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You are in: Manchester > Science > Science features > Mummy was a daddy, says expert

Tutankhamen death mask

King Tut: father of twins?

Mummy was a daddy, says expert

A conference in Manchester has been told that the boy king Tutankhamen was probably the father of twins.

Tutankhamen is the most important figure in Egyptology and the treasures that were unearthed have captivated the world, drawing millions to the Valley of the Kings.

Mummified foetus

One of the child mummies

But what is less well known is that, when explorer Howard Carter discovered his virtually intact burial chamber in Luxor in 1922, he also found two foetuses.

Egyptologists have long debated whether these mummies were the stillborn children of the teenage Pharaoh and his wife Ankhesenamun. Or if they were placed in the tomb as an offering to help the boy king's passage into the afterlife.

As experts wait on the results of DNA paternity tests being carried out in Cairo, the Pharmacy and Medicine in Ancient Egypt Conference at the University of Manchester has been told that they were probably Tutankhamen's twin offspring.

Pharaoh

Mr Robert Connolly from the University of Liverpool, who is working with the Egyptian authorities to analyse the mummified remains, said he had compared blood group data on both the Pharaoh king and the child mummies.

Valley of the Kings, near Luxor, Egypt

Valley of the Kings, near Luxor, Egypt

"The work carried out by Catherine Hellier in Norway and I suggests that the two foetuses in the tomb of Tutankhamen could be twins despite their very different size and thus fit better as a single pregnancy for his young wife. This increases the likelihood of them being Tutankhamen's children."

Adding: "It is a very exciting finding which will not only paint a more detailed picture of this famous young King s life and death, it will also tell us more about his lineage."

Conference Director Professor Rosalie David from the University of Manchester said:  "Tutankhamen was a fascinating character whose tomb and indeed body has given us so much information about life in Ancient Egypt, and it seems will continue to do so for some time yet."

Tomb

Tutankhamen, who lived in the mid 14th Century BC, is believed to have ascended to the throne aged about nine. Scholars believe he married Ankhesenamun at the age of 12, but the couple had no surviving children.

Tutankhamun exhibition

Inside the Tutankhamen exhibition in London

Although in life he was of only moderate historical significance, in death Tutankhamen achieved worldwide fame thanks to the virtually intact state of his tomb when it was opened by British explorer Carter in 1922.

It was packed with such a fabulous trove of gold and ebony treasures that when Carter first peered inside and was asked if he could see anything, his famous reply was: "Yes, wonderful things."

  • Manchester Museum is home to one of the largest and most important collections of ancient Egyptian artefacts in the United Kingdom
  • The KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester is the first specifically designated research centre for the investigation of Egyptian mummies in the world.

last updated: 03/09/2008 at 11:24
created: 01/09/2008

You are in: Manchester > Science > Science features > Mummy was a daddy, says expert



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