© Egyptian Museum
The discovery of jars of wine in King Tuts tomb prompted a team of Spanish scientists to try and determine if the boy king preferred red or white wine. An analysis of residues in 2005 revealed that the jars contained syringic acid, which implied that the wine was made with red grapes.
For all the popularity Tutankhamun enjoys today, key details about the ancient Egyptian pharaoh's life, such as his parentage, have remained somewhat mysterious. While Akhenaten was known to be Tut's dad, the identity of the boy king's mother has remained elusive. But at least one archaeologist believes she was Nefertiti.
Recent DNA analyses from the mummies of Tut
and his kin revealed that the boy king's parents were siblings
. Those results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
in February 2010, pointed to the "heretic" king Akhenaten and one of his sisters as the mom and dad of Tut.
But researcher Marc Gabolde said in a talk at Harvard University last week that he believes King Tut's mom was Akhenaten's cousin Nefertiti, who was Akhenaten's chief wife and the mother of six of his daughters.
Gabolde said the genetic closeness of Tut's parents does not necessarily point to a brother-sister pairing. Rather, it could be due to three successive generations of marriage between first cousins, he said.
"The consequence of that is that the DNA of the third generation between cousins looks like the DNA between a brother and sister," Gabolde said, according to the Harvard Gazette.
"I believe that Tutankhamun is the son of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, but that Akhenaten and Nefertiti were cousins."
Gabolde is the director of the archaeological expedition of Université Paul Valery-Montpellier III in the Royal Necropolis at el-Amarna, a city built on the banks of the Nile by Akhenaten, who ushered in a brief period of monotheism in Egypt through worship of the sun disk,Aten.
Akhenaten's son King Tut was part of the 18th dynasty of the Egyptian New Kingdom, which lasted from about 1550 B.C. to 1295 B.C. He died in the ninth year of his reign, circa 1324 B.C., at the age of 19, leaving no heirs. Several ideas have popped up about possible diseases that may have wreaked havoc on his family as well as the cause of Tut's early demise
, with some evidence suggesting he died in part from malaria and bone abnormalities.