by Nari Lee '17
A team of British experts shed some light on the long unsolved mystery of King Tutankhamen’s death when they recently announced that the boy pharaoh was likely killed in a chariot accident. The team’s findings also explain that the mummy was burnt because of a botched mummification. Forensic archaeologist Dr. Matthew Ponting was key in this discovery by helping to analyze a sample of Tutankhamen’s flesh through a scanning electron microscope. The findings state that the pharoah’s preserved body burst into a contained flame in his sealed coffin as a result of the chemical reaction between embalming oils and linen. (1)
What exactly is a forensic archaeologist? According to The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Arhcaeology, forensic archaeology is:
an expanding branch of archaeological investigation in which the methods and approaches of archaeology are applied to legal problems and in connection with the work of courts of law. Most commonly this involves the reconstruction of chronology and sequence events from the deposits found within and around graves and burial sites for homicide cases and investigations into the violation of human rights. (2)
Here are the straight-up facts about the job:
Though forensic archaeologists work mainly within the criminal justice system, they can also aid in archaeological research, as one did in the investigation of King Tutankhamen’s death.
For those who wish to learn more about the discovery, watch Tutankhamun: The Mystery of the Burnt Mummy.