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Tut's Family Curse Tut's Family Curse

When archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, he found not only the mummified remains of the boy king inside but also those of two unidentified fetuses. Can these tiny bodies, set aside for more than 70 years, now reveal the reasons behind Tutankhamun's untimely death and the fall of the famous 18th Dynasty?

The 18th Dynasty was perhaps the greatest of the Egyptian royal families, ruling for approximately 200 years in the middle of the second millennium B.C. But Tutankhamun was the last of the line and questions remain about why his family died out. One prevailing theory suggests the dynasty became so inbred that a genetic disease eventually struck it down.

For the first time, two American scientists are trying to answer these questions and draw up a complete tree of the ruling family. They have been given permission to take DNA samples from the royal mummies and from the fetuses, and their analysis is revealing startling clues about the relationships between the family members.

Lost City of the Pyramids

Over the last few years, archaeologists and scientists have begun to provide answers to some of the oldest questions in Egyptology: Who built the pyramids at Giza? And how did they manage such an incredible feat? In 500 B.C., nearly two millennia after the great tombs were constructed, the Greek historian Herodotus recorded his belief that they had been built by 100,000 slaves, a theory still found in some modern guidebooks.

Now, excavating in the shadow of the pyramids, archaeologists have made some extraordinary finds that may rewrite history. The tombs of the pyramid builders have been found, together with large sections of the city where they lived. Scientists have been able to work out details of their lives - what they ate, how they lived and even the medical care they received. A new picture of the pyramid builders as a highly organized and motivated workforce is emerging. This information is shedding new light on the role the pyramids played in Egyptian society, establishing that they were more than just tombs for the Pharaohs.

Lost City of the Pyramids
Unwrapping The Mummy Unwrapping the Mummy

In Manchester, England, scientists are performing a unique examination of an ancient Egyptian mummy. It is the mummy of a noblewoman and chantress from Luxor named Asru, and a new autopsy of her body reveals startling insights into the everyday lives of the ancient Egyptians.

Until now, modern understanding of ancient Egypt has been based largely on paintings and engravings on tomb walls. But these depictions may have been far more idealized than realistic in portraying life in ancient Egypt.

New evidence is indicating that disease may have plagued the ancient Egyptians. And, there is the suggestion of drug use, including the mysterious blue lotus - a plant central to ancient Egyptian culture. The prevalence of the blue lotus in depictions of Egyptian life has long defied explanation, but a new analysis of the plant has revealed that it may have had Viagra-like qualities - a theory that could explain its popularity and prominence on the tomb walls.

Secrets of the Pharaohs