Published August 15, 2014
King Tut became pharaoh of Egypt in 1332 B.C. at the age of nine. Only a decade after coming to power, the young leader died. In 1922, explorers found the king’s crypt beneath an Egyptian desert, but how the king died has remained a mystery.
In the September 2014 issue of NG Kids magazine, Egyptologist Chris Naunton explains a new theory. He believes King Tut may have been struck by a chariot. And check out the additional Q&A with Naunton below to learn more about his fascination with the mysteries of Ancient Egypt.
Egyptologist Chris Naunton and colleagues examine an x-ray of King Tut's body to reveal what may have caused the Egyptian pharaoh's death.
Video courtesy Blink Films
Photograph by Kenneth Garrett, National Geographic Stock
Weird But True
King Tut's sandals had paintings of his enemies on the soles. So, everywhere the king went he trampled all over his foes!
Q&A with Egyptologist Chris Naunton
Egyptologist Chris Naunton stands beside a relief depicting Ramesses II ("Ramesses the Great") on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor (ancient Egyptian city of Thebes).
Photograph courtesy Chris Naunton
What's the best thing about being an Egyptologist?
I really love being able to travel to Egypt regularly, to see the country and to meet the people. There is a LOT of history in the country and much of it isn’t very well known yet. It’s exciting to think there are still discoveries to be made!
What is the strangest thing you have discovered during your study of Ancient Egypt?
Perhaps the most amazing thing to me is how well things have survived, even human bodies. To be able to look at someone as famous and ancient as Ramesses the Great and to see his body with the skin and hair still present is almost unbelievable!
Why should kids today be interested in ancient history?
I think it's really important to learn about ancient history because it shows us how different things were in different parts of the world a long time ago, but also how similar to us those people were. It helps us to think about our own lives. And knowing that we are basically just the same as the Egyptians or any other ancient people in many ways gives us a nice feeling of connection to them and helps us to understand that we are all the same as one another really.
How can kids become Egyptologists?
To become an Egyptologist you need to do a lot of studying—of history, geography, maybe different languages—first at school and then maybe at university or in your spare time. It usually takes years and years and you need to visit Egypt a lot to understand what it’s like to be there and to work there. It’s not easy but for lots of us it’s what we have always wanted. And the fact that it takes a long time to get there makes it all the more rewarding when we do!
Why were you so interested in finding out exactly what happened to King Tut?
King Tut is one of the most famous people from ancient history and everyone knows what he looked like (or at least what the death mask looked like). But we know very little about who he really was, what he did each day, what he was thinking, and what, in the end, happened to him. I wanted to see if I could find out more about that side of him, and of course how he came to die so young and to be buried with such amazing treasures.
Now that you've discovered a new theory on King Tut's death, what other Egyptian mysteries would you like to explore?
I think what I would really like to know is what happened to the man who was probably King Tut’s father, Akhenaten. He changed a lot of things while he was king and it must have been very interesting to live in Egypt at that time. But after he died, people tried to change everything back again and he became very unpopular. We’re not sure where he was buried and it seems his body might have been moved at least once. I’d love to know what really happened!
Portions of this story were taken from the "Crash Test Mummy" article written by Zachary Petit in the September 2014 issue of NG Kids magazine.