Monday, June 15, 2009

Royals in the lab

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

It's all go at Al Ahram this week.

A SECOND facility for testing the DNA and the lineage of ancient Egyptian royal mummies is ready to go into operation, Nevine El-Aref reports.

The laboratory is similar to the one set up two years ago at the Egyptian Museum where the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut was identified. The new lab was inaugurated last Sunday in the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University.

Sally Reda, one of the five scientists who will be working at the laboratory, said that one of the purposes of the facility would be independently to reproduce the results obtained in the first lab. A crucial element of DNA testing, she explained, was that an independent replication of the DNA results of the mummies was different from when applied to living people. "Mummies are very old and very fragile," Reda pointed out. "This necessitates extraction and multiplication before testing."

The DNA samples will be taken from the mummies by entering the same puncture hole from a number of different angles with a bone marrow biopsy needle, a less invasive technique than that used by previous researchers.

At the opening ceremony Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), told reporters that it was of prime importance not to use the same lab to analyse the DNA of living and dead people as there could be confusion over the results.

"I used to be against the DNA tests for mummies as it was carried out by foreigners and the mix of DNA of the dead and the living could lead to incorrect and inaccurate results," Hawass told reporters. "We cannot trust results from one lab, so we have established another to compare both results and get precise data."

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DL said...

I am so glad the tests are being allowed. When we the results be complete?

DL said...

Pardon my typo. When will the DNA results be made public?