I read a story today - a story far more enthralling than medical or forensic mysteries on TV. It's a true story - one based on real science! The protagonist was no other than the archeological marvel the great King Tut. King Tut or Tutankhamun is a familiar name to most of us. You may remember him from the story of Howard Carter's discovery his intact tomb in 1922, from the media-instigated folk-lores about the curse of his mummy, or from your middle school textbooks, where his name would have appeared alongside those of Akhenatun and Nefertiti.
Tut became king at the age of 9 and mysteriously died when he was 19. Our middle school history books tell us that he was somehow vaguely related to Amenhotep III, Akhenatun (Amenhotep IV), and Nefertiti (the beautiful wife of Akhenatun). Yet, from a variety of different sources I stumbled upon over the years, it appeared that Akhenatun could have been Tut's uncle, dad, or brother! A hailed pharaoh in his lifetime, King Tut was denounced as a heretic after his death and heir-less as he was, his legend was lost for millenia after his death in the obscurity of a shabby tomb.
|King Tut's mummy being prepared for a CT scan|
The study establishes that King Tut was the grandson of Amenhotep III. His father (identified as mummy KV55) was "almost certainly" identified as Akhenatun. It also showed (rather alarmingly) that Tut's mother (mummy KV35YL) was in fact the sister of KV55! In other words, the hailed pharaoh was a product of royal incest. Here's the full family tree:
|King Tut's family tree|
|The king resting on a cane while attended by his wife Ankhensenamun|
Dr. Hawass' narrative ends here. King Tut's story, however, doesn't. But we can hope that some day science will take us to the point where his story will indeed be complete! For now, having read this, I feel thrilled to get reminded that real science can indeed be much more thrilling than TV science!