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DNA Tribes - King Tut's DNA matches with Central Africans (although NOT exclusively)

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posted on Sep, 21 2012 @ 07:33 PM

Some of you might remember a while back, during a Discovery Channel documentary, a few of King Tutankhamun's DNA markers were leaked on the show. iGENEA, a Swiss genetics company, took the opportunity to use the genetic markers revealed during the documentary (from a few screen captures) to reconstruct his Y-DNA profile. They claimed that more than half of Western European men are related to King Tut; but, here is the catch. In an article posted on Live Science, Carsten Pusch, a geneticist at Germany's University of Tubingen who was part of the team that unraveled Tut's DNA stated,

iGENEA's claims are simply impossible ... Pusch's team used snippets of Y-chromosome DNA to link Tut to his closest relatives, identifying his mom and dad. But they didn't publish the full genetic data that would allow genomics companies like iGENEA to link modern people to the Tutankhamen lineage ... But people hoping to prove that they've got an ancestor in common with the notoriously sickly boy king should take iGENEA's claims with a grain of salt, Pusch said: "It appears that they try to better sell their DNA testing kit by using the media attention connected to King Tut."

And Dr. Albert Zink stated,

Dr. Albert Zink from the EURAC [European Academy of Bolzano, an independent research center] in Bolzano and co-author of the 2010 JAMA publication screened the footage and confirmed that the company acts very unscientific," Pusch wrote in an email to LiveScience. "The Swiss company did not try to get into contact with us prior to launching their new Internet page."

It is possible that the DNA profile was in fact a calibrating or a control sample, rather than King Tut's actual DNA profile. Results on King Tut's Y chromosome have not been published, but apparently iGENEA managed to deduce this from a few screen captures, without directly testing King Tut's body; and nor has a peer-reviewed scientific report been published. iGENEA's results are based on poorly extracted data from viewing a few screen captures, and they do not correctly reflect King Tut's DNA profile - so frankly, it is improper methodology dripped in sensationalism to promote their new DNA testing kit.

Unfortunately (for those who intently follow everything ancient Egypt), a firestorm erupted with proponents from the "non-'black' ancient Egypt" side enthusiastically rejoicing because "'black' Afrocentric lies" were finally crushed. This new find was promulgated through various forms of mediums such as YouTube videos and Ancient Egypt/Anthropological forums.


Now, onto more salient and fruitful information (that somehow went relatively unnoticed).

DNA Tribes autosomal STR DNA article shows that King Tut's DNA matches closely to Central Africans, although not exclusively. The results:

Results indicated the autosomal STR profiles of the Amarna period mummies were most frequent in modern populations in several parts of Africa. These results are based on the 8 STR markers for which these pharaonic mummies have been tested, which allow a preliminary geographical analysis for these individuals who lived in Egypt during the Amarna period of the 14th century BCE. Although results do not necessarily suggest exclusively African ancestry, geographical analysis suggests ancestral links with neighboring populations in Africa for the studied pharaonic mummies. If new data become available in the future, it might become possible to further clarify results and shed new light on the relationships of ancient individuals to modern populations.

I am not surprised by this, considering ancient Egypt's connection with other Nile River Valley societies (i.e., those located in Sudan and Eritrea/Ethiopia) has been ongoing even prior to the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt (refer to this thread on the cultural connections between Nubia & Egypt - The Relationships Between The Nubians & Ancient Egyptians).

Some background information about DNA Tribes,

"DNA Tribes is a private firm specializing in genetic ancestry analysis, including both geographical analysis of world populations and the comparison of individuals to living populations and world regions."

They primarily use autosomal STR (short tandem repeats) genetic makers to figure out a person's genetic connections with populations.

The ethnic makeup of the ancient Egyptians is such a heated and emotionally charged subject, that you must approach it with the utmost delicacy. I tend to not subscribe to Afro-centric or Euro-centric view points and contend that the modern population of Egypt represents the ancient Egyptians (for the most part). We are talking about a civilization that lasted approximately 3,000 years and had ties with inhabitants in Sudan, Libya, the Levant, and Greece. Over the span of ~3,000 years gene flow, in-situ responses to environment and adaptation to certain selective pressures have resulted in the continuum of phenotypical diversity present in modern Egypt. Egypt has been, and still is to this day, a crossroads due to its close proximity to Europe and Asia.

The key difference between DNA Tribes and iGENEA, is DNA Tribes referred to documented nuclear DNA. (I am not well-versed in genetics and phylogenetic history of populations; however, I am starting to familiarize myself with the terminology and concepts related to the aforementioned topics - hopefully a few members on ATS are.)

Thoughts on DNA Tribes' results?

Live Science - SOURCE


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