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Tutankhamun DNA shows family tree history
A replica of Tutankhamun's mask. Copyright - World Heritage
DNA research has helped to establish a family tree for Tutankhamun

The pharaoh Tutankhamun was discovered in his tomb in Egypt in 1922, by the British archaeologist Howard Carter.

Since then his real identity has remained a mystery.

In recent years the advance in DNA profiling has given hope that the king's family connections could be revealed.

The results of important DNA tests, carried out over the past two years in Cairo, have now been announced at the Tutankhamun Exhibition in Dorchester.

Although Dorset has no direct link to the pharaohs, the exhibition has been in existence for 21 years, and is internationally acclaimed.

It is also one of the few exhibits of its kind, outside of Egypt.

A replica of Tutankhamun's mummy. Copyright - World Heritage
Tutankhamun's mother and father had a sibling relationship

Tim Batty, the General Manager of the exhibition, said: "The research has helped to establish a family tree for Tutankhamun, which is something we didn't really know before."

The report, which is on display in the Tutankhamun Exhibition in Dorchester, traces back to the pharaoh's great grandparents.

Tim said: "It's firmed up some of the things we already suspected.

"It's proved that the mummy in 'Tomb 35' [in the Valley of the Kings - a valley in Egypt where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed for the kings and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom] was Tutankhamun's mother, but archeologically it hasn't been proved who that person was yet.

"The tests have also shown that Tutankhamun's father was buried in 'Tomb 55' - again it still hasn't been proved exactly who this person was, but it has always thought to have been Akhenaten [a pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt, he ruled for 17 years and died in 1336 BC or 1334 BC]."

DNA sequencing has also shown that Tutankhamun's mother and father had a sibling relationship.

Tim said: "Ancient Egyptian relationships are fairly complicated in that there was quite a lot of intermarriage between brothers and sisters.

"Marriage was very different compared to what we know today."

More about disease and possible causes of death have been revealed in the report too.

A replica of Tutankhamun's antechamber [where his tomb was found]
It has now been proved that the pharaoh had malaria when he died

Tim explained: "The cause of death of Tutankhamun has never been known.

"Originally, due to a mark on the back of his skull, it was thought that he had been hit over the head, or had fallen off his chariot and hit his head.

"However a CT scan [brain scan using x-rays] was done about two or three years ago and it was proved that the blow to the back of his head wouldn't have been severe enough to cause death.

"Later a break on his leg was discovered and it was then put forward that septicemia [the presence of bacteria in the blood] may have caused his death, if the break hadn't healed properly.

"That was the current theory until now - it's now been proved through this latest report that he had malaria as well.

"So we're getting a picture of quite a frail king, despite the fact he was young - he was only 19 when he died.

"He obviously had malaria, but whether this is what killed him is yet to be proved.

"It was quite prevalent in those days, because of the marshland near the River Nile [in Egypt], which attracted the mosquitoes - so it would have been possible to live with the disease, but not actually die from it."




SEE ALSO
Timeline: Egypt
03 Aug 11 |  Country profiles

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