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Archaeology & History

Did Tutankhamun suffer from epilepsy ?

By T.K. Randall
September 7, 2012 · Comment icon 91 comments



Image Credit: Jon Bodsworth
Hutan Ashrafian believes that the young pharoah's family may have all suffered from the condition.
Tutankhamun and several male members of his family exhibited unusual feminine features and died mysterious early deaths with each dying slightly younger than their predecessor. This, coupled with stories that some members of the family had experienced hallucinations and strong religious visions has lead Dr. Ashrafian to the possibility that they had all suffered from a form of hereditary epilepsy. A seizure may also explain how Tutankhamun fractured his leg.

"People with temporal lobe epilepsy who are exposed to sunlight get the same sort of stimulation to the mind and religious zeal," said Ashrafian. Medical historians have found the theory compelling, however with no genetic test available for epilepsy the idea will have to remain speculative for the time being.[!gad]Tutankhamun and several male members of his family exhibited unusual feminine features and died mysterious early deaths with each dying slightly younger than their predecessor. This, coupled with stories that some members of the family had experienced hallucinations and strong religious visions has lead Dr. Ashrafian to the possibility that they had all suffered from a form of hereditary epilepsy. A seizure may also explain how Tutankhamun fractured his leg.

"People with temporal lobe epilepsy who are exposed to sunlight get the same sort of stimulation to the mind and religious zeal," said Ashrafian. Medical historians have found the theory compelling, however with no genetic test available for epilepsy the idea will have to remain speculative for the time being.
Tutankhamun's mysterious death as a teenager may finally have been explained. And the condition that cut short his life may also have triggered the earliest monotheistic religion, suggests a new review of his family history.


Source: New Scientist | Comments (91)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #82 Posted by Harsh86_Patel 10 years ago
I certainly haven't dated the myths that way. Scholars in Hellenistic studies have determined this. I can't quote sources and page numbers off the top of my head (I'm at work) but I would recommend papers and other literature written by experts like Kenneth Harl. I've learned from them. Ask yourself objectively: How would Greeks have known of the subcontinent of India prior to the time of Alexander? Very few Greeks had even been that far east, aside from the occasional few in the employ of the Persian empire. Heredotus' "world map" is a good example: Herodotus was more worldly and educated tha... [More]
Comment icon #83 Posted by Antilles 10 years ago
Akhnaten was not a monotheist if you want to be strict in the use of the term. He did not believe in only one god, he just believed that Ra was superior to all others and he'd really prefer it if you forgot about them. Tut was a pawn I think and very much in the hands of the priests of Amun. He was not a monotheist either. As to his death, I think the broken leg and infection would be the likely cause.
Comment icon #84 Posted by Harsh86_Patel 10 years ago
Akhnaten was not a monotheist if you want to be strict in the use of the term. He did not believe in only one god, he just believed that Ra was superior to all others and he'd really prefer it if you forgot about them. Tut was a pawn I think and very much in the hands of the priests of Amun. He was not a monotheist either. As to his death, I think the broken leg and infection would be the likely cause. Monotheism was born in India where a superlative consciousness called brhman is considered God,the pantheon and various other Gods in Hinduism are manifestations of 'Brhman'(not to be confused w... [More]
Comment icon #85 Posted by Atentutankh-pasheri 10 years ago
The term henotheist has been used by some to describe Akhenaten, yet IMO, this only describes what would have been a transitory phase between belief in the traditional Egyptian pantheon, and belief in Aten as "God". There just isn't enough evidence to come to any definitive conclusion about what he actually believed, we all have our own theories about him, that sometimes coincide, and sometimes most certainly do not. I think that he was a genuine monotheist, believing that Aten was God and, that Ra-Horakhty/Atum etc, were simply manifestations of Aten, much as Christianity has it's trinity of ... [More]
Comment icon #86 Posted by kmt_sesh 10 years ago
You asked a question and yourself provided the answer.Greeks could have known India through travellers/greek scholars employed by Persians,we can also not deny that there could have been contact between the two culture even centuries before Aristotle and hence the myths of Heracles (hari coolesh?) and dionysis (Shiva like deity?)travelling to the East,the Seuz canal not being silted could have provided the access route for seafarers from IVC to the Agean and vica versa,there is geological evidence to suggest that the seuz canal was not silted up in the past. The Greeks in the employ of the Per... [More]
Comment icon #87 Posted by Harsh86_Patel 10 years ago
The Greeks in the employ of the Persians were not travelers or scholars, they were mercenaries. While we can say with certainty that the early Persian rulers dominated and interacted with Indic peoples in the Hindu-Kush, my previous statements about some Greek mercenaries going as far as the Hindu Kush was just thatómy own statement, not a statement of historical fact. I was only speculating, in other words. I'm not sure how much veracity my statement would have, anyway. Greek mercenaries in the employ of Persia were not common until the end of the fifth century BCE, anyway. This was following... [More]
Comment icon #88 Posted by Clobhair-cean 10 years ago
Please note, dear readers, that here Harsh is claiming that the Asuras are associated with the Zoroastrians/Persians. In a previous thread, he said that they were the Mayans.
Comment icon #89 Posted by Harsh86_Patel 10 years ago
Please note, dear readers, that here Harsh is claiming that the Asuras are associated with the Zoroastrians/Persians. In a previous thread, he said that they were the Mayans. Please not everybody that i said the Mayans followed Venus to map their calender and the Indians followed Jupiter to map their calender.And also the vedas mentioned that the Asuras followed shukracharya (venus) and the Daevas followe Brihaspati (Jupiter).Never claimed that the Zorastrians are Asura's,only said that they worshipped Asuras and detested Daevas.But Clob can't seem to understand simple statements,there are sti... [More]
Comment icon #90 Posted by Atentutankh-pasheri 10 years ago
And what does Tutankhaton say about such matters? Well, I shall ask my brother when my crystal ball has been fixed by a ritual cleansing in the blood of a sacrificial victim. Long time I slept in my great great grandfather's tomb. Last I remembered before I fell asleep was some nonsense happening with my uncle, who sadly seemed to have gone mad and thought that the Aten was GOD, and not simply the physical manifestation of Ra-Horakhty, who sits behind Aten and is himself simply an avatar in the physical universe of the Great Mystery. Now, 1,400 years later, I see not much has changed. Well, wh... [More]
Comment icon #91 Posted by Harsh86_Patel 10 years ago
And what does Tutankhaton say about such matters? Well, I shall ask my brother when my crystal ball has been fixed by a ritual cleansing in the blood of a sacrificial victim. Long time I slept in my great great grandfather's tomb. Last I remembered before I fell asleep was some nonsense happening with my uncle, who sadly seemed to have gone mad and thought that the Aten was GOD, and not simply the physical manifestation of Ra-Horakhty, who sits behind Aten and is himself simply an avatar in the physical universe of the Great Mystery. Now, 1,400 years later, I see not much has changed. Well, wh... [More]


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