Sunday, February 28, 2010

Unraveling the DNA Behind the Mask

Originally published February 24, 2010 | Yale Daily News | by Erin Vanderhoof |

After 3,400 years, one of history’s oldest cold cases has finally been solved.

In addition to finding evidence that the legendary Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun (better known as King Tut) died of malaria and suffered from a club foot, DNA analysis unveiled last week has identified a previously anonymous excavated mummy, KV55, as Tutankhamun’s father: Akhenaten, the rebellious pharaoh of Egypt’s Amarna period whose legacy disappeared for thousands of years. The DNA supports the theory of two Yale professors, who suggested that the androgynous figures of the period’s art reflect religious beliefs rather than representations of Akhenaten’s family.

This theory was presented by Yale Egyptology professors John Darnell and Colleen Manassa ’01 GRD ’05 in their 2007 book, "Tutankhamun’s Armies," which details the military and diplomatic technique of Egypt’s late 18th Dynasty, which ruled the country from 1550 B.C. to 1292 B.C.

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