National Geographic : 2010 Sep
• 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 ve 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. of our DNA analysis, published in February in the Journal of the American Medi- cal Association, convinced me that genetics can provide a powerful new tool for enhancing our understanding of Egyptian history, especially when combined with radiological studies of the mummies and insights gleaned from the archaeological record. Nowhere is this more evident than in our quest to understand the cause of Tutankhamun's death. When we began the new study, Ashraf Selim and his colleagues discovered something previously unnoticed in the CT images of the mummy: Tutankhamun's le foot was clubbed, one toe was missing a bone, and the bones in part of the foot were destroyed by necrosis---lit- erally, "tissue death." Both the clubbed foot and the bone disease would have impeded his abil- ity 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. Some have argued that such sta s were com- mon symbols of power and that the damage to Tutankhamun's foot may have occurred during the mummi cation 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. is Elder Lady with that from the mummies of Tiye's known parents, Yuya and Tuyu, we con- firmed that the Elder Lady was indeed Tiye. Now she could testify whether the KV55 mum- my 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 Smen- khkare, he cannot be completely ruled out.) Our renewed CT scanning of the mummies also put to rest the notion that the family suf- fered from some congenital disease, such as Marfan syndrome, that might explain the elon- gated faces and feminized appearance seen in the art from the Amarna period. No such pa- thologies were found. Akhenaten's androgynous depiction in the art would seem instead to be a stylistic re ection of his identi cation with the god Aten, who was both male and female and thus the source of all life. 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. eir child would be known as Tutankhamun. AKHENATEN HAD CONCEIVED A SON WITH HIS OWN SISTER. THE CHILD WOULD BE KNOWN AS TUTANKHAMUN.