DNA tests to prove King Tut's royalty

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Experts have announced they are to carry out DNA tests on two famed mummies to try to solve the centuries-old mystery of whether Egypt's King Tut had truly been the rightful blood heir of ruling pharaohs.

Experts have announced they are to carry out DNA tests on two famed mummies to try to solve the centuries-old mystery of whether Egypt's King Tut had truly been the rightful blood heir of ruling pharaohs.

Comparing Tut's ancient DNA with that of the pharaoh traditionally held to be his grandfather should answer the question of whether the boy-king really was of royal stock, said Gaballah Ali Gaballah, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

"This riddle has gone on for a long time. Probably DNA is the last resort to end it," Gaballah said.

Tutankhamun ruled Egypt 3,300 years ago, reigning from about age 8 to his death at 17. The boy-king is thought to have succeeded Amenhotep IV, better-known as Akhenaten, and official policy at the time associated Tut by blood to the great pharaoh.

Many Egyptologists question whether Akhenaten really did father Tutankhamun, although they widely agree that the boy-king had some sort of royal lineage.

Gaballah said the tests will be conducted by a team from Waseda University in Japan and Cairo's Ein Shams University. The experts plan to compare DNA from Tutankhamun's mummy to that of Amenhotep III, whose mummy is exhibited at the Egyptian museum in Cairo.

Amenhotep III is believed to have been Akhenaten's father. That would make him Tutankhamun's grandfather.

A general named Horemheb largely ran the country during Tut's reign. He and other generals were known to claim royal blood.

DNA testing on mummies in general could help answer a number of unknowns about ancient Egypt - proving information on matters such as family relations, marriage patterns and mixing of ethnic groups.

Some archaeologists caution that DNA testing has not yet proved very successful in archaeology, however. They warn against over-reliance on it to determine historical facts.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities' chief archaeologist in Upper Egypt, Sabri Abdel-Aziz, said the first test will be carried out at Tut's tomb in the Valley of Kings on December 12. The test requires only a few hours' closing of the tomb, one of the most frequently visited attractions in Egypt.

The tomb was discovered virtually intact by Briton Howard Carter in 1922. Its treasures provided invaluable insight into Egyptian ancient history.

The Valley of the Kings is a deep cleft in limestone hills near the southern city of Luxor. The region was favored as a burial ground for rulers, royals and hundreds of officials of the New Kingdom, which lasted from 1,550 BC to 1,070 BC.

Comments