Friday, February 19, 2010

More re JAMA paper on Tutankhamun

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

A useful summary of some of the findings.

Journalists from across the globe flocked yesterday morning to the foyer of the Egyptian Museum, desperate to catch a glimpse of the mummies of King Tutankhamun's parents and grandmother.

Eighty-eight years after the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb the enigma of the 18th Dynasty, one of the most powerful royal houses of the New Kingdom which included Akhenaten as well as the boy king, is finally being unravelled.

"The Amarna period is like an unfinished play. We know its beginning but have never succeeded in discovering its end," Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), told reporters at the press conference held at the Egyptian Museum. "Now, using modern scientific technology and DNA analyses of five New Kingdom royal mummies, 70 per cent of the history of the Amarna period has been uncovered and several perplexing questions answered.

Hawass announced that the mummy from tomb KV 55 in the Valley of the Kings, which archaeologists in 1955 believed to be of Semenka Re, who died at the age of 25, belongs to the monotheistic king Akhenaten, who died aged between 45 and 55. DNA tests also show that Akhenaten is Tutankhamun's father, not his brother as some have claimed.

Archaeological evidence supports the results, not least the inscribed limestone block pieced together by Hawass in December 2008.

Discovery News (Rossella Lorenzi)

Study author Ashraf Selim, professor of radiology at Cairo University, told Discovery News that malaria could have been indeed the cause of death for King Tut.

"The type of malaria found is what is sometimes refered to as malignant malaria as being the most viscious of all types and certainly might have lead to his death," Selim said.

However, Selim does not rule out some other interacting causes.

"The fracture of his thigh bone might have had complications like septiceamia (blood stream infection ) and fat embolism (fat in the blood reaching the lungs). Both can lead to the death of an individual," the researcher said.

However, some outside mummy experts contacted by Discovery News are sceptical, and question the claim that malaria and bone necrosis might have caused King Tut's demise.

The article then goes on to quote a number of researchers who were not involved in the study and who have other perspectives to offer: Frank Ruhli, Stephen Buckley and Gino Fornaciari.

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