Scientists have used genetics to crack an ancient mystery on whether two 4,000 year old mummies were brothers.
Two mummies that have been on display in the Manchester Museum in England since 1908 as brothers have just been found to not have the relationship that everyone thought. While anthropologists had long doubted that these mummies even belonged to the same race, let alone the same family, a recent genetic test shows that both sides are half right, as they are half-brothers, not full brothers.
There are differences other than the genetics that cast doubt on them fully being brothers, as the anatomies of their skulls are fairly different, and an examination of scraps of skin suggested different complexions. Nevertheless, they were displayed at the museum as brothers, and aside from rock solid proof, it was going to remain that way.
However, a new genetic test found the surprising truth, that they are related, but they are half brothers, meaning they had the same mother but different fathers. Also, about 20 years celebrated the two siblings, named Nakht-Ankh and Khnum-Nakht.
“They were found by Egyptian workmen directed by early 20th century Egyptologists, Flinders Petrie and Ernest Mackay,” the statement from the University of Manchester reads. “Hieroglyphic inscriptions on the coffins indicated that both men were the sons of an unnamed local governor and had mothers with the same name, Khnum-aa. It was then the men became known as the Two Brothers.
“When the complete contents of the tomb were shipped to Manchester in 1908 and the mummies of both men were unwrapped by the UK’s first professional female Egyptologist, Dr Margaret Murray. Her team concluded that the skeletal morphologies were quite different, suggesting an absence of family relationship. Based on contemporary inscriptional evidence, it was proposed that one of the Brothers was adopted.”