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

>No signs of gynecomastia or Marfan syndrome were found. "Therefore, the particular artistic presentation of persons in the Amarna period is confirmed as a royally decreed style most probably related to the religious reforms of Akhenaten. It is unlikely that either Tutankhamun or Akhenaten actually displayed a significantly bizarre or feminine physique. It is important to note that ancient Egyptian kings typically had themselves and their families represented in an idealized fashion," they write.

The researchers did find an accumulation of malformations in Tutankhamun's family. "Several pathologies including Kohler disease II [bone disorder] were diagnosed in Tutankhamun; none alone would have caused death. Genetic testing for STEVOR, AMA1, or MSP1 genes specific for Plasmodium falciparum [the malaria parasite] revealed indications of malaria tropica in 4 mummies, including Tutankhamun's. These results suggest avascular bone necrosis [condition in which the poor blood supply to the bone leads to weakening or destruction of an area of bone] in conjunction with the malarial infection as the most likely cause of death in Tutankhamun. Walking impairment and malarial disease sustained by Tutankhamun is supported by the discovery of canes and an afterlife pharmacy in his tomb," the authors write. They add that a sudden leg fracture, possibly from a fall, might have resulted in a life-threatening condition when a malaria infection occurred.

"In conclusion, this study suggests a new approach to research into the molecular genealogy and pathogen paleogenomics of the Pharaonic era. With additional data, a scientific discipline called molecular Egyptology might be established and consolidated, thereby merging natural sciences, life sciences, cultural sciences, humanities, medicine, and other fields."

(JAMA. 2010;303[7]:638-647. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org)


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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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