Is King Tut’s Penis Missing?

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Did someone sabotage the Egyptian king’s mummy to hide his less-than endowed genitalia? A new report from The New Scientist presents the possibility of a anatomical conspiracy.

Earlier this year, scientists speculated the cause of famed King Tutankhamen‘s death to be due to a bone disorder and a bad case of malaria, but just last week a group of German researchers overruled that diagnosis. Instead, they say the 19-year-old pharaoh suffered from sickle-cell anemia, a genetic abnormality in red blood cells that ultimately causes organ failure.

While researching the new prognosis for The New Scientist,journalist Jo Marchant uncovered another proposed ailment of Tut’s. A letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that Tut could also have suffered from Antley-Bixler syndrome, a genetic mutation that yields strange physical effects, such as elongated skulls and even under-developed genitalia. (Some researchers support the theory and use artistic depictions of Tut and his relatives, often show with elongated faces, as proof.)

Egypt’s chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass dismisses the theory, claiming that Tut was, in fact, well-developed. However, as Marchant points out, Tut’s penis is no longer attached to the body. After some digging, Marchant was able to confirm that the king’s genitalia was attached to the mummy during its first unwrapping in 1922, meaning the postmortem castration likely occurred in modern times. Interestingly, Tut’s penis was declared missing in 1968 until a CT scan discovered it hidden in the sand that surrounded the mummy. (Penises, Brains and Skulls: The Most Amazing Stolen Body Parts)

This evidence has lead some to believe that Tut’s penis was swapped sometime after his body was embalmed, suggesting a conspiracy existed to save him from embarrassment of the locker room variety, even in the afterlife.

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