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Manchester University helps with pharaoh DNA analysis

Preliminary results from DNA tests carried out on a mummy believed to be Queen Hatshepsut is expected to support the claim by Egyptian authorities that the remains are indeed those of Egypts most powerful female ruler.

Egyptologists in Cairo announced last month that a tooth found in a wooden box associated with Hatshepsut exactly fitted the jaw socket and broken root of the unidentified mummy.

Now, Dr Angelique Corthals, a biomedical Egyptologist at The University of Manchester, says that DNA tests she helped carry out with colleagues at the National Research Centre in Cairo have promising preliminary results suggesting the identity of the queen.

Dr Corthals, who is based at Manchesters KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, advised and trained a team led by Dr Yehia Gad in Egypt in techniques of extracting DNA samples from the mummified remains of the mystery female.

The group then compared the DNA samples with those taken from Hatshepsuts royal relatives her grandmother Ahmose Nefertari, the matriarch of 18th dynasty royalty, and her father Thutmose I.

The difficulty in carrying out DNA testing on the royal mummies resides in the many times the remains have been handled as well as the chemical processes of mummification, said Dr Corthals.

Ironically, the chemicals that preserve the appearance of the mummies actually damage their DNA but the team was able to extract small amounts of genetic information from the areas of the mummies least affected by contamination.

When the DNA of the mystery mummy was compared with that of Hatshepsuts ancestors, we were able to scientifically confirm that the remains were those of the 18th dynasty queen.

Hatshepsut, meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies, was Egypts greatest female ruler, having greater power than even Cleopatra. The fifth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, her reign in the 15th century BC was longer than any other female ruler of an indigenous
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Contact: Aeron Haworth
aeron.haworth@manchester.ac.uk
44-771-788-1563
University of Manchester
15-Jul-2007


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