Are British Men More Closely Related to King Tut Than Egyptians Are?

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New research by scientists at the DNA genealogy center iGENEA in Switzerland have announced that up to 70 percent of British men, and half of all Western European men are related to the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Comparatively, only 1 percent of modern Egyptian men are genetically linked to King Tut. However, some scientists are already crying foul of the claims.

iGENEA analyzed the DNA of King Tut, and found that he belonged to a genetic profile group called haplogroup R1b1a2. More than 50 percent of all Western European men belong to this group, suggesting that they share a common ancestor. According to Roman Scholz, director of the genealogy center at iGENEA the researchers believe the common ancestor lived around 9,500 years ago. King Tut ruled Egypt around 3,000 years ago.

Scholz told Reuters:

“It was very interesting to discover that he belonged to a genetic group in Europe [because] there were many possible groups in Egypt that the DNA could have belonged to.”

The researchers also found that around 70 percent of Spanish men and 60 percent of French men are also part of the same genetic group as King Tut. It is believed that the haplogroup R1b1a2 probably began to spread into Europe alongside agricultural development in 7,000 BC.

But with all that said, there has been some backlash about iGENEA’s King Tut DNA claims. It is certainly fun to get carried away with the idea that Europeans have a genetic link to a famous historical figure, and a Pharaoh at that, but sadly, it may not be so.

Some people feel that the DNA sequence of King Tut released last year is questionable, therefore any research based on King Tut’s DNA would also be questionable. There is also the problem of iGENEA claiming to have sequenced the Y chromosome of King Tut, aka his paternal lineage, which has never been published in a scientific journal. It is also important to keep in mind that iGENEA is a business, and there is money to be made in the fun that results from linking average people to kings.

So, while Europeans probably shouldn’t be claiming to be royal descendants until iGENEA’s results are verified independently, the claims still let us speculate about how different groups of people moved across the world, settling new areas and giving rise to modern societies, and that can be pretty interesting in and of itself.

(via Reuters)

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