Heading over to Google today (other search engines are available) I noticed the rather intriguing Google Doodle shown above. Now I love the way Google updates it’s logo on specific days, but I have to admit that it seems a bit odd to celebrate the 138th birthday of anyone, after all it’s not much of a round number.

Nevertheless, Carter is someone pretty special and is most well known for his discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in November 1922. However, Carter had actually started excavating Egyptian tombs when he was just 17, and also brought back many other finds, including goods from Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s tomb. In 2009, Anna told you about how they were going to resurrect some perfume found in that tomb, but I haven’t heard anything since and I certainly haven’t seen Eau de Hatshepsut on the high street.

Pharaoh Tutankhamun was one of the last of the 18th Dynasty and the discovery of his tomb was so significant because it was found so completely intact. What is also relevant is how well preserved the mummy of Tutankhamun was and is, and I blogged about the techniques used in mummification of the 18th Dynasty pharaohs last year.

It turns out that DNA can be extracted from these ancient and chemically altered mummies and, with careful purification, the DNA can be amplified and studied. Recent DNA analysis of Tutankhamun’s mummy has shown that he was the son of Akhenaten and one of Akhenaten’s sisters, and various investigations are still trying to conclusively prove whether the young pharaoh died from illness or from congenital problems related to being the product of a long line of incestuous breeding. Science, both ancient and modern, can be pretty cool.

Laura Howes

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