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Study examines family lineage of King Tut, his possible cause of death
Date:2/16/2010

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Zahi Hawass, Ph.D., of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Cairo, Egypt, and colleagues conducted a study to determine familial relationships among 11 royal mummies of the New Kingdom, and to search for pathological features attributable to inherited disorders, infectious diseases and blood relationship. They also examined for evidence regarding Tutankhamun's death, with some scholars having hypothesized that it was attributable to an injury; septicemia (bloodstream infection) or fat embolism (release of fat into an artery) secondary to a femur fracture; murder by a blow to the back of the head; or poisoning.

From September 2007 to October 2009, royal mummies underwent detailed anthropological, radiological, and genetic studies (DNA was extracted from 2 to 4 different biopsies per mummy). In addition to Tutankhamun, 10 mummies (circa 1410-1324 B.C.) possibly or definitely closely related in some way to Tutankhamun were chosen; of these, the identities were certain for only 3. In addition to these 11 mummies, 5 other royal individuals dating to the early New Kingdom (circa 1550-1479 B.C.) were selected that were distinct from the supposed members of the Tutankhamun lineage. Most of these 5 mummies were used as a morphological (form and structure) and genetic control group. Genetic fingerprinting allowed the construction of a 5-generation pedigree of Tutankhamun's immediate lineage.

The researchers found that several of the anonymous mummies or those with suspected identities were now able to be addressed by name, which included KV35EL, who is Tiye, mother of the pharaoh Akhenaten and grandmother of Tutankhamun, and the KV55 mummy, who is most probably Akhenaten, father of Tutankhamun. This kinship is supported in that several unique anthropological features are shared by the 2 mummies and that the blood group of both individuals is identical. The researchers identified the KV35YL mummy as likely Tutankhamun's mother.

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Contact: Carsten M. Pusch, Ph.D.
carsten.pusch@uni-tuebingen.de
JAMA and Archives Journals
Source:Eurekalert

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