UPDATE: The Feb. 2010 Press release from Dr. Hawass on this subject is available by clicking HERE.
Dear Readers: The world of Egyptology is abuzz with news that the results of some preliminary analytical data are in for the famous King Tutankhamen. I have also been following dialog from professional Egyptologists and very informed amateurs regarding the data, and have taken the liberty of summarizing what is currently known as of February 2010. It is truly amazing how far DNA science has come in the past few years that key secrets regarding Egypt’s royal past are now being revealed.
The first piece comes from Newsweek: Begley — King Tut’s DNA Reveals a More Manly Pharaoh.
….. results emerge from what the researchers call “molecular Egyptology,” in this case an analysis of DNA extracted from the bones of 11 royal mummies of the New Kingdom. The scientists took two to four DNA samples from each mummy, including Tut, who died at age 19 in about 1324 B.C., the 10th year of his reign. Comparing the genetic fingerprints allowed them to identify one previously unknown mummy as Queen Tiye, mother of the pharaoh Akhenaten and grandmother of Tutankhamen, another as Akhenaten (Tut’s father) himself, and a third as Tutankhamen’s mother, the researchers are reporting in tomorrow’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Maraianne Luban offers some additional insights related to the other members of the boy king’s famous clan, and provides a link to this piece — Tutankhamun’s parents identified. She notes:
(The above link) : It mentions the German and Austrian co-authors (Albert Zink >and Carsten Pusch), calling them “heads of the team of scientists”. “(..) The mummy of the so-called “Younger Lady” (..) appears to Nefertiti.(..)
They know the path to the identification and, while, the JAMA paper claims this couldn’t be achieved, another source says it’s already been done. Joyce Tyldesley seemed to be quite familiar with the DNA work of Scott Woodward and his BYU team and mentions it several times in her 2000 book, “The Private Lives of the Pharaohs”, which corresponded to a TV documentary by the same name with Woodward et al. On page 143 she writes: “While it has not been possible to extract a genetic profile for the smaller foetus, the larger baby has yielded a mitochondrial DNA sequence through which the scientists may be able to trace the maternal DNA of Ankhesenamen and her mother, Nefertiti.”
There is one more possibility that would make the “Younger Lady” have the same DNA as any daughter of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye [and therefore appear a full sister to the KV55 person] and that is if Amenhotep III had a daughter with a full sister of Tiye.
While there is no such person, historically, it is perfectly possible for a king of Egypt to have married another daughter of Yuya and Thuya after Tiye, who always remained his chief queen. That scenario is no more clumsy than trying to find a full sister for Akhenaten with whom he could have had Tutankhamun. Akhenaten is seen with Nefertiti from his earliest days as king. There is a briefly attested secondary wife, Kiya, but she is no more styled “king’s daughter” than Nefertiti. On the other hand, once Ankhesenamun became the wife of Tutankhamun, she is not styled “king’s daughter”, either, even though we know she really was one. Her attestations are few, as well. As for Smenkhkare, if he was a full brother of Akhenaten [with the same DNA] and he was married to Meritaten, who would only have the same DNA as he if both her parents had the same–if this couple engendered Tutankhamun. There is also Baketaten, but she is shown as a child at Amarna, and some people have postulated her as a daughter of Akhenaten and not his sister, as she is not styled “snt nsw” but “sAt nsw”.
As for the parentage of Nefertiti, it is never mentioned anywhere to my knowledge. Some have believed Ay to be her father but that was not written in his commoner tomb at Amarna. The only thing that is pertinent there is that Ay’s wife, Tey, was a “nurse of
the goddess”, meaning Nefertiti. Meanwhile, Akhenaten and Nefertiti identified themselves with Shu and Tefnut, siblings who sprang from Ra and formed a kind of “Holy Trinity” with him. This was Akhenaten’s version of “sA ra” and part of his kingly formula. This never occurred to me previously, but the notion of he and Nefertiti as Shu and Tefnut would have fallen rather flat had she been only the offspring of commoners.
DNA analysis sheds light on the lineage of the world-famous mummy from the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.
Geoffrey Watson has further analysis to offer one one of the key debating points in Egyptology: If the mummy found in KV55 is Smenkhkare (a suggested co-ruler with the heretic Akhenaten for a brief time) or the controversial Akhenaten himself:
For the moment we must assume that the DNA is correct. This shows that Amenhotep III could not have been Tutankhamun’s father. In two of the 8 markers the former has neither of marker alleles found in Tutankhamun.
So what if we assume that Tutankhamun’s (abbrev. to T) father was Akhenaten?
The DNA data gives a full match for T’s father/mother being KV55/KV35L. True this “only” shows a relationship, but it shows that KV55 was as closely related to T as T’s own father. So the simplest solution is that KV55=Akhenaten.
I have done some “back-of-the-envelope” Mendelian calculations on the possibility that another son of Amenhotep III and Tiye could have actually been T’s father, which would allow the attribution of KV55 to Smekhkare and Akhenaten to the other brother (B2) who was actually T’s father.
I examined two possibilities:
1. That B2 (not KV55) was married to KV35YL and that they were T’s parents – but there was only a probability of 1.3% of another brother fulfilling this condition.
2. That we make no assumption about B2’s wife, only that B2 was the father of T. This had a probability of 8.7%, but each candidate B2 would impose restrictions on the genotype of his possible wives. This would doubtless reduce the probability. The relationships in the known tree are so tight that I would be surprised if we didn’t again need a sister to fulfill the restrictions on the wife’s genotype in these cases as well. So we would have 2 brothers and 2 sisters who could pair off with each other so either pair could have been the parents of Tutankhamun.
Sorry this is confusing, but my impression is that unless the data is wrong, KV55=Akhenaten looks a pretty good bet (although anything is possible).
Related to Watson’s comments above, the Discovery Channel has video: King Tut Unwrapped: King Tut’s Paternal Line: A DNA test confirms that the unidentified mummy from KV55 is a genetic match with Amenhotep III and thus must be his son Akhenaton, the likely father of Tutankhamun. The Discovery Channel also has a discussion of the the mummy (the “Younger Woman” of KV35) reported to be King Tutankhamen’s mother: King Tut Unwrapped: Maternal DNA Match.
(KV35 Younger Woman)
I am delighted that Dr. Zawi Hawass and the rest of his team agreed to utilize the new technologies associated with DNA analysis to pursue the answers to questions that have plagued Egyptologists since the dawn of that science. Years ago, it was feared such analysis would be too destructive to the mummies. Now, it will be wonderful to have firm identities to go along with the cherished royal mummies. I really will have to figure out a way to do a multi-million dollar children’s book series on all of this!
Now, for the bonus material. It seems the recent scientific analysis also indicates that King Tutankhamen may have suffered from malaria (which may have weakened him, leading to death after a leg fracture). Also from the above-lined Newsweek article (The Discovery Channel video on this subject can be found by clicking HERE).
The DNA analysis also turned up genes specific to Plasmodium falciparum, the malaria parasite, in Tut and three other mummies. The scientists, led by the colorful and controversial Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, infer that Tut suffered from avascular bone necrosis, a condition in which poor blood supply weakens or destroys an area of bone, plus malaria—a fatal combination. Tut’s tomb contained canes and what the scientists call “an afterlife pharmacy,” supporting the idea that he suffered from a condition that hobbled him.
Related to malaria, Dr. Zero has a superb post on the horrendous malaria situation in Africa as it related to eco-tyranny, snake-oil science, and unintended consequences. It is entitled The Green Death, and is essential reading. The Money Quotes:
Published in 1962, Silent Spring used manipulated data and wildly exaggerated claims (sound familiar?) to push for a worldwide ban on the pesticide known as DDT – which is, to this day, the most effective weapon against malarial mosquitoes. The Environmental Protection Agency held extensive hearings after the uproar produced by this book… and these hearings concluded that DDT should not be banned. A few months after the hearings ended, EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus over-ruled his own agency and banned DDT anyway, in what he later admitted was a “political” decision. Threats to withhold American foreign aid swiftly spread the ban across the world.
The resulting explosion of mosquito-borne malaria in Africa has claimed over sixty million lives. This was not a gradual process – a surge of infection and death happened almost immediately. The use of DDT reduces the spread of mosquito-borne malaria by fifty to eighty percent, so its discontinuation quickly produced an explosion of crippling and fatal illness. The same environmental movement which has been falsifying data, suppressing dissent, and reading tea leaves to support the global-warming fraud has studiously ignored this blood-drenched “hockey stick” for decades.
MUT NOTE: The Discovery Channel will be having a special on this new information. Entitled King Tut Unwrapped – The truth about King Tut is finally revealed- using the latest science and investigative techniques, it will air on Sunday Feb. 21 (check the DC website to determine the air time for your area).
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