The mummified head of Egyptian pharaoh King Ahmose I, whose parents and grandparents were probably both sets of siblings.

Study Presents Evidence of Extensive Inbreeding among Ancient Egyptian Royalty

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A 2015 study revealed little variation in body height among Egyptian Pharaohs compared to the general population, signaling the presence of extensive inbreeding among the ancient Egyptian royalty.

Discovery News reported on a study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, conducted by Frank Rühli, director of the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich, and colleagues, which involved the study of 259 Egyptian mummies, both royals and regular citizens. Since there are ethical rules regarding the destruction of tissue, which is necessary for genetic testing, the research team used body height, a highly hereditable characteristic, to look for evidence of incest.

"It is actually one of the largest collections of body height of ancient Egyptians and spans all major periods of their history," Rühli told Discovery News.

The research team found that there was less variation in height between the Pharaohs compared to the regular male citizens. “This is one indicator of inbreeding,” Rühli said

The study also involved the development of a scoring system with which to evaluate the level of inbreeding within a particular family line.  The results pointed to particularly high incest levels in the rules of the 17 th and 18 th Dynasty, with King Amenhotep I scoring the highest on the incest scale. Amenhotep I is believed to be the product of three generations of sibling marriages.

The coffin and mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep I, who scored highest on the incest rating scale

The coffin and mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep I, who scored highest on the incest rating scale ( Wikimedia Commons )

In comparison, King Tutankhamun, whose parents are known to have been siblings, earned a half ranking point. While pharaohs whose grandparents rather than parents were siblings, such as Thutmosis III, scored in the lower range.

"The study shows some evidence for consanguineous (incestuous) marriages in a reliable, non-invasive way," Barry Bogin, professor of biological anthropology at Loughborough University, U.K., told Discovery News.

Marriage within family was not uncommon in ancient Egypt and was practiced among royalty as a means of perpetuating the royal lineage. The pharaohs believed they were descended from the gods and incest was seen as acceptable so as to retain the sacred bloodline. However, what they were unaware of the time was the severe consequences of family inbreeding.

In October, 2014, an analysis of Tutankhamun’s remains suggested that his death could be attributed to genetic impairments that were caused by the fact that his parents were brother and sister.  Tutankhamun was the son of Akhenaten and Akhenaten's sister and wife. This resulted in numerous genetic conditions that the boy king suffered, including a cleft palate, a club foot, feminine hips, and a severe overbite.

Recent reconstruction of Tutankhamun, showing the genetic abnormalities he suffered as a result of family inbreeding.

Recent reconstruction of Tutankhamun, showing the genetic abnormalities he suffered as a result of family inbreeding. Credit: BBC

Tutankhamun also engaged in incest himself. At the age of 8 or 9, he was married to his half-sister Ankhesenamun , who is believed to have been formerly married to her father, Akhenaten. When Tutankhamun’s tomb was uncovered, they found the remains of two mummified fetuses. The infant remains are believed to have been the stillborn children of Tutankamun and Ankhesenamun, and they too, carried genetic impairments.

A gold plate found in Tutankhamun’s tomb depicting Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamen together.

A gold plate found in Tutankhamun’s tomb depicting Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamen together.

Featured image: The mummified head of Egyptian pharaoh King Ahmose I, whose parents and grandparents were probably both sets of siblings. ( Wikimedia Commons )

By April Holloway

Comments

Peter Harrap's picture

Sorry but an old mummy has little value, tissue-wise: and tissue IS necessary if you are going to try one of these new-fangled tests. You cannot go on height, or we would all be related.

Besides “Remember her who guarded her chastity-We gave her , and her son as a sign for all peoples”, and that’s from the Koran.

It of course refers to the Virgin Mary-given to us by God, and to her son “Jesus Christ” (Issa) BOTH of whom it is clearly stated and held in Catholic belief, were divine creations “Immaculate Conceptions”.

“Through Jesus Christ Our Lord AMEN”. It’s like nobody ever listened to the prayers they say by the billion every day, is it not?

These Pharoahs MAY have been incestuous, but you will need accurate very accurate DNA testing of tissue to prove it-proper tests, and even if these future new tests show consanguinity at a damning level, should they also have been direct divine descents (avatars are not ganmer IDs!!)

then quite obviously their genetics will be as identical as would be Our Lady and Jesus’.

AMEN. Who is Amen?? Wake up there people, do you REALLY seriously imagine that ordinary humans would have been deified and venerated and protected as was Sai Baba until his death in India a few years ago, had they been ordinary people??

   

New study presents evidence? This has been known for years as fact. I even watched a documentary on the Pharaos and their practices of marrying their own family members a couple of years ago.

Anyone interested in this subject should read Immanuel Velikovsky’s fascinating book, Oedipus and Akhnaton.  

This book does not track the other Velikovsky books such as Worlds in Collision or Ages in Chaos, but stands alone as a detective story trying to find the origin of the Oedipus myth.

And I think he nails it perfectly, as do a lot of other scholars.  The Greeks got much of their knowledge from the Egyptians, and Velikovsky shows how this story fits perfectly with Akhnaton.

Oedipuas means swollen leg, which if you look at the reconstructed picture of Tutankhamun, fits perfectly.

 

Tom Carberry

This merely confirms what archaeologists have known for at least 150 years. Historians have known it for far longer.

Or its just an extreme coincidence? Not much proof here, like how many plebs did they find intact to measure or guess the real height?

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