Everything Midas touched turned to rot

4:04pm, December 11, 2001

Contrary to myth, objects that King Midas touched didn't change into gold. In death, however, his body helped transform his tomb's furnishings in another way, researchers report.

Recently, scientists identified soft-rot fungus as the culprit in the decay of Midas' 2,700-year-old Turkish tomb and its contents, including the king's wooden coffin and the tables used for a feast during his burial (SN: 11/4/00, p. 296: ).

It's unusual for this fungus to flourish in a tomb. Now, Timothy R. Filley of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and his colleagues have found the nutrient sources for the aggressive fungus and discovered that this fuel included the king himself.

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