The world’s most famous mummy, King Tutankhamen, may not have had quite the civilised send off that we thought: researchers are now suggesting that a botched mummification process led to his body spontaneously combusting inside its sarcophagus.
A fresh new analysis of King Tut’s remains, using X-ray and CAT scans, reveals that his bones were smashed to pieces prior to death, more brutally than previously suspected. The researchers speculate that it was probably the result of being hit by a chariot. In fact, it turns out he had broken ribs on its left-hand side, but was also lacking his sternum and heart by the time he made it to his sarcophagus.
If that weren’t bad enough, more analysis also suggests that the mummification procedure didn’t go to plan either, causing his body to spontaneously combust in its resting place. Analysing a small chunk of flesh left from Tut’s body has revealed that the body was definitely burned after his death. But a series of further chemical tests, including some carried out by professional fire investigators, suggest that a combination of oxygen, embalming oils and linen were what caused the fire to occur.
In other words, the mummification process didn’t go to plan — perhaps it was rushed because the body was so badly damaged — which meant that, trapped in the sarcophagus, it was able to spontaneously combust. With a potent mixture of oil and oxygen, a buildup of heat could easily have caused a fire to start, and when the linen caught there’d be nothing to stop it from burning hard and bright.
The new findings are a result of a fresh analysis for a UK TV show, and along with it should come all the gory details of exactly how hid body came to catch fire. [Discover]