Tutankhamun's parents were cousins, not siblings

Tutankhamun

The ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun's parents were actually cousins and not siblings as previously thought, archaeologists have claimed.

While Akhenaten was known to be King Tut's father, the identity of his mother has remained elusive. But at least one archaeologist believes she was Nefertiti.

Recent DNA analyses from the mummies of Tut and his kin revealed that the boy king's parents were siblings. Those results pointed to the "heretic" king Akhenaten and one of his sisters as the mother and father of Tut, the 'LiveScience' reported.

However, researcher Marc Gabolde said in a talk at Harvard University that he believes King Tut's mother was Akhenaten's cousin Nefertiti, who was Akhenaten's chief wife and the mother of six of his daughters.

Gabolde said the genetic closeness of Tut's parents does not necessarily point to a brother-sister pairing. Rather, it could be due to three successive generations of marriage between first cousins, he said.

"The consequence of that is that the DNA of the third generation between cousins looks like the DNA between a brother and sister," Gabolde said, according to the Harvard Gazette.

"I believe that Tutankhamun is the son of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, but that Akhenaten and Nefertiti were cousins," Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, disputed Gabolde's claim.

Hawass, who led the 2010 JAMA study, said that his team's research showed that Tut's mother was, like Akhenaten, the daughter of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.

He added that there is "no evidence" in archaeology or philology to indicate that Nefertiti was the daughter of Amenhotep III.

King Tut was part of the 18th dynasty of the Egyptian New Kingdom, which lasted from about 1550 BC to 1295 BC. He died in the ninth year of his reign at the age of 19, leaving no heirs.

Several ideas have popped up about possible diseases that may have wreaked havoc on his family as well as the cause of Tut's early demise, with some evidence suggesting he died in part from malaria and bone abnormalities.

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