King Tut’s ‘virtual autopsy’ reveals surprises

Updated 6:39 AM EST, Mon January 25, 2016

Story highlights

Virtual autopsy of King Tut shows Egyptian ruler's body

Scientists used CT scans to create King Tut image

Researchers believe King Tut had clubfoot, malaria

(CNN) —  

King Tutankhamun’s golden, mummified remains tell only a partial story of an ancient Egyptian boy king who died under mysterious circumstances.

But a new “virtual autopsy” of King Tut’s body, shown in an upcoming BBC One documentary, has given historians a clearer picture of the young man’s life – and death.

Scientists used CT scans to recreate the first life-size image of Tutankhamun, one of the last rulers of the 18th Dynasty. King Tut ruled from 1333 B.C. until about 1323 B.C. Historians put his age at death at about 19.

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010 showed that King Tut may have died of malaria, possibly after suffering an infection in his broken leg. As seen in the new virtual autopsy photo, Tutankhamun’s left foot was also severely deformed; the inward angle suggests that he had a clubfoot. Researchers believe the boy king had Kohler disease, a rare bone disorder.

More than 100 walking sticks were found in Tut’s tomb; historians originally thought they represented his power, but it’s more likely Tut used them to get around.

Albert Zink, head of the Institute for Mummies and Icemen in Italy, told The Independent it would have been impossible for the king to have died while riding a chariot, as has been previously thought.

“We concluded it would not be possible for him, especially with his partially clubbed foot, as he was unable to stand unaided.”

King Tut replica tomb opens to public

Scientists believe genetics and inherited diseases played a role in Tut’s bad health because of inbreeding. A genetic analysis of his family’s mummies suggests that his parents were siblings.

Tutankhamun: The Truth Uncovered” will air Sunday on BBC. The Smithsonian will also be showing the documentary on November 2.

CNN’s Val Willingham contributed to this story.