Was Tutankhamun Murdered or Did He Die of Natural Causes?


Tutankhamun or King Tut was an Egyptian pharaoh belonging to the 18th dynasty. He was the youngest pharaoh and ruled for only 10 years. He died at the tender age of 18. Many records dating from Ancient Egypt claim Tutankhamun to be a righteous ruler with high future prospects. But his untimely death cut short the expectations of the people. He was mummified and buried according to the prevalent rituals in ancient Egypt. In 1922 the tomb of Tutankhamun was found with all its belongings nearly intact. In 2010 DNA test results confirmed that he was the son of Akhenaten whose remains have also been found in a nearby tomb. As the King died at such a tender age under suspecting circumstances thus researchers started investigating the death of Tutankhamun.

Mask on the Coffin of King Tutenkhamun

There are many theories regarding the death of Tutankhamun and it has now become one of the much researched history’s mysteries. While some researchers believe he was murdered for the lust of power, others believe that he died due to a fall from the chariot or due to illness. Let us look through some of the theories:

Murder Theory

There are some evidences that point to a few servants close to Tutankhamun who might have been responsible for the murder of this king. Their motives might have been greed or power, may be they were not happy with the changing environment after the death of Akhenatan. Akhenatan brought about many changes during his time, one of these was pushing in the idea of one God. This made the priests in ancient Egypt towards him and his family. Akhenatan forced many priests to close their temples and worship this one god. Amidst this hostile environment Tutankhamun ascended the throne in such a hostile environment. As he was of tender age thus he was helped by many subjects notably Ay and Horemheb. As these two people were close to him, thus there are many conspiracy theories surrounding them.

Researchers taking a Close Look at the Remains of King Tut

  • Ay the Murderer Theory: King Tut was immensely dependant on Ay. He was one of the closest persons to the king. It is said that Ay had all the motives to kill Tutankhamen. By killing Tut he would be able to inherit the throne and become the next pharaoh of Egypt. In fact after King Tut died at the age of 18 Ay inherited the throne. The murder theory is further supported by a crack that was found at the base of King Tut’s skull. A ring was found in Cairo in 1931, this ring proved that Ankhesenamun (Tutankhamun’s wife) and Ay got married soon after the death of King Tut. Ankhesenamun was forced into the marriage, as some of the tablets found from this period show the Queen asking from the Hittites (enemies of Egypt) to save the throne of Tutankhamun. She was also dissatisfied with Ay’s bid to marry her as she writes”Never shall I pick out a servant of mine and make him my husband. I am afraid!” “Never shall I pick out a servant of mine and make him my husband. I am afraid!”
  • Horemheb the Murderer Theory: Horemheb was the king’s deputy and the young king used to take all the royal decisions after discussing them with him. As King Tut grew old and started taking his own decisions the influence of Horemheb was gradually fading. As the king had become independent and Horemheb’s aid was no longer needed thus he might have conspired against Tutankhamun by murdering him. He was also against the new thinking of one god propagated by Akhenaten. Though Horemheb did not get the throne immediately after the death of King Tut, but he became the pharaoh after the death of Ay. After becoming the pharaoh he returned to the original form of worship in Egypt. Many Egyptologist believe that Horemheb was a traditionalist and wanted to convert Tutankhamen in his line. But when the King grew up he had a similar thought as his father which frustrated Horemheb. During his reign Horemheb removed the name of King Tut from many places and replaced it with his own name. This shows the hatred that had found its place in the heart of Horemheb for King Tut.

Face of King Tutankhamun

Natural Causes for Death

Another group of Egyptologists and historians believe that there are not many evidences that prove Tutankhamun was murdered. They try to prove that he died of natural ailments. A group of forensic experts examining the body of King Tut came to conclusion that he might have died due to an infection. According to them the crack in the head might have been caused in the mummification or during the excavations itself. Another CT scan conducted on King Tut’s remains showed that he had a broken leg which might have caused his death. The researchers found a fracture on his left foot which might have happened a few days before the death of the king. Some scholars have concluded from these two findings that King Tut feel from the chariot in one of his hunting expeditions. This led to the fracture in his leg and was followed by the subsequent fracture (as there was no proper medication applied on the wounds).

It is hard to confirm the real cause of Tutankhamen’s death as so many years have passed by and so many speculations have been made.

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2 thoughts on “Was Tutankhamun Murdered or Did He Die of Natural Causes?

  1. really helped me with a project I’m working on for Social Studies. We have to show the whole process of mummification in a 3d model. I have the pyramid, canopic jars and now I have some information on King Tutankhamun. Thanks!!!!!

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