Did King Tutankhamen die of disease that gave him breasts?
London: Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen probably suffered from an inheritable form of temporal lobe epilepsy that gave him abnormally large breasts, according to a leading daily.
Tutankhamen was revered as a living god, and is the most famous of a dynasty that ruled over one of the world`s greatest civilisations.
British surgeon Hutan Ashrafian, however, thinks he could explain the reason for Tutankhamen`s death in his teens, a question that has puzzled historians for decades.
Ashrafian, who works at the Imperial College London, said Tutankhamen and his immediate predecessors all died young and had distinctly "feminine physiques".
The temporal lobe is connected to parts of the brain involved in the release of hormones involved in sexual development, which may explain the development of large breasts.
The Daily Mail said Smenkhkare, a pharaoh believed to have been Tutankhamen`s uncle or older brother, and Akhenaten, thought to be the boy king`s father, are depicted in paintings and sculptures with wide hips and large breasts.
Ashrafian said each pharaoh died at a slightly younger age than his predecessor, which suggests an inherited disorder.
Two pharaohs who came before Akhenaten - Amenhotep III and Tuthmosis IV - also appear to have had similar physiques.
Tutankhamen`s tomb was discovered in 1922, and theories related to his death included murder, snake bite, leprosy, malaria, tuberculosis, sickle-cell anaemia and a chariot accident.
Ashrafian told the Washington Post the pharaohs suffered from an inheritable form of temporal lobe epilepsy, which accounted for their abnormally large breasts, and may also explain why two reportedly experienced "religious visions".
The condition is known to cause hallucinations, particularly after exposure to sunlight, the report said.
Tutankhamen`s mummified body revealed he had a fractured leg which Ashrafian said could have been the result of an epileptic seizure.
Akhenaten experienced powerful visions following which he raised the status of a minor deity called the "sun-disk" or Aten, into a supreme god.
Tuthmosis IV also experienced a religious vision in the middle of a sunny day which was recorded in the "Dream Stele", an inscription discovered near the Sphinx.