Tutankhamen’s Familial DNA Tells Tale of Boy Pharaoh’s Disease and Incest

Despite his brief nine-year reign, Tutankhamen is probably the most famous pharaoh of ancient Egypt. Because his tomb had not been robbed at the time of its discovery in 1922, historians have been able to piece together aspects of the boy king’s 19-year life. More than 100 walking sticks and “pharmacies” (medicinal seeds, fruits and leaves) found mingled among funeral offerings and other treasures within the tomb suggested that the pharaoh was frail, and two mummified fetuses implied that his offspring might have suffered from lethal genetic defects. But a new study on the Tutankhamen family mummies themselves, published February 16 in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association , has provided biological insight into the king’s incestuous royal lineage and his early death. [More]

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