DNA Detective Work Sheds Light on King Tut's Life, Death
(Feb. 16) --" The most famous of all pharaohs was a frail and sickly king who walked with a cane and suffered from a painful bone disease and a club foot. But it may have been a severe case of malaria that finally killed him, according to groundbreaking new genetic analysis."
"A team of researchers from Egypt, Germany and Italy also developed a definitive family tree for King Tutankhamun, including the identity of his father and grandparents and the two still-born fetuses found in his tomb. The genealogy also confirms that Tut's family waslargely the product of in-breeding."
"Tutankhamun was only 19 when he died, circa 1324 BC, after a nine-year reign over Egypt's New Kingdom. His death marked the end of his family's 200-year rule, which was then replaced by a military regime."
"King Tut may have ultimately died of malaria, according to a new genetic analysis."
"The DNA tests determined that King Tut had a clubbed left foot and no use of his right foot, because he suffered from a lack of blood flow that leads to collapsed bones (avascular necrosis). Those ailments explain why 130 wooden sticks and staffs were found in his tomb."
The conditions would have weakened his body and immune system, but they wouldn't have been enough to kill him. Rather, the team suspects that Tut sustained a fall -- which explains the head trauma and broken leg discovered in a 1968 X-ray -- and succumbed to a serious malarial infection.
"Everybody knows the golden mask, but his was not an easy, glamorous life."
"Until the latest tests were performed, the king's lineage also was widely disputed. These tests confirm that his father was Akhenaten, a revolutionary pharaoh known for introducing monotheistic religion. Tut's mother, whom many speculate was Queen Nefertiti, remains unidentified -- still known as Mummy KV35YL."
"DNA analysis has yet to identify KV35YL but did conclude that the unnamed mummy is the sister of Akhenaten, as well as his mating partner."
"Some also speculated that Queen Tiye, a wife of Akhenaten whose body was also embalmed alongside Tut's, was the young pharaoh's mother. In fact, the tests revealed, she was his grandmother."
"The two still-born bodies in Tut's tomb, once thought to have been his half-siblings, have been identified as his children."
"...a long history of in-breeding might be responsible for the premature deaths of Tut's offspring."
"In-breeding in successive generations reduces genetic fitness. This would also explain many of Tut's own physical ailments, which might be caused by the sibling relationship between his mother and father."
"Knowing the secrets of King Tut's life, lineage and death lends a new perspective to royal life in Ancient Egypt,.....'Not very royal, is it?' "