DNA analysis unveils Egyptian mummy mystery

A once-suspected pharaoh was unmasked after genetic assessment
16 May 2022

Interview with 

Corinne Duhig, University of Cambridge


A key tool in forensic anthropology is analyzing DNA, our genetic fingerprint, to get a closer match on identifying an individual. This tool has also been useful in solving more ancient mysteries as Corinne Duhig from Cambridge university explains to Julia Ravey...

Corinne - In Egypt, we have had the question of the royal mummies. Particularly ones that were found in caches, where they had been robbed and then taken by priests and rewrapped and reburied and put in what were thought to be secure places. Now, it was always thought that we knew who they were because the priests doing the re-wrapping had written the names on the wrappings. In about 1990, lots of the royal mummies, though not all, were x-rayed again and had DNA samples taken. And from this, various family trees were produced. And it was quite helpful because there was one mummy of a Pharaoh and we all looked at him and said, "that can't be a Pharaoh because he's not buried in the right body position." And this was useful because the DNA actually showed yes, he's part of the Royal family, but he's not deep within the Royal family. He is actually somebody else misnamed.


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