How Moroccan Ruler Could Sire 1,000 Kids Revealed

Computer simulations suggest Sultan Moulay Ismaïl could have done it by having sex about once a day for 32 years.

Sultan Moulay Ismaïl of Morocco, "The Bloodthirsty," reputedly sired hundreds of children and perhaps more than a 1,000. Now computer simulations suggest this could have been possible if the ruler had sex about once a day for 32 years.

Ismaïl, who reigned from 1672 to 1727, was the first great sultan of the Moroccan Alaouite dynasty, the current royal house of the kingdom. He was Sharifian - that is, he claimed descent from Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

Ismaïl's rule was the longest in Moroccan history, and toward its end he controlled the country with an army of more than 150,000 men. Ismaïl was infamously ruthless - his reign is said to have begun with the display of 400 heads at the city of Fez, most of them from enemy chiefs, and over the next 55 years it is estimated he killed more than 30,000 people, not including those in battle. [Photos: The 10 Epic Battles That Changed History]

Any suspicion of adultery against Ismaïl was severely punished. The women were either strangled by the sultan himself, or their breasts were cut off, or their teeth torn out. Men who merely looked at one of his wives or concubines were punished by death.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Ismaïl fathered 888 children, the greatest number of progeny for anyone throughout history that can be verified. Based on reports by Dominique Busnot, a French diplomat who frequently traveled to Morocco, the sultan may actually have had 1,171 children from four wives and 500 concubines by 1704. At that time, Ismaïl was 57 and had ruled for 32 years.

Some researchers claimed it was unlikely Ismaïl could have fathered that many offspring, noting that women are only fertile for a small window each month, that sperm usually do not fertilize eggs, and that infertility often afflicts women, especially in the developing world. However, other scientists argued women are more fertile than those doubting Ismaïl had said.

To solve this question, scientists developed computer simulations to see how many times Ismaïl had to have sex each day to have 1,171 children in 32 years. They found the sultan could have set this record.

"We were as conservative as possible with our calculations, and Moulay could still achieve this outcome," study lead author Elisabeth Oberzaucher, an anthropologist at the University of Vienna, told Live Science.

The simulations were based on a variety of models of conception. For instance, one set of simulations assumed the menstrual cycles of women do not synchronize, while another suggested they could. Other factors included how good Ismail's sperm were at fertilizing women's eggs as he aged and how women often may look more sexually attractive when they are most fertile during their menstrual cycles.

The simulations suggest Ismaïl needed to have sex an average of 0.83 to 1.43 times per day in order to father 1,171 children in 32 years. Moreover, the sultan did not need a harem of four wives and 500 concubines to sire that many offspring - the researchers suggest he needed a harem of only 65 to 110 women.

Although the models of conception the researchers employed ultimately all found that Ismaïl could have actually had all these children, "the results from them were all quite different from each other," Oberzaucher said. "This really emphasizes to us how important it is to choose the right model for studies of reproduction - you really want to know what kind of women you actually are doing your calculations with, thinking about where women are in their life cycles and the sexual habits of women."

Oberzaucher and her colleague Karl Grammer detailed their findings Feb. 14 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Original article on Live Science.

5 Myths About Polyamory Debunked Dictator Deaths: How 13 Notorious Leaders Died History's 10 Most Overlooked Mysteries Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sultan Moulay Ismaïl of Morocco, "The Bloodthirsty," reigned from 1672 to 1727 and reputedly sired hundreds of children and perhaps more than a 1,000. (Shown here in a photographic reproduction of artwork.)

Are these formations in the Egyptian desert long lost pyramids? Or are they just naturally occurring pyramidal rock outcrops?

The structures were spotted last year by amateur satellite archaeologist Angela Micol. She used Google Earth 5,000 miles away in North Carolina.

Located about 90 miles apart, the two possible pyramid complexes appeared on aerial imagery as an unusual groupings of mounds with intriguing orientations.

One site near the Fayum oasis revealed a four-sided, truncated mound approximately 150 feet wide and three smaller mounds in a diagonal alignment (left).

The other site, just 12 miles from the city of Abu Sidhum along the Nile, featured two large and two small mounds (right).

First reported by Discovery News, Micol’s claim gained widespread media attention and much criticism.

Authoritative geologists and geo-archaeologists dismissed what Micol called “Google Earth anomalies” as windswept natural rock formations -- buttes quite common in the Egyptian desert.

Micol was then contacted by an Egyptian couple -- collectors who claimed to have important historical references for both sites.

According to Medhat Kamal El-Kady, former ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman, and his wife Haidy Farouk Abdel-Hamid, a lawyer, former counselor at the Egyptian presidency and adviser of border issues and international issues of sovereignty, more than 34 maps and 12 old documents in their collection would support the existence of the lost pyramids.

For the site near the Fayum, they cited three maps in particular, dating from 1753 to the late 1880s.

The documents would point to the existence of two buried pyramids (within the red square) which add to the known Fayum pyramids of Lahoun and Hawara.

While the site in the Fayum has not been investigated yet, a preliminary on-the-ground expedition has already occurred at the site near Abu Sidhum.

According to Micol, it provided intriguing data to compare with El-Kady and Farouk’s maps and documents.

Suspecting the mounds were ancient in origin, locals tried to dig into one of the two smaller mounds.

The excavation failed due to striking very hard stone that Aly and Micol believe may be granite.

Aly Soliman believes the big mounds are hiding pyramids as the metal detector used over them signaled metal and showed an underground tunnel heading north.

Apart from the two larger and smaller mounds, the expedition team believes the site features a temple or habitation and a row of what may be mastaba tombs adjacent to the mounds. They are shown in the red rectangle thanks to a false color imaging technique developed by Micol.

“My goal is to go to Egypt with a team of U.S. scientists and videographers to prove if these sites are lost pyramid complexes,” Micol said.