Egypt will soon reveal the results of DNA tests made on the world's most famous ancient king, the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun, to answer lingering mysteries over his lineage, the antiquities department said.
Speaking at a conference, archaeology chief Zahi Hawass said he would announce the results of the DNA tests and the CAT scans on February 17. The results will be compared to those made of King Amenhotep III, who may have been Tutankamun's grandfather.
The effort is part of a wider program to check the DNA of hundreds of mummies to determine their identities and family relations. The programme could help determine Tutankhamun's family lineage, which has long been a source of mystery.
The identity of Tut's parents is not firmly known. Many experts believe he is the son of Akhenaten, the 18th Dynasty pharaoh who tried to introduce monotheism to ancient Egypt almost 3,500 years ago, and one of Akhenaten's queens, Kiya. But others have suggested he was the son of a lesser known pharaoh who followed Akhenaten.
Tutankhamun was one of the last kings of Egypt's 18th Dynasty and ruled during a crucial, turmoil-filled period when Akhenaten's monotheism was ended and powers were returned to the priests of ancient Egypt's multiple deities.
Hawass has announced ambitious plans for DNA tests on Egyptian mummies, including tests on all royal mummies and the nearly two dozen unidentified ones stored in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. He has said the tests may show that some royal mummies on display are not who archaeologists thought them to be.
One of his top goals is to find the mummy of Nefertiti, Akhenaten's wife, the queen legendary for her beauty.
Hawass has long rejected DNA testing on Egyptian mummies by foreign experts, and only recently allowed such projects on condition they be done exclusively by Egyptians. A US$5 million DNA lab was created at the Egyptian Museum, with funding from the Discovery Channel.
The statement also said a robot would be sent into the Great Pyramid of Khufu to discover the secrets of its hidden passageways.
In a widely publicized television show in September 2002, a robot designed by National Geographic explored some air shafts in the pyramid of Khufu, discovering secret doors with copper handles.
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