Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, March 02, 2010


The paper Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun's Family
by Hawass al. (Journal of American Medicine, 2010 - JAMA. 2010;303(7):638-647), states that the mummy in KV55 is “probably” Akhenaten – hereafter “the JAMA paper”.  The media has accepted the attribution as affirmed fact, although the attribution has attracted considerable comment and debate with a number of writers questioning the forensic data.  I believe, however, that the correct focus of dissent to the attribution should be the STR analysis which shows that the KV55 mummy is highly unlikely to be Akhenaten and that an alternative family tree is a better fit to the genetic findings of the Hawass study.

(As this article is longer than normal, if you are reading this abstract on the front page of the blog then please click here or on the article title to display the full article below this point.)


In the JAMA paper, Hawass et al. outline what they see as the most likely 5-generational family tree including the identification of the KV55 mummy and KV35YL as full siblings.  I accept the family tree with the exception of the sibling identification which I believe should be questioned and the identification of Akhenaten.

The Hawass theory hypothecates KV35YL (“the Younger Lady”) as a previously unknown wife of Akhenaten.  As his sister, the lady was of royal birth.  As she gave birth to a son, who presumably was the heir apparent, by convention she was probably a queen.  We are therefore asked to hypothecate an unknown queen who avoided mention in any of the surviving reliefs, although Kiya, known to be despised by Nefertiti, was mentioned on a number of occasions.

The paper also identifies that the Younger Lady was killed, probably murdered, by a sharp blow to the face.  Throughout history the murder of a queen has been a serious matter.  It is hard to envisage circumstances in which this queen, rather than the more prominent Kiya or Nefertiti would be a murder victim, especially since her son, Tutankhamun, remained alive.

Age at Death of the KV55 Mummy

The age at death of the KV55 mummy has attracted considerable debate. The forensic assessment of the age at death based upon skeletal and dental analysis remains contentious.  Since this paper identifies that the KV55 mummy is not Akhenaten on genetic grounds, I don’t discuss the forensic assessment at the age of death in detail.  However, I note in passing that once the identification of KV55 as Akhenaten is set aside, the this forensic data ceases to be problematic – at least for now – as so little is known of Smenkhare (if indeed the KV55 mummy is even he).


History records only a single wife for Tutankhamun – Ankhesenamun – whose image and name is prominent on a number of items found in KV62, Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.  It is tempting to indentify the two foetuses from that tomb as Ankhesenamun’s daughters.  History is clear that Ankhesenamun was the [third] daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.  If the KV55 mummy is Akhenaten then as well as being the paternal grandfather of the foetuses (via Tutankhamun), then he must also be the maternal grandfather (via Ankhesenamun).   However, this contradicts the genetic data.  Examination of the STR analysis for locus D7S820 shows that Foetus 1 presented characteristics (alleles) 10 and 13 and Foetus 2 characteristics 6,15.  Tutankhamun (the father), presented 10 and 15 so the other characteristics (alleles) must have been inherited from their mother (Ankhesenamun), who must therefore have presented characteristics 6 and 13. 

Since one of each pair of alleles is inherited from the father and one from the mother, her father (Akhenaten) must have presented either 6 or 13.  The KV55 mummy presents neither of these and is instead the diploid 15,15. The KV55 mummy cannot be the maternal grandfather of these mummies, ie it cannot be Akhenaten if Ankhesenamun is the mother of the foetuses.

This contradiction arises without consideration as to whether the KV21A mummy is Ankhesenamun or not, or indeed whether the KV21A mummy is the mother of the two foetuses (although it seems likely that she is the mother).   The contradiction could be resolved by hypothecating that the foetuses had different mothers, or that their mother was not a daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.  In either case, this would require us to believe that Tutankhamun had another wife who went without mention in his tomb.  As his tomb was found almost intact we must conclude that no mention of this other wife was recorded when the tomb was closed.  While an additional wife is far from impossible, hypothecating an unknown wife (and probably queen) for Tutankhamun whose foetuses were buried with Tutankhamun but who herself was unmentioned must surely be problematic.

In short the Hawass theory requires the hypothecating of unknown queens for both Akhenaten and Tutankhamun.  While not impossible, it casts serious doubt upon the Hawass theory that KV55 is Akhenaten.

Enter Smenkhare?

The contradiction in the D7S820 STR results, and the need to hypothecate either additional queen, can be resolved by instead identifying the KV55 mummy as an unknown prince.  There is no way to name this prince but he would seem to fit what is known of Smenkhare and, for convenience at least, I’ll  work with this attribution throughout the rest of this paper.

The mummy of Akhenaten would remain missing or unidentified.  Indeed the question would remain whether either he or his wife, Nefertiti, was ever returned to the Valley of the Kings from Amarna, although science hopes they were and that their last resting place might be found.  (Romantics might wish to find them interred together.)

Multi-inter-generational Allele Jumps

In Table 1 below I have repeated the STR findings for 6 loci reported in the JAMA paper: D13S317, D7S820, D2S1338, D21S11, D16S539 and D18S51.  I have omitted the final two loci tested as the findings are materially incomplete in the latest generations so they add little to this discourse.  (I have nonetheless checked that the reported alleles in those loci are consistent with my conclusions in this paper.)  I have added my deduced assessment of the genetics of Akhenaten and Nefertiti (both mummies unknown) as I will explain later.

[Author's note: if you are having trouble reading this table, my apologies.  Please see the Typographical Note at the bottom of the paper which presents a bare copy without formatting.  Alternatively click on the table to see the source image which is also much cleaner (and retains the formatting).]

For now, I would draw your attention again to the 13-characteristic in the D7S820 locus.  This is present in the 1st generation (Thuya) and the 5th generation (Foetus 1).   I have examined a number of papers to assess the frequency of the 13-allele:

Population Data on the STR Loci D7S820, D8S1179, and D12S391 in a Sample Population of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Gomes et al, Forensic Science Communications, January 2004 - Volume 5 - Number 1)3.09%
Allelic Frequency Distribution of Four STR Loci (FGA, D7S820, D1S533, D9S304) in the Argentinean Population (Raimondi, E, Toscanini, U, Haas, E.)2.81%
Analysis of the three STR loci (D16S539, D7S820, D13S317) in a population sample of Marmara region of Turkey (A. Hadi Çak›r et al, Journal of Cell and Molecular Biology 1: 25-30, 2002)2.00%
Table 2 - References for the D7S820 allele distribution

This locus has been extensively studied.  The most comprehensive analysis I have found was published by the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf which states an incidence for modern Egypt of 1.32%.  (The university’s databank is best accessed via its front page.)

The possibility that the 13-allele has re-appeared spontaneously in the 5th generation (actually in the 4th generation as the mother [Ankhesenamun] must also have presented this allele) is therefore of the order of 1.3% - 2%. 

There is a similar pattern with allele-35  at locus D21S11  Again this is allele is presented by Thuya but does not appear again until the 4th generation in the KV21A mummy, as well as in the 5th generation in Foetus 2.  Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf again has collected research into the distribution of this allele.  In this case, this allele is undetectable in many populations but the incidence within the modern Egyptian population is shown as 1.1%, one of the highest incidences worldwide and a likely upper-bound for the incidence in the population of ancient Egypt.  The chance of this allele being reintroduced into the 4th generation from the general population is therefore of the order of 1%.   

In combination, the chance of both alleles being reintroduced from the general population is therefore of the order of 0.02%.  Given the consanguinity of the royal family, it would be inappropriate to regard this as precise; however, it does give some sense that the re-introduction of both alleles from outside the royal family is extremely unlikely.  (The incidence of these alleles within the ancient Egyptian nobility is unknown.)  Put another way, there is a very high probability (about 99.98% ignoring the effects of consanguinity and the difficulty of relying on modern population statistics) of a secondary ancestral line from Thuya to the KV21A mummy.  This is consistent with theories that Nefertiti was the grand-daughter of Thuya (potentially via Ay).  (An alternative woud be an additional acestral line from one of Thuya's parents or grandparents which each successive remove in generations becoming less likely.)

Allele Jumps in the 3rd Generation

In addition to the allele jumps from Thuya to KV21A/foetuses examined in the previous section, allele 16 at the D13S317 locus, and allele 6 at the D7S820 locus jump from Amenhotep III to the foetuses.  (Although the Younger Lady presents allele 6, there is no suggestion that she is an ancestor of the foetuses other than as their paternal grandmother via Tutankhamun who did not present this allele.)  Referring again to the Heinrich-Heine-Universität databank, the frequencies of D13S17-16 and D7S820-6 in the general modern Egyptian population is immeasurable in a sample population (ie 0%) in both cases.   Clearly the incidence within a population is non-zero: it is just immeasurably low in a study with a typical sample size.  It may therefore be reasonable to state that the incidence of each allele is not expected to exceed 0.1% in the general population.

Again, the chance therefore that these rare alleles have re-appeared in the foetuses from the general population, rather than inherited via Amenhotep III (or Yuya in the case of D7S820) is extremely unlikely.  That is, there is a 99.99%+ chance that the foetuses have inherited these alleles from these earlier generations rather than from an unknown progenitor from outside this familial group.  In the case of D7S820-6, inheritance could have been from Amenhotep III or from Yuya via one of their children other than AmenhotepIII; however, neither Yuya nor Thuya presented D13S17-16 so there is a high (99%+) chance of a secondary ancestral pathway from Amenhotep III to the KV21A and Foetus 1.

Taken together with the allele jumps from Thuya's generation described in the previous section, then the probability of a secondary royal lineage for these foetuses is so high that we should regard it as proven, subject to our caveats about the paucity of DNA loci.

It is worth recapping at this point that if Ankhensenamun cannot be the mother of the LV62 foetuses if KV55 is her father.  However, in order to resolve the secondary royal lineage we find ourselves drawing on historical evidence of Nefertiti and her daughters in explanation.  The genetic evidence also favours a son of Amenhotep III as the foetuses' maternal grandfather.  Taken together, the two lines of evidence make it exceedingly difficult to continue to attribute KV55 as Akhenaten as it directly contradicts the DNA evidence.

Caveat – Unkown Family Members

Before we reconstruct a family tree which can explain these additional ancestral pathways it is important to recognise my proposal is merely the simplest possible family tree which explains the findings of the STR analysis.  It is possible, if unlikely, that these alleles were carried by other members of the earlier generations and passed via peripheral members of the royal family, one of whom was the mother or father of KV21A.  It is difficult to reconcile this with what we know of the history of the royal family, although we cannot rule out the possibility entirely.

We should also remember that only a small number of loci were analysed and for this reason all conclusions are potentially invalid, that’s especially the case when inferring descent via an even smaller number of loci.  This is a difficulty with the JAMA conclusions altogether that has been raised by other commentators.  However, perhaps instead of worrying that we have only small amounts of DNA data to work with, given the antiquity (and in some case the poor state of preservation) of the mummies involve, we should perhaps consider ourselves fortunate to have as much data as the team did manage to resolve.  It seems probable that the study of such ancient DNA, as the science evolves, might require different approaches to extracting mazimum value from limited DNA than is customary in contemporary forensic assessments.

For these reasons I have described my hypothesis merely as a theory.  I regard nothing as proven.

Reconstructing the Amarnan Family Tree

We are therefore faced with 3 features not explained by the Hawass family tree:

  • KV55 cannot be Akhenaten if Ankhesenamun (or one of her sisters) is the mother of the two foetuses found in tomb KV62.

  • There is a very strong probability that Thuya is the ancestress of the foetuses (and KV21A) other than via Amenhotep III.

  • There is a strong probability that Amenhotep III is the great-grandfather of the foetuses (and grandfather of KV21A) not via Tutankhamun.

It should be noted again that we are working with limited data on only 8 alleles, two of which have revealed little information about the foetuses and their mother(s).  To some degree any family tree must be tentative; however, I do not believe that the putative family tree presented in the JAMA paper is a good fit for the findings, and certainly not the best fit. Moreover, I propose that a classic chronology does fit the data and we could envisage a family tree as follows in Figure 1.  (My apologies, Word is a terrible word processor when it comes to constructing family trees.)

Figure 1: Hypothethical Family Tree

If we identify the KV55 mummy as Smenkhare and assume that Akhenaten remains missing, we can add Akhenaten and Nefertiti into the family tree, while retaining KV55 (Smenkhare) as the father of Tutankhamun as shown by the Hawass team.  It’s tempting to consider that KV21B and the Younger Lady are also daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.  While not essential for my revised theory, this would neatly fit historical facts.  In considering whether the DNA data would fit the revised family tree, it seems appropriate to consider that KV21B and the Younger Lady may also have been daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti as this represents the tightest constraint.  That is, if the DNA data fits an assumption that these two queens/princesses were also daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti then if they aren’t daughters the theory wouldn’t be invalidated.

Table 1, above, shows that it is possible to build a family tree with all these constraints and predict the DNA of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.  In the JAMA paper, the Younger Lady is shown as a daughter of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.  Table 1 shows that it is equally possible for her to be a daughter of Akhenaten ie a niece of Amenhotep III.  I have written before that the JAMA paper ignored how consanguinity can change the probability of relationships and could wrongly conclude that a particular relationship was proven, when other relationships were possible.

(Note, if any of these constraints are removed, a greater range of possibilities exist for the DNA of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.  Conversely, if their mummies are found and  DNA extracted, then the findings might eliminate the Younger Lady and or KV21B from consideration as their daughters.)

Queen Meritaten?

Just as we cannot name the KV55 mummy, the identity of the Younger Lady must also remain unknown.  However, it is tempting to consider that she is one of the daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.  Meketaten is known to have died in child birth, so Meritaten seems a strong candidate.  It is known she was married to Smenkhare.   Again, this is just conjecture, although it seems helpful - indeed essential - at all stages to check that the proposed family tree could fit known historical facts.

King Ay

It is also possible to consider that the Pharaoh Ay is the missing link between Yuya/Thuya and Nefertiti.  It is possible within the context of the DNA data and I have shown this in the putative family tree, but it’s really impossible to do more than conjecture.  Indeed, there is no reason from the DNA data to assume that Nefertiti’s ancestry from Yuya and Thuya was via her father rather than her mother.  Nonetheless, if the DNA of Ay was tested, it would be possible to establish whether, within my theory, he could be the father of Nefertiti even without Nefertiti’s own mummy because we can predict Nefertiti’s DNA which such accuracy from her surrounding family.  However, some commentators wonder whether Ay the son of Yuya and Thuya was the same Ay who succeeded Tutankhamun to the throne.

Mitochondrial DNA

The JAMA paper records that the team also established paternal lineage of the male mummies by sequencing 16 loci on the Y chromosome.  Work has started on examining the hyper-variable regions of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) but no results have been published.  It will be interesting what this reveals.  In the Hawass theory, the Younger Lady is a daughter of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye and therefore inherits mtDNA from Tiye and Thuya.    In my theory, the Younger Lady could be a daughter of Nefertiti (although this is not central to my theory) and Nefertiti could be descended from Yuya and Thuya via her father and potentially therefore have different mtDNA - notwithstanding that we know nothing of her mother.  While the Younger Lady and Tiye sharing the same mtDNA would not make any difference to my theory, if they have different mtDNA it would be damaging to the Hawass theory.  Likewise, in my theory, if the Younger Lady is another daughter of Nefertiti, then she and the foetuses should share mtDNA which would not be explained by the Hawass theory within the context of the family tree shown in the JAMA paper.

An Alternative Theory on the Parentage of KV55

Some people have conjectured that Nefertiti might briefly have been the consort of Amenhotep III before marrying Akhenaten.  I have therefore considered whether Amenhotep III and Nefertiti (as I have deduced her DNA) could be the parents on the KV55 mummy.  I have reservations about whether this is chronologically possible, but it fits all but one of the loci in my analysis. 

The difficulty lies with D7S820.  As previously seen, the mother of the foetuses presented as 6,13, so she must have inherited one of this pair from each of her parents.  As the son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye, Akhenaten could not have inherited allele 13 from either parent and therefore Nefertiti must have presented allele 13 at the D7S820 locus - and Akhenaten therefore allele 6.  If the Younger Lady is another daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, then likewise her alleles of 6,10 must have been inherited one from each parent.  Therefore Nefertiti’s alleles at this locus must either have been 6,13 or 10,13.  It would therefore be impossible for Amenhotep III and Nefertiti to be the parents of the KV55 mummy whose alleles are a duplicated 15.  Therefore, if the Younger Lady is a daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti she cannot be the mother of the KV55 mummy (Smenkhare), although nothing can be deduced about whether or not she was the consort of Amenhotep III.  However, if it was assumed, or proven, that the Younger Lady was not the daughter of Nefertiti then I could not rule out that Nefertiti was the mother of the KV55 mummy: she can be the mother of either but not both.  Personally I am inclined to follow the JAMA paper in accepting Amenhotep III and Tiye as the parents of the KV55 mummy (Smenkhare) but the alternative cannot be ruled out on the basis of the published STR analysis.  Again, mtDNA analysis may be helpful in excluding the possibility of some alternative theories like this one.

  • Combining the DNA data with known historical facts shows that Akhenaten is probably not the KV55 mummy.

  • It is tempting to consider the KV55 mummy (Tutankhamun’s father) alternatively as Smenkhare although this can be no more than conjecture on the basis of the available data.

  • There is a very strong probability of a second line of descent from Yuya and Thuya  to the KV62 foetuses.

  • This secondary line of descent is consistent with the historical Nefertiti.

  • There is a strong probability of second line of descent from Amenhotep III to the foetuses not via the KV55 mummy.

  • This second line of descent is consistent with the historical Akhenaten.

  • It is possible to construct a family tree along these lines which fully fits the STR analysis published in the JAMA paper and which assumes Nefertiti is a granddaughter of Yuya and Thuya.

  • It is possible, but not essential, to accommodate the Younger Lady and KV21B mummies in this revised family tree as further daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.


This paper has been a real stretch for me.  I could be wrong.  If I am, I won’t mind anybody telling me so – if you explain why!  At least I will have learned something new.  One advantage of being an amateur with no reputation or credentials is that a bit of embarrassment will not harm me.

On the other hand, if you think I may be right, then I would appreciate you cross-linking and promoting this article.  I don’t often ask, but in this case I would like the widest possible circulation and critique to determine whether my theory is viable.  If you are competent to assess what I have written, then writing in support would be very much appreciated.

It is also possible that there is unpublished data which the authors of the JAMA report used to inform their conclusions and which invalidates the theory I have presented in this paper.  If so, then I look forward to seeing it.

Although I disagree with one or two detailed findings of the JAMA paper, the true legacy of Dr Hawass and his colleagues shouldn’t be seen as the specific conclusions drawn but that they have opened an entirely new window on Egyptology through the assessment of mummy DNA.  I have disagreed with one minor aspect of their paper, which in the paper itself rates only a "probably" in the paper itself, and would like to pay testimony to the standard of their work and thank them for a considerable advancement in our knoweldge of the late 18th Dynasty.

Typographical Note

I apologise for adding Table 1 as a graphic.  I wrote the paper in Word and there is no easy way of converting tables from Word into HTML - that I know of.  Since there were links in Table 2 I hand-wrote the HTML for that table but that would have been too onerous for Table 1.  If you find it hard to view, click in it so that it is displayed alone in your browser.  For me it is then easy to read. Subsequently I have managed to grab it as an HTML table sans formatting, so I have also presented this below. I'll edit the post to add the key highlighting tomorrow.

As my regyular readers know, I get word blind when I write something so it will take me a few days to iron out all of the typos.  Where these are just obvious typos and don't change the sense of the paper, I'll just make them inline without comment.  I will highlight any revisions to the substance.

D13S317 D7S820 D2S1338 D21S11 D16S539 D18S51
Thuya (KV46) 9,12 10,13 19,26 26,35 11,13 8,19
Yuya (KV46) 11,13 6,15 22,27 29,34 6,10 12,22
Tiye (KV35EL) 11,12 10,15 22,26 26,29 6,11 19,22
Amenhotep III (KV35) 10,16 6,15 16,27 25,34 8,13 16,22
Akhenaten (N/K) 12,16 6, {10,15} 16,26 25,

8,11 16,

Nefertiti (N/K) 10,

{9,11, 12,13}

17,26 29,35 11,13 10,19
Smenkhare? (KV55) 10,12 15,15 16,26 29,34 11,13 16,19
Younger Lady (KV35YL) 10,12 6,10 16,26 25,29 8,11 16,19
Tutankhamun (KV62) 10,12 10,15 16,26 29,34 8,13 19,19
Ankhesenamun? (KV21A) 10,16 - ,26 ,35 8, 10
? (KV21B) 10 - 17,26 - 11,13 -
Foetus 1 (KV62) 12,16 10,13 16, 29, 8, ,19
Foetus 2 (KV62) 10, 6,15 ,26 29,35 8,13 10,19
Table 1 – Extended STR analysis interpolated to add Akhenaten and Nefertiti
XX alleles demonstrating KV55 mummy cannot be maternal grandfather of foetuses

XX alleles which have “jumped” generations in the Hawass theory

{} set of possible alleles deduced
Source: News from the Valley of the Kings, © Kate Phizackerley, 2009


Anonymous said...

A big well done and thank you for this detailed work.
I had already considered,too, that KV55 cannot be Akhenaten if the babies are children of Tut and full siblings. The basically same treatment of them (found side by side in one chest,both being mummified and having the same equipment except for one displaced mask of the older one) makes it almost compelling to assume they had the same mother.
Besides the data of the babies makes it impossible that their parents were full siblings (Tut=son of Akhenaten and Nefertiti) and unlikely that they were half siblings.
I am still undecided if we should consider the Younger Lady as daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti or follow Hawass`s suggestion. I have followed your reasoning and understand that both could be possible.
What I can`t yet gather is your statement that should the Younger Lady and Tiye be proven to have the same mtDNA it would not disprove the assumption that YL is Nefertiti`s daughter. How could the YL have inherited the same mtDNA as Tiye if not from her as her mother? If Nefertiti was really Aye`s daughter and he was Thuya`s son, he cannot have passed Thuya`s mtDNA on to Nefertiti.As far as I can see it it only works if we assume that Nefertiti`s mother was also Thuya`s daughter or other close relative such as niece.

Would you mind to explain what I am missing here? Thanx.

Kate said...

You're not missing much. If Nefertiti/YL are only descended from Thuya's line via Ay then indeed they must have different mtDNA. We know nothing of Nefertiti's mother, however, so it's possible Nefertiti's mother, ratber than father [Ay] was the daughter of Thuya - or indeed that Nefertiti's mother was Thuya's maternal niece, in which case mtDNA would be shared.

I'd personally think it likely that Nefertiti does have different mtDNA to the Thuya maternal line as you suggest, but so little is known of the origins of both Thuya and Nefertiti that it would seem unwise to rule out a matrilineal family connection between the two of them.


Bonnie Sampsell said...

Thank you for this outstanding analysis of the data and clear presentation of your conclusions. As a former population genetics professor, I was able to follow your reasoning and find no fault with it. In fact, since your family tree corresponds better with the known historical facts, I think it is more likely to be true than the one presented in the JAMA article. At least it shows that a reasonable alternative exists.
I particularly liked your incorporation of the very low population frequencies of several alleles appearing in the first generation and reappearing in the fourth or fifth generation to argue for a second line of descent to the fetuses, which your family tree provides.
This is a very valuable contribution to the discussion on Tutankhamun's family tree.

Anonymous said...

Wow kate ive only been following about 10% of this line of discussion so far, but an endorsement from a former population genetics professor as to the clarity of your reasoning re this very complex issue does seem a very notable observation indeed! DaveH!

rymerster said...

Great work Kate. I'm not about to comment on the detail as I'm having trouble getting my head 'round it. I think we need more DNA tests on more mummies to fill in some blanks - the other mummies in KV35 would be a start, as would the meagre remains found in Horemheb's Saqqara tomb - no idea if those bones still exist but they are reputedly of Mutnojmet.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and well presented work. Historical question: YOUNGER LADY killed with a smashed face? Possible wife of Smenkhere? Possible daughter of Akhenaten-Nefertiti? Seems a logical end for a "Queen" who was caught attempting to create a royal marriage with a Hittite prince. Is that feasible?

waywardcats said...

Great article!

I posted a link on the LiveJournal Egyptology community.

Paul H said...

I think the main conclusion here is that the identity of the KV55 mummy is far from being a matter that has reached a conclusion.

Sergei Sidoroff said...

Very nice work!

Without the disclosure of the actual data it is not possible to believe any assertions.

Derek said...

Well done, Kate. Interesting and not without due consideration. However, the argument of Tut's mother was a daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti can't be defended.

Terry said...

Very impressive and persuasive reasoning. Many possibilities but certainly the best fit seems to be Tutankhamun as son of his predecessor (normal father/son succession) Smenkhare and S and his wife as siblings and children of A III and Tiye.

It also fits with S and T as king's sons but not part of the Akhenaten/Nefertiti family group.

I think it much easier for Tut to have been a grandson of A III rather than Akhenaten via his mother.

I cannot see the widow of K55/S as the queen who wrote to the Hittites since K55/S seems to have had a son (i.e. Tut). This queen fits best as wife of Tut who it seems did not.

Geoff Carter said...

Great stuff Kate, a very neat piece of work.
Do you think this rules out both KV35 bodies, in particular YL, as candidates for Nefertiti?

snowcat22 said...

Excellent analysis of the data. I have a question and hope not to appear too naive on the subject. I have read in the past that when Akhenaten died, Nefertiti may have been pharoah for a time, using the name Smenkhare. Is this explanation of the scarcity of information about Smenkhare no longer accepted?

Adrienne said...

Very interesting. I myself have been milling over these results. The lady they think may be Ankhesamun I think will reveal much.
If she is the mother of the foetus, and KV55 is her father, than surely we have Akhenaton.
If he isnt her father, that would point to be someone else.
The younger lady is the same mummy Joan Fletcher asserts is Nefertiti.
I would like to see if the mummy thought to be Ankhesamun has the same mtna as the younger lady. However this could also mean they are sisters. As the Mtna would be the same, would it not , as ydna is the same for brothers.

Amongst all this, I always come back to the missing son of Amenhotep III Tuthmosis, presumed dead, but there is only one object found that may indicate this. Surely he would be clse by, especially since they were all alive and well when he died, to give him a good send off. Could the KV55 skeleton be him? He would have the same ydna as Akhenaton.

We also have the evidence of the tablet from Amarna naming Akhenaton as the father of Tutankhamen.

I thought a man could be tested for his fathers ydna nd his mothers mtna, but a woman could only be tested for mtna. If this is the case, how could they say that the younger ladies father was Amenhotep III. Am I wrong in this regard? Or have they used a different test to ascertain this.

Howard said...

Kate - have you run this by Professor Alan Cooper of Adelaide University? His profile is on:

Anonymous said...

aozedoscTut is called "King's son" on the block read by ZH, not "son of Akhnaton" as he stated.

kev said...

Could someone explain to me what proof there is that the two babies are Tut's. Apart from them being in his tomb what is there? There were many things in the tomb that were not his so why is it assumed he is the father. Why could they not be his grand parents babies or his still born half sisters? How old are they, by which I mean when did they die, had they been dead for many years before being placed in Tut's tomb? If I understand the findings correctly they seem more likely to be of Tut's grand parents generation than his.

kev said...

Sorry, forgot to say what a fantastic article and I am inclined to believe your interpretation of the data than Mr. Howas'.

Kate Phizackerley said...

Thanks for all the comments. There are a few questions so I am intending to add a new post before the end of the weekend answering most of them - so far as I can!

Feel free to continue commenting though!

tonyholmes said...

Fantastic job Kate! I will be circulating your blog within Egyptology societies in South Africa and Australia. I hope you receive a great deal of constructive comment.

Tony Holmes

Shemsu Sesen said...


5/5 stars!!

You have this subject by the jugular and have done a fantastic job of demonstrating that there are other interpretations of the available data. Your ability to break down this very dense subject and communicate it to us in a way that makes the other possibilities so clear is a true gift and a much-needed contribution to this unfolding story.

I will be providing links and a teaser summary from my own corner of the web. Thank you so much, and we are all on the edge of our seats!


Anonymous said...


Well done! This is an excellent piece of work. I'm certainly no expert but your hypothesis certainly challenges some of the conclusions from ZH.

For me though the tablet found in Amarna still provides some strong circumstancial evidence of Akhenaten being the father of King Tut. Whilst its true that the tablet says "King's son" rather than "Akhenaten's son" what other kings were ruling (and building) in Amarna during that period? I don't believe that either Amenhotep III or Smenkhare have any other inscriptions in Amarna addressing them as King (or during any co-regency)?

If we are left with one king ruling in Amarna then I think we have to conclude that Akhenaten was the subject of the inscription.

Happy to be corrected if I've got this wrong. Thanks, again for the debate great stuff!


Howard said...

In his book "Chronicle of the Pharaohs", Peter Clayton suggests that Amenhotep III may have spent some time at Amarna during a period of co-regency with his son.

Carolin said...

Kate, I am happy to see someone demonstrating how the data can support different interpretations, as well as how much such interpretations depend on historical assumptions. Your reasoning seems indeed plausible based on the data given. However, while different media is full of speculations and ideas on the interpretation of the results of the Tut study, there is very little discussion on the methodology and the validity of the data itself. Your excellent analysis shows how the presence or absence of just one or a few alleles can change the family tree. Sure it is perfectly ok to question identities (that is which mummy belongs to which person) and historical facts (who was related to who and how) but shouldn’t it be allowed to discuss the (rather controversial) study itself as it would be with any scientific publication?

Anonymous said...

Kate, having just watched the Discovery programme again i was struck by the fact that the programme indicated that one of Tuts foetuses had indications of Marfans syndrome (a huge right hand compared to the left indicated on the cat scan). For years now there has been speculation that if Akhenaten bore any resemblance to the way he was depicted on his images then one possibility was that he may have been suffering from Marfans syndrome (or froelichs). However the JAMA report ruled that the skeleton from KV 55 did not have either of these Syndroms and that it was indeed most likely to be Akhhenaten himself.
Being very interested in the possibility that Akhenaten did resemble in some small way his images (though being grossly caricatured)i did not see that the JAMA report had reported that DNA/genetic testing on the Foetus had also ruled out Marfans (despite the indications from the catscan), do you know if this is the case.
Also, i do not know whether Marfans can jump a generation but if the foetus has been positively identified as having Marfans does this provide any further evidence that the KV 55 mummy cannot be Akhenaten. Daveh

Anonymous said...

You mention the D7S820 as proof
of your theory. No results are given for either KV21A or KV21B. The other tables show poor results for both of them. If the ladies from KV21 are indeed the Princesses (one Ankhesenamun), why was the club foot never depicted in any images? Why show himself as 'deformed' and not his daughters? As to the identity of the skeleton from KV55 absolutely nowhere is there any mention of SmenkhaRe in the tomb. This theory was first put forward in a book because the skeleton was not deformed. You are completely disregarding the evidence that the KV55 skeleton was found with his name bands still intact on the mummy - Akhenaten, and the magic bricks also related to him.
The bands were later stolen from the Cairo museum. Adulthood was reached at 16 and Akhenaten's mother Tiye is clearly still consulted by Foreign Kings in their correspondence to the Egyptian palace for some years. Although already married, that would make Akhenaten around 13 years of age at the time he took the throne. Add 17 years and you arrive at an age of late 20's early 30 which is what testing has confirmed over and over. It was Davis who firstly refused to accept that this was Akhenaten as he wanted the tomb to be that of Tiye, even publishing it as this. Those that say the skeleton is not deformed again speculate that the depictions are true and not just representing Akhenaten as both Father and Mother images.
I do not believe that the testing proved that KV35YL was in fact his full sister, but a relative, which still could make her Nefertiti.
The proof that the blow to the head was the cause of death is also interesting evidence.
Hawass cannot accept this for then
Joane Fletcher would be right and he wrong.

Kate Phizackerley said...

@Anonymous – if only it was that easy.

Firstly, it doesn’t matter that we don’t have results for KV21A or KV21B, although it would be nice if we did :-). Between them, the two foetuses display 4 alleles. Assuming they are sisters two of these must have come from their father and two from the mother since the parents can only have 4 alleles between them. Since Tut is (10,15) the mother must have been (6,13). It is irrelevant whether KV21A was the mother. What matters now is that their mother was very probably Ankhesenamun. She must have inherited either 6 from her father (Akhenaten) and 13 from her mother (Nefertiti), or vice versa. However, she couldn’t inherit either 6 or 13 from KV55 because he was (15,15). Therefore either KV55 isn’t Akhenaten or one of our assumption is wrong eg Ankhesenamun wasn’t the daughter of Akhenaten (almost impossible)or the foetuses aren’t the daughters of Ankhesenamun. That’s possible but leaves explain whose daughters they were.

For similar reasons, KV35YL cannot be Nefertiti (given the same assumptions as before). This time look at D21S11. KV21A is (?,35). She cannot have inherited this from Akhenaten since neither of his parents (Amenhotep III and Tiye) had it. She must have inherited it from Nefertiti. However, KV35YL doesn’t have this allele so she cannot be Nefertiti. It’s possible to suggest KV35 isn’t Amenhotep III so not Akhenaten’s father which would resurrect a possibility that KV35YL is Nefertiti. But as well as KV35 probably being Amenhotep II we’d still need a relationship between Thuya and Tutmosis IV to pass the allele. It’s possible but really unlikely.

Kate Phizackerley said...

As to the depiction of the daughters, it could have to do with the ages ideals of feminine beauty. Today we are far more likely to touch up photos of women celebrities than men. Did they do the same? We don’t know. Equally it may not have been considered a deformity. Men were expected to hunt and fight. I suspect the life of royal women was very different and their skills as a concubine were the priority. During the Ming and Ching dynasties foot binding was practised in China. Noble women were almost incapable of walking because the arch of the foot was broken. Far from being considered a disability by the men, it was regarded as erotic. It also had the effect of making infidelity difficult because the woman probably needed to be carried everywhere. It’s hard to have an affair when deprived of one’s motility. I’m not suggesting that foot binding was practised in Ancient Egypt, just reinforcing that the attitude to what was regarded as a disability may have been very different for women than it was for men.

It’s also difficult to make presumptions because we don’t know how well each individual adapted. It may be that she adapted better than Akhenaten. She had two club feet and this may have left her better balanced.

As to the identification within KV55 it’s a very strange tomb. When was Tiye removed? Who else had been interred in KV55 on a temporary basis? All the indications are that mummies were returned from Amarna. We are fairly certain that Tiye was originally buried at Amarna but somehow she ended up in KV55. (Which leaves the question – where was she between KV55 and KV35 but that’s a separate question.) By the time she ended up in KV55 she had lost her coffin. Did the coffin come with her from Amarna, or were bodies removed from their coffins before transport to Luxor? By implication, what happened to the KV55 mummy? Was it also transferred from Amarna? Was it done so without a coffin and then put back into an available coffin when placed in KV55? Did the attackers think it was the Younger Lady they had found – someone whose face was bashed in? There is so much we don’t know. It’s not a typical consonant burial.

As to the mummy bands did they name the mummy, were they added when it was placed in the KV55 coffin or was it a prayer to Akhenaten? Remember we don’t have a complete burial of either a prince or queen, only high nobles (Yuya and Thuya) and a king (Tutankhamun). We have no idea what the burial practices were.

Kate Phiz said...

But as well as KV35 probably being Amenhotep II we’d still need a relationship between Thuya and Tutmosis IV to pass the allele. It’s possible but really unlikely.

That should be Amenhotep III of course


Anonymous said...

Regarding the question why Ankhesenamun if the mummy KV21A (or 21B) was hers was not depicted with deformed feet my opinion is that simply no king or other member of the royal family was ever depicted showing deformities.
What we describe as abnormalities or deformities in Akhenaten`s depictions is just the way he wanted himself and his family to be depicted. If it was due to a strange taste or religious importance can hardly be known.
I rather favour the latter because it is obvious that in religious contexts (e.g.reliefs on temple walls) all the members of the royal family are depicted in the bizarre way dictated by Akhenaten. Sometimes Nefertiti looks so much like her husband that one needs other clues as inscriptions or headgear to tell them apart.
Other artefacts not so much related to religion like busts and statues which might have been placed in palaces rather than temples look much more "normal" to us.

So the Amarna royals were like all other royals from Ancient Egypt not after depicting reality in the sense that they would depict physical deformities or even allude physical weakness.
Some depictions of Tutankhamen were he is shown with staffs or hunting while being seated are always said to show his frailty but I think the opposite is the case.

Being seated whilst others are standing or sitting on the ground as in Ankhesenamun`s case conveys the kings superiority over everyone else. Note that no one ever exceeds the king in height even when they are standing and he is sitting.
How else could one explain the existence of depictions showing physical fitness alongside depictions showing allegedly weakness? The best example is Tut`s little golden shrine. Everyone surely knows the depiction of Tut shooting an arrow while being seated accompanied by his quees at his feet. On the same shrine there is another depiction
showing Tut and Ankhesenamun standing in a skiff with Tut holding a bunch of ducks in one hand and leaning his weight on his left foot (which was so bad and painful that he had to use walking sticks). Depictions of reality? Probably neither of them. said...

I cannot see how they can determine cleft palates from mummies, please explain why they say Akhnaten and Tut had this defect.

Smenkhare is never mentioned as a son of Amenhotep III and Tiye so he cannot be a full sibling.

Why would a daughter of Akhnaten be buried in a tomb with his mother and not in her own or with him? I think it is Sitamun with ehr mother as they shared quarters when Amenhotep III was king and she Great Royal Wife. Hers was between his and Tiye so it makes sense that she would be buried with her mother in her grandparent's tomb with her father.

Adrienne said...

I hav just watched th Discovery channel videos

On here they say that the younger ladies mtna match Tuts, so sh is his mother. Yet mtna does nsot mutate very often. So my mtna is the same as my brothers, my mothers and my daughters, a well as my maternal Aunties.
Is this the only test they used to ascertain he was his mother? As Ankhesamun would have the same mtna also. Am I missing something here?

s. stockwell said...

Interesting article Kate. Bring to light all the issues. You are prominently noted.

Anonymous said...

This is an extremely thorough report, and once again the antiquities department is clearly caught with their pants down on this one thanks to their overzealous assumptions once again (anyone remember the hatsheptsut documentary? "I found a tooth in a box with hatshepsut's name on it! Hey, this mummy is missing a tooth! It must be hatshepsut! *no dna testing*")

While I'm not exactly a science buff, I can answer a lot of the cultural questions posed here. One, it's clear that the 'Amarna Style' of art is just that- a style. Whether it has to do with an actual deformity is still up for debate but what's fairly certain is that it wasn't anything everybody had or else we would've seen it in art a lot earlier than that. Rulers and nobility ARE portrayed with their deformities, either graphically depicted (like tut with his canes) or verbally depicted (noting medicine quantities for specific ailments on tomb walls and inventories for example). The fact that this Amarna style is not equated by the egyptians themselves to any specific remedy like everything else suggests that it is more likely than naught just a style preference. Grotesque, yes, but I think after 3,000 years it is apparent that Ankhenaten was a bit of a head case.

Another extremely, extremely important point to be aware of is communication and records as provided in carved reliefs. Ankhenaten had FOUR DAUGHTERS. FOUR. DAUGHTERS. If that man had had any sort of male heir after four failed attempts and making one, I think you could pretty much bet money on him having something to say about it, and there are quite literally zero reliefs announcing the birth of a male heir in any sense of the word. It is almost impossible to consider Tut as a son of Ankehnaten due to this significant lack of claim. I personally think that Smenkhare is the best bet for the one they've found in this tomb and who is Tut's father. Smenkhare ruled for roughly two years at best, even as a co-regent at times, but that would still qualify him as a pharaoh and thus the title of 'king's son' to Tut. However, shortly after Tut took the throne, the capitol was moved back to Thebes and out of Amarna which became a ghost town, and Ankhenaten's name, and Smenkhare's name, were all chiseled out from temples, buildings, and official wall records in not just amarna but in the major cities of Egypt. Therefore, is it so suprising that a king who reigned less than two years at best, and most of it as a co-regent, after having his name chiseled out would have so little left to his identity to claim to himself? The whole purpose of erasing names from structures was to hinder the remembrance of a person, as a person's name being remembered was considered crucial in order for them to retain some form in the afterlife. Destroying the mummy was the ultimate insult, also. And, seeing as how much everyone absolutely hated Ankhenaten for what he did to the religion and the capitol, I am more inclined to believe that Ankhenaten's mummy simply no longer exists due to extreme vandalism and destruction due to his unpopularity and that it will never be found. Perhaps the mummies found in this cache shared a tomb with him, and to rescue them from a similar fate were removed to where they were found.

And so, what we are left with is this: We have found a man who is king tut's father, who shares grandparents with Ankhenaten, and that is about the extent of it. With regards to the items with Ankhenaten's name on it found in the tomb, when these mummies were moved, they were often done so sloppily and hastily. Anything that might've been hanging around were undoubtedly stashed in random places to made transport go more smoothly, and let's be honest: Ankhenaten was the only king to seriously reign in Amarna- who ELSE's name to you expect to find stashed with amarna royal mummies??


Anonymous said...


I wish the antiquities department would concern themselves more with the facts instead of publicity. I know publicity gets them money to do more work, but publicity that publicizes inaccuracies isn't worth a thing. Sure it'd look great to have 'identifier of the heretic king Ankhenaten' on your resume, but what good is it if it's a bunch of BS due to hasty assumptions? Ankhenaten's mummy more likely than not doesn't exist anymore, and what we're looking at here is a family relationship just outside of his immediate line that is more intricate and fascinating than his failed reign anyway.

This got a little long winded, but to close, I just wanted to say thanks for doing this great analysis.


DWT said...

Hello ; I have sent a mail to Mme Kate Phizackerly the seventh of june through the blog-mail-form but had no sign or confirmation if only it was well sent ( here its archive can be found : ) - If Kate or someone else wishes to answer I can be contacted at ; it is only in order to know the state of the controversial about KV55 for I shall be updating my own thesis (about Velikovsky's and Freud's cases regarding Oedipus and Akhnaton)
Dr William Theaux

David Kessler Author said...

Kate, you wrote: "Therefore either KV55 isn’t Akhenaten or one of our assumption is wrong eg Ankhesenamun wasn’t the daughter of Akhenaten (almost impossible)..."

Why is it impossible? We know that maternity was easier (in ancient times) to determine than paternity? And your observation about the Chinese practice of foot-binding suggests that the desire/temptation for adultery was not exclusive to men. Is it not possible that Nefertiti had a bit on the side? Especially if she was competing (albeit unsuccessfully) with Kiya to produce a male heir? Possibly even incestuous adultery with her father Ay?

I am not suggesting that she shared this information with Akhenaten. But their is strong evidence that both Ay and Nefertiti were capable of considerable intrigue. Once one factors in the possibility that Nefertiti was the mother of Ankhesenamun, but Akhenaten was NOT the father, your objections to the "official" interpretation of the DNA study no longer apply.

Kate Phizackerley said...

That's far and away the most astute comment on this article IMO. You are certainly right: if Nefertiti was unfaithful then it is possible for Akhenaten to be the mummy in KV55. The father would have to be a male from the royal family because we know that the Y-chromosome was inherited by Tutankhamun, but a close relative would be most likely anyway.

Whether that is possible or not involves a projection of our understandings of fidelity onto the royal court and that may be unreasonable. Perhaps women were allowed sexual freedom. I don't think we know.

Personally I doubt it when it comes to the royal family. All the impression is that the king succeeded by Divine Right and not merely by inheritance. There's a difference. There is a sense that a king was chosen of the Gods - became a God. Under those circumstances, I would be surprised if women were given sexual freedom, but maybe I am wrong.

So yes, you are right. I think it's unlikely but I quite agree it's possible

David Kessler Author said...

Thanks. The reason I asked is that I am writing a thriller set against a background of the Amarna period. It was supposed to be "Dan Brown" style, but I suspect that it is going to end up more "Robert Graves" or even "Umberto Eco" - slightly less commercial but hopefully more intellectual.

Ron Lankshear said...

Well I loved David's latest thriller "No Way Out". And someone who can switch from Brown to Graves has a lot of skill. I just wonder what kind of fictional thriller would be set in Amarna. Could it be more thrilling than the DNA etc discussion. HOWEVER I must say that the unfaithful wife ideas are a most unlikely possibility.

I think that KV55 not being Akhenaten is much more likely. Wasn't the forensics of age etc already indicating that?

David Kessler Author said...

The thriller is set in modern times but involves finding old manuscripts in proto-sinaitic script with some explosive information - and the proverbial conspirators who want to suppress it (may the literary Gods forgive me!)

I think the forensic assessment of the KV55 mummy changed and it is now accepted as that of an older man.

I don't know how plausible the unfaithful wife idea is in real life, but it makes for good thriller material - especially in conjunction with the power struggle between Ay and Horemheb, a battle for the heart and mind of the young King Tut and the violent death of what appears to be Tut's mother.

Marianne Luban said...

David, I believe in literary license being an author, myself, but, in reality, if someone were to discover a manuscript in Proto-Sinaitic they could be assured it would not be suppressed but probably considered a forgery!

The reason there are no manuscripts in Proto-Sinaitic is that it was not an alphabet of the literate. Proto-Sinaitic is found around a quarry and probably originated with an illiterate worker there. It was employed mainly for graffiti and there are no long phrases in the glyphs.

The turquoise mines at Serabit el Khadim in the Sinai Peninsula were under the control of Egypt most of the time they were in operation. That's why scholars are fairly certain that the Proto-Sinaitic signs are derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs--and just why they were the precursors of the Canaanite script is not known. BUT, if some priests or otherwise educated men were sent to the quarries for some reason,[quarries were the Egyptian penal colonies] they would certainly have not used these signs but made their graffiti in hieratic as are found all over Egypt.

David Kessler Author said...


"That's why scholars are fairly certain that the Proto-Sinaitic signs are derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs--and just why they were the precursors of the Canaanite script is not known."

I believe that Freud's explanation of why the uneducated Asiatic Semites created a new Abjad from hieroglyphics (instead of using the existing hieroglyphic phonetics) was because they believed that man was created in the image of God and didn't want to use symbolic representations of man. However, as far as I can tell, the only Egyptian phonetic showing a human image is the equivalent of the letter B. And on the other hand, the proto-Sinaitic alphabet uses man-like symbols for the phonemes H and R.

So the mystery is far from cleared up. But as to whether a credible story could be written around the premise that sophisticated writings were found in proto-Sinaitic script, one "explanation" of this admittedly fictional premise might be that the writer was educated, but wanted his writings to be accessible to the less educated.

Another thing, the mines at Serabit el-Kedim are very near both to the temple of Hathor, the cow goddess (think "Golden Calf") and quite near to Mount Hashem el-Tarif (one of the candidate mountains for Mount Sinai).

Marianne Luban said...

I think I know what you're getting at but your mention of the golden calf itself negates Freud's idea. Those people involved in an exodus from Egypt seemed to manifest the familiar--an Egyptian bovine god and ultimately a tabernacle that is, as described in the Bible, most certainly an Egyptian portable shrine, carrying poles and all. Even the monotheism of Moses was not so unique in light of the possibility that monotheism in the form of the worship of the sun disc may have been in vogue at the time, although the God of Moses seems to have more the characteristics of Amun, whose name means "hidden" in Egyptian and who, while portrayed as a man, was rather ephemeral.

Moses, for his part, had been raised as an Egyptian and even his Hebrew family had lived in Egypt for generations. And, despite what many seem to think and even the Bible suggests, there was no nationalism or ethnic identity for them to cling to in order to make them a sub-culture in Egypt. Regardless, Moses may have adopted the foreign deity El, anyway, as the Egyptians did have some alien gods in their pantheon and were accustomed to such. But why the followers of Moses would have stayed at Serabit el Khadim long enough for Proto-Sinaitic to become a familiar graphic system, a common denominator, you'll have to explain. It was not a very hospitable environment around those mines. Most people in antiquity had no use for any graphic systems and the literate were relatively few. The motivation for someone to actually create a manuscript using these glyphs would have to be very strong to be believable under the circumstances. In the final analysis, I believe it was the Phoenicians who first used the alphabet derived from Proto-Sinaitic, which was then adopted by the Jews in the form of the Proto-Hebrew script--but not until after they settled in the Levant.

David Kessler Author said...

My view is that Moses may have been Amenmesse - who may or may not have been Messuwy, viceroy of Kush and/or "Msy" who is mentioned in Papyrus Salt 124 - which in turn may have evolved by the historical process of Chinese whispers into the story of Moses intervening to save the "slave" from being flogged (i.e. Paneb - the adopted son of Neferhotep - gradually evolving into a slave).

I also believe that "Moses" in his attempt to usurp the throne from Sethi II, may have exploited various disenfranchised migrant and itinerant workers and the social underclass ("Isrir" "the Shasu of Ywh" and others) in his power struggle. This could also explain the separate parallel traditions that yielded the Jarwist and Elohist contributions to what became the Torah/Pentateuch.

But I fear we are moving off topic. Write to me if you want to know about what I freely admit are wild speculations.

Anonymous said...

In review of the "brilliant" erudition posted on this site linking flimsy evidence, or no evidence, to support wild assertions, not facts, the authors then tell of their plans to resort to fiction as a platform to propose and support a possible history, and themselves also. Might it be better to spend your time supporting real digging for the remaining evidence, before creating an interpretation to support established canons of the faiths involved in these stories? Comprehanesives digging such as at the site of Memphis in Egypt might unearth libraries of ancient writings, some of which might actually be factual. Why resort to flimsy evidence to create supposed links that support Biblical "history"? This Biblical "history" surviving in the form of scripture appears to have been written, in different parts and times and edited into one nearly conforming copy at a time well removed from any of the true events. The canonical text in question that survives today appears chock full of Mesopatamian underlying myths, not only Egyptian myths. Please excuse my spelling as I am very visually imparted, but I can still sniff out a lot of junk.

Ron Lankshear said...

Funny word Myths
"A traditional story accepted as history; serves to explain the world view of a people"
History from Mesopotamia possibly because Abraham came from UR. And Egypt well the people in question had just escaped from there.

But on a literary point I like fiction that explores history not run away with it

A search for more writings sounds good

David Kessler Author said...

"In review of the 'brilliant' erudition posted on this site linking flimsy evidence, or no evidence, to support wild assertions,"

A bit of a strong conclusion to draw about a book not yet written. The strength or weakness of the evidence can only be judged by the book itself. A lot of people seem to have dismissed the JAMA paper and decided that the mummy in KV55 is NOT Akhenaten on the strength of pretty flimsy evidence, or because it challenges their previously held views.

"..the authors then tell of their plans to resort to fiction as a platform to propose and support a possible history, and themselves also."

I'm not sure what "Anonymous" means by "themselves also" but if a person is a novelist by vocation then it is natural that he should use fiction to explore (not propose, much less support) various scenarios pertaining to the past.

"Might it be better to spend your time supporting real digging for the remaining evidence,"

Has anyone opposed this?

... before creating an interpretation to support established canons of the faiths involved in these stories?..."

That is not my purpose. I do not believe that Biblical history is true. But I believe that the stories in the Bible did not spring purely from human imagination, but in some cases through past events that have been retold (and reformatted) through the generations. And it is this link that I want to explore.

"Comprehanesives digging such as at the site of Memphis in Egypt might unearth libraries of ancient writings, some of which might actually be factual."

Indeed they might and I hope they do. But should novelists interested in such matters adopt a moratorium in the meantime?

" Why resort to flimsy evidence to create supposed links that support Biblical "history"?"

Not "support" - explore!

"This Biblical "history" surviving in the form of scripture appears to have been written, in different parts and times and edited into one nearly conforming copy at a time well removed from any of the true events."

Perfectly true - I never said otherwise, and this is one of the themes I propose to explore.

"The canonical text in question that survives today appears chock full of Mesopatamian underlying myths, not only Egyptian myths."

That is true of some - notably Noah's flood. But the focus of my novel will be the Egyptian myths of Joseph and Moses.

"Please excuse my spelling as I am very visually imparted, but I can still sniff out a lot of junk."

Do not take this as an insult, but your apparent hostility to the use of fiction to explore factual themes reminds me of Thomas Gradgrind in Charles Dickens's Hard Times

Kate Phizackerley said...

That is indeed the purpose of fiction: it is a way of exploring reality. Certain aspects are highlighted by relaxing other constraints. It's why Fantasy is my favourite genre.


"In review of the 'brilliant" erudition posted on this site linking flimsy evidence, or no evidence, to support wild assertions..."

You are entitled to disagree with my analysis but I don't believe the DNA evidence is flimsy, rather I think that some people don't understand how to interpret the DNA evidence and have come to wrong conclusions ... usually thinking the data says what they want it to say.

Anonymous said...

kate,if the kv 55 mummy is not Akhenaten but is another son of Amenhotep 3, could it not be Crown Prince Thutmose as opposed to Smenkhare? From what i can make out if the earlier theory as to the skeletons age is correct ie mid 20s then this may not rule out Thutmose who was known to have had a priestly and military role. Also as with Akhenaten is he not likely to have had a co - regency with Amenhotep 3, thus justifying a more significant burial. Also the much younger boy placed alongside the elder and younger ladies would probably be too young to be Thutmose.

Kate Phizackerley said...

I don't have a problem with Thutmose in terms of the DNA but archaeologically it seems unlikely.

Geary said...

Regarding the younger boy alongside the older and younger lady, has any DNA work been done on his mummy and is there any more information on his relationship to the other mummy's?

Also, it seems there is a very quick leap for Hawass to conclude and state that KV35YL cannot be Nefertiti, with all of the statistical possibilies still of the mummy's relationships still undetermined, and DNA data still unreleased for others to examine.

David Kessler Author said...

I have thought of another explanation of the discrepancy regarding the DNA of the fetuses that also involves incest and adultery but does NOT involve Nefertiti.

What if Fetus 1 were the result of an adulterous union between Ay and his (presumed) granddaughter Ankhesenamun? History records that Ay married her after the death of Tutankhamun to outmaneuver Horemheb and gain the thrown. But what if it went beyond that?

Let's look at locus D7S820. Tutankhamun presented (10,15) and Akhenaten had (15,15) If Ay had (13,6), Neferiti had (13,anything) and Ankhesenamun had (15,13) then Fetus 1 could have got 10 from King Tut and 13 from Ankhesenamun. While Fetus 2 could have got 15 from Ankhesenamun and 6 from Ay.

There are too many holes in the rest of the DNA to build up a complete picture, but as far as i can tell there are no definite exclusions.

Kate Phizackerley said...

I have not worked it with pen and paper but I believe your latest idea is not inconsistent with the published DNA. Another alternative might be to assume that Ankhesenamun was pregnant before she was married to Tutankhamun. You could even rework the letter from the Hittite King to suggest that Ay was trying to claim Ankhesenamun as his wife when Akhenaten died (or when Smenkhare died) and she appealed to the Hittite King. He got her prgenant but another faction at court won and placed Tutankhamun on the throne. I know the purists will dislike the idea (and I'm not suggesting that is what *did* happen) but it seems to be something that is possible within the known facts that could be used within a fictional account. Y

David Kessler Author said...

Hi Kate,
I just wanted to let you know the latest about my thriller. It is due to be published on May 19th under the title The Moses Legacy. I have now been renamed "Adam Palmer" to distinguish this book from my legal thrillers - I am reborn as "Adam" a new man ;-)

The book retains the speculation, but with a clever twist. If you like to indulge in the adventure, I would be honoured (and hopefully flattered) to hear your opinions on the book in due course.

Geoff Carter said...

Strangely, I have already have a book called 'The Moses legacy' by Graham Philips 2002; [ISBN 0 283 07315 2]

Kate Phizackerley said...

As a favour to a reader if you send me an author's mini review or synopsis I will post it on the blog.
Congrats on another publication.

Anonymous said...

Very detailed analysis!

I was wondering if you had a chance to read DNA Tribes' recent analysis of the 8 STR loci from the JAMA paper on the Amarna royals? The DNA Tribes authors suggest Sub-Saharan African affinities for all of the mummies, and only indicate a slight link with modern North Africa (including Egypt).

In your opinion, how accurate is this conclusion given the fact that a separate team of researchers at Cairo University Medical School found the Egyptian pyramid builders to be genetically most closely related to modern Egyptians?

Are we looking at another instance of a foreign ruling class in Ancient Egypt, like the intermittent periods when the Persians, Nubians and Greeks reigned?

Or is the DNA itself perhaps the problem? For instance, how certain are we that the extracted DNA really belongs to/came from the Amarna royals? Could it also be a situation where the ancient DNA was contaminated by modern DNA during handling, as often happens with aDNA analysis?

The discordant results between the Cairo University Medical School team's work and the DNA Tribes analysis ought to be explored.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous was the university of Cairo study on the pyramid workers ever published? When they say 'modern egyptians',which part of modern egyptian were they talking about,since modern egypt is diverse. Also that the 18th dynasty(and by extension 17th dynasty pharaohs) have a genetic profile now found in today's subsaharan Africa does not mean that all ancient egyptians have such profiles. I personally think,as a scholar myself, that egyptology is making a strategic and grave mistake in giving the 'silent treatment' to the question of who the ancient egyptians were,as seen in thier refusal to engage the DNAtribe analysis, thereby yielding the space to people with certain agendas on both sides of the debate. It is time egyptologist engage increasing evidence of saharan and southernly origin of early egyptians,and their prepondrance,especially in upper egypt. Silence is incompatible to Scholarship

Anonymous said...

I think that the K.V 55 mummy is most likely to be the oldest son of Akhenaten, Neferneferuaten whose coronation name was Ankheprure. In the tomb of Meryre ll a painted scene exists depicting this king and his wife. The king of Upper and Lower Egypt Ankheprure "son of Re"Smenkhkhare Holy of Manifestations. Gave life forever continually as the husband of the Chief Wife, his Beloved, the Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Lady of the Two Lands, Merytaten

Anonymous said...

This seems to be an older thread ..not sure I will get a response, but will try. There is much about the DNA studies, but I am curious to know the blood group of the mummies. No DNA has yet been in a preserved enough state for analysis from either the Shroud of Turin, or the Sudarium (Face Cloth of Jesus)...but the blood group has clearly been identified as type AB on both relics. what is the prevailing blood group of the Pharaohs thus far? Does anyine know?

Stephanie said...

The late 18th dynasty mummies are mostly A2 with Amenhotep III A2 M, Yuya and Tuya both A2 N, KV55 and Tutankhamun both A2 MN.
See this article

in which Queen Tiye is presumed to be A2 N because of her parents.
I am not sure if this has been verified with the mummy of the Elder Lady.

Marianne Luban said...

Look here, too, for a discussion on this site regarding the rarity of A2:

Stephanie said...

In my search for the blood group of more mummies I came across a web page which stated that a sample of hair of the Elder Lady (presumably from the box from Tut`s tomb) was also tested for blood type and proved to be O.
Unfortunately the page was designated as antiquarian and displayed neither URL nor author.
Is there any truth to this?
And could the Elder Lady being blood type 0 still be the daughter of parents who have both A2 N?

I remember that the identification of the Elder Lady with Queen Tiye was contended before DNA-testing by a female scientist (name escapes me) on the grounds that her blood type does not quite match Yuya`s and Tuya`s.

Can anyone clarify this?
And are the blood groups of the Younger Lady and the Boy known?

Marianne Luban said...

Stephanie, the blood type of Queen Tiye is O--because she is the "Elder Lady". So Connolly was wrong.

Marianne Luban said...

Well, see this "antiquarian page"

The part about the lack of gray hair is no longer a factor, IMO. Long after I wrote the paper, I found out that the hair of the mummy is hennaed, which was never mentioned previously.

Stephanie said...

Sorry, I only just now saw Marianne`s comment (didn`t think there would be an answer so quickly) and the reference to the post from 2010.
I guess most of my questions have been answered now, except for the blood types of KV35 Boy and Younger Lady.

Mike Dammann said...

Hi everyone.
I am looking for verification that Tiye was in fact blood type O. If she was and you have the data available, please send it to me here:

On a sidenote: Two A2 negative parents can have an O negative child as that type can be carried recessively on both sides.

Kind regards,

Mike Dammann

Anonymous said...

What an interesting thread! I have visited and re-read it quite a few times over the last few years. I now post something.
I very much like David Kessler's speculation that Ay could have been the father of the one of the foetuses in KV62. And why would both of these premature births have to have occurred during the reign of Tut? One could have been after Tut died, soon after Ay was king, and work, or at least access, to KV62 did not necessarily cease the day of Tut's funeral, allowing for the placing of the second foetus, of whom Ay was the father, in the tomb.
Another, unrelated, thought I have, and which I have not seen elsewhere, is about the famous Amarna letter where a Queen distresses over her husband's death and is worried about her own safety and asks that a prince be sent to her to protect her position; this Queen has usually been identified as Ankhesenamun, Tut's wife. Could this Queen really be Nefertiti, and not Ankhesenamun? If KV35YL is Nefertiti, and she was in fact murdered, this would fit with her situation of being in fear, and would accord with the possible maneuvering of Ay to place his granddaughter in marriage to Tut.
Regarding Nefertiti, physical characteristics of KV35YL, its swan-like neck and its head-shape compare well with portraits of Nefertiti as well as the unusual double piercing of the left ear of the mummy and accord with my wish and prejudice that the mummy be hers!

Malankhkare said...

I fully agree that the KV55 Mummy cannot be Akhenaten. I thought this idea was dismissed many years ago when the ages were examined. However the establishment in Uaset hated Akhenaten and there is no way that they would have taken his body from Akhetaten and placed it in the Valley of the Kings. Besides the evidence of the Copper Scroll points to Akhenaten as having fled to Qumran. Another point is that the Introduction by Sir Wallis Budge to the Kebra Nagast tells us that Queen Etiye had a foot like an ass or a goat. King Twt also had a club foot and apparently this is genetic. Menyelek by the way was another form of Ymn Twt Ankh and the KN confirms that he was also known as David and that he was the eldest son of Solomon/Ymn Htp III.

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent and well presented paper and argument. I don't want to get into the validity or political aspects of Dr Hawass and these DNA results but it seemed to me that testing mummys en mass was not the most santitised way to get pure, clean DNA samples and although the team doing the tests and research were no doubt the best and highest in their fields; watching the programms for a number of years and reading their results, I always had some concerns. First it is not entirely known who all of the female mummys are and they have been open to the air for some period of time; the mummys were also carried through polluted air in Cairo, merely covered with a sheet. What is to say that some contamination did not occur? I am also concerned about Dr Hawass and his motives in suddenly agreeing to DNA testing when he has always rested in the past. It was only when he could control and manipulate the entire process that he did so. Would it not now be a time to independently have the mummys DNA tested, outside of the media and over a long period of time; using the most up to date process available and to use DNA fingerprinting which allows for more distinctive identifications to be made in siblings. I agree that it is more than possible that more than one set of royal families co-existed within the main family and more than one wife could also have been responsible for the birth of children. The Armana family do seem a rather incestious lot, however, daughters marrying fathers and brothers, some at the same time or whatever, very confusing. And just who was Smemkhare? A brother of Atkenatan? A half brother of Tutankhamen? A son of the former? A cousin? The scant referances to this mystery person are not that clear? If the mystery mummy is him; if he is the father of Tutankhamen is he also his uncle, brother or cousin? What a complete genetic mess they all were. It is a very fascinating debate, I loved the article and it would be interesting to see from newer results if we could really solve the mystery of this family once and for all. Thanks. Lyn-Marie

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Howard Joness said...

I believe Marianne Luban proposes that the Elder Woman is Queen Tiye. Facial reconstructions suggest otherwise. If we need DNA for Ay we could try testing the Rameses II. His mummy looks like an 18th dynasty mummy, it looks like Ay.
Why has no reconstruction be made for the Rameses I mummy brought back from the USA. Have any DNA tests been made to check if it is Rameses I, or could it be Horemheb.

howard joness said...

Joann Fletrcher claims that the Younger Woman must be Nefertiti, but Hawass notes that the loose flexed right 'regal' arm had been place with the mummy by mistake. A second straight right arm found amongst the linen had been the correct arm for this mummy.
So where has the spare flexed arm come from? If the Younger Woman was from the Amarna family, there is a good chance that this spare right arm belonged to another of the Armarna queens.
Yesterday it was announced that more studies from Tutankhamun's tomb raised hopes for the concealed chamber proposed by Reeves, raising the possibility of finding new royal mummies.
But here we may already at least have a right arm for either Queen Tiye, Queen Nefertiti, or Queen Ankhesenamun, so it mighgt be helpful if an attempt could be made to get DNA from the isolated limb and to check the blood group.
If an attempt is going to be made to look behind the wall of Tutankhamun's tomb, the fate of the Amarna Queens and their family relationships are going to be the focus of sustained attention from Egyptologists and the worldwide media

Anonymous said...

Remember, Hawas hates Fletcher and had her banned from Egypt so he was trying to discredit her with his comment on the arm. Younger lady face proportions fit perfectly to her bust and facial reconstrction is a perfect match. I truly believe she is Nefertiti .
I also know they were all a branch of the Sumerians who settled on the Nile/invaded and wish Hawas and the authorities would release the DNA so we can put it to bed !

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Wanderling said...

This is a very interesting and well reasoned discussion and, if nothing else, it shows there are alternative interpretations of the genetic data.
I think that the whole 2010 experiment was, frankly, a recipe for disaster. It seems to me there were pre-formulated theories, massive expectations and a TV company waiting in the wings expecting them to deliver. Anyone can tell you this not the way to conduct science.I think, in the fullness of time, it will be much criticized for its methodology and eagerness to interpret results and then pass these off as scientific fact.
I have never quite been able to accept the idea that Akhenaten was Tut­ankhamun's father. Everything I have ever read about history would suggest that the turmoil and confusion which is apparent at the end of Akhenaten's reign is exactly the sort of scenario which unfolds when a King dies with no legitimate male heir.
I find your alternative family tree a very convincing one. It would certainly explain why the mummy known as The Younger Lady bears such a strong resemblance to the famous Nefertiti bust.
I see you posted this some time ago, I was wondering if you had had any further thoughts recently.


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