Five things science has told us about the mummy of Tutankhamun

The discovery of Tutankhamun’s ancient Egyptian tomb in 1922 thrilled the world. But people know more about rumours of a curse than the amazing things science revealed about the boy king.
One hundred years ago, our understanding of ancient Egypt changed forever when the tomb of King Tutankhamun was found on November 4, 1922 in the Valley of Kings. Born around 1305BC, Tutankhamun only ruled Egypt for about ten years. Yet his tomb was furnished with never-before-seen riches.
Our fascination with mummies is understandable. Gazing on the face of a prehistoric Egyptian king makes these ethereal and majestic rulers seem more real. The discovery of Tutankhamun in his original resting place, complete with all his possessions, makes us feel a connection to a primeval past. It transports us back in time to the funeral of a young king.
Studies of Tutankhamun’s life are often overshadowed by the sensational rumours that surround the discovery of his tomb, such as persistent whispers of a curse. But if we allow the gossip to get in the way of seeing Tutankhamen the person, we’ll miss out.
1. Tutankhamun’s death is still a mystery
It’s difficult to find out why someone who lived a long time ago died. Tutankhamun is no exception. People in ancient Egypt lived shorter lives because they didn’t have the same healthcare as we do. But Tutankhamun died at around 19 years old, which was young even for ancient Egypt.
Recently, studies using x-rays, CT scans and DNA testing showed Tutankhamun had malaria, along with some other medical conditions such as a cleft palate. He also broke his leg just before he died. This information helps us build a picture of Tutankhamun’s health before his death. It doesn’t tell us exactly how he died though, except that there is no sign he was murdered.
2. He was buried with flowers
When Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened in 1922, he was wearing a collar made of flowers. They were in good condition because they were sealed inside the coffin with him. Funeral bouquets have been found on other mummies. But this is the only royal burial where all the flowers were found just as the ancient Egyptian mourners left them.
Flowers were important to ancient Egyptians, who painted pictures of flower gardens on the walls of their tombs. Flowers were admired for their beauty, their perfume and for symbolic reasons. Studies of the flowers and fruits used in the collar show that ...