With strong features cast in burnished gold, Tutankhamun’s burial mask projects an image of majestic beauty and royal power.
But in the flesh, King Tut had buck teeth, a club foot and girlish hips, according to the most detailed examination ever of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh’s remains.
And rather than being a boy king with a love of chariot racing, Tut relied on walking sticks to get around during his rule in the 14th century BC, researchers said.
A ‘virtual autopsy’, composed of more than 2,000 computer scans, was carried out in tandem with a genetic analysis of Tutankhamun’s family, which supports evidence that his parents were brother and sister.
The scientists believe that this left him with physical impairments triggered by hormonal imbalances. And his family history could also have led to his premature death in his late teens.
Various myths suggest he was murdered or was involved in a chariot crash after fractures were found in his skull and other parts of his skeleton.
Now scientists believe he may have died of an inherited illness because only one of the breaks occurred before he died, while his club foot would have made chariot racing impossible.
In 1907, Lord Carnarvon George Herbert asked English archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter to supervise excavations in the Valley of the Kings.
On 4 November 1922, Carter’s group found steps that led to Tutankhamun’s tomb and spent several months cataloguing the antechamber.
They opened the burial chamber and discovered the the sarcophagus in February the following year.
The revelations are made in BBC One documentary Tutankhamun: The Truth Uncovered.
Albert Zink, from the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Italy, deciphered the truth about the ruler’s parents by studying the royal family’s DNA.
He found that Tut was born after his father Akhenaten, dubbed the heretic king, had a relationship with his sister. Incest was not frowned upon by the ancient Egyptians and they did not know about the health implications for any offspring.
Hutan Ashrafian, a lecturer in surgery at Imperial College London, said that several members of the family appeared to have suffered from ailments which can be explained by hormonal imbalances. He said: ‘A lot of his family predecessors lived to a ripe old age. Only his immediate line were dying early, and they were dying earlier each generation.’
Egyptian radiologist Ashraf Selim: ‘The virtual autopsy shows the toes are divergent, in layman’s terms it’s club foot. He would have been heavily limping.
‘There is only one site where we can say a fracture happened before he died and that is the knee.’
Evidence of King Tut’s physical limitations were also backed up by 130 used walking canes found in his tomb.
Presenter Dallas Campbell, said: ‘Trying to navigate through the intense speculation and politics that surround one of the most famous characters in history is both daunting and thrilling in equal measure.
‘Foolhardy perhaps! But using solid science and a truly multi-disciplinary approach we’ve finally been able to put to bed some of the myths and pre-conceived ideas that have surrounded his life and death, and hopefully add a new chapter that will ensure the Tutankhamun story continues to fascinate.’
Earlier this year, egyptologists from the American University in Cairo shed light on some of the bizarre burial rituals discovered in the tomb, including the fact the king’s penis was embalmed at a 90-degree angle, the only mummy to have ever been found with this feature.
They claimed that this may have been carried out on purpose to make the king appear like Osiris, the god of the underworld, in an attempt to frighten religious revolutionaries.
At the time of his death in 1323 BC, the father of the teenage Egyptian king was said to be leading a religious revolution in the country.
It is believed Akhenaten wanted to destroy the belief in the Egyptian gods and instead worship a sun disc called the Aten.
Tutanhkhamun was trying to tackle this revolution when he was believed to have broken his leg and died from an infection in the wound. DNA analysis in 2010 also found traces of malaria in his system.
During mummification a decision was made to not only embalm the erect penis, but also to cover the king’s body in black liquid – similar in colour to the skin of Osiris – and remove his heart.
These rituals, according to Professor Salima Ikram from the university, were done in order to make people think Tutankhamun was the underworld god.
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