Mysteries Still Unsolved: King Tutankhamen may, or may not, have been clubfooted

There’s a big debate going on that you might not be aware of in the field of Egyptology, according to New Scientist. It’s about whether or not the boy pharaoh Tutankhamen had a left club foot. As you might guess, one side says yes he did, the other says no he didn’t. What’s lucky is that some of these very same people are in possession of Tutankhamen’s corpse and have sufficient technology to look inside it without even touching it, using things like fMRI and x-ray machines. And they have looked at the king’s left foot and it does indeed appear that it is clubbed. The rub comes with whether what appears to be a congenital clubfoot or if it’s the result of damage done to the corpse in the decades since British explorer Howard Carter first raided his tomb in 1922.
Clubfoot is a birth defect where the tendons and muscles in the calf of the affected leg are underdeveloped. As a result, the foot is allowed to grow at an angle, often to the point where the sole of the foot is turned vertically or even to the point where the positions of it and the top of the foot are switched. It’s idiopathic, says the Mayo Clinic, as we have no idea what causes it. These days we do know that it’s highly treatable without surgery, it sometimes runs in families, that it occurs in about one of every 1,000 births and that women in families with a history of clubfootedness who smokes while pregnant increase the likelihood their children will be born with a clubfoot by 20 times. Of course, mothers in Tutankhamen’s time didn’t know this last part, especially considering that tobacco wasn’t domesticated until about a full thousand years after Tutankhamen lived and its domestication was carried out in North America rather than North Africa.
Researchers in the camp who believe that the clubfoot is really just a damaged foot suspect the damage may have been done sometime in the last couple decades (which makes me, in turn, suspect that it’s an open secret that some Egyptologist in the recent past is known to have handled Tut’s left foot overly roughly but won’t fess up and that’s what’s really going on here). As fortune would have it, there was a set of x-rays taken in 1968 of Tutankhamen. As is typical of Tutankhamen’s effect on the fortune of others, the x-rays are unpublished. Someone remembered they’d seen an x-ray of the left foot published in an obscure book in the late 1970s, but upon inspection that image turned out to be an inverted reproduction of the x-ray of the right foot. The mystery of whether King Tutankhamen was clubfooted continues.
If found to be clubfooted, King Tut would join a fairly accomplished club, as it were. Olympic gold medal figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, actors/comedians Damon Wayans and Dudley Moore, Olympic gold medal soccer player Mia Hamm, 19th-century politician Thaddeus Stevens and football greats Charles Woodson and Troy Aikman all were born with clubfootedness. And last but not least: So, too, was infamous CIA scientist Sidney Gottlieb, who was responsible not only for the MK-ULTRA program, but is also reputed to have created Agent Orange. And that is how King Tut is related to the CIA.
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