4000-Year-Old Mummies Are Half-Brothers, DNA Analysis Shows

Leslie Hanson
January 17, 2018

Named the "Two Brothers", the mummies belonged to high-ranking men named Khnum-nakht and Nakht-ankh from ancient Egypt's 12 Dynasty period.

After deepening the analysis, the scientists have now confirmed that the "Two brothers" mummies have different fathers, and they are actually half-brothers.

According to the inscriptions, the Two Brothers were both born to a woman called Khnum-aa and were fathered by an unnamed local governor.

DNA testing had been done in 2014 which suggested that the two men's mitochondrial DNA was not the same and proved that they did not have the same mother.


The mummies that dated from around 1,800 BC, were first discovered in 1907 in a joint burial site in Cairo. They managed to pull DNA from the mummies' teeth, a better source than what the previous study used, to spell out the genome.

"Although their coffin inscriptions indicate that Nakht-Ankh and Khnum-Nakht were brothers, when the mummies were unwrapped in 1908 the skeletal morphologies were found to be quite different, suggesting an absence of family relationship", the new research paper states. So, she doubted that the Two brother mummies might not be having the same father. DNA extracted from the teeth of the two skeletons was analyzed by researchers from the university in 2015, and their analysis showed both men likely had the same mother. As the haplotype M1a1are group of genes inherited only from the mother, scientists concluded that the two brother mummies had the same mother.

"It was a long and exhausting journey to the results but we are finally here", says Dr Konstantina Drosou, of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester and lead author of the study. But, the sequences of Y chromosomes of the two mummies showed variations which indicated that the mummies had different fathers. He further said that he was grateful that their team solved the mystery regarding the two mummy brothers.

"This is an extremely rare, perhaps unique, case where we have been able to test an ancient claim of a maternal relationship made in hieroglyphic texts, alongside the bodies of the individuals concerned", study co-researcher Campbell Price, a curator of Egypt and Sudan at the University of Manchester's Manchester Museum in England, told Live Science.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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