Using several scientific methods, including analyzing DNA from royal mummies, research findings suggest that malaria and bone abnormalities appear to have contributed to the death of Egyptian pharaoh King Tutankhamun, with other results appearing to identify members of the royal family, including King Tut's father and mother, according to a study in the February 17 issue of JAMA.
The 18th dynasty (circa 1550-1295 B.C.) of the New Kingdom was one of the most powerful royal houses of ancient Egypt, and included the reign of Tutankhamun, probably the most famous of all pharaohs, although his tenure was brief. He died in the ninth year of his reign, circa 1324 B.C., at age 19 years. "Little was known of Tutankhamun and his ancestry prior to Howard Carter's discovery of his intact tomb (KV62) in the Valley of the Kings in 1922, but his mummy and the priceless treasures buried with him, along with other important archeological discoveries of the 20th century, have provided significant information about the boy pharaoh's life and family," the authors write.
Because Tutankhamun died so young, and left no heirs, there have been numerous speculations regarding diseases that may have occurred in his family, as well as debate regarding the cause of Tutankhamun's death. Also, artifacts have shown the royalty of that era as having a somewhat feminized or androgynous appearance. Diseases that have been suggested to explain this appearance include a form of gynecomastia (excessive development of the breasts in males; usually the result of a hormonal imbalance), Marfan syndrome and others. "However, most of the disease diagnoses are hypotheses derived by observing and interpreting artifacts and not by evaluating the mummified remains of royal individuals apart from these artifacts," they write. There have also been questions regarding the identification of a number of royal mummies from this era and the exact relationships between some members of the ro
|Contact: Carsten M. Pusch, Ph.D.|
JAMA and Archives Journals