King Tutankhamun, the famous boy pharaoh who ascended to the Egyptian throne more than 3,000 years ago at the age of nine or ten, is making news once again thanks to the recently-published results of a Swiss genealogical study conducted in 2009.
Scientists at iGENEA, a DNA genealogy center located in Zurich, have reconstructed Tutankhamun's DNA profile, as well as the DNA profiles of his father, Akhenaten, and grandfather, Amenhotep III. Evaluating their findings with the aid of a film created for the Discovery Channel, the iGENEA team have determined that a massive percentage of European men are directly descended from the famed pharaoh.
According to their research, Tutankhamun belonged to a genetic profile group known as haplogroup R1b1a2. More than 50% of all men in Western Europe also belong to this genetic group, as well as up to 70% of British men. Another more specific breakdown of the research adds that 70% of Spanish men and 60% of French men are also likely related to King Tut. Oddly, however, iGENEA reports that less than 1% of modern Egyptians belong to this same haplogroup, most likely due to the European immigration during the last 2,000.
This link between Tutankhamun and modern European citizens is most likely the result of a common ancestor who lived in the Caucasus region, a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, approximately 9,500 years ago, scientists say. King Tut's paternal lineage begins with Pharaoh Thutmose I, who ruled from 1,504 BC until 1,492 BC, although his full paternal ancestry is still unknown, leaving geneticists unsure of how his paternal lineage came to Europe from its region of origin in the first place.
Armed with this exciting new discovery, the iGENEA center is now using DNA testing to search for the pharaoh's closest living relatives. Roman Scholz, director of the iGENEA center, announced in August 2011 that the center will be selling a DNA testing service for individuals who are interesting in discovering whether or not they are related to Tutankhamun. For a fee of 178 USD for the basic DNA test and 399 USD for the premium test, the company will conduct an investigation to determine which participant is the pharaoh's closet living relative in the 21st century. For participants with profiles that match Tutankhamun's in all 16 markers, payment will be refunded and an upgraded DNA test will be performed at no cost.
For more information, visit the iGENEA center's website here.