that the 19-year-old Tut was missing his left kneecap and had suffered a grave leg fracture that may have become fatally infected. His odd skull shape was genetic, not a deformity. He also had a badly impacted wisdom tooth and a broken right ankle that appears to have been encased in a sort of cast.
Carter found the mummy encased in a series of coffins, with the mask, pictured at left, resting over the mummy's face. Today the mummy lies in a sand-filled wooden tray that Carter had built
Sources: National Geographic; Egypt Supreme Council of Antiquities; The Tomb of Tutankhamen, by Howard Carter; Guide to the Valley of the Kings, by Alberto Siliotti