Scientists claim to have finally solved the mystery behind the sudden death of Egypt's boy Pharaoh, King Tutankhamun, 3000 years back.
Speculation surrounding King Tutankhamun's death has been rife since British archaeologist Howard Carter and Lord George Herbert Carnarvon broke into his tomb at Egypt's Valley of Kings at Luxor in 1922.
X-rays of the mummy taken in 1968 indicated a swelling at the base of the skull, suggesting that the pharaoh was killed by a blow to the head.
However, a recent CT scan revealed he died as a result of infection from a broken leg just above his knee, which possibly led to lethal blood poisoning. Now, further evidence has emerged suggesting that King Tut suffered the fracture due to a fall from a fast moving chariot while hunting game in the desert.
"He was not murdered as many people thought. He had an accident when he was hunting in the desert. Falling from a chariot made this fracture in his left leg and this really is in my opinion how he died," said Zahi Hawass, general secretary of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Until now, historians assumed that King Tut was a rather fragile child who was cosseted and protected from physical danger. But recent analysis of the chariots and weapons found in the tombs of the Pharaoh indicate that they were not merely ceremonial, but showed signs of wear and tear.
Hundreds of arrows recovered from the tomb also show evidence of having been shot and recovered. "These chariots are hunting chariots, not war chariots. You can see from the wear on them that they were actually used in life," said Dr Nadia Lokma of the Cairo Museum.
According to a report by the Independent, a cache of clothing found in Tutankhamun's tomb, which was stored in the vaults of the Cairo Museum, also suggests that he was accustomed to riding these chariots himself. The habiliments include a specially-adapted corset which protected the King's abdominal organs from any damage from an accident or the heavy jostling of a chariot ride.
Though experts say the new findings are still circumstantial, Hawass believes the mystery behind the boy pharaoh's untimely death at the age of 19, is solved. He said a final piece of evidence came from a garland of flowers placed around the neck of the mummy.
Botanists found it included cornflowers and mayweed that were fresh at the time the decoration was made. "The cornflower and mayweed on the garland around the mummy were in flower in March and April, which tells us the time of year he was buried," said Nigel Hepper of the Royal Horticultural Society at Kew Gardens.
Hepper said as the flowers could have been collected only between the middle of March and the end of April, and as the complex process of mummification lasted 70 days, it meant Tutankhamun probably died in December or January - the timing perfectly coincided with the middle of the winter hunting season.
The results of the latest research will be aired in a Channel Five documentary this week.