To the Editor: Based on computed tomography (CT), the study of King Tutankhamun's family by Dr Hawass and colleagues1 purported an age of 35 to 45 years for the KV55 male (Table 1), older than previously thought. Prior studies that refute this claim were dismissed and no substantiation for a much older age range was given in the text or online content.
The KV55 skeletal remains were thoroughly analyzed after their 1907 discovery by Sir Grafton Elliot Smith,2 who estimated an age of 25 to 26 years based on direct observation of epiphyseal union throughout the skeleton. Re-examination by Ronald Harrison and Ahmed el Batrawi in 1963 augmented macroscopic examination with radiographs to ascertain the degree of fusion in some bones and assessed morphology of the right pubic symphysis to derive an age of 20 years at death.3 Both anatomists reported that the epiphyses of the medial clavicle; heads and tubercles of some ribs; and the inferior epiphyses of the fourth and fifth cervical, fourth thoracic, and superior fifth thoracic vertebrae are unfused, while the iliac crests and most rib epiphyses are partially fused, cranial sutures are entirely open, and the right maxillary third molar is not fully erupted (although the others are). These observations indicate an age range of 18 to 23 years. Further documentation, including union of all scapular epiphyses except the vertebral border, confirms this range.3