On Sunday, 31st January, Egypt’s antiquities department made the announcement that they will soon reveal the results of DNA testing conducted on the world’s most famous ancient king, Pharaoh Tutankhamun, which was undertaken to answer lingering mysteries over his lineage. Archaeology chief Zahi Hawass said at a conference that he would announce the results of DNA tests and CAT scans on February 17.
The results of DNA and CAT scans on King Tut’s mummy will be compared to those made of King Amenhotep III, who may have been Tutankamun’s grandfather.
The testing of Tut’s mummy is part of a wider program to check the DNA of hundreds of mummies to determine their family relations and identities. It is hoped that the program will help to determine Tut’s family lineage, something which has long been a source of mystery.
The identity of Tutankamun’s parents is not definitively known, though many experts believe that he is the son of Akhenaten, the 18th Dynasty pharaoh who tried to introduce monotheism to Egypt 3,500 years ago. His mother is believed to be one of Akhenaten’s queens, Kiya. Others, however, suggest that Tut was the son of a lesser known pharaoh that followed Akhenaten.
Tut was one of the final kinds of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, ruling during a crucial, tumultuous time when Akhenaten’s monotheism ended and powers were returned to the priests of the country’s multiple deities.
The department has announced ambitious plans to conduct DNA tests on Egyptian mummies, including tests on all royal mummies and the two dozen unidentified ones stored at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It is believed that some of the sting could show that some of the royal mummies on display are not who they were thought to be. One of their big goals is to find the mummy of Nefertiti, Akhenaten’s wife legendary for her beauty.
Hawass has long rejected DNA testing be conducted on Egyptian mummies by foreign experts, and just recently allowed such projects to go forth on the condition that they be done only by Egyptians. With funding from the Discovery Channel, a $5 million DNA lab was created at the Egyptian Museum.
In addition, Hawass announced Sunday that a robot would be sent inside the Great Pyramind of Khufu to learn the secrets of its hidden passageways.