Sunday, May 17, 2015
New Studies: Sibling marriages among Pharaohs stunted their height
CAIRO: Pharaohs of ancient Egypt may have created monuments that tower over men, but in real life they suffered from diminutive stature, a recent study involving involved hundreds of ancient Egyptian mummies has revealed.
“This is one indicator of the presence of extensive inbreeding among the ancient Egyptian royalty,” said Frank Rühli, director of the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich, who headed the team of anthropologists and archaeologists that conducted the study.
Published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, the study analyzed the height variations of 259 ancient royal and non-royal mummies spanning all major periods of the ancient Egyptian history.
Rühli added that proving the fact that inbreeding was common among royalty in ancient Egypt has been always difficult because “scientists were unable to get access to the mummies’ tissues for DNA analysis; a process that might harm their mummies.”
According to traditions in ancient Egypt, Pharaohs were believed to have the blood of the gods thus “sibling marriage was rampant as an acceptable way of retaining the divine and royal lineage,” archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post Thursday.
According to the study, “the average height of the pharaohs was at 166 centimeters (5’4″ ft.), while the queens and princesses had an average height of 156.7 centimeters (5’1″ ft.). Meanwhile, the general population had a varying height range of 161 centimeters (5’2″ ft.) to 169.6 centimeters (5’5″ ft.) in males and 155.6 centimeters (5’1″ ft.) to 159.5 centimeters (5’2″ ft.) in females.”
An analysis of the remains of Egypt’s most famous Pharaoh, Tutankhamen, suggested that his death could be attributed to genetic impairments caused by the fact that his parents were brother and sister. The analysis was carried out in October 2014.
The tallest pharaoh among those under investigation appears to be Ramses II (1303B.C – 1212 B.C.), who stood at 173 cm (5.67 feet) while, according to the study, his wife Queen Nefertari “was an outstandingly tall woman for her time, at 165 cm (5.41 feet) — taller than the average man in the New Kingdom period (1580B.C.-1080B.C.)”
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa