Signs of Incest in Famous Mummies: Photos

Incestuous marriages were common among ancient Egyptian royalty and now a study shows there's physical evidence of the practice.

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The short stature of the pharaohs who ruled ancient Egypt supports historical records that they might have married their sisters and cousins, according to research into 259 mummies. Amenhotep I, whose mummy is still wrapped, scored the highest point in the study's incest factor ranking. The 165-cm (5.41-foot)-tall king was probably the product of three generations of sibling marriages. The second pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt, Amenhotep I ruled from 1526 to 1506 BC and was the last ruler of the Ahmoside family, having died without a male successor. Historical sources report the Ahmoside family had a high level of incestuous marriage. The variation of height within the family is the lowest of all royal families under investigation.

Mummies' Height Reveals Incest

The 164-cm (5.38-foot)-tall Ahmose I, the founder of the 18th Dynasty, ranked second in the researchers' incest factor table. Both his parents and grandparents were probably siblings.

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In 2010 genetic tests revealed the Younger Lady from KV35 was the sister of a skeleton from KV55 attributed (with debate) to the heretic pharaoh Akhenaton. They are the sibling-parents of King Tutankhamun, who reached a body height of 167-169 cm (5.47-5.54 feet) -- similar to his father, whose stature was estimated at 167-168 cm (5.47-5.51 feet).

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In the lower position of the incest factor ranking were pharaohs such as Thutmosis III, the sixth pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. His grandparents were siblings, but not his parents.

Pharaohs for whom there was no information or rulers who were married to their sisters, but their parents were not siblings, were not considered in the incest factor ranking since the incest effect would only affect their offspring. One of the pharaohs in this list is Ramses II (about 1303–1212 B.C.). Standing at least 173 cm (5.67 feet) tall he appears to be the tallest of all rulers under investigation. Ramses II was married to Queen Nefertari-merj-em- Mut, who was an outstandingly tall woman for her time. At 165 cm (5.41 feet) she was taller than the average man in the New Kingdom.

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