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Egypt reveals Tutankhamun's lineage, cause of death

English.news.cn   2010-02-17 22:50:55 FeedbackPrintRSS

CAIRO, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- A DNA study shows Egypt's famed King Tutankhamun who suffered from a club foot died of malaria and that his father was the "heretic" king Akhenaten, Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said on Wednesday.

 
The photo taken on Feb. 17, 2010 shows the mummy of King Tutankhamun's grandmother Queen Tiye displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, capital of Egypt. A DNA study shows Egypt's famed King Tutankhamun who suffered from a club foot died of malaria and that his father was the "heretic" king Akhenaten, Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said on Wednesday. (Xinhua)

Speaking at a press conference, Hawass said two years of DNA testing and CT scans on Tutankhamun's 3,300-year-old mummy and mummies either known or believed to be members of his immdiate family are helping reveal many of the myths surrounding the boy king's lineage and cause of death.

Tutankhamun's father was the "heretic" king, Akhenaten, whose body is now almost certainly identified with the mummy from KV 55 in the Valley of the Kings, said Hawass, secretary general of Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Tut's mother, who still cann't be identified by name, is the " Younger Lady" buried in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV 35), Hawass said, adding that the mummy of the "Elder Lady" from the same tomb can now be conclusively identified as Tutankhamun's grandmother, Queen Tiye.

Tutankhamun died of severe malaria, Hawass said, citing the results of the DNA project carried out by a team of Egyptian scientists on ancient mummies.

"We found evidence from DNA that proves he had very severe malaria," Hawass said.

"He was ill, weak, walked on a cane. When he was 19, and got malaria, he fell, how we don't know, maybe he fell in the bathroom, " he said, adding that "When he fell, and was weak from malaria, he died."

 
The photo taken on Feb. 17, 2010 shows the mummy of King Tutankhamun's mother (front), who still cann't be identified by name, displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, capital of Egypt.  (Xinhua)

According to the CT scan, Tutankhamun's father Akhenaten died at the age between 45 and 55, not at the age between 20 and 25 as previously thought.

In support of this lineage, the DNA study also traces a direct line from Tutankhamun through the KV 55 mummy to Akhenaten's father Amenhotep III.

The DNA testing shows that the mother of the KV 55 mummy is the "Elder Lady" from KV 35. This mummy is the daughter of Yuya and Tjuya, and thus definitively identified as Amenhotep III's great queen Tiye.

"Tutankhamun's only grandparents, on both his paternal and maternal sides, were Amenhotep III and Tiye," Hawass said.

"Two stillborn fetuses were found mummified and hidden away in a chamber of Tutankhamun's tomb. Preliminary DNA analysis supports the Egyptological belief that these were children of the young king's," he said.

This analysis has also suggested a mummy known as KV21A, a royal female whose identity was previously completely unknown, as the most likely mother of these children and thus as Tutankhamun's wife, Ankhsenamun.

No evidence was found for inherited disorders, such as Marfan syndrome and gynecomastia/craniosynostoses syndromes, that have been previously postulated based on representations in Egyptian art, thus the artistic conventions followed by the Amarna period royal family were most likely chosen for religious and political reasons.

Tutankhamun (1341 BC -- 1323 BC) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (ruling during 1333 BC -- 1324 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. His original name, Tutankhaten, means "Living Image of Aten," while Tutankhamun means "Living Image of Amun."

The boy-king's tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922. It sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun's burial mask remains the popular symbol. Exhibits of artifacts from his tomb have toured the world.

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Editor: yan
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