Tutanhkamun Shabti
Zahi Hawass wrote in National Geographic, To answer questions about Tutankhamun and his family “we decided to analyze Tutankhamun's DNA, along with that of ten other mummies suspected to be members of his immediate family. In the past I had been against genetic studies of royal mummies. The chance of obtaining workable samples while avoiding contamination from modern DNA seemed too small to justify disturbing these sacred remains. But in 2008 several geneticists convinced me that the field had advanced far enough to give us a good chance of getting useful results. We set up two state-of-the-art DNA-sequencing labs, one in the basement of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the other at the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University. The research would be led by Egyptian scientists: Yehia Gad and Somaia Ismail from the National Research Center in Cairo. We also decided to carry out CT scans of all the mummies, under the direction of Ashraf Selim and Sahar Saleem of the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University. Three international experts served as consultants: Carsten Pusch of the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Germany; Albert Zink of the EURAC-Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy; and Paul Gostner of the Central Hospital Bolzano. [Source: Zahi Hawass, National Geographic, September 2010]

The identities of four of the mummies were known. These included Tutankhamun himself, still in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings, and three mummies on display at the Egyptian Museum: Amenhotep III, and Yuya and Tuyu, the parents of Amenhotep III's great queen, Tiye. Among the unidentified mummies was a male found in a mysterious tomb in the Valley of the Kings known as KV55. Archaeological and textual evidence suggested this mummy was most likely Akhenaten or Smenkhkare.

Our search for Tutankhamun's mother and wife focused on four unidentified females. Two of these, nicknamed the "Elder Lady" and the "Younger Lady," had been discovered in 1898, unwrapped and casually laid on the floor of a side chamber in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35), evidently hidden there by priests after the end of the New Kingdom, around 1000 B.C. The other two anonymous females were from a small tomb (KV21) in the Valley of the Kings. The architecture of this tomb suggests a date in the 18th dynasty, and both mummies hold their left fist against their chest in what is generally interpreted as a queenly pose.

Finally, we would attempt to obtain DNA from the fetuses in Tutankhamun's tomb — not a promising prospect given the extremely poor condition of these mummies. But if we succeeded, we might be able to fill in the missing pieces to a royal puzzle extending over five generations.

To obtain workable samples, the geneticists extracted tissue from several different locations in each mummy, always from deep within the bone, where there was no chance the specimen would be contaminated by the DNA of previous archaeologists — or of the Egyptian priests who had performed the mummification. Extreme care was also taken to avoid any contamination by the researchers themselves. After the samples were extracted, the DNA had to be separated from unwanted substances, including the unguents and resins the priests had used to preserve the bodies. Since the embalming material varied with each mummy, so did the steps needed to purify the DNA. In each case the fragile material could be destroyed at every step.

At the center of the study was Tutankhamun himself. If the extraction and isolation succeeded, his DNA would be captured in a clear liquid solution, ready to be analyzed. To our dismay, however, the initial solutions turned out a murky black. Six months of hard work were required to figure out how to remove the contaminant — some still unidentified product of the mummification process — and obtain a sample ready for amplifying and sequencing.

Websites on Ancient Egypt: UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, escholarship.org ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Egypt sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Discovering Egypt discoveringegypt.com; BBC History: Egyptians bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians ; Ancient History Encyclopedia on Egypt ancient.eu/egypt; Digital Egypt for Universities. Scholarly treatment with broad coverage and cross references (internal and external). Artifacts used extensively to illustrate topics. ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt ; British Museum: Ancient Egypt ancientegypt.co.uk; Egypt’s Golden Empire pbs.org/empires/egypt; Metropolitan Museum of Art www.metmuseum.org ; Oriental Institute Ancient Egypt (Egypt and Sudan) Projects ; Egyptian Antiquities at the Louvre in Paris louvre.fr/en/departments/egyptian-antiquities; KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt kmtjournal.com; Ancient Egypt Magazine ancientegyptmagazine.co.uk; Egypt Exploration Society ees.ac.uk ; Amarna Project amarnaproject.com; Egyptian Study Society, Denver egyptianstudysociety.com; The Ancient Egypt Site ancient-egypt.org; Abzu: Guide to Resources for the Study of the Ancient Near East etana.org; Egyptology Resources fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk

Checking Tutankhamun’s DNA

Getting a sample from a mummy's tooth for DNA testing

Matthew Shaer wrote in Smithsonian Magazine: “Hawass followed up the CT scans with a DNA test of the pharaoh and all the royals that might be related to him. For help, he turned to Yehia Gad, a molecular geneticist at the National Research Centre, in Cairo...In February of 2008, Hawass, Gad, a molecular geneticist named Somaia Ismail and a TV crew from the Discovery Channel, which was funding the study, traveled to Luxor to obtain samples from the mummy. Hawass stipulated that Gad, not any of the visiting scientists, would take the samples. “It’s our country,” Gad recalled to me. “Our ancestry. It made sense that it should be an Egyptian.” [Source: Matthew Shaer, Smithsonian Magazine, December 2014 ~~]

“With the TV team close behind, Hawass’ delegation descended into the burial chamber of tomb KV62. The mummy lay faceup, staring at the murals that swirled across the ceiling. Over the next three hours, using a green-handled biopsy needle, his face hidden by a green mask, Gad painstakingly removed the samples from inside the leg bones. The samples were packed in a sealed container, and Ismail and Gad took it by plane to Cairo. (“I’m absolutely sure I didn’t have one easy breath the entire flight,” Gad told me.) In the capital a multinational team of scientists set about extracting DNA from the samples and comparing it with DNA from ten other purportedly royal mummies. Among them were two unidentified female mummies found in the Valley of the Kings in tomb KV35, and a male mummy, found nearby in tomb KV55, that many believed belonged to Akhenaten, the so-called “heretic king” and the husband of Nefertiti. ~~

“Labs at the Egyptian Museum and Cairo University’s medical school processed the DNA. And two outside scientists—Carsten Pusch, of the University of Tübingen, and Albert Zink, of the EURAC-Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, in Italy—oversaw the study. Hawass’ announcement of the findings in February 2010 coincided with the Discovery Channel’s documentary and a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA. The science was clear, Hawass said: There was almost a hundred percent chance that the male mummy in KV55—the mummy believed to be Akhenaten—was the father of Tutankhamun. The mother, meanwhile, was almost certainly one of the two females in tomb KV35—a woman, the tests showed, who appeared to be Akhenaten’s sister. In other words, Tutankhamun was the product of incest.” ~~

Discovering King Tut’s Father and Mother from the Study of the DNA Study

Tutankhamun and his wife
Zahi Hawass wrote in National Geographic, “After we had obtained DNA as well from the three other male mummies in the sample — Yuya, Amenhotep III, and the mysterious KV55 — we set out to clarify the identity of Tutankhamun's father. On this critical issue the archaeological record was ambiguous. In several inscriptions from his reign, Tutankhamun refers to Amenhotep III as his father, but this cannot be taken as conclusive, since the term used could also be interpreted to mean "grandfather" or "ancestor." Also, according to the generally accepted chronology, Amenhotep III died about a decade before Tutankhamun was born. [Source: Zahi Hawass, National Geographic, September 2010]

Many scholars believe that his father was instead Akhenaten. Supporting this view is a broken limestone block found near Amarna that bears inscriptions calling both Tutankhaten and Ankhesenpaaten beloved children of the king. Since we know that Ankhesenpaaten was the daughter of Akhenaten, it follows that Tut’ankhaten (later Tutankhamun) was his son. Not all scholars find this evidence convincing, however, and some have argued that Tutankhamun's father was in fact the mysterious Smenkhkare. I always favored Akhenaten myself, but it was only a theory.

Once the mummies' DNA was isolated, it was a fairly simple matter to compare the Y chromosomes of Amenhotep III, KV55, and Tutankhamun and see that they were indeed related. (Related males share the same pattern of DNA in their Y chromosome, since this part of a male's genome is inherited directly from his father.) But to clarify their precise relationship required a more sophisticated kind of genetic fingerprinting. Along the chromosomes in our genomes there are specific known regions where the pattern of DNA letters — the A's, T's, G's, and C's that make up our genetic code — varies greatly between one person and another. These variations amount to different numbers of repeated sequences of the same few letters. Where one person might have a sequence of letters repeated ten times, for instance, another unrelated person might have the same sequence stuttered 15 times, a third person 20, and so on. A match between ten of these highly variable regions is enough for the FBI to conclude that the DNA left at a crime scene and that of a suspect might be one and the same.

Reuniting the members of a family separated 3,300 years ago requires a little less stringency than the standards needed to solve a crime. By comparing just eight of these variable regions, our team was able to establish with a probability of better than 99.99 percent that Amenhotep III was the father of the individual in KV55, who was in turn the father of Tutankhamun.

DNA of King Tut and His Family

We now knew we had the body of Tut's father — but we still did not know for certain who he was. Our chief suspects were Akhenaten and Smenkhkare. The KV55 tomb contained a cache of material thought to have been brought by Tutankhamun to Thebes from Amarna, where Akhenaten (and perhaps Smenkhkare) had been buried. Though the coffin's cartouches — oval rings containing the pharaoh's names — had been chiseled off, the coffin bore epithets associated only with Akhenaten himself. But not all the evidence pointed to Akhenaten. Most forensic analyses had concluded that the body inside was that of a man no older than 25 — too young to be Akhenaten, who seems to have sired two daughters before beginning his 17-year reign. Most scholars thus suspected the mummy was instead the shadowy pharaoh Smenkhkare.

Now a new witness could be called on to help resolve this mystery. The so-called Elder Lady (KV35EL) mummy is lovely even in death, with long reddish hair falling across her shoulders. A strand of this hair had previously been matched morphologically to a lock of hair buried within a nest of miniature coffins in Tut’ankhamun's tomb, inscribed with the name of Queen Tiye, wife of Amenhotep III — and mother of Akhenaten. By comparing the DNA of the Elder Lady with that from the mummies of Tiye's known parents, Yuya and Tuyu, we confirmed that the Elder Lady was indeed Tiye. Now she could testify whether the KV55 mummy was indeed her son.

Much to our delight, the comparison of their DNA proved the relationship. New CT scans of the KV55 mummy also revealed an age-related degeneration in the spine and osteoarthritis in the knees and legs. It appeared that he had died closer to the age of 40 than 25, as originally thought. With the age discrepancy thus resolved, we could conclude that the KV55 mummy, the son of Amenhotep III and Tiye and the father of Tutankhamun, is almost certainly Akhenaten. (Since we know so little about Smenkhkare, he cannot be completely ruled out.)

Our renewed CT scanning of the mummies also put to rest the notion that the family suffered from some congenital disease, such as Marfan syndrome, that might explain the elongated faces and feminized appearance seen in the art from the Amarna period. No such pathologies were found. Akhenaten's androgynous depiction in the art would seem instead to be a stylistic reflection of his identification with the god Aten, who was both male and female and thus the source of all life.

Tutankhamun's most probable genetic lineage

And what of Tutankhamun's mother? To our surprise, the DNA of the so-called Younger Lady (KV35YL), found lying beside Tiye in the alcove of KV35, matched that of the boy king. More amazing still, her DNA proved that, like Akhenaten, she was the daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye. Akhenaten had conceived a son with his own sister. Their child would be known as Tutankhamun.

With this discovery, we now know that it is unlikely that either of Akhenaten's known wives, Nefertiti and a second wife named Kiya, was Tutankhamun's mother, since there is no evidence from the historical record that either was his full sister. We know the names of five daughters of Amenhotep III and Tiye, but we will probably never know which of Akhenaten's sisters bore him a child. But to me, knowing her name is less important than the relationship with her brother. Incest was not uncommon among ancient Egyptian royalty. But I believe that in this case, it planted the seed of their son's early death.” The results of the DNA analysis were published in February 2010 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Critics of Tutankhamun’s DNA Test

There have been many critics of Hawass’s Tutankhamun DNA research. Matthew Shaer wrote in Smithsonian Magazine: “Eline Lorenzen, now a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and Eske Willerslev, director of the Centre for GeoGenetics in Denmark, voiced disbelief at the findings. “We question the reliability of the genetic data presented in this study and therefore the validity of the authors’ conclusions,” the two wrote in a letter to JAMA. “Furthermore, we urge a more critical assessment of the ancient DNA data in the context of DNA degradation and contamination.” [Source: Matthew Shaer, Smithsonian Magazine, December 2014 ~~]

“Others also pointed out that Carter and Derry had not exactly been gentle with the mummy; plenty of hands had touched it. So there was ample opportunity for Tut’s DNA (assuming any of it remained intact after 3,000 years) to become contaminated by DNA from other sources. Tom Gilbert, a scientist at the Centre for GeoGenetics, said he has misgivings about the DNA results from Tut. “You must find a way to deal with the contamination issue,” he said, “or else you’ve got nothing.” ~~

“An integral part of the 2010 study was the assertion that the mummy in KV55 was probably Akhenaten—an assertion that allowed Hawass to draw a direct line between one reign and the next. But that, too, has been challenged. The British osteoarchaeologist and forensic anthropologist Corinne Duhig, analyzing published X-rays of the mummy in KV55 and an osteological report by another scholar who had examined the specimen, concluded that the remains cannot belong to Akhenaten; instead, they are possibly those of another royal, the pharaoh Smenkhkare. “Whether the KV55 skeleton is that of Smenkhkare or some previously-unknown prince—and, sadly, recognizing that any proposed lineages leave us with new dilemmas in place of the old—the assumption that the KV55 bones are those of Akhenaten must be rejected before it becomes ‘received wisdom,’” Duhig wrote. In other words, Duhig strongly disputes the incestual ancestry that Hawass and co-workers announced to great fanfare.”

CT Scans of Tutankhamun’s Mummy

20120211-Tutankhamun Anuk.PNG
Matthew Shaer wrote in Smithsonian Magazine: “The most recent phase of scientific Tut-ology began in 2005, when Zahi Hawass, then the head of the Egyptian antiquities service, used the latest technologies to study Egyptian mummies. He began with CT scans on a few royals at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, in Cairo (a.k.a. the Egyptian Museum), before driving the CT scanner to Luxor, for a test on Tut himself. [Source: Matthew Shaer, Smithsonian Magazine, December 2014 ~~]

“He found the mummy in appalling condition. It had been interred in three coffins, which sat in the sarcophagus like Russian nesting dolls. Over time, resins and ointments used in the mummification process had congealed, sealing the two inner coffins together. Carter had employed increasingly violent maneuvers to remove the mummy from the coffins, and to get at the jewelry and amulets. First, the innermost coffin was left out in the sun to roast, in the hope that the heat would melt down the resins. Next, at Carter’s suggestion, an anatomist named Douglas Derry poured hot paraffin onto the mummy’s wrappings. Later, they pried the body out and yanked various limbs apart, and used a knife to slice the burial mask away from Tut’s head. Carter later reassembled the mummy as best he could (minus the mask and jewelry), and placed it in a wooden tray lined with sand, where it would remain. ~~

“Hawass was looking at a shriveled, broken thing. “It reminded me of an ancient monument lying in ruins in the sand,” he wrote. Still, he and his scientific co-workers walked the mummy, which reclined on the tray, out to the CT scanner. Hawass soon returned to Cairo with roughly 1,700 CT images of Tutankhamun. There, they were examined by Egyptian scientists and three foreign consultants: the radiologist Paul Gostner; Eduard Egarter-Vigl, a forensic pathologist; and Frank Rühli, a paleopathologist based at the University of Zurich.” ~~

King Tutankhamun's Health Determined from CT Scans and DNA Tests

Tutankhamun’s mummy

King Tutankhamun was five feet six inched tall and slightly built and 18 to 20 when he died. In the June 2005 issue of National Geographic, artists and scientists produced striking images of what they believed King Tutankhamun looked like using a CT (computerized tomography) scans and facial reconstruction. The images that were produced showed a fair-skinned young man with a ski-sloped nose, a small cleft planate, an elongated skull, good teeth, and a slight overbite possessed by other members of his family. He had no cavities in his teeth. [Source: A.R. Williams, National Geographic, June 2005]

Tutankhamun age was determined by the maturity of his skeleton (his skull had not closed) and his wisdom teeth (which hadn’t grown in yet). Careful examinations of his head revealed he had a distinctive egg-shaped head, and he lacked the feminine appearance he seems to have in his death mask and other artifacts. He may have fractured his thighbone. CT images, which were part of a study published in the February 2010 of the Journal of the American Medical Association, revealed that Tutankhamun had a club foot and other deformities, meaning he probably had to walk with a cane. DNA analysis of Tutankhamun and his relatives seem to indicate that he had several disorders, some of which ran in his family such as a bone disease and club foot. The authors of the study wrote Tutankhamun was “a young but frail king who needed canes to walk because of the bone-necrotic and sometimes painful Koehler disease II, plus oligodactyly (hypophalangism) in the right foot and clubfoot on the left.”

Zahi Hawass wrote in National Geographic,” When we began the new study, Ashraf Selim and his colleagues discovered something previously unnoticed in the CT images of the mummy: Tutankhamun's left foot was clubbed, one toe was missing a bone, and the bones in part of the foot were destroyed by necrosis — literally, "tissue death." Both the clubbed foot and the bone disease would have impeded his ability to walk. Scholars had already noted that 130 partial or whole walking sticks had been found in Tutankhamun's tomb, some of which show clear signs of use.” [Source: Zahi Hawass, National Geographic, September 2010]

“Some have argued that such staffs were common symbols of power and that the damage to Tutankhamun's foot may have occurred during the mummification process. But our analysis showed that new bone growth had occurred in response to the necrosis, proving the condition was present during his lifetime. And of all the pharaohs, only Tutankhamun is shown seated while performing activities such as shooting an arrow from a bow or using a throw stick. This was not a king who held a staff just as a symbol of power. This was a young man who needed a cane to walk.”

King Tutankhamuns and Royal Incest

All of these maladies are thought to have been the result of inbreeding between his father and mother — his father’s sister. Zahi Hawass wrote in National Geographic, “In my view...Tutankhamun's health was compromised from the moment he was conceived. His mother and father were full brother and sister. Pharaonic Egypt was not the only society in history to institutionalize royal incest, which can have political advantages. (See "The Risks and Rewards of Royal Incest.") But there can be a dangerous consequence. Married siblings are more likely to pass on twin copies of harmful genes, leaving their children vulnerable to a variety of genetic defects. Tut’ankhamun's malformed foot may have been one such flaw. We suspect he also had a partially cleft palate, another congenital defect. Perhaps he struggled against others until a severe bout of malaria or a leg broken in an accident added one strain too many to a body that could no longer carry the load. [Source: Zahi Hawass, National Geographic, September 2010]

There may be one other poignant testimony to the legacy of royal incest buried with Tutankhamun in his tomb. While the data are still incomplete, our study suggests that one of the mummified fetuses found there is the daughter of Tutankhamun himself, and the other fetus is probably his child as well. So far we have been able to obtain only partial data for the two female mummies from KV21. One of them, KV21A, may well be the infants' mother and thus, Tutankhamun's wife, Ankhesenamun. We know from history that she was the daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, and thus likely her husband's half sister. Another consequence of inbreeding can be children whose genetic defects do not allow them to be brought to term.

So perhaps this is where the play ends, at least for now: with a young king and his queen trying, but failing, to conceive a living heir for the throne of Egypt. Among the many splendid artifacts buried with Tutankhamun is a small ivory-paneled box, carved with a scene of the royal couple. Tutankhamun is leaning on his cane while his wife holds out to him a bunch of flowers. In this and other depictions, they appear serenely in love. The failure of that love to bear fruit ended not just a family but also a dynasty.

King Tut's Death

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Tutankhamun coffinette
King Tutankhamun died in 1324 B.C. , nine years into his reign, when he was 19. Some think he died of tuberculosis. Others have argued because he died so young maybe he died in an accident such as falling from a chariot or getting kicked by a horse and died from complications such as septicaemia (a fat embolism) linked with such an accident. Others claim he was poisoned, killed or died fighting or hunting. To support such claims the claimants have pointed to paintings in his tomb that show he received military training and participated in hunts as evidence that such claims were possible. Inside Tutankhamun mummy much of the Pharaoh’s chest is mangled, his breastbone is missing and much of the rib cage has been cut out.

Some scholars believe that Tutankhamun was murdered by Ayem, an advisor to Akhenaten, by a blow to the head. The claim is based on a 1968 X-ray that showed a bone sliver in Tut's skull from some wound and some historical data. This theory was disproved by CT scans in 2005 which showed no evidence of a blow to the head and determined the bone sliver was most likely caused by rough treatment of the mummy in the 1920s by Howard Carter, the the British archaeologist who discovered of King Tutankhamun’s tomb.

In 2005 — for the first time since it was removed from its subterranean burial chamber — Tutankhamun’s mummy was taken out of the plain wooden box Carter placed it in. The mummy was taken outside the tomb to a trailer where the entire mummy was canned with a CT machine, generating 1,700 x-ray images in .62-millimeter-wide cross sections. Three hours later the mummy was returned to its box. There was no evidence of lethal trauma to the skull. The bone slivers that appeared in the 1968 X-ray appear to have been embedded in the packing material stuffed in his skull cavity and may have go there during the embalming process or broken off when Carter handled the body. Tutankhamun skeleton revealed a fracture above the left knee. Some think this may have been the result of mishandling by Carter team.

Zahi Hawass wrote in National Geographic in 2010,” By carrying out CT scans of King Tutankhamun's mummy, we were able in 2005 to show that he did not die from a blow to the head, as many people believed. Our analysis revealed that a hole in the back of his skull had been made during the mummification process.” [Source: Zahi Hawass, National Geographic, September 2010]

In the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February 2010, researchers from Egypt, Italy and Germany — using DNA testing, blood type analysis and CT scans — determined that King Tutankhamun mostly likely died of complications from a broken leg exacerbated by malaria. Genetic testing found that the Pharaoh had been infected with the malaria parasite and his immune system was not in good shape. The authors of the study wrote Tutankhamun sustained a “sudden fracture, possibly introduced by a fall” which snowballed into a life-threatening condition when he contacted malaria. Some scholars question the theory based on the reasoning that if he had survived to 19 he probably had some kind of resistance to malaria.

Zahi Hawass wrote in National Geographic,” Tutankhamun's bone disease was crippling, but on its own would not have been fatal. To look further into possible causes of his death, we tested his mummy for genetic traces of various infectious diseases. I was skeptical that the geneticists would be able to find such evidence — and I was delighted to be proved wrong. Based on the presence of DNA from several strains of a parasite called Plasmodium falciparum, it was evident that Tutankhamun was infected with malaria — indeed, he had contracted the most severe form of the disease multiple times. [Source: Zahi Hawass, National Geographic, September 2010]

Did malaria kill the king? Perhaps. The disease can trigger a fatal immune response in the body, cause circulatory shock, and lead to hemorrhaging, convulsions, coma, and death. As other scientists have pointed out, however, malaria was probably common in the region at the time, and Tutankhamun may have acquired partial immunity to the disease. On the other hand, it may well have weakened his immune system, leaving him more vulnerable to complications that might have followed the unhealed fracture of his leg we evaluated in 2005.

Doubts About the Speculation on Tutankhamun’s Health

Tutankhamun’s mummified head

Researchers in Hawass team found evidence of malaria tropica, a particularly nasty form of the mosquito-borne disease, in DNA samples extracted from the Tut mummy. Hawass speculated that the effects of the malaria, combined with a degenerative bone condition, had killed Tutankhamun.”But many of the criticism of the DNA research in regard to conclusions about Tutankhamun’s parentage also carry weight here. [Source: Matthew Shaer, Smithsonian Magazine, December 2014 ~~]

In 2013, Egyptologist Salima Ikram and Frank Rühli, a paleopathologist based at the University of Zurich, published an article in a journal of human biology titled “Purported Medical Diagnoses of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.” In regard to the possibility that Tut had suffered from severe epilepsy—a hypothesis put forward by Hutan Ashrafian, a surgeon at Imperial College London, based on his close reading of murals and ancient texts and other sources—Ikram and Rühli said: “There is no hard evidence to support this hypothesis.”

Matthew Shaer wrote in Smithsonian Magazine: “Of the idea that Tut might have been done in by a horse kick to the chest, or by an injury sustained while handling a chariot, or by a furious “rogue hippopotamus” (proposals aired as recently as 2006), the scholars were dismissive: “Although all these dramatic ends to the king’s life are appealing, there remains little proof for these on his body or in the artifacts and texts from that time.” As for the role of malaria, an idea advanced by Hawass and colleagues, Ikram and Rühli said “the claim of malaria being a primary cause of death is disputed by various authors.”~~

“Ikram and Rühli were more willing to entertain the argument that Tut suffered from syndromes affecting his feet. Famously, Tut was buried with more than 100 walking sticks and canes. And several paintings show him hunting in his chariot from a seated position. In their 2010 JAMA study, Hawass and co-authors had speculated, based on a reading of the CT scans, that Tut was afflicted by club foot or a similar disability in his left foot, as well as a disorder known as Köhler disease, which can cause pain and swelling and lead to a pronounced limp. ~~

“But Ikram wasn’t so sure. “I think part of what was interpreted as club foot could be due to the positioning of the foot during mummification—that could give an impression of distortion,” said Ikram, who, as it happened, was herself walking with a cane, troubled by a pelvis injury, sustained while working in Egypt’s western desert, and a knee ailment. Ikram has conducted experiments in mummifying rabbits, sheep and cats, and in many cases, she said, “bones don’t break, but they certainly curve.” ~~

“In addition to the murals depicting Tut sitting in a chariot, she pointed out, there are paintings in which he was standing. “You can’t pick and choose your evidence,” she said. (In a separate conversation, Yasmin el-Shazly, a scholar at the Egyptian Museum, concurred. “Ancient artwork can be symbolic, or it can be exaggerated in ways that we don’t yet fully understand. It’s dangerous to read it all as realism,” el-Shazly told me.) I asked Ikram how she thought history would judge Hawass’ contributions to Tut studies. “I think it’s a wonderful thing that Zahi Hawass became interested in mummies,” she said, carefully. “And it’s a marvelous thing that he acquired the CT scan machine, and instigated so much research.” She arched her eyebrows. “And I think that if all the data is made publicly available, it would be a great service.” ~~

“The conclusion of Ikram and Rühli’s paper reads: “As time progresses and medical technology improves, tests might be developed that could be carried out on soft tissue that might indicate the presence of diseases that leave no sign on bones—perhaps even a viral disease such as influenza. However, even with the best medical and Egyptological forensic work, it is doubtful that all aspects of Tut’s health and possible causes for his death will ever be known.”“

Doubts About the Speculation on Tutankhamun’s Death

X-ray of Tutankhamun’s head

Matthew Shaer wrote in Smithsonian Magazine: “When Hawass announced the team’s findings, in March 2005, the banner revelation was that the free-floating bone shards in the skull, first documented during an X-ray scan in the 1960s, were probably not the result of a violent, perhaps murderous, blow to the head, as professional and amateur scholars had contended. In fact, the CT scans showed that one shard had come from the vertebrae, and another from an opening at the base of the skull. It appeared that embalmers had drilled a second hole in Tut’s head, a technique used in other royal mummifications. [Source: Matthew Shaer, Smithsonian Magazine, December 2014 ~~]

“So how had Tut died? Analyzing the CT scans, Hawass and his colleagues had found a fracture of the lower left femur. “This fracture,” the press release read, “appears different from the many breaks caused by Carter’s team: it has ragged rather than sharp edges, and there are two layers of embalming material present inside.” Perhaps Tutankhamun had been injured in battle or while hunting and the wound had become mortally infected, and he was mummified while the wound was still fresh. And thus the broken femur theory, splashed across newspapers and newscasts worldwide, came to be regarded as something close to fact. ~~

“Yet two scientists who were present for the CT examination told me there was expert disagreement about the fracture at the time, with some arguing that it had led to Tut’s death and others arguing there wasn’t enough data to conclude that. As Jo Marchant notes in her 2013 book The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut’s Mummy, “interpreting the clues inside a three-thousand-year-old body isn’t easy, especially one that has been gutted by ancient embalmers, dismembered by modern archaeologists, and thrown about by looters.” Rühli initially believed that the leg fracture might have contributed to Tut’s death. But he has grown more skeptical of the idea. “I still think it’s the most likely diagnosis,” he told me in a Skype interview. “But eight or nine years have passed, and I’ve become much more experienced with the science. I’ve had a lot of time to think about how much pressure we were under.” ~~

“Of course, as Rühli suggested to me, it might be possible to settle the debate if he and other researchers were able to re-evaluate the CT scans. But Egyptian antiquities authorities have been stingy with the images—in 2005, none of the experts were allowed to take the entire data set home, for instance—and only a few of the 1,700 scans have been made public. The rest are controlled by Hawass and his coworkers.” ~~

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King Tut's throne

Tutankhamun’s Mummification and Funeral

David Kamp wrote in Vanity Fair magazine: First came embalming. Tutankhamun’s heart was left intact, but other vital internal organs—his liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines—were removed, preserved, wrapped in cloth, and placed in four mini-coffins, each about a foot and a quarter long and made of gold inlaid with carnelian stone and colored glass. [Source: David Kamp, Vanity Fair, March 19, 2013]

“The pharaoh’s body was washed, anointed with herbs and unguents, adorned with more than a hundred amulets, rings, and bangles, and then carefully wrapped in strips of linen. The mummy was laid in a coffin of solid gold, the delicate face on its lid fashioned in Tutankhamun’s image and framed by the customary pharaonic nemes, or striped headdress. Before the lid went on, the pharaoh’s undertakers gently placed over his head a magnificent 22-pound portrait mask in burnished gold: the nose pointed, the cheeks smooth, and the lips and chin fleshy, with wide eyes outlined in lapis lazuli.

“The gold coffin was placed inside a larger coffin of gilded wood, which was housed, nesting-doll-style, inside a still-larger coffin, also of gilded wood. The nested coffins were then lowered into a heavy, rectangular sarcophagus of yellow quartzite, its sides etched with hieroglyphs, its corners featuring relief carvings of the protective goddesses Isis, Nephthys, Selket, and Neith. For good measure, the sarcophagus was itself nested in four ornately decorated chests known as shrines, each bigger than the last. The outermost shrine, made of gilded cedar, was 16 1/2 feet long and 9 feet high. Tutankhamun’s preserved viscera got their own gilded shrine, its four sides guarded by the same four goddesses—this time spectacularly rendered as fully three-dimensional sculptures of gold-painted wood, each about three feet high, with arms outstretched and heads turned sideways, as if on the lookout for intruders.

“The pharaoh’s remains were carried down into a tomb west of the Upper Nile, in the vast royal necropolis known as the Valley of the Kings. So, too, were all manner of mementos and goods from Tutankhamun’s life: disassembled chariots, a childhood gaming board, furniture, lamps, sculpture, weapons, jewelry. The tomb, a mini-labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, and blocked passageways, was sealed. And that was that. Tutankhamun’s followers had done what they could to equip the pharaoh for a safe journey through the underworld to a joyful afterlife.”

Did King Tutankhamun Have A Funeral Meal?

Dorothea Arnold of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “In 1941, Herbert Winlock proposed that the floral collars and most of the above-described pottery vessels were used at a meal. In reconstructing this event, Winlock was much influenced by the ubiquitous depictions of banquets in Dynasty 18 Theban tombs. But the German Egyptologist Siegfried Schott demonstrated that these images in fact illustrate not a funeral feast but a festival that was celebrated annually in ancient Thebes (present-day Luxor). During this feast—called "The Beautiful Feast of the Valley"—an image of the god Amun was conveyed from his temple at Karnak on the east bank of the Nile to the cemeteries and temple area on the west bank. While the image rested overnight in the sanctuary, people feasted in and in front of the tombs of their ancestors. This "Feast of Drunkenness" was not a celebration at a funeral but a religious festival that included the dead of the community. The objects and vessels in KV 54 cannot have anything to do with this occasion, since they were buried together with mummification leftovers. [Source: Dorothea Arnold, Department of Egyptian Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2010, metmuseum.org \^/]

“New Kingdom Theban reliefs and paintings reveal, however, that another meal, this one of a more sedate character, took place at a funeral in connection with rites performed for the deceased's statue, another important item in Egyptian funerals that provided a place of materialization for a dead person's soul. These statue rites are repeatedly depicted to have been enacted in a garden setting, with food offerings set out on tables and drinks in large jars like some found in KV 54 resting under canopies. \^/

“Interestingly—and importantly for an interpretation of the objects from KV 54—some representations of statue rites also show that after the conclusion of these rites, all vessels used for offerings were smashed. Almost all pots in the KV 54 find were found broken into pieces. It can, therefore, be suggested that the above-described vessels and other remains of food (such as animal bones) from KV 54 were part of a display of food offerings set out at the consecration of a statue of King Tutankhamun. As was customary in antiquity, the participants in the offering ritual would have consumed the food after the ceremonies were concluded. Communal meals in the presence of a deceased's effigy are, moreover, known to have taken place in many cultures and are certainly attested to have taken place in Roman Egypt. \^/

“Winlock assumed that the floral collars were worn by the participants of a funeral meal. It is, however, more probable that a number of floral collars were created to adorn the various coffins—and maybe images—of the king. One large example made of a very similar choice of plants as the one found on the three Museum collars was eventually placed on Tutankhamun's innermost coffin and found there by Howard Carter; the others would then have been stored away among the leftovers of the embalming process.” \^/

Tutankhamun's Mortuary Temple, the Site of His Mummification and Statue Rites?

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Tutankhamun tomb
Dorothea Arnold of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “The mummification and statue rites for a king were held, not in front of the king's tomb in the Valley of the Kings, but more likely at the site of the king's mortuary temple. Mortuary temples were built by the pharaohs of the New Kingdom for the daily celebration of their cult after death as well as the worship of Amun, the supreme god of Thebes, and other deities; and all of these temples were situated close to the agricultural land east of the Valley of the Kings. [Source: Dorothea Arnold, Department of Egyptian Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2010, metmuseum.org \^/]

“We do not know where Tutankhamun’s mortuary temple stood and whether it was ever fully completed. A relief in the Museum (05.4.2) depicting a man called Userhat, who is said to have served at Tutankhamun's mortuary temple, is the only evidence extant that a cult ever took place there. A site for the temple, however, must certainly have been chosen and prepared by the time of the king's funeral, and it is there that both his mummification and statue rites most probably took place.\^/

“This explains not only why the leftovers of the king's mummification were packed up together with the remains of offerings dedicated to his statue, but is also congruent with the garden settings in which the statue rites are depicted. In the end, the whole lot (mummification leftovers and food offering remains) were then conveyed in their large containers from the mortuary temple site to the Valley of the Kings together with all the other articles that would fill the king's tomb.” \^/

King Tut's Tomb

King Tutankhamen's Tomb (Valley of the Kings) is one of the most visited tombs in the Valley of the Kings and has a separate admission price. Its discovery in 1922 was one of the greatest archeological discoveries of all time. Tutankhamen was only a minor king — he didn't build a pyramid or any great temples or monuments and he died before he was 21 — but it just so happens that his tomb was one of the few in the Valley of the Kings with a treasure missed by looters.

King Tutankhamun Tomb is located 26 feet underground. It was constructed from the relatively small unfinished tomb of courtier after the king died at an early age. Objects for the afterlife were crammed in the tomb and the paintings were so hastily prepared that splashes of paint that cover some of the images was not cleaned up. Some of the burial objects appear to have belonged to others (their names were erased and replaced with King Tutankhamun’s name).

Tutankhamen was well prepared for his trip to the afterlife. His four-room tomb yielded gold treasures; gilt coffins with images of the king emblazoned on the them; a glittering throne with palace scenes; effigies of gods and goddesses; a chest inscribed battles scenes; and jeweled daggers, earrings, necklaces and other riches. The most famous object found in it was Tutankhamun’s blue and gold funerary mask, which has been pictured in many books and magazines. All of these things are in the Egyptian museum, except when they are on tour.

Some painting in the tomb depict Tutankhamun funeral procession. After the funeral procession, his successor, Aye, symbolically revives the dead. Nut, the sky goddess welcomes Tutankhamun to the realm of the gods, and Osiris, god of the afterlife, embraces him along with his “ka”, or spiritual double. Baboons on the far wall represent the start of his passage through 12 hours of the night.

Two small female fetuses were found in the tomb. DNA testing in 2010 determined the they were Tutankhamun’s two still-born daughters.

See Howard Carter and Discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb in 1922 Under Ancient Egyptians Archaeology

Magnificent Contents of Tutankhamen Tomb

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Tutankhamun Shrines
and sarcophagos
The King Tutankhamen Collection (on the top floor of the Egyptian Museum) contains nearly 5,000 objects. Among them are the famous blue-and-gold funerary mask. The mask is made of beaten gold. The beard on the masks identifies the king as being one with Osiris, god of the dead, and the cobra and vulture on his forehead symbolize the Upper and Lower kingdoms of Egypt. A life-size statue of the king, which was found at the entrance of the tomb, is dressed in gilded clothing and was anointed in black resin to denote rebirth.

The mummy was enclosed in a coffin, a sarcophagus and four decorated and gilded wooden shrines — one inside the other. The shrines had images of the king emblazoned on the them. The largest, outer golden shrine is 9 feet high, 10¾ feet wide and 16½ feet long. It is inlaid with panels of brilliant blue faience with depictions of special symbols that protected the dead. The innermost one was covered in gold. The sarcophagus is made of yellow quartzite and has a sculpted goddess spreading protecting arms and wings over the feet area. Each shrine and the sarcophagus is displayed separately.

King Tutankhamun’s polished gold coffin weighs 250 pounds and is inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones. On the lid is a low relief golden effigy of the king. The figure holds a crook and flail, both of which symbolize the king's power. Guarding the coffin during ancient times was the goddess Selket, who was so powerful, it was said, she could cure the string of the scorpion which she wears on a crown on her head. During the Six Day War the coffin was stored in a secret bomb proof shelter.

King Tutankhamun’s tomb is regarded as the the richest royal collection every found. When the king’s coffin was opened, 143 amulets and pieces of jewelry were found tucked in the linen layers of the mummy. Also in the collection is a 15.3 inch coffin for the pharaoh's liver. Only the heart remained in the body when it was mummified. Another coffin contained his viscera.

Many of big items were found in the anteroom outside the burial chamber. These include gold couches, four gold chariots, a golden throne, alabaster vases and scores of personal items of the king — all of which are on display. The king’s wooden throne is covered in sheets of gold, silver, gems and glass and is decorated with an intimate scene of the queen rubbing Tutankhamun with perfumed oil.

Tutankhamun’s clothes chest is decorated with a scene showing the king shooting his bow and arrow from a chariot while galloping at full speed, trampling Nubians under the wheels of his chariot. Tutankhamun was buried with six chariots, 50 bows, two swords, two daggers, eight shields and assorted boomerangs and slingshots. An inscription of the chest reads "hundreds of thousands of Nubians bowed to him during the battle."

There is also a beautiful painted effigy; a feminized alabaster bust; a walking stick adorned with carvings of Arabs and Nubians; a boat with an ibex bowhead and a nude maiden captain; and statue of Anubis, the jackal god of the necropolis, whose job it was to discourage intruders. So that he may gaze upon himself and procreate in the afterlife the king was buried with a mirror shaped like an ankh, the symbol of life, and pieces of jewelry adorned with scarabs, the symbols of fertility.

King Tutankhamun was also was buried with ordinary things likes boards games, a bronze razor, cases of food and wine, and linen undergarments. Among the small items are gold daggers for protection in the afterlife; a headrest for rebirth; and an alabaster cup which proclaims "Mayst thou spend millions of years...sitting with thy face to the north wind...beholding felicity." There are also effigies of gods and goddesses, jeweled daggers, earrings, necklaces, 2,000 amulets and pieces of jewelry, gold figures, a leopard skin mantel decorated with gold stars, a child's chair made of ebony and ivory, 15 gold and jeweled rings, seeds, boat paddles, ear and neck ornaments, 50 ornamental vases, robes, sandals, arrows, bows, boomerangs, a forked stick for caching snakes and a lock of hair from Queen Tiye, Tutankhamen's mother.

Treasures from Tutankhamun’s Tomb

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Eye of Horus pendant
Robert Partridge of the BBC wrote: “In 1922 the discovery of the virtually intact tomb of Tutankhamun became probably the best known and most spectacular archaeological find anywhere in the world. The small tomb contained hundreds of objects (now housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo), many richly decorated and covered in gold, that would be needed by the king in his afterlife. [Source: Robert Partridge, BBC, February 17, 2011]

“Inlaid throne: This throne is made from wood, which is partly gold plated and inlaid with minute pieces of ivory, ebony, semi-precious stones and coloured glass. |The high curved back is fitted to a stool with crossed legs carved to represent the necks and heads of ducks. The deeply curved seat (designed to hold a cushion) is inlaid with ebony and ivory in imitation of a spotted animal skin. |::|

“Panel from the back of the king's golden throne |The most elaborate of Tutankhamun's thrones is made of wood completely covered in gold, and in some places silver, with inlay of coloured semi-precious stones and glass paste. |The back depicts the seated Tutankhamun, with his queen, Ankhesenamun, anointing him with perfume, beneath a floral pavilion. The rays of the sun god Aten shine on the couple, giving them the sign for life, the Ankh. |::|

“Tutankhamun's bed: Several beds were found in the tomb (including one that folded up for travelling). This example is of gilded wood, with an intact base of woven string. A headrest would have been used instead of a pillow, and the rectangular board at one end of the bed is a foot-board (not a head-board as in modern beds). The frame of the bed is supported on feline legs. |::|

“Headrest: This elaborate headrest (used instead of a pillow) is made of elephant ivory. When in use, the back of the king's neck would rest on the curved support. The carved figure represents Shu, the god of the atmosphere, and the two lions on the base represent the eastern and western horizons. As well as being a functional object, this headrest has symbolic and ritual meanings too. |::|

“Scene from a painted chest: This scene is from the side of a chest, made of wood covered in a layer of plaster, which is painted with incredibly detailed scenes of Tutankhamun-either hunting wild animals or in battle. In this scene the king is leading his army into battle. He is shown standing in his chariot, ready to fire his arrows into his enemies, who lie in disorder at his horse's feet. |::|

“A Ushabti figure: Tutankhamun's tomb contained 413 Ushabti figures, intended to represent the king and to help him with certain duties in the afterlife. Some are very simple, but others, such as the one here, were carved from wood and are portraits of the king. The figure is shown as a wrapped mummy wearing a gilded crown and holding the royal emblems, the Crook and the Flail. |::|

“The king's mannequin: This unusual mannequin or effigy of Tutankhamun is life-sized and shows his upper torso and head, but without any arms. It is made of wood, covered in plaster and painted, and it is a very life-like representation of the king. The exact use of this figure is not certain, but it may have been used to display Tutankhamun's robes or necklaces and collars. |::|

Gold mask: Found covering the head and shoulders of Tutankhamun's mummy, this is perhaps the most famous Egyptian antiquity ever found, and a splendid example of the art of the goldsmith. Made of solid gold, inlaid with semi-precious stones and coloured glass paste, the face is an idealised portrait of the young king. Two protective animals, the cobra and vulture, are shown on the forehead, and the king wears the Nemes head-dress, the false beard of the gods and a broad inlaid collar. |::|

“The goddess Selket: The king's internal organs were placed in a Canopic Chest, which was enclosed in an elaborate wooden gilded chest, each side of which was protected by a statue of a goddess. |This goddess is Selket, who wears her emblem, a scorpion, on her head. The figure is highly naturalistic, with her arms outstretched to protect the chest and its contents, and her head is inclined slightly to one side. |::|

“Stoppers from the Canopic Chest: The Canopic Chest for Tutankhamun's internal organs was made of a large block of delicately veined and translucent calcite, with four compartments, each sealed by a stopper carved to represent the king. Each compartment contained a miniature coffin holding the organs. Tutankhamun is shown wearing the Nemes head-dress and with the protective cobra and vulture on his brow. |::|

“Senet game: Tutankhamun's tomb contained a number of gaming boards for the game of Senet. The rules of the game are not certain, but it was for two players, whose aim was to knock their opponent off the board. The number of squares moved was decided by throwing sticks (used like dice today). Clearly Tutankhamun was a keen player and this small version is a 'travelling set' made of painted ivory. |::|

“King's firelighter“: Along with all the rich and elaborate objects, the tomb contained some more humble and practical objects, such as this firelighter or fire stick. The end of the spindle would be placed in one of the holes in the base block, and then rotated rapidly by using a bow. The resultant friction on the base board would generate heat, which would ignite dry tinder and start a fire. |::|

Dagger in Tutankhamun's Tomb: Made from a Meteorite

King Tut's dagger

In 2016, scientists announced in the in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science. that a dagger entombed with King Tutankhamun was likley made with iron from a meteorite, The Guardian reported: “In 1925, archaeologist Howard Carter found two daggers, one iron and one with a blade of gold, within the wrapping of the teenage king... The iron blade, which had a gold handle, rock crystal pommel and lily and jackal-decorated sheath, has puzzled researchers... ironwork was rare in ancient Egypt, and the dagger’s metal had not rusted.[Source: The Guardian, June 2, 2016 */]

“Italian and Egyptian researchers analysed the metal with an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer to determine its chemical composition, and found its high nickel content, along with its levels of cobalt, “strongly suggests an extraterrestrial origin”. They compared the composition with known meteorites within 2,000km around the Red Sea coast of Egypt, and found similar levels in one meteorite. That meteorite, named Kharga, was found 150 miles (240km) west of Alexandria, at the seaport city of Mersa Matruh, which in the age of Alexander the Great – the fourth century B.C. – was known as Amunia. */

“The researchers also stood with a hypothesis that ancient Egyptians placed great importance on rocks falling from the sky. They suggested that the finding of a meteorite-made dagger adds meaning to the use of the term “iron” in ancient texts, and noted around the 13th century B.C., a term “literally translated as ‘iron of the sky’ came into use … to describe all types of iron”. “Finally, somebody has managed to confirm what we always reasonably assumed,” Thilo Rehren, an archaeologist with University College London, told the Guardian. Rehren, who studied the nine meteoritic beads, said “there never has been a reason to doubt this outcome but we were never really able to put this hard data behind it”. He added that other objects from Tutankhamun’s tomb, including jewelry and miniature daggers, are believed to made from meteorite iron. */

“The blade may not be the only item derived from falling rocks on Tut’s person. In 2006, an Austrian astrochemist proposed that an unusual yellowish gem, shaped as a scarab in King Tut’s burial necklace, is actually glass formed in the heat of a meteorite crashing into sand.” */

Radar Scans of King Tut's Tomb: No Hidden Chambers, No Nefertiti

In May 2016, it was announced that radar scans conducted by a National Geographic team have found that there are no hidden chambers in Tutankhamun's tomb, refuting a claim that the secret grave of Queen Nefertiti lay behind the walls. "If we had a void, we should have a strong reflection," Dean Goodman, a geophysicist at GPR-Slice software told National Geographic News, "But it just doesn't exist."[Source: Owen Jarus, Live Science, May 12, 2016]

Owen Jarus wrote in Live Science: “ Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, director of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project, claimed in 2015 that the tomb of King Tutankhamun holds a hidden doorway that leads to the tomb of Queen Nefertiti, the stepmother of Tutankhamun. Scans carried out that year by radar technologist Hirokatsu Watanabe supposedly showed evidence of two hidden chambers, along with metal and organic artifacts. The findings spurred Egypt's antiquities ministry to issue a statement saying that it was nearly certain that hidden chambers exist in Tutankhamun's tomb.

However, when radar images from Watanabe's scans were released, experts voiced doubts to Live Science that the chambers existed. A new team of researchers supported by the National Geographic Society then conducted a second series of scans...Egypt's antiquities ministry has refused to accept the new results, telling Live Science that it plans more tests to search for a tomb. "Other types of radar and remote-sensing techniques will be applied in the next stage. Once they are determined, we shall publish the updates," the ministry told Live Science in a statement.

Archeologists Clash Over King Tut Hidden Chamber Tomb Theory

In May 2016, archeologists clashed at a conference at the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo over the theory that secret burial chambers could be hidden behind the walls of King Tutankhamun's tomb. Associated Press reported: “Speaking at the conference, former antiquities minister and famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass rejected the theory that undiscovered chambers lie behind the tomb and likely contain the tomb of Queen Nefertiti. "In all my career ... I have never come across any discovery in Egypt due to radar scans," Hawass said, suggesting the technology would be better used to examine existing tombs that are known to contain sealed-off chambers. [Source: Associated Press, May 8, 2016]

“British Egyptologist Nicolas Reeves meanwhile defended the theory he put forward last year. Preliminary results of successive scans suggest the tomb contains two open spaces, with signs of metal and organic matter lying behind its western and northern walls. "I was looking for the evidence that would tell me that my initial reading was wrong," he said. "But I didn't find any evidence to suggest that. I just found more and more indicators that there is something extra going on in Tutankhamun's tomb." Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anani, who attended the conference, said that scans of the tomb would continue in line with the group's recommendations, but that no physical exploration would be allowed unless he was "100 percent sure there is a cavity behind the wall."”

At the conference the researchers who conducted the radar survey were not allowed to present their research but Watanabe and Reeves were able to present their full papers. Owen Jarus wrote in Live Science: “Hawass criticized the situation at the conference, urging those in charge to accept that Tutankhamun's tomb simply does not contain a secret chamber. "If there is any masonry or partition wall, the radar signal should show an image," he said, according to National Geographic News. "We don't have this, which means there is nothing there." Lawrence Conyers, a professor at the University of Denver who literally wrote the book on the use of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) in archaeology, said that he would like to read Goodman's scientific report. He added that he is disappointed that it is not being released.” [Source: Owen Jarus, Live Science, May 12, 2016]

Half of European Men Share King Tut's DNA

In 2011, Reuters reported: “Up to 70 percent of British men and half of all Western European men are related to the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun, geneticists in Switzerland said. Scientists at Zurich-based DNA genealogy centre, iGENEA, reconstructed the DNA profile of the boy Pharaoh, who ascended the throne at the age of nine, his father Akhenaten and grandfather Amenhotep III, based on a film that was made for the Discovery Channel. [Source: Reuters, Alice Baghdjian, August 1 2011]

The results showed that King Tut belonged to a genetic profile group, known as haplogroup R1b1a2, to which more than 50 percent of all men in Western Europe belong, indicating that they share a common ancestor. Among modern-day Egyptians this haplogroup contingent is below 1 percent, according to iGENEA.

"It was very interesting to discover that he belonged to a genetic group in Europe — there were many possible groups in Egypt that the DNA could have belonged to," said Roman Scholz, director of the iGENEA Centre. Around 70 percent of Spanish and 60 percent of French men also belong to the genetic group of the Pharaoh who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago.

"We think the common ancestor lived in the Caucasus about 9,500 years ago," Scholz told Reuters. It is estimated that the earliest migration of haplogroup R1b1a2 into Europe began with the spread of agriculture in 7,000 BC, according to iGENEA. However, the geneticists were not sure how Tutankhamun's paternal lineage came to Egypt from its region of origin.The centre is now using DNA testing to search for the closest living relatives of "King Tut."

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, escholarship.org ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Egypt sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Tour Egypt, Minnesota State University, Mankato, ethanholman.com; Mark Millmore, discoveringegypt.com discoveringegypt.com; Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, BBC, Encyclopædia Britannica, Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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