Other theories about King Tut's death that have circulated over the years include being kicked in the head by a horse, septicemia and poisoning. One study appearing four years ago attributed the pharaoh's death to a festering leg wound.
Although Tutankhamun reigned for only nine years, until 1324 B.C., he has remained the most fascinating and famous of all the pharaohs. His tomb was discovered in 1922.
From September 2007 to October 2009, a team of experts, led by Zahi Hawass of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, conducted a series of radiological, genetic and other tests on 11 royal mummies from Tut's period.
The results of this belated autopsy: King Tut had probably been weakened by a spectrum genetic of disorders, including possibly Kohler disease, a disorder of the foot, which may also have been related to his club foot, flat arches and malformed toes.
This explanation is given credence by the fact that 130 whole or parts of sticks that could have been walking canes were found in Tut's tomb.
Several other members of the royal family also had malformations while four had malaria, although it's unclear if this is what actually killed them.
"We assumed that malaria was present back in those days but didn't know for sure. This is the earliest dating," Thompson said.
In the course of the DNA testing, several mummies without names assumed clear identities.
The mummy formerly known as KV35EL was identified as Tiye, Tut's grandmother, and KV55 as Akhenaten, Tut's father.
"It's a very intriguing family tree," said Markel, who is director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. "They demonstrated a level of intermarriage between siblings."
The study also laid to rest
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