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DNA Taken from King Tut

published  First Published: 16/02/2010
Article written by: Nigel Brookson
King Tutankhamen, the teen aged pharaoh whose Egyptian tomb yielded ancient treasures, probably limped around on tender bones and a club foot and probably died from malaria, researchers said today.
 
There has been much speculation about the fate of the boy king, who died sometime around 1324 BC probably at age 19, since the 1922 discovery of his intact tomb in Egypt's Valley of Kings.
 
DNA Tests performed on 16 royal mummies found four, including Tut, had contracted a severe form of malaria that likely cut short Tut's reign.
 
Scientists, including Zahi Hawass of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, compiled results from genetic and radiological testing performed on the mummies between 2007 and 2009.
The results clarify details about the 155-year-long 18th Dynasty that included Tutankhamen, who inherited the throne at age 11.
 
The scientists speculated Tut was weakened by a broken leg possibly from a fall. That and a malaria infection led to his death they said.
 
Tut was afflicted with a cleft palate, mild clubfoot in his left foot and other bone ailments. He and some family members had a form of Kohler disease, which can cause foot bones to collapse from lack of blood but would not have been fatal.
 
"Tutankhamen had multiple disorders, and some of them might have reached the cumulative character of an inflammatory, immune-suppressive -- and thus weakening -- syndrome. He might be envisioned as a young but frail king who needed canes to walk," Hawass wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association released today.
 
Besides the priceless artifacts found in Tut's tomb, he was also equipped for the afterlife with some 130 canes and staves -- some with signs of wear -- and a enough ancient medicines to stock a pharmacy.
 
The scientists were also fairly certain they identified the mummies belonging to Tut's father, Akhenaten, and his grandmother, Tiye, based on shared blood groups.
 
They shot down speculation that Tut and his forebears had severe abnormalities, ruling out Marfan syndrome and another condition that could have led to enlarged breasts.
 
"It is unlikely that either Tutankhamen or Akhenaten actually displayed a significantly bizarre or feminine physique. It is important to note that ancient Egyptian kings typically had themselves and their families represented in an idealized fashion," Hawass wrote.
 
In the past, the EMP has conducted two further studies on ancient Egyptian mummies.
The first project, which was carried out in 2005, performing a CT-Scan of the mummy of Tutankhamun.
 
The study concluded that the king had died at the age of 19, but that contrary to earlier speculation, had not been murdered by a blow to the back of the head. Egyptian scientists revealed that the hole was created during Dynasty 18 in order to insert mummification liquid.
Scientists also noted that the young king suffered a fracture to his left leg a day or so before his death.
 
The EMPs second project succeeded in identifying the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut from among remains found in KV 60 in the Valley of the Kings.
 
Dr. Zahi Hawass and the scientists involved in the EMPs latest study submitted an article to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), who approved of the studys scientific method.
 
The article will be published on February 17; the same day as the press conference.
 
The study was conducted inside two DNA laboratories which are under the supervision of the Supreme Council of Antiquities; one is located in the basement of the Cairo Museum, and another is in the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University.
These are the only two DNA laboratories exclusively aimed at the study of ancient mummies.
 
 
 

 

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