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DNA Analysis Reveals Mummies’ Familial Relationship

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND—According to a Science News report, a study of mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA obtained from two ancient Egyptian mummies known as the Two Brothers has revealed that they shared a mother, but had different fathers. The 12th-Dynasty mummies were found next to each other in the same tomb in 1907. Inscriptions on their coffins mention Khnum-Aa as the mother of both of the men. The inscriptions also list an unnamed local governor as their father, but it was unclear whether the men were supposed to be full brothers. An earlier analysis of the mummies’ mitochondrial DNA, obtained from liver and intestinal samples, suggested one or both of them did not have Khnum-Aa as a mother. Scholars also noted differences in the mens' features that could indicate that they were not biologically related. So, archaeogeneticist Konstantina Drosou of the University of Manchester and her colleagues obtained more reliable samples from the mummies’ teeth for the new study. The researchers note that the results reflect the importance of the maternal line of descent to the Egyptians. For more, go to “Dawn of Egyptian Writing.”

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