Ethan Miller / Getty Images News
Ethan Miller / Getty Images News

Scientists Reveal the Real Face of King Tut

Ethan Miller / Getty Images News
Ethan Miller / Getty Images News

When British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922, he proclaimed the “wonderful things” he could see. And in an instant, the boy king—with his golden cavern, gilded mask, and untimely death—captured the world’s imagination. 

Now, in a BBC One documentary called Tutankhamun: The Truth Uncovered, scientists have pulled back the shroud of mystery surrounding the pharaoh’s life and death. “For the first time, a virtual autopsy of Tut's mummified body reveals astonishing secrets about the pharaoh,” a description of the program promises. The most astonishing secret of all? Tut was probably ugly.

According to the Daily Mail, the iconic, strong-jawed, sharp-featured burial mask hid a face that was, in fact, rather ordinary. The “virtual autopsy” employed in the documentary uses CT scan data, more than 2000 computer scans, and genetic analysis to conclude that King Tutankhamun “had buck teeth, a club foot, and girlish hips.” It’s likely that Tut used a cane for mobility—and, in fact, 130 used walking canes were found in the pharaoh’s tomb.

Rendering of King Tutankhamun by BBC One

The Truth Uncovered posits that Tut’s less-than-dreamy appearance was likely the result of incest between his sibling parents. Albert Zink, Scientific Director for Italy’s Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, gleaned from studies of the royal family’s DNA that Tut was born after his father, King Akhenaten, had a—shall we say, biblical—relationship with his own sister. Incest was not uncommon in ancient Egypt and carried no social stigma, as the health implications of inbreeding were not yet known. In fact, Tutankhamun married his own half-sister, Ankhesenpaaten, when he took the throne at age 9 or 10. 

The most disappointing revelation (for us gore-mongers) put forth by the documentary, however, is that King Tut’s death was not the result of a high-speed chariot race (his club foot would have rendered all chariot racing impossible) or a gruesome murder. In fact, it wasn’t glamorous at all. Tut was most likely victim to an inherited hormonal imbalance that left him weak and he died after suffering a fall. 

So, there we have it: The majestic King Tut was in all likelihood a doughy, clumsy, sickly teenager. Consider your dreams dashed.

An Ancient Sarcophagus Was Found in Egypt—And It's Never Been Opened

In what could be the plot of the next summer blockbuster, a sealed sarcophagus has been found 16 feet underground in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, Science Alert reports. It’s still unknown who or what might be lying inside the nondescript black granite casket, but what’s clear is that it hasn’t been opened since it was closed more than 2000 years ago.

Ayman Ashmawy, head of the government’s Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, observed “a layer of mortar between the lid and the body of the sarcophagus,” indicating it hadn't been opened, according to a Ministry of Antiquities Facebook post. Considering that many ancient tombs in Egypt have been looted over the years, an untouched sarcophagus is quite a rare find.

The sarcophagus was discovered when a site in the Sidi Gaber district, dating back to the Ptolemaic Dynasty (305-30 BCE), was inspected before construction of a building began. The casket is 104.3 inches long and 65 inches wide, making it the largest of its kind ever discovered in Alexandria. In addition, an alabaster statue of a man’s head was found in the same tomb, and some have speculated that it might depict whoever is sealed inside the sarcophagus. Live Science suggested that archaeologists may opt to inspect its contents using X-rays or computed tomography scans to prevent damage to the artifact.

Although it remains a mystery for now, Twitter has a few theories about who might be lying inside:

[h/t Science Alert]

What Did Burr Do After Shooting Hamilton?

Aaron Burr's first order of business was to go home and have some breakfast.

Having victoriously emerged from that deadly encounter with Alexander Hamilton on July 11, 1804, Burr returned to his estate in lower Manhattan for a hearty meal. Some accounts claim that the V.P. was also pleasantly surprised by a visiting acquaintance (either Burr’s cousin or his broker, depending upon the source) with whom he dined, politely choosing not to mention the bloody spectacle that had just transpired. The next day, Hamilton passed away. For Burr, his opponent’s death marked the beginning of the end.

On August 2, a New York coroner’s jury found Burr guilty on two counts. In their estimation, he’d committed the misdemeanor of dueling—and the felony of murder. To make matters worse, because his duel had taken place in New Jersey, the Garden State issued its own ruling, which also pronounced him a murderer.

“There is a contention of a singular nature between the two States of New York and New Jersey,” he dryly noted in a letter to his daughter Theodosia. “The subject in dispute is which shall have the honor of hanging the Vice President.” Facing a tempest of public outrage, Burr eventually set sail for Georgia, where plantation owner and former Senator Pierce Butler offered him sanctuary.

But, alas, the call of vice presidential duty soon rang out. As president of the Senate, Burr returned to Washington that November to oversee the impeachment of anti-Jeffersonian Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase. Shortly thereafter—with some help from a contingent of Republican senators—Burr’s case was dropped in New Jersey, though by then, he’d already stepped down from the vice presidency.

Burr’s saga was far from over, though. After leaving D.C., he began aggressively recruiting allies for a planned seizure of America’s western territories. Among those he managed to enlist were General James Wilkinson, who’d been named Northern Louisiana’s regional governor. Burr even went so far as to begin training his own army before he was arrested in present-day Alabama and put on trial for treason. Ultimately, however, he was acquitted. His scheme foiled and his image scarred, Burr departed for Europe and wouldn’t return to his native country until 1812.

By then, the nation was entrenched in a nasty war with Great Britain and had largely forgotten his attempted conspiracy. Towards the end of his life, Burr went back to New York (where, despite the 1804 ruling, he was never actually tried for murder), revived his law practice, and married his second wife, the notorious socialite Eliza Jumel. He died on September 14, 1836, at the age of 80.


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