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21 Weird Facts About King Tut

Updated October 11, 2021 3.2m views22 items

More than almost any other ancient ruler, facts about King Tut, the boy who led an empire and was buried in a tomb stuffed with gold and artifacts, have been hard to deduce. Who was this young man given the responsibility of carrying on a line descended from the gods? How did he live? And how did he die?

Since Tut's tomb was found in 1922, these questions have slowly been answered. Thanks to advanced technology in DNA analysis, we've found some surprising facts about his heritage and his physical stature. It turns out that he wasn't the sensual, dashing boy portrayed in the iconography found in his tomb and afterwards in pop culture. Instead, he was the product of incest, born with deformities, with strings pulled by powerful generals, and a death not from murder, but from injuries caused by his ailments.

Even so, mythology swirls around Tut, his death, the "curse" on his tomb, and the mythical figures in his life. Here are some of the stranger, but completely true, facts about this legendary boy king.

  • But He Might Have Died In A Chariot Accident

    Tut’s broken bones led a number of experts to conclude that he’d been crushed in some kind of chariot accident. But a “virtual autopsy” carried out in 2014 posits this as extremely unlikely, because many of the bone breaks occurred after he died, probably inflicted during the embalming process or in the early stages of his excavation. Tut also likely wouldn’t have been able to get into a chariot due to his physical deformities.
  • Photo: Captmondo / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    Tut's Successors Purged Him From History

    Ay continued the reforms that Tut began, bringing the country back to its worship of Amun and discarding the cult of Aten that Akhenaten favored. When he took the throne from Ay, Horemheb took things one step further and began purging references to Aten, Akhenaten, Tut, and Ay from history and architecture. Monuments and temples that referenced either Aten or the kings in his line were destroyed, and the capital was moved again, from Thebes to Memphis. Tut himself was forgotten soon after, with his burial site built over.

  • Photo: Harry Burton / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Tut's Tomb Was The Most Complete Ever Found

    When Carter and his team found Tut’s tomb in 1922, he had almost entirely been forgotten by history, due both to Horemheb’s purge and Tut’s reign being fairly insignificant. Other Egyptian tombs had been found by foreign expeditions, but none as well preserved as Tut’s, and none with the sheer volume of artifacts it had. Even so, the tomb wasn’t untouched – it was not sealed on the outside, and evidence showed it had been robbed at least twice in ancient times. It took eight years to catalog the objects inside it and empty out the tomb.
  • Photo: Wide World / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    The Curse Of King Tut's Tomb

    The idea of those who disturb Egyptian tombs being cursed goes back to the 19th century, but went wild after Tutankhamun’s tomb was found in 1922. While a number of members of tomb-finder Howard Carter’s team died within a few years of finding the tomb, that doesn’t mean there was any kind of curse attached to it. In fact, simple math proves the idea of a “curse” wrong: of the 58 people who were present when the tomb and sarcophagus were opened, 50 were still alive within a dozen years. Many of those who died were either older, or in professions that put them at risk.