From Daily News Egypt – Original article in full
Egypt to DNA-test 2 fetuses from King Tut’s tomb
CAIRO: Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities says the country’s scientists will start DNA tests on two mummified fetuses found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun to determine their link to the young pharaoh.
The fetuses were found in 1922 in the tomb in Luxor and have since been stored at Cairo University. They are widely believed to be King Tut’s stillborn children.
The tests will be carried out in collaboration with Cairo University’s Faculty of Medicine under the leadership of Dr Ashraf Selim, head of Cairo Scan.
Selim together with Dr Yehia Zakaria of the National Research Center have carried out CT scans of the two fetuses and took samples to make the DNA tests.
The council quotes in a statement Egypt’s Antiquities chief Zahi Hawass as saying the test will also try to determine the fetuses’ mother as well as Tutankhamun’s family lineage, a mystery that has baffled Egyptologists for years.
And what, precisely, do we hope to gain from this? A snippet from further into the article rasies some eyebrows for me…
Hawass said the tests will also help in identifying the mummy of Queen Nefertiti.
Which the last batch of DNA tests and CAT scans were supposed to have already established. I am not personally convinced that the ethical issues involved, and the time and cost spent on DNA testing of the royal mummies is consistently repaid in concrete advances in our knowledge. I am willing and ready to concede that some breakthroughs have been made, particularly in regards to the royal line of the early 18th Dynasty. But, at some point a line needs to be drawn between “testamania”, and ethically and practically justifable research, which we can reasonably expect to deliver a significant advance to our understanding.
In addition, most archaeology involves conservation and preservation of material. DNA testing is unusual in archaeology in that it is the opposite. DNA testing is damaging to, and invasive of, the human remains which are subjected to it.