Tutankhamen is the most well-know king of Egyptian history, perhaps due to the young age at which he became king or the many question marks surrounding his life. The boy is rumored to have been frail, suffering from a cleft palate which may have caused severe complications in those times. He broke a leg at an early age, a fact which was clear on examination of his mummified remains. However, DNA testing was used to discover even more than meets the eye about the king’s life and death.
Scientists have challenged many boundaries, testing the king’s remains which are almost 3500 years old. DNA testing on such ancient remains always carries chances of degraded DNA samples which would likely be insufficient to conclude the test. The boy was not one of the great Egyptian kings however, his tomb in 1922 was a major discovery due to the sumptuousness of its contents; gold and jewelry.
DNA testing has the scope of establishing Tut’s family tree and found that his father was Akhenaton and the king-boy’s mother was one of Akhenaton’s sisters. Scietists were able to show that, contrary to popular belief, Nefertiti was not the boy’s biological mother. The boy’s rule lasted for 9 years; he was first made King at the age of 10 and died at the age of 19. Infamously, his skull showed a hole at the back of his head and this fuelled speculations that he did not die of natural causes.
Scientists working on the project have aimed to establish the king’s cause of death and whether he was actually murder. The tests showed that he likely perished of an illness which was congenital. The broken leg which he likely suffered from a fall likely precipitated the condition. Testing has brought even more to light; the king likely contracted malaria. The combination of a fracture in the leg and Malaria would have caused irreversible damage and his death.
Several other tests were carried out across mummies of this same dynasty of kings. This dynasty were renowned for the incestuous marriages with took place and thus, many genetic complications arose. Kohler’s disease which would have made healing of Tut’s club foot difficult since the condition inhibits blood supply to the lower extremities.
The DNA test again comes to solve ancient historical enigmas and can support historical accounts or perhaps exclude them as has happened with King Tut. DNA testing is highly accurate and if environmental conditions are no extreme, DNA can be preserved intact for millennia.