Foetuses tested for DNA links to Tutankhamun
Thursday 07 August 2008
Egyptian scientists are performing DNA tests on two mummified foetuses found in the tomb of Tutankhamun to determine whether they are the young pharaoh's offspring.
The female foetuses were found in the the king's tomb in Luxor when it was disovered by Howard Carter in 1922. The testing is part of a programme to test the DNA of hundreds of mummies to determine their identities and their family relations.
Tutankhamun's family lineage has long been a source of mystery among Egyptologists. The identity of his parents is not certain, although many experts believe he is the son of the 18th dynasty pharaoh Akhenaten. Others, have suggested he was the son of a less well-known pharaoh.
Scholars believe that at the age of 12, Tutankhamun married Ankhesenamun – a daughter of Akhenaten by his better known wife Nefertiti – but the couple had no surviving children.
Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said that if the foetuses are unrelated to Tutankhamun, they may have been placed in his tomb to allow him to "live as a newborn in the afterlife".
Ashraf Selim, a radiologist and member of the Egyptian team analysing the DNA results, said the tests could take months. So far, the team has carried out CT scans on the two foetuses and taken samples for DNA tests.
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