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King Tut's Ailments Traced to Incest

King Tutankhamun was the product of incest, a researcher conducting DNA testing has found.

Suspicions have swirled for some time that his parents were related by birth, but by performing genetic fingerprinting and mitochondrial DNA testing, Albert Zink, scientific director of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Italy, has determined that King Tut's mom and dad were "without a shadow of a doubt, brother and sister," Medical Daily reports. Earlier DNA testing had already identified King Tut's father as the pharaoh Akhenaten.

Zink's findings are part of a documentary airing this weekend on the BBC on the Egyptian pharaoh who permanently became part of popular culture nearly a century ago when his tomb was unearthed, remarkably well-preserved and full of treasures.

Incest in ancient Egypt did not carry the stigma that it now does as it was believed that the practice kept the royal bloodline pure. Indeed, King Tut married a half-sister. The sometimes disastrous medical implications from incest were unknown to ancient Egyptians — and to that point, additional testing also found that King Tut had a rare condition, Kohler's disease, which causes bone loss in the foot. The ailment runs in families and may be passed down when first-degree relatives have children.

It had already been suspected that the boy king, who is estimated to have died before his 20th birthday, had the disease, and Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, tells the International Business Times that it is known that King Tut had about 130 walking sticks and that he used to practice archery while seated in a chair.

When Howard Carter and George Herbert uncovered his tomb in 1922, they found a vast trove of gold and other priceless artifacts. In life, though, King Tut might have been a physical wreck. In addition to Kohler's disease, he also had club feet, "feminized hips," and a large overbite, according to the BBC documentary.