Popular Books on Forensic Science and Forensic Medicine: Anil Aggrawal's Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine, Vol. 6, No. 1, January - June 2005
  home  > Volume 6, Number 1, January - June 2005  > Reviews  > Popular Books  > page 2: Who Killed King Tut?   (you are here)
Navigation ribbon

Anil Aggrawal's Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and ToxicologyProfessor Anil AggrawalAnil Aggrawal's Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology

Anil Aggrawal's Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology

Volume 6, Number 1, January - June 2005

Book Reviews: Popular Books Section

(Page 2)


A FASCINATING BOOK, WHICH PRESENTS A "POPULAR SCIENCE" TYPE OF VIEW ON EGYPTOLOGY AND FORENSIC MATTERS


 Who Killed King Tut? Using Modern Forensics To Solve A 3,300-Year-Old Mystery by Michael R. King and Gregory M. Cooper with Don DeNevi. Illustrations, Hard Cover, 6" x 9". Illustrations, Notes, Index.
Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York 14228-2197, USA. Phone: (716) 691-0133 or Toll Free: (800) 421-0351 Fax: (716) 691-0137. Publication Date 2004. 258 pages, Category: History, ISBN 1-59102-183-9. Price $25.00 [$16.50 from amazon]

 Official site of this book: http://www.prometheusbooks.com/catalog/book_1452.html

 Please Click here to read excerpts from this book.

Who Killed King Tut? Using Modern Forensics To Solve A 3,300-Year-Old Mystery by Michael R. King and Gregory M. Cooper with Don DeNevi
Click Cover to buy from Amazon

 There is no doubt that the discovery of the sarcophagus of King Tutankhamen (rather irreverently referred to as "King Tut" in this book,.. or so it may seem) was one of the greatest historical discoveries of all time. Most readers would be familiar with the fascinating story of Howard Carter 's 1922 discovery of the tomb and the remains of the boy king whose gold funeral mask still continues to fascinate visitors to the Cairo Museum . Most, including this reviewer, had assumed that Tutankhamen died of natural disease. Several Egyptian mummies show the unmistakable scars of smallpox and tuberculosis. It therefore comes as a surprise to discover that he was murdered!

Or was he?

Fascinated by the brief life and premature death of young King Tutankhamen, the authors of this book set off to unravel a so-called ancient mystery "using a combination of modern forensic archaeological evidence, modern forensic techniques, and psychological profiling" to determine whether or not young King Tutankhamen was actually murdered.

This appears to have been their first visit to Egypt.

What is the evidence?

Michael R. King
Michael R. King, the first author of this book

Having carried out many hundreds of second autopsies and exhumations (and I am talking of relatively fresh bodies) I am only too aware of artefacts that are commonly present and are mistaken for ante-mortem injury.

Here, the authors are looking at a death that occurred thousands of years ago, was subjected to rigorous embalming of a degree not seen today and was then subjected to a rather crude autopsy by Carter and his associates.

Click here to read Excerpts from Who killed King Tut?

Sadly, I find that I cannot agree with the authors.

The preface informs the reader that the fundamental principles of Cooper and King's inquiry are modelled on the Sherlock Holmes approach to inquiry. That is worrying!

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character and forensic pathologists, scientists and law enforcement officers should do well to avoid arriving at far-fetched conclusions based on slim and largely artefactual evidence.

As to the presence of the small chip of bone in the skull cavity I wouldn't be surprised if it was part of the ethmoid bone. The embalmers could not have removed the brain without deliberately perforating the ethmoid bone!

Who Killed King Tut? Using Modern Forensics To Solve A 3,300-Year-Old Mystery by Michael R. King and Gregory M. Cooper with Don DeNevi
The book is full of interesting pictures like this, which make it an absorbing read. This one on page 99 shows one of King Tut and his wife Ankhesenamun's stillborn infants.
In Association with Amazon.com

To be fair, the authors do admit that all of the radiological findings suggestive of trauma are probably artefactual but they relegate this view to the appendices.

There are a few glaring mistakes, this sentence on page 179 being an example:

"He ( Dr Ernst Rodin ) mentioned that although the head was clean-shaven, there was a waxy film over it which immediately raised the question of adipolsia ( sic ). This is a technical term for a drowning victim."

This is totally incorrect! I presume that by "adipolsia" the authors are referring to "adipocere".

Adipocere is not pathognomonic of drowning and a mere "waxy film" cannot be called adipocere.

Behavioural profiling

The authors of this book are criminal profilers and law enforcement officers. They are not experts on radiological or pathological matters. Whilst they deplore the tunnel vision of experts they unfortunately forget that they are wearing rose-tinted glasses.

It is obvious that at the very start they had decided that Tutankhamen was murdered. With this firmly fixed in their minds they then set off to prove it by clutching at artefactual straws.

Finally they arrive at their conclusion with a total disregard for the legal standard of proving a case "beyond reasonable doubt". Their views do not even qualify for "on the balance of probabilities".

Click here to read Excerpts from Who killed King Tut?

But that of course is the view of a pathologist or a scientist.

King and Cooper apply principles of behavioural profiling and are going for a prosecution based on "circumstantial evidence".

On this at least their arguments sound compelling. Their investigation becomes more intriguing as they focus on the King's inner circle - his wife, Ankhesenamun; his closest advisors, Prime Minister Ay and treasurer Maya; and the powerful general of the Egyptian army, Horemheb.

Who Killed King Tut? Using Modern Forensics To Solve A 3,300-Year-Old Mystery by Michael R. King and Gregory M. Cooper with Don DeNevi
...A fascinating book which presents a "Popular Science" type of view on Egyptology and forensic matters...

There is no doubt that King and Cooper are full of enthusiasm and are overawed by the grandeur of ancient Egypt...

Readers of popular murder mystery type books would love it... ...

One by one, Cooper and King eliminate the suspects based on the evidence or probabilities.

(Again there is of course the limitation that the "witness statements" are rather old and could be subject to various interpretations.)

Finally, they draw up a modern style "charge sheet" formally charging their suspect with murder of the boy pharaoh.

If I were Ay the accused, I wouldn't bother hiring a lawyer to defend myself against a charge of murder.

There is no compelling proof that King Tutankhamen died of trauma!

Nevertheless it is a fascinating book, which presents a "Popular Science" type of view on Egyptology and forensic matters. Readers of popular murder-mystery type books would love it.

Authors King and Cooper are full of enthusiasm and are overawed by the grandeur of ancient Egypt . In some places their narrative sounds refreshingly like a "Boy's Own" type of yarn!

The book appears to have been the offshoot of a TV documentary (Atlantic Productions/Discovery Channel), which is reflected in the style of writing.

There is no doubt that the book will stir up an interest amongst young readers.

The book is well printed, presented and is complete with a number of good quality monochrome as well as colour illustrations including informative maps.

Gyan Fernando
-Gyan Fernando
Dr Gyan C. A. Fernando is a Forensic Pathologist in the West Country of England. He has thirty years of experience in forensic matters including exhumations and examination of skeletal remains. He is an inveterate traveller, and it is easier to count the countries he has NOT travelled to, than the ones he has. He is an avid Egyptologist too, so he was uniquely equipped to review this book, being both a forensic pathologist and an Egyptologist. He has visited Cairo and Luxor and was particularly fascinated by the Museum of Mummification in Luxor. Here he is seen at the entry of King Tutankhamen's tomb (Date of pic is 4th March 2002. Location: Luxor). Click picture to enlarge.

 Order this Book by clicking below.

 Who Killed King Tut?

  A very interesting paper has been written on "The Skull and Cervical Spine Radiographs of Tutankhamen" by Richard S. Boyer, Ernst A. Rodin, Todd C. Grey, and R. C. Connolly in June - July 2003 issue of American Journal of Neuroradiology. Full text of this paper can be downloaded free of cost from their site. Interested readers may click here to reach ANJR site, from where this paper can be downloaded. Go to the section entitled "HEAD AND NECK". Seventh paper is the one on Tutankhamen. King and Cooper give the entire text of this paper in their book in Appendix 3.

 

 Request a PDF file of this review by clicking here. (If your screen resolution can not be increased, or if printing this page is giving you problems like overlapping of graphics and/or tables etc, you can take a proper printout from a pdf file. You will need an Acrobat Reader though.)


 N.B. It is essential to read this journal - and especially this review as it contains several tables and high resolution graphics - under a screen resolution of 1600 x 1200 dpi or more. If the resolution is less than this, you may see broken or overlapping tables/graphics, graphics overlying text or other anomalies. It is strongly advised to switch over to this resolution to read this journal - and especially this review. These pages are viewed best in Netscape Navigator 4.7 and above.

-Anil Aggrawal





 Books for review must be submitted at the following address.

 Professor Anil Aggrawal (Editor-in-Chief)
Anil Aggrawal's Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology
S-299 Greater Kailash-1
New Delhi-110048
India

 Click here to contact us.

 This page has been constructed and maintained by Dr. Anil Aggrawal, Professor of Forensic Medicine, at the Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi-110002. You may want to give me the feedback to make this pages better. Please be kind enough to write your comments in the guestbook maintained above. These comments would help me make these pages better.

IMPORTANT NOTE: ALL PAPERS APPEARING IN THIS ONLINE JOURNAL ARE COPYRIGHTED BY "ANIL AGGRAWAL'S INTERNET JOURNAL OF FORENSIC MEDICINE AND TOXICOLOGY" AND MAY NOT BE REPOSTED, REPRINTED OR OTHERWISE USED IN ANY MANNER WITHOUT THE WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE WEBMASTER

Questions or suggestions ? Please use  ICQ 19727771 or email to dr_anil@hotmail.com

Page Professor Anil Aggrawal via ICQ

  home  > Volume 6, Number 1, January - June 2005  > Reviews  > Popular Books  > page 2: Who Killed King Tut?   (you are here)
Navigation ribbon