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RESTORE researchers are also developing reactive nanometals for the remediation of source zone chlorinated solvents with a specific focus on clay permeable media systems. Further the group is investigating the fate of engineered nanoparticles, including carbon nanotubes, in the subsurface.
fate of engineered nanoparticles, including carbon nanotubes, in the subsurface.
The world has had an enduring fascination with the ‘boy king’ Tutankhamun since his tomb was discovered by the British archaeologist, Howard Carter, in 1922. Questions about Tutankhamun’s short life, the identity of his parents and why he died so early have never been answered – until now.
The research study was led by Dr Zahi Hawass from the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt. The scientists spent 2 years working in a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) laboratory in Cairo using the latest DNA research techniques to examine the genetic make-up of 16 mummies.
Their hard work finally paid off – they are now able to reveal that Tutankhamun’s father was the pharaoh Akhenaten, whose mummified body was discovered in a tomb at the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of the Nile. A mummy known as the ‘younger lady’ that was found in a nearby tomb with an older female appears to be boy-king’s mother.
This is the first time that scientists have been able to use extensive genetic, forensic and radiological tests on mummies. Professor Albert Zinc, a member of the research team, and an anthropologist at the Italy-based European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano (EURAC), said: ‘With this project we have opened up a completely new dimension in molecular and medical Egyptology.’
To trace Tutankhamun’s lineage, the scientists took bone tissue samples from 11 mummies related to the pharaoh as well as 5 unrelated ones. The painstaking task of extracting the bone samples, obtaining the DNA and compiling the genetic fingerprints took two years.
‘We repeated our analyses several times and replicated them independently in a second laboratory,’ said Dr Carsten Pusch from Tübingen University, Germany. ‘We did this in order to exclude any possible contamination, any mixing with modern DNA.’
The DNA from the mummies was surprisingly well preserved. The team speculates that the special embalming techniques that were reserved for the pharaohs and royalty were responsible for this.
The DNA enabled the scientists to trace Tutankhamun’s family back five generations and to reveal various illnesses that the king suffered from, including osteonecrosis in his left foot, a rare bone disease which would have made it difficult for him to walk. This discovery explains the number of walking sticks found in the king’s tomb.
Many theories have been posited for Tutankhamun’s early death including murder, but the research team revealed that it is likely that the king died of malaria. ‘Tutankhamun appears to have suffered from the most severe kind of malaria, malaria tropica,’ Dr Pusch pointed out. ‘This affliction, combined with the bone necrosis, may well have brought about his demise.’
Commenting on their work, Professor Zinc and Dr Pusch, both of whom are experts in the study of Egyptian mummies, said: ‘It was our good fortune to be able to carry out these unique experiments which have enabled us to solve the hundred-year-old mystery surrounding the lineage of the world famous pharaoh Tutankhamun. And we shall continue our research: Nefertiti will be our next project. We have moved our research on to a new and so far unexplored level!’
Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA):http://jama.ama-assn.org/
European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano (EURAC):http://www.eurac.edu/index