Cover image for The mysterious death of Tutankhamun
The mysterious death of Tutankhamun
Doherty, P. C.
Personal Author:
First Carrol and Graf edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Carroll & Graf, 2002.
Physical Description:
xii, 260 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, map ; 24 cm
General Note:
"First published in the UK by Constable, ... 2002."--T.p. verso.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DT87.5 .D649 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
DT87.5 .D649 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DT87.5 .D649 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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What--or who--really caused the death of Egypt's splendid young king? More than 3,000 years after his death, the entire civilized world is familiar with the face and burial site of one very special young Egyptian ruler, whose fabulous burial treasure represents one of the Ancient World's most glorious and successful civilizations. It is assumed he died of natural causes. But how did he really die? In this exciting and thought-provoking account of the life and death of Tutankhamun, the basis for a new two-part Discovery Channel documentary airing in fall 2002, Paul Doherty reveals how King Tut's famous calm and beautiful death mask conceals a story of bloody intrigue at the Egyptian court. The boy-king came to the throne when religious dissent threatened the vast empire and died mysteriously at the age of only eighteen. Was he secretly assassinated by the powerful cabal that ran the court and the country? Could the powerful first minister, Ay, have murdered him to seize the pharonic crown for himself? What part did Ankhesenamun, Ay's granddaughter, and Tutankhamun's beautiful queen, play in the court's intrigues? And what about the hurried burial in a virtually unmarked grave--was it to conceal the evidence of fatal head wounds? Doherty believes that modern research, coupled with the original testimony of Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered the tomb, can answer all these questions and present an even more fascinating scenario. He offers important new theories about Tutankhamun, both as a man and a Pharaoh, and an illuminating explanation of the intrigue that surrounded his sudden and untimely end. Color photographs add to this intriguing investigation into the death of Egypt's most famous Pharoah.

Author Notes

Mystery writer P. C. Doherty was born in Middlesborough, England. He is probably best known for the series which includes Ghostly Murders, A Tournament of Murders, A Tapestry of Murders, and An Ancient Evil. Other works include The Rose Demon, Satan's Fire, and The Devil's Hunt.

Doherty also has published under the pen names of Paul Harding (The Nightingale Gallery) and Michael Clynes (The White Rose Murders).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Doherty, the master of the historical whodunit, turns his attention to an authentic real-life mystery: the inexplicable death of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun at the age of 18. King Tut's irreverently hasty burial in an unmarked grave would seem to suggest foul play, and Doherty adopts the role of historical detective to investigate the probable homicide. Painting a portrait of an Egyptian nation torn apart by religious and political dissent and using the original testimony of Howard Carter, the archaeologist who unearthed Tutankhamun's tomb, he presents a number of plausible scenarios involving deception, betrayal, and court intrigue. The list of suspects includes the sinister cabal that manipulated the young king; Ay, the wily old chancellor eager for more power; General Horemheb, a distinguished and hugely popular military hero; and Ankhesenamun, Tutankhamun's politically connected queen. Medical evidence suggesting the possibility of a fatal head wound is also presented. The companion Discovery Channel documentary created a flurry of interest in this fascinating historical and forensic reconstruction. --Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Although the glorious riches of the young King Tutankhamun's tomb have been displayed in museums around the world, his death at age 18 remains shrouded in secrecy. Why was his burial so hasty? Why was he buried initially in a storeroom rather than in a splendid pharaonic tomb? Why did he die at such a young age? British historical novelist Doherty (The Mask of Ra) answers these and other questions in a splendid historical thriller. He skillfully re-creates the political intrigue, the religious controversy and the military exploits of Egypt's 18th Dynasty as he searches for clues to Tut's mysterious death and burial. Some scholars have theorized that Ay, Tut's vice-regent, murdered Tut in order to gain the throne for himself. Others have implicated Tut's wife in a murder plot. Combing through a mountain of archeological evidence, Doherty concludes that Tut likely suffered from Marfan's syndrome, a disease that causes tissues and vital organs to deteriorate, leading to blindness and physical as well as mental weakness. According to Doherty, such a condition would explain why Tut's tomb contains 413 walking sticks and why many of the tomb's drawings portray him as frail and lethargic. Doherty points out that Tut's death gave rise to a hasty and not altogether proper burial because Ay wanted to keep the king's death a secret from Horemheb, the military commander, so that Ay could assume the throne unimpeded. Zestfully told, Doherty's historical reconstruction of Tut's death is a first-rate page-turner. Color photos not seen by PW. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Doherty, who earned his doctorate in history at Oxford, is the author of many historical novels set in ancient Egypt. He now joins Christine El Mahdy (Tutankhamen: The Life and Death of the Boy-King) and Bob Brier (The Murder of Tutankhamen: A True Story) in the realm of speculative history, attempting to reconstruct Egypt's post-Amarna period using the small corpus of often fragmentary inscriptions, decorative temple reliefs, tomb paintings, funerary equipment, and mummies surviving from the 14th century B.C.E. Although displaying a rather embellished style in the prolog and conclusion, Doherty gets down to business in the main five chapters, presenting a highly plausible end-game scenario for the 18th dynasty. After rounding up the usual suspects (Ay, Horemheb, and Ankhesenamun), he rejects Brier's assassination theory as the cause of Tutankhamun's early death and hasty burial, instead suggesting Marfan syndrome, an inherited genetic disorder, as the possible explanation, as well as for the physical abnormalities of his purported father, Akhenaton. Doherty writes in a style accessible to the nonspecialist, starting with a descriptive list of dramatis personae and ending with an annotated bibliography. Recommended for all public libraries. (Illustrations and index not seen.)-Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Pierce, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.