Famed Pharaoh's Mummy Identified

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Schemm Associated Press

CAIRO -- The DNA tests that revealed how the famed boy-king Tutankhamun most likely died solved another of ancient Egypt's enduring mysteries -- the fate of controversial Pharaoh Akhenaten's mummy. The discovery could help fill out the picture of a fascinating era more than 3,300 years ago when Akhenaten embarked on history's first attempt at monotheism.

During his 17-year rule, Akhenaten sought to overturn more than a millennium of Egyptian religion and art to establish the worship of a single sun god. In the end, his bold experiment failed and he was eventually succeeded by his son, the young Tutankhamun, who rolled back reform and restored the old religion.

No one ever knew what became of the heretic pharaoh, whose tomb in the capital he built at Amarna was unfinished and whose name was stricken from the official list of kings.

Two years of DNA testing and CAT scans on 16 royal mummies conducted by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, however, gave the firmest evidence to date an unidentified mummy -- known as KV55, after the number of the tomb where it was found in 1907 in Egypt's Valley of the Kings -- is Akhenaten's.

The testing, whose results were announced last month, established KV55 was the father of King Tut and the son of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, a lineage that matches Akhenaten's, according to inscriptions.

KV55 had long been assumed to be too young to be Akhenaten, who was estimated to be in his 40s at the time of his death -- but the testing also established the mummy's correct age, matching the estimates for Akhenaten. …