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Author Topic: AKHENATEN/TUTANKHAMUN  (Read 80070 times)
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« Reply #1140 on: February 17, 2010, 02:29:26 am »

King Tut Mummy Yields New Answers to Old Medical Mysteries

By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: February 16, 2010
Reviewed by Dori F. Zaleznik, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Ancient Egypt's most famous pharaoh, Tutankhamun, likely died of a combination of bone disease and malarial infection, according to a comprehensive analysis of mummies in his royal family.

And, contrary to long-standing speculation, no signs of gynecomastia or Marfan syndrome were found by the research team led by Carsten M. Pusch, PhD, of the University of Tübingen, Germany.

Tutankhamun died at age 19 after reigning only nine years and without an heir, sparking historians' suspicions of murder and familial disease, the researchers wrote in the Feb. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.Action Points 
Note that the study provided further support for certain potential causes of death for Tutankhamun but as a retrospective analysis could not provide definite cause-and-effect proof.
Taken together, their findings suggest that death was not attributable to foul play but rather his inflammatory, immunosuppressive, and constitutionally weakened condition from the combination of a leg fracture and malarial infection.

This investigation was unique in its unfettered access to royal mummies and its use of radiography, DNA technology, and other modern scientific tools, Howard Markel, MD, PhD, of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, wrote in an editorial released with the JAMA paper.

But Markel cautioned about the ethical considerations of DNA research. While DNA was the key to solving part of the puzzle, Markel questioned whether major historical figures have a right to privacy after death just as private citizens do.

For Pusch's group, the accuracy made possible, at least in part, because of developments in DNA technology was a boon.

Rather than make inferences from artifacts, the researchers conducted detailed anthropological, radiological, and genetic studies of royal mummies as part of the King Tutankhamun Family Project.

Statues, sculptures, and reliefs from the Armana period around 1353 to 1323 B.C. when King Tut and his father -- the controversial King Akhenaten, who tried to radically transform religion in the New Kingdom -- ruled suggested an androgynous appearance in the royal family.

Although no chest wall was available for Tutankhamen to determine whether he had gynecomastia, the researchers noted "well developed" genitalia.

He also had a relatively flat head (brachycephaly) contrasting with the elongated skull (dolichocephaly) expected as one of the obvious features of Marfan syndrome.

Thus, the feminine physique seen in art from the period likely reflected a royally-decreed idealized style, not a bizarre appearance of the family, Pusch and colleagues concluded.

The researchers also excluded Antley-Bixler syndrome, but detailed radiological examination of the king's feet revealed a low arch and deformed structure with areas of bone density indicating bone necrosis.

Köhler disease II or Freiberg-Köhler syndrome was apparently active at the time of death and may have caused walking disability for some time, given the 130 canes and walking sticks -- some with traces of wear -- found in the boy king's tomb and depictions of him seated for activities like hunting for which he normally should have been standing.

Among the 10 possibly or definitely closely related mummies examined, Pusch's group also found bone malformation -- including cleft palate, clubfeet, and flat feet -- along with indications of bone degeneration, neoplastic changes, and trauma.

Several of the mummies, like Tutankhamun, had DNA of the malaria parasite, although none had evidence of tuberculosis, leprosy, leishmaniasis, or pandemic bubonic plague.

The researchers also discovered the identity of several of the mummies, whereas only three had identities known for sure before the two-year project:

Thuya, maternal grandmother or great grandmother of Tutankhamun
Yuya, maternal grandfather or great grandfather of Tutankhamun
Amenhotep III, father of Akhenaten
Genetic testing of Y chromosome alleles showed identical allele patterns in Amenhotep III, Tutankhamun, and a third mummy but not other unrelated mummies, a result that was replicated by a second independent laboratory.

This, along with identical blood group results with Tutankhamun, further supported that the third mummy (KV55) is Akhenaten, the researchers said.

Using the genetic information on allele sharing among the mummies, the researchers put together the most plausible family tree as Yuya and Thuya as parents of the newly identified Tiye, who with Amenhotep III had Akhenaten and his sister, the as-yet unidentified mummy KV35YL.

Akhenaten and his sister were parents of Tutankhamun, who in turn was identified as the father of two mummified fetuses.

The mother of these two stillbirths was suggested to be the mummy KV21A, although the little data available did not statistically significantly define her as Ankhensenamun.
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