WASHINGTON, D.C., 13 May 2005—He is among the most famous Egyptian kings in history. Successor to and perhaps son of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), he
became pharaoh at the age of nine—and ruled for nearly a decade before his
mysterious death circa 1323 B.C. Since his tomb was discovered in
1922, King Tutankhamun and the circumstances surrounding his death have
been a source of intrigue worldwide. Why did the famed "boy king"
die so young? And what did he really look like?
On Sunday, 15 May at 9 p.m. ET/PT in the United States, the National
Geographic Channel premieres King Tut's Final Secrets ,
a high-tech forensic investigation unveiling new findings related to
his death and the first-ever reconstructions of his face and head
using revolutionary 3-D CT scan imaging—revealing, finally, what he looked like on the
day he died. This research is also featured as the cover story of
National Geographic magazine's June issue.
The two-hour special follows archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass as his team
of Egyptian scientists remove the mummy from its sarcophagus for the first
time in more than 25 years. The goal: use state of the art CT scan
technology to solve the mystery surrounding King Tut's death.
The scanning of King Tut's mummy is part of a five-year Egyptian
research and conservation project. Partially funded by the National
Geographic Society, the project aims to conserve and study the ancient
mummies of Egypt.
"CT technology enables us to virtually 'unwrap' the mummies without
damaging them," explains Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme
Council of Antiquities. The CT scan finds loose bones inside King Tut's
skull, severed ribs and a fractured left leg with a missing kneecap.
Was he murdered? Or was he hurt in battle?
The scans also provide a blueprint for reconstructing what King Tut
actually looked like. Working separately, two paleosculptors use a
"digital skull" from the scan to map the angles and dimensions of a face
and transform the raw data into a life-like silicone bust.
reconstructions from CT scans of King Tut's mummy
Photo courtesy of Supreme Council of Antiquities
While television brings us the synthetic face of
the "real" Tut, 130 of the real treasures from his tomb will tour three US
cities in the coming year, in an exhibition entitled Tutankhamun and
the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.
June 2005 at the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
, the show has already
been on view at the Antikenmuseum in
Basel, Switzerland and the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik in Bonn, Germany.
The exhibition includes 50 major artifacts excavated
from the tomb of King Tut, including his royal diadem (the gold crown
discovered on his head), as well as one of the gold and precious stone
inlaid coffinettes that contained his mummified internal organs. More than 70 objects from other royal graves of
the 18th Dynasty (1555 B.C.-1305 B.C.) will be on view as well.
Coffin of Tutankhamun's viscera
from the tomb of
Egyptian museum in Cairo
© Photo: Andreas F. Voegelin,
Antikenmuseum Basel and Sammlung Ludwig,
Supreme Council of Antiquities
Photo courtesy of Los Angeles County Museum of Art
A further highlight is the loaned collection of pieces from the intact tomb of Yuya and
Tuyu, the parents-in-law of Amenophis III. This tomb was discovered some 20
years before that of Tutankhamun, and had until then been the most
celebrated find in the Valley of the Kings.
The objects are accompanied by photos of Howard Carter taken
in 1922 to illustrate the condition of the tomb during the
first opening, as well as the CT scans featured in King Tut's
Angeles, the show travels to Chicago (December 2005) and Fort Lauderdale
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