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How Tutankhamun's DNA Became a Battleground 89

Posted by timothy
from the mark-fuhrman-as-a-consultant dept.
First time accepted submitter superboj writes "Everyone wants a piece of Egypt's most famous pharaoh, including the media, the Muslim Brotherhood and even the Mormon church. But while scientists have been trying to excavate his DNA and prove who he was — Egypt's turbulent politics have been making progress hard. Will experts be able to make a major discovery? And what happens if they do?"
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How Tutankhamun's DNA Became a Battleground

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  • by Marginal Coward (3557951) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @01:06AM (#46433221)

    Is he - or is he not - related to Steve Martin?

    • by meerling (1487879)
      It's been over 3000 years, so there's a chance there are a lot of people related to him, though not direct descendants as there seems to be little chance of him having had kids.
      • by peragrin (659227)

        Let's died at 19 ascended to the throne at age 10. married his sister.

        Let's say starting around age 17 he slept with a different woman every week(like Bieber). That is a possible 100 different kids that go unacknowledged.

        Of course officially he had two kids that were stillborn. born of incest, and married to your sister will do that.

        So he had anywhere from 0-100 kids.

        • by bjwest (14070)
          Why do you have him waiting until he was 17? This is way before the stigma against sex that came with the invention of a single god. I'd say he was active and able to father children around 13 or so. Being, at the time, the most powerful figure on the planet and in his sexual prime, he most likely had sex more than once a week from puberty on.
        • by gzuckier (1155781)

          The whole point of that incestuous marriages thing that was prevalent among the pharaohs was to keep the holy royal ancestry from spreading out of the family. Keep the family tree pruned to one branch, as it were. So he'd be much less likely to have a jillion modern descendants than the average Egyptian of his period.

    • by robbiedo (553308)
      How did he get so funky?
  • tl;dr (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @02:21AM (#46433375)

    Mitt Romney shares Goa'uld DNA with ancient Pharaoh.

  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @02:46AM (#46433413)

    It's interesting how "important" this pharaoh is. He died really young. Realistically, his greatest historical accomplishment was simply not having his tomb raided by treasure hunters.

    It's amazing how much bullshit is happening around this corpse. The Mormons want to identify if it was one of their ancient ancestors so they can posthumously baptize him. There's some kind of fear that he may have been a Jewish ancestor. Which would somehow make Egypt part of Israel. Then the geneticists are arguing over the validity of DNA testing of mummies. And the most bizarre thing is from some fuzzy screen captue of a computer monitor that was filmed in one of the Discovery channel documentaries. Since they won't release the data, some group is claiming that the screen capture proves that king Tut was actually Caucasian. Which has some Aryan group in a frenzy. And now with the mess in Egypt, further studies have been put on hole. It's like a bad 3000 year old joke.

    • by pollarda (632730) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @03:55AM (#46433511)
      FYI: The "Mormon Church" as you describe it is actually a team at BYU that specializes in genetic identification of family relationships. One of their geneticists is one of the top in the country and to date, they have identified a number of unknown mummies who have been floating around various museums. They have also built a genetic family tree. There is all sorts of things one can learn about ancient Egypt this way. (For example, just because historical records say that two people are related, it doesn't mean they are genetically.) The BYU team has no interest in it from a religious perspective. King Tut wouldn't provide any additional "religious" information than the other 30+ mummies they have already worked with. They are very interested in it from a scientific perspective which is another way of saying that they are curious as all scientists should be.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by denzacar (181829)

        The BYU team has no interest in it from a religious perspective.

        So... Are you saying that they are NOT Mormons or are you questioning their faith and calling them bad Mormons?
        Being that BYU stands for Brigham Young University which is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

        It is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and, excluding online students, is the largest religious university and one of the largest private universities in the U.S., with 34,000 on-campus students.[8][9][10]

        Approximately 98% of the university's 34,000 students are members of the LDS Church, and one-third of its American students come from within the state of Utah.[11] BYU students are required to follow an honor code, which mandates behavior in line with LDS teachings (e.g., academic honesty, adherence to dress and grooming standards, and abstinence from extramarital sex and from the consumption of drugs and alcohol).[12] Many students (78% of men, 10% of women) take a two-year hiatus from their studies at some point to serve as Mormon missionaries.[13][14]

        And being that it is first and foremost a religious institution.

        BYU is thus considered by its leaders to be at heart a religious institution, wherein, ideally, religious and secular education are interwoven in a way that encourages the highest standards in both areas.[141] This weaving of the secular and the religious aspects of a religious university goes back as far as Brigham Young himself, who told Karl G. Maeser when the Church purchased the school: "I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God."[142]

        • The implication that proxy work is being done for these individuals is unfounded. If they were to do so for the ancient pharaohs, they certainly wouldn't need a tissue sample! That's just ridiculous. No, BYU is studying the genetics, fair and square.

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org]

            Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that tracing family lineage is essential for special religious ceremonies that seal family units together for eternity. According to Mormons, this fulfills a Biblical prophecy stating that the prophet Elijah would return to "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers."[2]

            They are actively fulfilling a Biblical prophecy ONLY by determining genealogical lineage AND then baptizing the dead.
            Simply baptizing them just makes them Mormon. In the minds of the LDS followers.

            Only the genealogically backed baptism, fulfills the prophecy of The Second ComingTM.
            Kinda like those Texans and Israelis who are breeding red heifers in order to bring about the end of the world.

            That's right! Both these groups are jerking off to the idea of Armageddon!
            And yet no

            • "That's right! Both these groups are jerking off to the idea of Armageddon!
              And yet nobody is rounding them up into prisons and concentration camps under suspicion of conspiracy to kill everyone on the planet!
              I know! Insane!"

              They are left alone because they are harmless nuts. When they cease to be harmless they will be dealt with.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org]

              That's right! Both these groups are jerking off to the idea of Armageddon!
              And yet nobody is rounding them up into prisons and concentration camps under suspicion of conspiracy to kill everyone on the planet!
              I know! Insane!

              The Mormons are getting ready for an event prophesied to occur at an undetermined and unknowable future time, unlike the Iranians who are actively working to Implement it.

            • by gd2shoe (747932)

              They are actively fulfilling a Biblical prophecy ONLY by determining genealogical lineage AND then baptizing the dead. Simply baptizing them just makes them Mormon. In the minds of the LDS followers.

              No, no, no, no, no.

              http://mormon.org/faq/proxy-baptisms
              Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth (see John3:5). Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. These individuals in the next life can then choose to accept or decline what has been done in their behalf.

              You're missing a very, very key element here. Nobody is making anybody else Mormon. That would violate agency. Baptism is a covenant, like a contract. It is a two sided promise. It is valid if, and only if the deceased accepts it. Thus, they are NOT recorded as becoming Mormon, but as having had the saving ordinances performed on their behalf. It is up to them to decide whether the ordinance is valid or not.

              This misunderstanding has lead to a lot of unnecessary anger (and heated rh

            • I think his point was, they don't need a tissue sample to do the ceremony. If their goal was ceremony, they already would have done it (as they have with George Washington [josephsmithacademy.org]). So therefore it is reasonable to conclude they have a different goal for the tissue sample.
            • by gzuckier (1155781)

              They are actively fulfilling a Biblical prophecy ONLY by determining genealogical lineage AND then baptizing the dead.
              Simply baptizing them just makes them Mormon. In the minds of the LDS followers.

              Only the genealogically backed baptism, fulfills the prophecy of The Second ComingTM.
              Kinda like those Texans and Israelis who are breeding red heifers in order to bring about the end of the world.

              That's right! Both these groups are jerking off to the idea of Armageddon!

              Like the rightwingers who want Obama to declare war on Russia to save Crimea from the hands of the no-longer Communists!

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          So... Are you saying that they are NOT Mormons or are you questioning their faith and calling them bad Mormons?
          Being that BYU stands for Brigham Young University which is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

          And yet, it's an accredited institution of higher learning in which scientists work and publish scientific papers unrelated to their religion. Imagine that.

          And being that it is first and foremost a religious institution.

          You can say the same thing about some Catholic and

        • by gzuckier (1155781)

          Being that BYU stands for Brigham Young University which is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

          D'oh! All these years I've been thinking it was BYO University!

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Don't forget all the present-day Egyptians who don't want Tut to have a too dark skin too. We would not want to revise all the depictions of Egyptians as almost totally white. There is supposed to be a clear border where Nubia starts.
    • by guises (2423402) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @08:11AM (#46433927)
      Tutankhamun himself didn't have a terribly interesting life or reign, but the circumstances surrounding him is easily one of the most fascinating stories from ancient Egypt. His father was Akhenaten, easily the most bizarre pharaoh - he basically forsook running the kingdom in favor of starting a cult out in the middle of nowhere. His religion was the first known monotheistic one and he drastically changed the art and practices of what was arguably the most conservative culture that there has ever been. Akhenaten's wife (not Tutankhamun's mother) was Nefertiti, who's bust is one of the most iconic symbols of Egypt.

      After Akhenaten's death, Tutankhamun and his sister / wife, Ankhesenamun, were too young to rule so the vizier, named Ay, took over and basically tried to undo what Akhenaten had done. The "amun" at the end of the two children's names is significant - Amun was the most worshiped god of the old religion, Tut's father's god was called the Aten. Tut's birth name was Tutankhaten, and the change came with a lot of reversals of his father's religious policies.

      For a long time Tutankhamun was believed to have been murdered, but I guess that's in dispute now. Regardless, we have a heartbreaking letter from just after his death sent by his sister / wife to the Hittite king. Remember that Ay, in his seventies, has been ruling the country unofficially for the last nine years, that Egypt was the most powerful country in the world at this time, that the Hittites were traditional enemies of Egypt, and that Ankhesenamun, now eighteen and alone, is the only surviving member of the pure royal bloodline. This is from memory, so don't get mad if it's slightly off:

      My husband is dead and I have no sons. I understand that you have many - send me one of yours and I will marry him and make him king of Egypt. Never will I marry a servant.

      I am afraid.

      A Hittite prince was sent, and he and his retinue were murdered en route. The only other record that we have of Ankhesenamun is her name and Ay's written together in way that signifies that they were married. Ay becomes the next pharaoh, and she disappears after this.

      • > Akhenaten's wife (not Tutankhamun's mother) was Nefertiti, who's bust is one of the most iconic symbols of Egypt.

        Probably the second most famous of their imagery, second only to the gold helmet they ripped off from Battlestar Galactica.

      • was Nefertiti, who's bust is one of the most iconic symbols of Egypt

        I guess they don't call her Nefertiti for nothing.

    • by manu0601 (2221348)

      There's some kind of fear that [Tutankhamun] may have been a Jewish ancestor. Which would somehow make Egypt part of Israel.

      With that kind of rationale, China would be somehow part of Mongolia

    • Tut wasn't all that important besides being the Son of The Guy Who Created God. Now, to me that beats being "The Son of God". Tut's dad was in conflict with his priests, declared there was only one God, moved the court way up the Nile and thereby created a big following of priests who claimed there was only a single (somewhat abstract) deity. This is probably the basis for the later Abrahamic God, and so, Tut was "The Son of the Guy who Created God".
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      Realistically, his greatest historical accomplishment was simply not having his tomb raided by treasure hunters.

      Actually, his tomb was raided. How much they got away with, we'll probably never know, but not a great amount. When Carter entered the tomb, there were clear signs of repairs to the doorway ,and the interior was a jumbled mess, as if the place had been partly ransacked, and then a lot of stuff almost literally thrown back in - by inference by the equivalent of the Police.

      Safe to say - if some pe

  • Tuthankhamun's DNA has been linked to the egyptian region and has markers that indicate his proximity to egyptian royalty of around 1332 BC .

    _______________
    No to beta
  • by jazzmans (622827)

    this article, and the linked website are absolute shite.

    What the fuck, Slashdot?

    my stuff never gets posted, but shit like this does?

    FFS.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The website is an annoying mobile site, but the article has a lot of content. It goes into the backstory and history. It's significantly better than a two paragraph blog that only contains fluff or a Dice ad linking back to Slashdot.

      I don't know what you try to post.

    • by ruir (2709173)
      Truth is when I saw it in my iPhone the site was very weak. Now in my MacBook Pro is far more interesting.
  • Over its history Egypt changed hands so much that whatever people ended up there in modern time may end up being related to Tutankhamun even to lesser degree than, say, British.
    • by gzuckier (1155781)

      Aren't the Copts supposed to be the closest descendants of the ancient Egyptians?

      • Maybe, but several thousands years has passed and culture of original Egyptian was destroyed by multitude of invaders. For example, they lost their original language and are mostly Muslim due to being conquered by Arabs at some point. A minority of them are Christian and only to Christian Egyptians the word 'Copt' applies. Neither of those are original Egyptian religions obviously. And probably they can't claim ancestry either due to thousand of years of interbreeding with said invaders. That's assuming anc
      • by RockDoctor (15477)
        Descendents, certainly ; more closely related than any other randomly selected Egyptian is a lot more dubious. By the time you get back to when the Romans ruled, probably every Egyptian alive then is an ancestor of every Egyptian alive today. Go back another 1400 years (the equivalent to going back from today to Attila the Hun and the Visigoths) and everyone in the area is related to each other.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @02:37PM (#46440655)
    Genetic statisticians have figured out that in as little as 8 centuries either your had died out or has contributed to everybody. This a variant of the problem that after 30 generations you should have more ancestors than the population of Earth. But there always is a degree of inbreeding for most marriages- as little as 2nd cousins for some village traditions, to most US spouses are at least 10th cousins or closer. I.E. another variant that Obama is related to almost half of the other presidents through generations in the USA history (12 generations or less). A significant fraction of Middle proudly trace their hertitage to Mohammed; Chinese to some empreror. Genetic studies hint a tenth of Asia has markers from Genghis Khan. If Jesus had had children (unclear) then much of the world could be descendents.

    Conversely, even if Charlemagne is your proven ancestor, you may have no genes from him. You have about 42,000 genes, duplicate copies from each parent. After 16 generations, some ancestor must drop off the list of contributing genes. Probably much sooner because meiotic (germ cell)recombination appears operate on blocks of genes, not individual genes.
    • by Reziac (43301) *

      This is kinda like how ALL Norwegians go back to Harald the Great. (I've forgotten the details but that's the gist of it.)

      • by RockDoctor (15477)
        For Brits, King Richard or his brother King John. Or there abouts.

        Pour les Francais, quelque roi apres de Charlemagne.

        For anglophone Americans ... we're back to the Dick and Johnny show again.

        • by Reziac (43301) *

          Or might William the Conqueror be the major entry point for that line? Come to think of it, was he related to Charlemagne?

          My ancestors on the Brit side were largely Welsh. So chances are I go back to some prince named Owain or Llewellyn as well. :)

          [I'm actually an heir to a Welsh castle, should I cough up the million pounds or so in back taxes... of course, I've got competition from 6 or 7 generations of shirttail relations... Perhaps we should pool our funds. :D ]

          • by RockDoctor (15477)
            William the Bastard (his name at the time ; the "Conquerer" bit was only added a few generations later) was sufficiently far back that everyone in Britain is related to him by multiple routes. While both Guillame Le BatÃrd and Charlemagne were of Germanic descent, I think Charlemagne's antecedents came out of the forests of Germania (as the Romans called it), probably under the impetus of invading Tatars from the east. Guillame Le BatÃrd, on the other hand, came from a more Nordic stock, and his i
            • by Reziac (43301) *

              They were quite a bunch, eh? Fun times, if you were on the winning side!

              The big difference seems to be that the northerners raped, pillaged, burned, then settled down and became reasonably good neighbors. The easterners (and by extension, the Normans) raped, pillaged, burned, and set themselves up as overlords.

              Alas, the castle isn't really in habitable condition, even were I a rich lunatic willing and able to cough up the back taxes. Not irreparable, per the photos I've seen, but rather a ways from a turnke

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      If Jesus had existed (unclear) then much of the world could be descendents.

      FTFY

  • Maybe it isn't too uncommon!
  • Wait just one abbreviated minute; Tutankhamen,DNA, excavate and the Muslim Brotherhood!!! I smell Disney,Theme Park and Harrison Ford! Don't say I didn't give you the insider(oops)inside tip! Wink, Wink,Nudge,Nudge! Say no more.

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