A long-lost piece of King Tut
2013 06 05

By Jo Marchant | JoMarchant.com

"What happens when you mix a piece of ancient mummy with your own blood?"
- Jo Marchant



King Tutankhamun is famously the only Egyptian pharaoh who still occupies his original tomb in the Valley of the Kings, and since 2007 his mummy has been proudly displayed in a smart, glass case.

What’s less well known, however, is that this isn’t the whole King Tut: a tiny piece of his mummy was removed in 1968 and flown to Liverpool. When researching my book about Tutankhamun’s mummy, The Shadow King, I couldn’t resist tracking it down.


These pieces of royal mummies including Tutankhamun (bottom right), are sitting in a drawer in Liverpool
The man who took this royal morsel was Ronald Harrison, anatomy professor at Liverpool University, UK, who was leading a project to X-ray the mummy in an attempt to determine the king’s cause of death. He was also interested in whether Tutankhamun was related to a mysterious royal mummy that had been found – dripping with gold but with the name scratched from its coffin – in a nearby tomb.

A few years before, Harrison removed a toe from this mummy (dubbed “KV55” after the tomb in which it was found). In what was groundbreaking work for the time, his Liverpool colleague, a young postdoc called Robert Connolly, used it to work out the mummy’s blood group.

Repeating the trick on Tutankhamun might reveal whether the two mummies were related. Harrison scraped off a piece of skin from Tut’s back, packed it into an envelope, and took it home with him.

But Connolly was dismayed when he saw the sample. To determine the blood group of a human sample required a gram of tissue, about the size of a sugar lump. The Tut sample was just 10 milligrams – a hundredth of what Connolly needed.

So he came up with an ingenious idea. He knew that the antigens that determine a person’s blood group can be persuaded to attach themselves to red blood cells, if you mix the two together. He decided to stick the antigens from Tutankhamun’s skin onto modern human blood cells, to give himself a larger sample to test. In effect, he would bring the pharaoh’s blood group back to life.

It sounds simple, but it took months to make it work. Connolly himself was blood group O, meaning that his own cells would make the perfect clean slate for a mummy’s ancient molecules. He tried out his idea on an anonymous mummy held at the university. In an experiment that sounds like the plot for a horror film, Connolly took a tissue sample from the mummy, purified the antigens from it, and mixed them with his own blood.

[...]

Read the full article at: jomarchant.com



The Shadow King, by Jo Marchant




Related Articles
Mummy Evisceration Techniques
Brain-Removal Tool Left in Mummy’s Skull
Gnarly Mummy Head Reveals Medieval Science
Unwrapping the mummy – Performance and Science
Who stabbed him in the back? Scan reveals 5,500-year-old mummy murder mystery
Powdered Mummy, Gladiator Blood, and other Historical Medicines Made from Human Corpses
Mystery of King Tut’s death solved?
Gilded logo celebrates discoverer of King Tutankhamun’s tomb
Half of European men share King Tut’s DNA
King Tutankhamen’s R1b Caucasian Origins
King Tut’s DNA is Western European?
King Tut Face Unveiled For First Time


Latest News from our Front Page

Seven Points of Agreement Between Individuals
2014 10 02
In what follows, underlined words are my modifications to the original (cite given at the end) "Seven Points of Agreement Between Individuals" -- a binding contract entered into by individuals with other individuals so as to create a society within which individual sovereignty is upheld. These agreements are thought by the author of the book within which they appear to ...
If Someone Secretly Controlled What You Say, Would Anyone Notice?
2014 10 01
The subject enters a room in which a 12-year-old boy is seated. A 20-minute conversation ensues. The subject quizzes the boy about current events and other topics to get a sense of his intelligence and personality. But the boy is not what he appears to be. Unbeknownst to the subject, the boy is wearing a radio receiver in his ear, and ...
Obama has had accurate intelligence about ISIS since BEFORE the 2012 election, says administration insider
2014 10 01
‘President Barack Obama’s intelligence briefings have provided him with specific information since before he won re-election in 2012 about the growing threat of the terror group now known alternatively as ISIS and ISIL, an administration insider told MailOnline on Monday. ‘Unless someone very senior has been shredding the president’s daily briefings and telling him that the dog ate them, highly accurate ...
Can holding a magnet against your head help defeat depression?
2014 10 01
Former GP Sue Mildred suffered from crippling depression and anxiety for 20 years. On two occasions it was so severe that she ended up in hospital, and for 15 years she was unable to work. Sue, 51, has tried antidepressants, talking therapies and, out of desperation, even ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), where an electric current is passed through the brain. This did ...
Extremists to have Facebook and Twitter vetted by anti-terror police
2014 09 30
Theresa May to announce new Extremist Disruption Orders to strengthen counter-terrorism if the Tories win the next general election Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives. They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, ...
More News »