By far my most read article has been my critique which set out the evidence that the KV55 mummy is not Akhenaten as claimed by Hawass, Zink and Pusch in their JAMA paper on the study of the DNA of the family of Tutankhamun. I am planning to revisit the paper when Andie and I launch Egyptological Online.
Criticism has now reached New Scientist magazine and an article which quotes many geneticists critical of the paper and the study.
But many geneticists complain that the team used inappropriate analysis techniques. Far from being definitive, the study is "not seen as rigorous or convincing", says Eline Lorenzen of the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark. "Many of us in the DNA community are surprised that this has been published."Rather than criticise the conclusions drawn, the geneticists are concerned about the anlysis itself. I and others were critical that insufficient controls were included in the study and this picked up, but there are reported concerns about even the extraction of DNA from the mummy of Tutankhamun. Demands are growing for publication of the raw data which Zink is denying, allegedly saying that if the raw data was released it would cause a "a lot of arguing" over technicalities. That isn't a sentiment that seems to exhibit much confidence in the data or methodology to me.
The one piece of good news is that they have now managed to extract mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) and will be publishing their findings. There is no indication from which mummies mitochondrial DNA has been extracted nor whether any new paper will address the concerns raised about the previous paper and the methods used for DNA extraction and analysis.
(Quick recap. Mitochondrial DNA is passed exclusively from the mother so its use is to determine matrilineal descent. The royal family was so inter-related, it is possible that there may be few differences detectable so mitochondrial DNA might tell us very little. Would it could be a good indicator of is of any women brought in from outside the royal family, possibly princesses from other countries.)