Science demystifies ancient Egypt’s hidden secrets

By SpencerRoush

The mysteries of ancient Egypt have captivated people for centuries. Pieces of the culture have even been integrated into modern life, from eyeliner applied to imitate cat’s eyes for those who are daring enough to wear it, hieroglyphics carved into gold jewelry and Egyptian symbols incorporated into home decor. These artifacts from thousands of years ago are still prominent today’s society because of the bewitching nature of these ancient and puzzling stories.

The mysteries of ancient Egypt are becoming less mysterious, but even more fascinating. New research answers some of the oldest questions about the country and one of its most controversial figures, King Tutankhamun.

Scientists investigated the boy king’s mummy for more than two years and published a few surprising findings in the Feb. 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The Discovery Channel also featured a two-night special, “King Tut Unwrapped,” from Feb. 21-22. The documentary shows world-renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass leading an in-depth forensic investigation on the famous king.

Through this research, scientists discovered King Tut died from malaria. This ruins the imaginary sensationalized stories about his life and many murderous theories behind his life. It’s dull that his death was so simply taken by malaria instead of a power-crazed family member lusting for the throne.

Although malaria is a less glamorous story than a high-profile murder conspiracy, this finding proves how advanced forensic research has become. Extracting DNA from a more than 3,000-year-old mummified body and finding new information is more than impressive. Until recently, testing this DNA was thought impossible due to the Egyptians’ techniques of removing blood and organs to preserve bodies and prepare them for the afterlife.

Besides finding that Tut died at the ripe age of 19 from a severe case of malaria, scientists also discovered information involving his family and health issues. Scientists revealed his lineage by testing 11 other mummies’ DNA.

They discovered King Tut had a club foot and a cleft palate.

His health problems were understandable considering he was the product of an incestuous relationship between a brother and a sister. His father was the famous ruler King Akhenaten and his sister’s name is unknown.

The use of contemporary archaeology tools has opened a window into ancient Egypt, which wasn’t possible with just trowels and soil sifters.

Some scientists say the continued use of modern technology to unravel mysteries of the ancient world may aid in understanding modern diseases and other health issues.

Because this research can lead to a greater understanding of Egypt and illness, disturbing the dead is acceptable.

Digging up, or in this case, unwrapping the dead is taboo in many cultures, but if it can greatly affect society like scientists are saying, the work should continue.

However, there is the curse to think about:  Anyone who disturbs King Tut’s resting place will supposedly die an untimely death.

One of the many tales about King Tut is the curse of his tomb. Since 1922, when the tomb was first excavated, there has been a great deal of chatter about the curse, and some believe that more than 12 people have died after disturbing his resting place.

Research has been conducted to explore the curse, but no one has made sense out of the ancient stories, besides saying that all ancient tombs are said to have a curse to deter looters from stealing their prized possessions that are said to accompany them in the afterlife.

Even if there really is a curse, this research is fascinating, and I think it’s worth facing the wrath of the mummy.