King Tut 'Spontaneously Combusted' in His Coffin
Thanks to a bungled mummification, scientists find
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2013 7:14 AM CST
The sarcophagus of King Tut is seen in his underground tomb in the famed Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt Sunday, Nov. 4, 2007.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

(Newser) – The story of King Tut's death—and what followed—just got even more interesting, all thanks to a single piece of flesh. That remnant of Tutankhamun is the only one of its kind known to exist outside Egypt, and British experts decided to analyze it after stumbling upon a decades-old record by one of the archaeologists who found Tut's tomb in 1922. That record indicated the body had been burnt, and a scanning electron microscope and chemical tests proved that was indeed the case, reports the Independent. But here's the truly intriguing part: The body caught afire after it was sealed in its sarcophagus, essentially "spontaneously combusting," says Egyptologist Chris Nauton.

The scientists' theory is that the mummification was bungled and that the body caught fire due to an unfortunate chemical reaction spurred by the combination of oxygen, embalming oils, and linen; the temperature would have reached 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Raw Story adds that the researchers also partnered with a team of car crash investigators whose computer simulations seem to verify the leading theory as to cause of death: a chariot accident. The injuries sustained on one side of his body (as revealed by what the Independent calls a "virtual autopsy") suggest a chariot crashed into Tut while he was on his knees, crushing his heart. The findings will be presented in a documentary airing Sunday in Britain. Scientists believe Tutankhamun may have fallen from the chariot while hunting.

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Showing 3 of 5 comments
HMD-SMD-ITY
Nov 7, 2013 12:48 AM CST
Saw the PBS show where this was discussed at great lengths. Tut was hated by a jealous leader he trusted. When Tut died, that guy had them put Tut in his tomb and then saved Tut's tomb for himself. His mummy container didn't even fit his tomb. They had to chisel out the corner of the entrance to get it in. He did not have the awards of a King and it was not due to modern day thieves but period thieves that sealed him in. Sad indeed they stole from him and then met their own doom. The tomb was in a place where there were a lot of other tombs that were all raided through time. Tut's tomb was below all the rest and it often flooded. The entrance got silted in and sealed well below the other ones. Nobody even thought about it until an archeologist started doing research on him and knew the tomb should be in the same area. Finding it undisturbed since being sealed was a first.
Buffantoo
Nov 5, 2013 5:05 AM CST
Probably an embalmer was alcoholic and his/her shot of drink spilled into the chemical preparation of mummification of Thut
Estrus
Nov 4, 2013 7:28 PM CST
born in Arizona, moved to Babalonia King Tut..