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King Tut died of malaria and bone condition, says new research

Egyptian pharaoh King Tutankhamun may have died from malaria, new research indicates.

The cause of the famous teenage king's death has long been a mystery, with a range of theories as to how he met his end.

But now scientists, who have analysed DNA from royal mummies, have managed to create a family tree for the ruler, and believe he may have died from a combination of malaria and bone abnormalities.

The 19 year old was the head of the 18th dynasty (circa 1550-1295 B.C.) of the New Kingdom, one of the most powerful royal houses of ancient Egypt.

Tut himself died in 1324BC, and shot to worldwide attention when Howard Carter discovered his tomb in the Valley of Kings in 1922.

He died young and left no heirs and the cause of his death has been a mystery. Gangrene, accident and even murder have been put forward for his possible early demise.

But scientists have now analysed a number of artefacts from his tomb as well as the bodies of mummies they can confirm are related to him, and believe they are a step closer to solving the riddle.

The team, from the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, spent more than two years studying eleven royal mummies, including Tut himself, using anthropological, radiological, and genetic techniques.

Several previously unidentified mummies were able to named, including 'KV35EL' – or Tiye, mother of the pharaoh Akhenaten and grandmother of Tutankhamun, and the KV55 mummy, which is probably Akhenaten, father of Tutankhamun.

A mummy previously known as KV35YL is likely to be Tutankhamun's mother.

One theory as to what caused Tut's death was a genetic disorder known as gynecomastia, a hormone imbalance which gives males a female appearance.

Certain artefacts depicting the royal house appeared to back this up.

Marfan's Syndrome, which leaves sufferers with extended limbs and dilated arteries in the heart, has also been mooted as a possible factor in his demise.

But the authors, led by Dr Zahi Hawass, write: "No signs of gynecomastia or Marfan syndrome were found.

"Therefore, the particular artistic presentation of persons in the Amarna period is confirmed as a royally decreed style most probably related to the religious reforms of Akhenaten.

"It is unlikely that either Tutankhamun or Akhenaten actually displayed a significantly bizarre or feminine physique. It is important to note that ancient Egyptian kings typically had themselves and their families represented in an idealised fashion."

But the team, whose findings are published in journal JAMA, did find other disorders in Tut's family, including Kohler disease II – a disorder which causes bones to collapse as a result of a restricted supply of blood to the area.

Traces of the malaria parasite were found in four mummies, including Tut himself.

The authors write: "These results suggest avascular bone necrosis [condition in which the poor blood supply to the bone leads to weakening or destruction of an area of bone] in conjunction with the malarial infection as the most likely cause of death in Tutankhamun.

"Walking impairment and malarial disease sustained by Tutankhamun is supported by the discovery of canes and an afterlife pharmacy in his tomb."

© Telegraph.co.uk