Researchers have suggested that King Tutankhamun may have been a warrior based on the discovery he may have worn battle armor, countering the theory he was a feeble child.
In attempts to recreate the king’s armor from specialized photographs, archaeologists found that there were definite signs of wear, suggesting it may have been worn in battle.
“If this is true, it would be an amazing revelation, countering the idea that Tut was a weak and sickly boy-king,” Lucy Skinner from the University of Northampton, who was part of the study, said in a statement.
The revelation will be discussed on a TV show called Secrets of Tutankhamun’s Treasures on the UK network Channel 5, airing tomorrow at 7pm UK time. Researchers will examine how the armor was made, and try and answer if it was used in battle.
Previous research has suggested that King Tut, who ruled Ancient Egypt from 1332 to 1323 BCE, was a frail boy that needed a cane, and may have even been beset by malaria. This new research, however, suggests otherwise.
To make their finding, the team used an imaging technique called Reflectance Transformation Imaging. This merges several different images of a photograph at different lighting angles to detect hidden features.
The object, which was once a tunic-like garment, is thought to be 3,000 years old. It is housed in the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It was found almost a century ago, although many mysteries remain, such as how its overlapping leather scales were made.
“The ancient methods used for making this type of leather are not really well understood,” Skinner said in the statement. “Materials will invariably change chemically and physically after being buried for thousands of years, so there are a lot of complicated scientific processes involved in finding these things out.”
It was damaged when it was first discovered, with only a small part of it surviving today. The cuirass was discovered in the 1920s, when the tomb of Tutankhamun was first discovered. It’s quite rare for leather to survive this long as it is extremely vulnerable to moisture.
It’s hoped, though, that work like this could allow a replica to be made in the future. And it also paints a new picture of an ancient king once perceived as weak and feeble.