Tutankhamen, better known as King Tut, died in 1123 BC. He was just a teenager at the time, but the young pharaoh achieved immortal status when his tomb was discovered in 1922, and since then, plenty of true facts about King Tut and his life have fascinated scholars and the general public. Myth and lore surround the pharaoh, with theories abounding about his lineage and enduring curse.
Among the misinformation and outlandish stories are several things about King Tut that may sound fake, but are completely accurate. Mummified appendages, body deformities, and royal inbreeding are just a few amazing aspects of King Tut's real story.
His Sandals Were Orthopedic
Examinations of King Tut's remains reveal the pharaoh suffered from numerous ailments and deformities. One of the most notable was his clubbed left foot, an affliction that hindered his ability to walk and led him to use a cane. Over 100 walking sticks were found in his tomb, along with shoes that indicate the pharaoh wore special footwear to help him.
Researcher Andre Veldmeijer looked closely at King Tut's shoes and said he found "a fastening which we don’t know from ancient Egypt. There are shoes with a small band that goes over the toe, something we have not seen anywhere else. We know recently that Tutankhamen had deformed feet. This suggests a solution to his condition."
Some of King Tut's shoes also featured straps, pads, and elaborate ornamentation. There are indications the young pharaoh actually wore the shoes, including "the print of Tutankhamen's foot on the sole," Veldmeijer said.Surprised it's true?
He Rode His Chariot Like A Race Car
Described as "the Ferrari of antiquity," the chariots found within King Tut's tomb reveal "elegant design[s] and extremely sophisticated and astonishingly modern technology," said robotics engineer Alberto Rovetta, who assessed one of the six vehicles. He determined it was probably used by Tut for hunting and fighting:
The wheels feature a real tire, made of a flexible wood rim, which adapts to soil irregularities. Moreover, the six-spoke wheels are made from elastic wood. This absorbs uniformly the loads transmitted by soil irregularity, so that the vibrations are damped by the wheel itself like the intelligent suspensions in modern cars. The bearings are built exploiting the modern principle of a hard material against a soft material and by applying animal grease between the surfaces.
No one has discovered evidence of chariot racing from Tut's era, said engineering physics scholar Bela Sandor, "but these chariots have many technical features that imply a pedigree based on racing."
At least one school of thought posits that Tutankhamen perished as a result of a chariot mishap, perhaps falling out of the vehicle Rovetta studied.Surprised it's true?
He Enjoyed Hunting Ostriches
Among the items found in King Tut's tomb was an elaborate fan made out of ostrich feathers.
Engravings on the handle of the fan, which contains the remnants of 30 ostrich feathers, seem to tell how the item came to be. One scene shows Tut chasing ostriches, and another reports on the success of the hunt, implying the feathers once held by the fan were procured by the pharaoh himself.
Ostriches had several purposes and were highly valued in ancient Egypt. People sometimes rode them, and used their eggs for artwork and food. Ostrich feathers also had religious importance and were worn to symbolize royal status.Surprised it's true?
His Given Name Wasn't Tutankhamen
When King Tutankhamen was born around 1340 BC, he was named Tutankhaten. His given name meant "living image of Aten," the deity his father, Akhenaten (r. 1353-1336 BC), endorsed and tried to impose on his subjects. Aten, the sun-disc god, wasn't a new religious figure in Egypt. Rather, Akhenaten wanted to promote Aten within religious worship.
Akhenaten (originally named Amenhotep IV) went to great lengths to eliminate Amun (also spelled Amen and Amon), the previous deity of focus. He erased Amun's name, and that of his consort, Mut, from temples and records in Egypt. Modern Egyptologists see Akhenaten's efforts as a shift away from polytheism.
The religious reform caused discontent in Egypt and, when Tutankhaten was old enough to do so, he shifted back to the worship of Amun and the more traditional Egyptian pantheon. As a symbol of his rejection of Atenism, Tutankhaten changed his name to Tutankhamen to demonstrate his dedication to Amun.Surprised it's true?