– Since the discovery of his tomb in 1922 Tutankhamun’s exact family tree has remained a mystery. Extensive DNA analysis done in 2010 concluded that the mummy of the man found buried in the tomb in the Valley of the Kings labeled as KV55 is Tutankhamun’s father. It was then declared with a leap of logic that this revealed that Akhenaten was in fact Tutankhamun’s father. However there is still an ongoing debate about the mummy in KV55. To put it simply the international team that conducted the DNA study simply resolved the debate about the KV55 mummy in the most sensational way possible.
The debate over Tutankhamun’s family tree is therefore ongoing although several notable authorities including Zahi Hawass have declared it over. Hawass and others sponsor a simple scenario of Akhenaten and Nefertiti both being children of Amenhotep III and Tiye who were married to each other. The brother and sister couple then had two children, Tutankhamun and Ankesenamun who also in turn married each other. While this theory may prove correct it is based primarily on contentious DNA results that could be interpreted in other ways. Complicating all of the best DNA analysis is the uncertainty over the effects of long term intermarriage between cousins and siblings and how this could mutate the DNA.
Furthermore this theory does nothing to address the archeological absence of Tutankhamun from the numerous family scenes depicting Akhenaten and Nefertiti with their children who are all shown as daughters. Another theory proposes that the man from KV55 might be the short lived pharaoh Smenkare who may have been another son of Amenhotep III and that his mother may have been yet another member of an extended and intermarried family. One interesting near fact amongst the many uncertainties is the central role that Queen Tiye, grandmother of Tutankhamun and the daughter of Yuya and Tuya, held in the late 18th Dynasty.
Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we take a closer look at the royal family of Egypt’s 18th dynasty.