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How Did King Tut Die?

People of a certain age may remember rocking out to the novelty song "King Tut" by comedian Steve Martin. Martin was capitalizing on the sudden popularity of boy pharaoh Tutankhamen, who ruled in Egypt from about 1332–1323 B.C.E. Tut's tomb was discovered in 1922 by a team of archaeologists led by Howard Carter. Over 5,000 artifacts were discovered, many made of gold and other precious jewels or metals. Because the body was mishandled by Carter and his team, fragments from the skull were knocked loose, leading to speculation that the 19-year-old king was murdered. More recent X-rays of the mummy, however, show a probable fractured femur. The break happened before Tut's death, and showed no signs of healing, leading scientists to theorize that a resulting infection may have killed him. Another theory is that his immune system was compromised by the fracture and he caught another disease, such as pneumonia, and died from that. But because the body was so mishandled when it was discovered, scientists will probably never know the definitive cause of King Tut's death.

More about King Tut:

  • In 2014, an exact replica of Tut's tomb opened in Luxor, Egypt, to help protect the actual tomb in the Valley of the Kings from damage caused by tourists.

  • Tutankhamen's tomb is one of only a handful to be discovered almost completely intact; most royal Egyptian tombs had been looted by grave robbers centuries earlier. Artifacts from King Tut's tomb have been exhibited almost constantly since they were discovered in 1922.

  • Steve Martin's song "King Tut" peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it was number one for four weeks on WLS in Chicago, while the Tut exhibit was in town. The backing band on the record is credited as the Toot Uncommons (get it?), but they were actually were members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

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More Info: National Geographic

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