New Theory on King Tut's Death: Epilepsy

His features, family history provide big clues

By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 11, 2012 4:48 PM CDT

(Newser) – Was it epilepsy killed the king? A surgeon with a penchant for history at Imperial College London makes a compelling argument, based on Tut's family history and propensity for religious visions, reports the Washington Post. Hutan Ashfarian analyzed ancient images of pharaohs thought to be Tut's immediate predecessors, and notes that they, like the fabled pharaoh, died at young ages with feminized features, two telltale signs.

He also notes that many of them had hallucinations or religious visions, which are often experienced by people with temporal lobe epilepsy. In fact, epilepsy-induced visions may have been what prompted the pharaoh Akhenaten's decision to stray from the polytheistic religion, thus creating the first recorded monotheistic religion. But don't count it as epilepsy yet—Ashfarian admits there's no way to prove his suspicion, since no genetic test for epilepsy exists.

King Tut's golden sarcophagus is displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt.
King Tut's golden sarcophagus is displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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